Yes, it is great to be British. We do live in a country with a great many freedoms and a long history of fighting for social justice against the tyranny of an elite (The establishment – the kings, queens, aristocracy and wealthy).
This present state is the result of an ongoing struggle and compromise. Given half an inch the establishment are quite happy to claim a larger slice of the cake and control us.
It’s not as blatant as it used to be. They don’t send in the troops and kill people. These days they deploy propaganda through their media, fund their party (parties) and use lobbying, threats, bribes and blackmail to gain what they want through ballot box and parliament. Which is why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. It is why tax loopholes are never sorted and things always work in their favour. It’s no accident.
So it is strange to see this surge in Nationalism in working people and pride in what Britain stood for – its glory as an empire. Except, of course, the working people never actually profited from the empire. It was the elite who planned it, led it and took the spoils. The common man was deployed as soldiers, cannon fodder, to overcome the natives so that they could be exploited by the elite. The common man worked in the factories on starvation wages and was exploited by the same elite who exploited the people in far-off lands. They lived in mansions. The rest of us lived in slums.
But still, we are British and proud.
Except, what is this Britishness? Are we British?
Who are the British?
Have we are British culture?
It depends when you put the pin in history I guess. We are often called Anglo Saxon but are we?
I’m British. My Grandmother was Irish, my Grandfather was Scottish, my other Grandfather was cockney and my other Grandmother was from Lancashire. You don’t get much more British than that!
But the original inhabitants of Britain weren’t Anglo-Saxon; they were probably Pict, Celt or Gaul. Tribes migrating in from central Europe who probably originated in India.
So the first British were Indo-European.
After that it’s a question of which era you want.
The Angles and Saxons came in from Germany and displaced and integrated with the Celts. So the culture was Germanic.
The Vikings came in and took over large swathes of Britain. So the prevailing culture was Scandinavian.
The Romans came and took over, integrating and controlling. So the prevailing culture was Italian.
The Normans conquered the country and the prevailing culture was French.
When the trade routes opened up and the Empire got in its stride a few hundred years ago there was an influx of Chinese, Arabs, Africans, Indians, Jews and people from all over.
Then there were the refugees – the Huguenots, the Jews, Armenians and lately the Arabs.
Then we had the people brought in for cheap labour – the Pakistanis, the Indians, Jamaicans and more recently the Eastern Europeans.
Sexual attraction is great isn’t it? We are ruled by biology. Hence the British have a rich mixture of genes, races, language and heritage. But purity? No, we haven’t any of that. We are a hybrid race compounded from many diverse sources. Our culture is hybrid. Our language is hybrid. We are so much richer because of it.
I recently had a DNA test for my heritage. It seems that I have a genetic background from Germany, France and Iberia. So I am not so much British as European.
So what is this nationalism? Why do we see working class people dressing up as crusaders and claiming so kind of superiority.
Seemingly they have chosen to stick the pin in a certain moment in our history and claim it as pure British. Weird huh? The fact that those knights who they are mimicking were the aristocracy – the wealthy elite who rode on horses, had tents and servants – while the army they were in charge of were on foot, slept rough and were a raggle-taggle. The whole bunch were a polyglot of races and nationalities conscripted for the wages and loot, and propelled by fanatical religious propaganda. Hardly what was being represented by this idealised version.
Makes me laugh.
Our patron saint – St George was Turkish
Our Royal Family is German (Prince Philip being Greek)
Our Prime Minister is Turkish
Our aristocracy is French, German and heaven knows what.
So what is this nationalism based on? This hatred of French and German? This xenophobia, racism and arrogance?
Who are the British?
What are the traditions that are intrinsically British? The ability to invade and conquer? Morris Dancing? Talking with a plum in the mouth? English food – fish and chips and bangers and mash? Christmas? Christianity?
We imported it all. It has evolved through time. There is no essence of Britishness.
History is mainly the story of the rich and powerful elite and the exploitation of everybody else. Is that what nationalists hanker after? Do they really imagine themselves as the Lords of the Manor and not see themselves as the scum of the earth?
I’ll take pride in the Britishness of fighting against the elite for justice, freedom and greater equality. That seems worthy to me!! Do you think for a second that the exploitation has stopped?
The more you look at it the sillier it becomes!!