July 22, 2005

"The Left's War on Britishness"

"The Left's War on Britishness" by Anthony Browne in the Telegraph.

One of the stranger scenes in Bridget Jones Diary is the entry for May 8th, 1995, when Bridget, whose heart is usually in the right place, tries to get her trendy friends to help her put together a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Victory-Europe day. But when she wants to decorate with Union Jacks, her friends think she's gone fascist, and the party never comes off.

Browne writes:

No, the real answer to why Britain spawned people fuelled with maniacal hate for their country is that Britain hates itself. In hating Britain, these British suicide bombers were as British as a police warning for flying the union flag.

Britain’s self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it’s all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over ‘the other’, but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London’s internationalism — in other words, that there is little British left about it...

But self-loathing in a nation, like self-loathing in an individual, is alienating. Someone who despises himself inspires greater contempt than affection, and a country that hates itself cannot expect its newcomers to want to belong.

Only in the last few years has it dawned on the government how dangerous the Left’s war on Britishness really is. Labour ministers now queue up to declare that we need a new sense of British identity. But the ability to learn a few sentences in English and a knowledge of how to claim benefits do not create a national allegiance.

What is needed is something to make the people who live in these islands feel good about being British, but the war on Britishness has imposed a nationwide amnesia about our national story.

The historian Simon Schama wrote that ‘to collude in the minimisation of British history on the grounds of its imagined irrelevance to our rebranded national future, or from a suspicion that it does no more than recycle patriotic pieties unsuited to a global marketplace, would be an act of appallingly self-inflicted collective memory loss’. And as the American philosopher George Santayana warned, ‘A country without a memory is a country of madmen.’

Britain is one of the few countries where it is a source of pride to despise your country. We are all repeatedly taught the things to be ashamed of about Britain, but what about the things to be proud of?

The truth is that Britain’s self-loathing is as unique as it is unwarranted. Britain really is great. These small rainswept isles off the western end of the vast Eurasian landmass have contributed far more to the well-being of the rest of humanity than any other country, bar none.

Well, duh.

If I may interject ...

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. . .

Thank you. I just wanted to get that off my chest. Browne continues:

Sometimes it takes a foreigner to open your eyes. A Norwegian diplomat told me long ago that he was taught at school, as British kids aren’t, that Britain gave the world industrialisation, democracy and football — its economic system, its political system and its fun.

That is just the start of it...

The problem for Britain is not that it has too little to be proud of, but too much.


That's a general problem today ... over the last 500 years, the levels of human accomplishment have been so radically uneven -- Caucasians over all others, Europeans over non-European Caucasians, Western Europeans over Eastern Europeans, and, more arguably, Brits over Continental Western Europeans -- that it seems pointless for living people to take pride in their ancestors' accomplishments because it would be like a man taking pride in men inventing 99% of the stuff worth inventing.

It makes sense these days to celebrate the fact that a woman invented Wite-Out (the mother of Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, to be precise) but it doesn't make much sense to celebrate that a man invented Post-It notes, because men invented, more or less, everything. Likewise, it seems not just in bad taste, but pointless, to celebrate Western Europeans for all they've accomplished because they've accomplished so much.

The downside, though, is that when you downplay traditions of greatness, and when you license envy and tell the most creative to be ashamed of their forebears for making everybody else in the world feel small, you tend to get less greatness in return. Culturally, we seem to be lacking in the confidence that produces greatness.

The tragic irony is that no matter how many multiculti festivals the British government pays for and how much it denigrates its own past, the Pakistanis know that they come from an inferior culture, and it enrages them. On the other hand, these assaults on the pride of the natives has a corrosive effect on their will to create, and they sink into drunken slothfulness.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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