May 2, 2008

English Nationalism

The fact that English Nationalism has been weak in recent history should be a cause for celebration. Nationalism creates a division, an ‘us and them’ mentality that breeds mistrust and that tends to encourage confrontation. Nationalism is a throwback, something to be avoided, a sign that one is not mature.
Although it is difficult when you are provoked by people like Alex Salmond and French politicians, remember you are an individual first before you are English. Strive to be an individual before a member of any group and you will feel a far greater sense of pride than comes with nationalism.



  1. This struck a chord with me – I feel very uncomfortable with any kind of flag-waving. As you say we are foremost individuals, then many other things about us define who we are. Where you were born or now live does not define you, it’s just a part of your character.

    In my home town they have just ‘celebrated’ St George’s day and every shop and lamppost is decorated with English flags – I can’t quite put my finger what I dislike about this so much, but somehow because this is where I live, I feel this reflects on me, and it comes over as a very narrow, inward looking nationalism – I actually really hate it, and feel embarassed walking down the high street. As you say, Nationalism creates an ‘us & them’ mentality, which I hate as well. But then maybe it’s just a bit of harmless fun…

    Maybe it’s me, I just hate being pigeon-holed (guess that’s why I’m not so keen on organised religion). We are all citizens of the world, and all equal.

    Comment by 4fooey — May 2, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

  2. As a Continental European, Spanish and Catalan living in the UK, South East, Bucks, it is difficult to transform my city, region, country, continent origin into a new island, county and town feeling of ownership.

    I was never keen on flags and nations, it is so 17th century that only the gullible crowds can fall into nationalism these days.

    I have been living around the world for a number of years and everything is down to sharing the same values.

    Communities were built around a protective noble, and hence under the fist of violence. In the 21st century, we no longer have to put up with oppressive governments, we can vote with our feet and move to the next corner of the world where we can feel comfortable by people who share our values.

    On a different note, our high street was also blanketed on St George flags, and since he is also Catalonia’s patron saint, it made me feel even more in tune with my place of birth.

    That reminds me of the weakening strength of traditions, the ultimate grandfather of values.

    Right and wrong can no longer be learnt from your community any more. Nowadays right and wrong is a personal decision. They will take your money and assets through market bubbles, inflation and deflation and raising taxes. But at the end of the day it is our shared values that make me enjoy our pint down the local pub.

    Comment by .Calvin — May 20, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  3. Thanks for your comments .Calvin
    I have been considering a post recently on socialising and affinity groups. You seem to be a good example of the reason why I have been musing on it. It will have two parts: an observation and a hypothesis drawn from it.
    The observation I will be making is that increased mobility in recent decades and more recently the use of tools available on the internet, have changed patterns of socialising and affinity grouping. Increased mobility released us from the need for socialising and other forms of interaction with people in a small geographical region, such as our neighbours. The internet banishes geography as a limitation for many concerns, so that we can be selective on a broader range of criteria and seek out those who are very like minded. I feel this is a big social change and will be advancing a hypothesis that it highlights two important social trends.
    One trend is how easily shifted our attitudes and ultimately allegiances are becoming. We are less tolerant of incongruence as we seek that perfect friend, partner or associate, because we feel we can be. I will go on to suggest that while this freedom is good, it may resolve to a greater sense of dissatisfaction and alienation as people take less trouble to adjust their behaviour to get along, preferring to move on to the next potential match. I am thinking this will highlight the tragic elements of human nature that tend to press us toward our own isolation. It may also denude some skills such as concession and empathy as we feel less need to compromise. This may also have implications for everyday human interaction as people perhaps become more distant, treating direct human contact as an orchestrated interaction constrained within Victorian style norms.
    The other trend is distributed emergent affinity groups that will become power bases for ideologies. Initially the formation of these ideology groups will bring power to the most informed and developed economic groups, but in time as the tools become pervasive the effect will be neutral. However, they do enable a shift in power away from national preoccupations and so may have a positive global impact as they break down national boundaries. This has the potential to become incendiary to the current breed of politician, who may eventual become redundant in a new order. I am an optimistic person by nature and consider this to be a potential vanguard for the intelligentsia to finally arrest power from the old tribal system of big chief politicians with their fundamentally self serving and egomaniacal personalities. I have considered creating such an ideological affinity group, but it requires intelligent individuals brave enough to get behind the idea. It is not obvious to me that enough intelligent people are motivated enough to bring about such a change at this time.

    Comment by conceptualizer — May 20, 2008 @ 11:48 am

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