This book is timely, partly persuasive, and politically incorrect. Goodhart identifies two basic groups in British society: “anywheres” and “somewheres.” The first group contains urban, mobile, relatively young, wealthy, and highly educated elites of various ethnicities. The second comprises older, more sedentary, poorer, and less educated provincials, almost all of whom are white. “Anywheres” dominate elite education, the financial services industry, major media outlets, and the government technocracy—all of which are clustered in and around London. “Somewheres,” by contrast, are spread throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, where they seek in vain to defend local traditions, national identity, and what they conceive of as decent lower- and middle-class family values. Goodhart’s political incorrectness lies in his sympathy with the latter group, against whom, he rightly argues, the cosmopolitan elite has stacked the educational, economic, and cultural deck. But sympathy gets one only so far; what “somewheres” need are solutions. They could embrace Euroskepticism with the hope that reducing immigration and limiting trade would benefit them. Yet the current British government has proved itself to be hardly egalitarian and, in any case, unrealistic in its hopes for Brexit. Or they could back socialist redistribution—yet that threatens to undermine forward-looking economic activity. Goodhart poses the right questions but doesn’t offer much in the way of answers. One wonders if his hopes for change stem more from nostalgia than from realism.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.