It has been noticeable here most recently with Trump voters. Spend a decade battling an out of touch Washington, arguing against amnesty and the establishment, but don’t support Trump and suddenly you find yourself in the position of being characterized as an establishment elite. A lot of Trump voters, having never really paid much attention to politics, arrived on the scene, sized up the field, and made terrible assessments both about who stood where on issues and who would be best to change things.
But they are only a recent American example.
More than half the political press these days it seems were once well off Ivy League liberal pot heads whose world began either in November of 2000 if they’re in their thirties, or November 2008 if they are in their twenties. They share a common goal to out douche each other with an even more obnoxious marriage announcement in the New York Times. They regurgitate self-made conventional wisdom with all the assurance of someone who has never actually had a real job and never been anywhere that did not have access to craft beer, Uber, and overpriced coffee served by effeminate metrosexuals with handlebar mustaches (Austin now being the exception).
They trade on amazing insights that are really just repacked insights of an older generation made fresh because this time they appeared in a Moleskine notebook or a Field Notes journal. They have lost the basic idiomatic expressions of preceding generations and hold religion and family values in contempt for being outmoded anchors of bigotry. Any idea that came before they passed through the womb of their personal American election is treated with scorn. National ties are too jingoistic. These are citizens of the world after all. National interest is just code for nationalism. Patriotism is code for fascism. Self government is for dolts who do not appreciate what the elite have done for them.
And they, who are the elite, lack as much a sense of history as a lot of Trump voters. They have as much a sense of grievance as Trump voters pulling them in the opposite direction. Trump voters see their country under assault and their values derided and these elites in the political press and punditocracy see the country as a badge of shame and national values as regressive. Everyone in the middle just suffers through as collateral damage.
But this lack of sense of history causes so much havoc.
The analysis of the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has been treated by these twenty and thirty-somethings as something novel and new. They seem positively clueless that Britain alone is 1/5 of the world’s economy. They likewise seem positively clueless that until thirty years ago Britain may have been part of a common market, but not really a European Union experiment.
Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth by a bunch of internationalist hipsters and their Peter Pan like geriatric forbearers who’ve been aroused by the idea of the United States of Europe since the sixties, the United Kingdom has a 1000 year history of sovereignty outside a United States of Europe.
All the hot takes and conventional wisdom miss this history. They miss that the people who voted to leave have an institutional memory of a Britain before the EU while the young British voters who wanted to stay have no memory of a Britain before the EU. There is a herd mentality in the punditocracy to heap scorn on the British for daring to act like a sovereign nation and eschew an ever growing bureaucratic leviathan. When the Dutch or Czech or any other country goes the same route these voices will say the same things they are saying today. The buzz words will be “nationalism,” “racism,” “bigotry,” and they will ignore national sovereignty. Because they have no memory of these countries being independent of a European Union they cannot conceive that others do and believe their nation making decisions for their nation is far better than an unelected bureaucrat in Brussels doing so.
I get the needs of the hipster punditocracy to sound smart. When you’re wearing Warby Parker glasses and skinny suit pants that aren’t long enough to cover your socks and doing it to look like every one of your friends while claiming to be an independent, free thinker, you do have to say some really profound crap to distract from looking ridiculous and calling pants “pant”.
But it is still profound crap lacks historic perspective or useful insight. The world did not begin in 2000 or 2008 and there really are no new ideas under the sun.