condemning the liberalism of urban life

FT political columnist Janan Ganesh writes that cities are disliked by anti-liberals – both those on the political right and those on the left.

The city has moral enemies. In ancient times and modern, among religious warriors and secular ideologues, urban life has been scathingly equated with sexual licence, denatured materialism and free inquiry. Babylon was condemned. The Khmer Rouge emptied out Phnom Penh. Al-Qaeda tore into a man-made skyline. ….

If the city is liberalism incarnate, anti-liberals will define themselves against it. This includes the scrupulously peaceful conservatives in modern democracies, whom voting patterns show to be strongest in rural areas and small towns. In their demonology, the opponent is never just the “elite” but the “metropolitan elite”.

Twenty-first century London has many disorienting feats to its name. Among them is the arousal of hostility from the liberal left, too. Screeds against this city are now more common in The Guardian and New York Times than the conservative Telegraph and the Mail. ….

Modern London is liberalism — or “neoliberalism”, to use the mot du jour of every bluffing teenage radical — in excelsis. It has taken the free movement of people, goods, services, capital and ideas to anarchic extremes that might have no precedent. ….

What really piques conservatives of right and left is that a place can be so lax and so successful.

Janan Ganesh, “How the left tired of liberal London life“, Financial Times, 11 August 2015 (metered paywall).

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