The Americans are regularly mocked by their British cousins for being so proud of their nation. I’d posit the theory that the country has been extremely successful in a relatively short amount of time, and is afraid of the inevitable fall from grace. All Empires fall, after all. America has an automatically high level of national pride which is as enviable as it is irritating, but it’s most likely based on fear.
Every person who describes themselves as a patriot, will likely have very differing philosophical and political views, but will ‘love’ some aspect of America, current or Historic.
British nationalism vs American nationalism
British national pride is somewhat different, it has a long historical precedent. The British Empire was one of the strongest, most pervasive, arguably cruellest and aggressive. This easily skewed, jealous pride becomes a psychological left-over from the Imperial age, Nationalism.
‘Britain for the British’ is a common phrase in this country. When pressed why such a rule should be followed, the response is often ‘I was born here’.
Lots of people are born in Britain, roughly 80% of the population were born here , from various backgrounds. This 80% will include those born to parents who were born elsewhere. That remaining 20% will likely have children here, making their children British.
Your birthplace is completely dependent on circumstance, there can be no real pride to be found in being born somewhere. People, literally, do it all the time and they do it everywhere. Your birthplace is completely dependent on where when the midwife delivered you. Cliff Richard, for example, is considered a British institution. Where was Cliff born? Lucknow, India.
What does it take to be British?
So, birthplace isn’t a legitimate claim for Britishness, or pride, as many who consider themselves British will tell you. So, what’s next? Amount of time spent in a country? How long does it take to be immersed into British Culture? Five years, ten, twenty, thirty? If so, what of the generation born to Pakistani parents who have been raised in British Culture? Are they British?
‘If they act British’ or ‘act according to British Values’
How do you even begin to decipher such phrases? Some consider pessimism a British trait, or binge drinking, snobbery, casual racism and eccentricity. These are all seen as British traits, yet cover a wide range of cultural attitudes. So, what is British Culture?
Linguistically, Britain shows the amalgamation of several diverse, cultures over many centuries. The existing vocabulary, culture, rituals, laws and religions adapted and adopted from Roman, Viking, Saxon and Norman invaders. Along with their cultures, they bought genetic material. The Celts became bedfellows with Invaders literally, economically, culturally and linguistically. This constant mixture and evolution of peoples scuppers the idea of a ‘true’ British culture. Pre-dating that, there is much evidence to suggest Celtic culture and genetics owes much to travellers from the Indian subcontinent. Indeed, much of what is described as British Culture or values is unquestioning obedience and acceptance of hierarchy.
Class: A very British institution
One thing that is undeniable about British culture, is class. Some people argue that class divides aren’t as clear cut as they were, nor is it an issue any more. This is a falsehood. The 1%, the political class, the Royal Family, even Made in Chelsea show us the cultural and financial dichotomy between those who born into privilege and those who must obey to attain comfort.
This is what ‘Nation’ actually represents. Not the various people who live here, but those who rule. The Crest of the Saxe-Coburgs (the Royals) is plastered over everything. Police Uniforms, Government Paperwork, the buildings of Westminster, the Prisons, the military and the money. Their rule is in our faces, but unnoticeable and accepted as common sense.
They provide a distraction from the inequalities in power by presenting a different power structure. Johnny Foreigner and his job stealing ways enter the narrative. Provide a scapegoat and explain the people’s ills as competition from outsiders, whom are recognisably different. Competition the elite created, allowed and propagated. Community fell apart as the nuclear family was pushed as the ‘correct’ way to look after each other. The nuclear family, of course, being the optimum amount of consumers and workers per household. Small, localised governments were dismantled and power centralised in London.
Nationionalism provides an identity to the disenfranchised
Nationalism provides the sense of community and tribalism many lost, as their power was grabbed from them. What better way to create hostility towards others than to install and ideological border on an island with literal one. Treat asylum seeking, in all its forms, as an invasion. A consumption of YOUR freedoms by an OTHER, an alien.
The ideological conception of the immigrant as an invasive force is a form of perpetual warfare. It will never end, as people will always want to better their lives. This country is built on immigration, as are you and your family. Without the movement of peoples, there would be no Britain. Humanity didn’t begin here, and to think so is a cognitive misstep of epic proportions. We are all the product of immigrants, and to only characterise some people in that way is to intentionally obscure the shared humanity we all have, for personal gain.
The xenophobes are massive hypocrites
The seeds of xenophobia sowed, the people end up hating ‘immigrants’, but they’re still in the same position. Still with no power. So, they say that some immigrants and some children of immigrants are terrorists. Only the immigrants who are muslim though, because it’s ‘inherently’ violent’. Then the elite kill thousands of muslim children in the middle east, leading to increased asylum seeking. But they’ve made it increasingly hard to enter the country. Immigrants are the bottom of the pile, the untermensch. They work slave labour, they’re pariahs and they are dehumanised. The Brit still has no power.
So, the fearful poor and middle class will then turn on themselves and each other. The flames of Paranoia fanned by stories of spongers and debt. The ruling classes then dismantle the Public & Welfare services from within, due to righteous indignation or ‘tough love’. The rich, who control debt, blame the middle class from trying to emulate them. Everyone hates everyone else, but the ruling elite continue unabated by public vitriol, as it’s turned inward.
Arguably, what makes a British person really British, is Tradition. Acceptance of outdated, outmoded, anachronistic ideals and rules. Tradition tears people apart. The laws, culture and value of this country are based on tradition. Constantly looking being told to look backwards, while those in control plan our futures. If you demolish the force-fed love of tradition that grips this rose-tinted isle, you’re left with a melting pot of many cultures. With the concept of Post-nationalism, we can create a much more open society, less presylatising or dogmatic about enforcing a false identity. Without tradition, we allow progression.