the problem of Britain, the problem of nationalism

The western world as a whole is in a state of crisis but while things are bad everywhere they seem to be particularly bad in Britain.

All western countries today have problems with their elites but Britain is unique in having elites that are not merely treacherous and corrupt but motivated by seething hatred of their own society, their own culture, their own heritage. Britain’s rulers, its political establishment, its elites, are united in one thing – they all believe that they have a duty to hate Britain.

This hatred seems to have permeated the whole nation. Quaint old-fashioned beliefs, like believing in a duty to love your own country, are virtually unknown.

Even Britain’s “far right” “nationalists” don’t seem to love Britain. Their loyalties seem dubious at best. They might hate immigrants, and some immigrant groups in particular, but that’s not really enough of a basis on which to build actual nationalism. To build a genuine powerful populist nationalist movement you have to have something a lot more positive to offer. Opposing immigration and multiculturalism certainly can be, indeed must be, vital parts of such a nationalist movement but they are not enough. You need to capture people’s imaginations. You need to give people something worth sacrificing for, because people want something that is worth sacrificing for.

There is no sign of this kind of positive nationalism in Britain. Even Brexit was essentially a negative thing. Brexit was important and worthwhile but it wasn’t accompanied by any real enthusiasm for a new positive direction.

Why don’t Britons love Britain?

I’m inclined to think that at least part of it was the shock of losing the Empire and being reduced to the status of an American vassal. The whole idea of British-ness suddenly became pathetic. Britannia no longer ruled the waves. The sun had well and truly set on the British Empire. Britain’s last attempt at an independent foreign policy in the Suez affair ended in humiliation at the hands of the U.S. and Britain thereafter accepted its rôle as Washington’s lapdog. If you were a member of the British ruling class it must have seemed that there was simply nothing left worth ruling over.

There’s an interesting awareness of this in one of John le Carré’s best-known spy thrillers. The British spy who has sold out to the Soviets is not motivated by personal greed and he’s certainly not motivated by any belief in communism. During World War 2 he realised that Britain was becoming an American puppet state and he decided that by serving Britain he was really serving the United States, and he decided that he’d rather serve the Soviets than the Americans. I found that motivation to be oddly plausible.

The British ruling class may have developed an ambivalent attitude towards their new American masters, a mixture of fawning admiration and bitter resentment. And therefore an ambivalent attitude themselves, despising themselves for their servile obedience to Washington and perhaps dealing with this by despising their own country for being so weak. British nationalism seemed to be a futile waste of time.

It may also have affected the ruling class’s attitude towards the working class. The British ruling class always hated and feared the working class but at least in the days of Empire they felt that the poor served a purpose. The Empire always needed cannon fodder. Without the Empire the working class seemed to be a useless menace.

I don’t claim to have definitive answers but I do think we need to ask ourselves why our elites became so hostile, and why the British elites took that hostility to their own nation to such extremes.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s