PDA

View Full Version : British Nationalism



riadach
07-01-2014, 10:21 AM
One of the topics on which the SNP has been taken to task by commentators is its pursuit of what many view as the outdated ideology of Nationalism. Naturally, nationalism in itself is a broad concept, it can be as simple as identifying with one nation over another, or it can involve chauvinistic notions of inferiority and superiority.

Given that it is but one weapon in the arsenal of those who wish for the United Kingdom to remain exactly that, it's interesting to note that members of the current British cabinet could be accused of a British Nationalism. One can possibly infer this by the consistent emphasis on immigration and of course, the pressure to glorify (as opposed to commemorate) war dead, as well as by the arguments used in favour of withdrawing from the European Union. Various attempts are made to define and redefine Britishness, associating it with justice or democratic values, all the while dismissing or ignoring the non-English elements of British identity. A recent proposal (which never got legs) to make dole payments dependent on fluency in English seemed to ignore that there were generations of British people who haven't a word of it.

However, a much more obvious example reared its head this week in relation to how British academics deal with WWI. Michael Gove, the controversial education secretary, accused historians (who he terms left-wing) of being anti-patriotic by depicting the British government and army in WWI in a negative light. This is of course the same Michael Gove who tried to push through a new primary history curriculum focussing solely on an uncritical and celebratory narrative of British history.

His broadside against academics has not gone unanswered however, a recent article in the Guardian by Historian Richard J Evans has excoriated Gove for his approach.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/06/richard-evans-michael-gove-history-education

Naturally, nationalism exists everywhere. But is it not slightly hypocritical to point out the dangers of nationalism in one scenario yet unashamedly celebrate it in another?

Saoirse go Deo
07-01-2014, 10:36 AM
I think people associate nationalism with fascism and right wing ideology, however this is not always the case. Nationalism can, and has been in the past, a positive thing. Would many of us argue that, in the round, Irish nationalism has been a negative influence on Irish history? "Nationalism" is not, as a rule, a negative. It depends on the circumstances.

Unfortunately you get those on the left who - as part of their ongoing mission to criticize, sabotage and attack everyone ensuring they themselves do nothing except feel superior - attack any sentiment of nationalism regardless of whether or not this nationalism manifests itself in a struggle for national liberation.

Of course fascists and others have tried to utilize nationalism for their own ends - in this case the are trying to exploit a distorted British nationalist sentiment to trump any sense of Scottish nationalism.

Holly
07-01-2014, 01:26 PM
Michael Gove is a simpleton.

fluffybiscuits
07-01-2014, 03:01 PM
One of the topics on which the SNP has been taken to task by commentators is its pursuit of what many view as the outdated ideology of Nationalism. Naturally, nationalism in itself is a broad concept, it can be as simple as identifying with one nation over another, or it can involve chauvinistic notions of inferiority and superiority.

Given that it is but one weapon in the arsenal of those who wish for the United Kingdom to remain exactly that, it's interesting to note that members of the current British cabinet could be accused of a British Nationalism. One can possibly infer this by the consistent emphasis on immigration and of course, the pressure to glorify (as opposed to commemorate) war dead, as well as by the arguments used in favour of withdrawing from the European Union. Various attempts are made to define and redefine Britishness, associating it with justice or democratic values, all the while dismissing or ignoring the non-English elements of British identity. A recent proposal (which never got legs) to make dole payments dependent on fluency in English seemed to ignore that there were generations of British people who haven't a word of it.

However, a much more obvious example reared its head this week in relation to how British academics deal with WWI. Michael Gove, the controversial education secretary, accused historians (who he terms left-wing) of being anti-patriotic by depicting the British government and army in WWI in a negative light. This is of course the same Michael Gove who tried to push through a new primary history curriculum focussing solely on an uncritical and celebratory narrative of British history.

His broadside against academics has not gone unanswered however, a recent article in the Guardian by Historian Richard J Evans has excoriated Gove for his approach.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/06/richard-evans-michael-gove-history-education

Naturally, nationalism exists everywhere. But is it not slightly hypocritical to point out the dangers of nationalism in one scenario yet unashamedly celebrate it in another?


Great post Riadach.

The two concepts of nationalism immedieately that come to mind for me are Irish nationalism and British nationalism, the former a usually left wing socailist ideaology and the latter filled to the brim with right wing xenophobic rhetoric. British nationalism has been exploited by both the BNP and UKIP to garner votes and grab the attention of the media. People become hysterical when immigration is mentioned and they froth at the mouth (the usual individuals know who they are) with accusations levelled against innocent immigrants. This is not unlike the tactics adopted by the Nazis in the run up to WW2 scapegoating the Jewish population for the downfall of German society, without invoking godwins law, British nationalism is a lot like this. Closer to home we have the Unionists up north who fit the very stereoptypical right wing tag of being religiously nutty with a side order of xenophobia, sure they have strong links to the British far right. Goves proposals for the British education system would have done two things. Firstly it would have been a whitewash of actual British history, a dangerous revisionism and secondly it would have reinforced the notion that somehow colonialism was a great notion.

riadach
07-01-2014, 03:34 PM
Great post Riadach.

The two concepts of nationalism immedieately that come to mind for me are Irish nationalism and British nationalism, the former a usually left wing socailist ideaology and the latter filled to the brim with right wing xenophobic rhetoric. British nationalism has been exploited by both the BNP and UKIP to garner votes and grab the attention of the media. People become hysterical when immigration is mentioned and they froth at the mouth (the usual individuals know who they are) with accusations levelled against innocent immigrants. This is not unlike the tactics adopted by the Nazis in the run up to WW2 scapegoating the Jewish population for the downfall of German society, without invoking godwins law, British nationalism is a lot like this. Closer to home we have the Unionists up north who fit the very stereoptypical right wing tag of being religiously nutty with a side order of xenophobia, sure they have strong links to the British far right. Goves proposals for the British education system would have done two things. Firstly it would have been a whitewash of actual British history, a dangerous revisionism and secondly it would have reinforced the notion that somehow colonialism was a great notion.

Indeed. There seems to be a lot of revisionism which seeks to downplay the negative impact of British colonialism and imperialism. Ironically though, Niall Ferguson, who is to the forefront of such a movement, as Evans points out, has a very negative view of British policy and actions leading up to WWI. The interesting question is, has nationalism always been part and parcel of the Tory party, or is it something recent given the intense competition from right, the UKIP and the BNP?

fluffybiscuits
07-01-2014, 03:46 PM
Indeed. There seems to be a lot of revisionism which seeks to downplay the negative impact of British colonialism and imperialism. Ironically though, Niall Ferguson, who is to the forefront of such a movement, as Evans points out, has a very negative view of British policy and actions leading up to WWI. The interesting question is, has nationalism always been part and parcel of the Tory party, or is it something recent given the intense competition from right, the UKIP and the BNP?

One name - Enoch Powell. The man embodied everything nationalistic about the Tories.

riadach
07-01-2014, 03:50 PM
As an interesting aside, I took notice of the respective, yet contrasting, statements of both Enda Kenny and David Cameron on their recent visit to the war memorial at Ypres.

Mr Kenny said: ""It's very striking when you stand there and look at the names of your own country people who fought in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and the senseless slaughter that occurred, and to visit the graveyards and see the names. It is very poignant and very powerful"

Notice the reference to senseless slaughter, that the soldiers were mislead. He is clearly mourning the loss of these soldiers as individuals.

Mr Cameron, however, said in a visitor's book for Willie Redmond: ""It is an honour to visit with the Irish PM to commemorate all those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, including this historic site."

Clearly Mr Cameron did not view the war as senseless slaughter, he thought they all died for a reason. Death in the war was not a mournful loss, but a bravely given sacrifice. This is far more jingoistic, and tends a lot more towards glorification, as opposed to commemoration, of the war dead.

Isn't it a wonder that two men could go to a place to do the same thing and be impressed upon in two radically different ways?

http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1219/493745-enda-kenny-david-cameron/

riadach
07-01-2014, 03:52 PM
One name - Enoch Powell. The man embodied everything nationalistic about the Tories.

Indeed. They have always been jingoistic, militaristic, anti-immigrant, is that enough to constitute Nationalism? Maybe the nature (or lack of) of Britishness has withstrained them slightly in that regard.

Shaadi
07-01-2014, 04:54 PM
As an interesting aside, I took notice of the respective, yet contrasting, statements of both Enda Kenny and David Cameron on their recent visit to the war memorial at Ypres.

Mr Kenny said: ""It's very striking when you stand there and look at the names of your own country people who fought in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and the senseless slaughter that occurred, and to visit the graveyards and see the names. It is very poignant and very powerful"

Notice the reference to senseless slaughter, that the soldiers were mislead. He is clearly mourning the loss of these soldiers as individuals.

Mr Cameron, however, said in a visitor's book for Willie Redmond: ""It is an honour to visit with the Irish PM to commemorate all those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, including this historic site."

Clearly Mr Cameron did not view the war as senseless slaughter, he thought they all died for a reason. Death in the war was not a mournful loss, but a bravely given sacrifice. This is far more jingoistic, and tends a lot more towards glorification, as opposed to commemoration, of the war dead.

Isn't it a wonder that two men could go to a place to do the same thing and be impressed upon in two radically different ways?

http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1219/493745-enda-kenny-david-cameron/Interesting that Kenny would stray from the vassal IPP side of his parties traditional sympathies re the sacrifice into a more Irish Nationalistic POV re the waste of life.

The British Establishment fosters British Nationalism to a ridiculous extent, but also in a super-national way, as in it is inculcated into the masses that the UK as a great country still carries the whiteman's burden to civilise the planet and pocket a few pounds as a happy by-product of their selfless endeavours.

The plebs knew this and were happy to play their part in that commercial venture as the foot soldiers. Their loyalty bought by having employment provided for them. But now the UK is receding rapidly in military status in a rapidly developing multi-polar world and seems to be heading for a very large population for its geographical size who are going to have to have to compete industrially with the world. Living standards are dropping and the foot soldiers are the ones competing with the immigrants.

It's not PC, but if I was living in the UK I'd be seriously concerned at the level of competition for employment and the deflationary effect on incomes from same and would be voting for a limit on immigration out of economic necessity. It's not so bad here where we have living space and always seem to have our own surplus every so often to drive down wages.

It's funny to see the UK resisting EU super-Nationalism while trying to embrace the commercial aspect of it at the same time. It's all a bit mad, no ones position seems to be quite as definite as they are laying out and the results are going to be unpredictable.

Apjp
07-01-2014, 05:03 PM
As an interesting aside, I took notice of the respective, yet contrasting, statements of both Enda Kenny and David Cameron on their recent visit to the war memorial at Ypres.

Mr Kenny said: ""It's very striking when you stand there and look at the names of your own country people who fought in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and the senseless slaughter that occurred, and to visit the graveyards and see the names. It is very poignant and very powerful"

Notice the reference to senseless slaughter, that the soldiers were mislead. He is clearly mourning the loss of these soldiers as individuals.

Mr Cameron, however, said in a visitor's book for Willie Redmond: ""It is an honour to visit with the Irish PM to commemorate all those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom, including this historic site."

Clearly Mr Cameron did not view the war as senseless slaughter, he thought they all died for a reason. Death in the war was not a mournful loss, but a bravely given sacrifice. This is far more jingoistic, and tends a lot more towards glorification, as opposed to commemoration, of the war dead.

Isn't it a wonder that two men could go to a place to do the same thing and be impressed upon in two radically different ways?

http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1219/493745-enda-kenny-david-cameron/

Kenny is just pandering to a domestic audience. He isn't any less of a Tory or Plastic Brit than Cameron is.

Holly
07-01-2014, 05:43 PM
Kenny is just pandering to a domestic audience. He isn't any less of a Tory or Plastic Brit than Cameron is.
There is reason to believe that, had Ireland remained within the UK, people like Enda Kenny would have comfortably belonged to the Tory Party and Labour would have been part of New Labour under Tony Blair.

Apjp
07-01-2014, 06:30 PM
There is reason to believe that, had Ireland remained within the UK, people like Enda Kenny would have comfortably belonged to the Tory Party and Labour would have been part of New Labour under Tony Blair.

Of course they would have. They're the exact same.

Saoirse go Deo
07-01-2014, 06:32 PM
Of course they would have. They're the exact same.

Sure a lot of the Irish "labour" party go canvass for their British pals - Ged Nash did at the last election.

fluffybiscuits
07-01-2014, 07:15 PM
Interesting that Kenny would stray from the vassal IPP side of his parties traditional sympathies re the sacrifice into a more Irish Nationalistic POV re the waste of life.

The British Establishment fosters British Nationalism to a ridiculous extent, but also in a super-national way, as in it is inculcated into the masses that the UK as a great country still carries the whiteman's burden to civilise the planet and pocket a few pounds as a happy by-product of their selfless endeavours.

The plebs knew this and were happy to play their part in that commercial venture as the foot soldiers. Their loyalty bought by having employment provided for them. But now the UK is receding rapidly in military status in a rapidly developing multi-polar world and seems to be heading for a very large population for its geographical size who are going to have to have to compete industrially with the world. Living standards are dropping and the foot soldiers are the ones competing with the immigrants.

It's not PC, but if I was living in the UK I'd be seriously concerned at the level of competition for employment and the deflationary effect on incomes from same and would be voting for a limit on immigration out of economic necessity. It's not so bad here where we have living space and always seem to have our own surplus every so often to drive down wages.

It's funny to see the UK resisting EU super-Nationalism while trying to embrace the commercial aspect of it at the same time. It's all a bit mad, no ones position seems to be quite as definite as they are laying out and the results are going to be unpredictable.

Stick that on the twitter machine and watch them tie themselves up in knots!

morticia
07-01-2014, 09:16 PM
Indeed. There seems to be a lot of revisionism which seeks to downplay the negative impact of British colonialism and imperialism. Ironically though, Niall Ferguson, who is to the forefront of such a movement, as Evans points out, has a very negative view of British policy and actions leading up to WWI. The interesting question is, has nationalism always been part and parcel of the Tory party, or is it something recent given the intense competition from right, the UKIP and the BNP?

As far as I can tell, it's been at the forefront of most British parties, with the possible exception of Labour, until the 1960's and 70's when it became slightly less fashionable and Britain's decline on the world stage became very apparent. Seems to be on the rise again now owing to grass roots objection to competing for employment. However, the Tory fat cat boss class is not averse to cheap labour and the City needs diverse, more educated talent, so they're being very two faced.. We see an apparent complete inability to control non-EU migration, and a vast amount of ineffectual hot air designed to temporarily placate the masses. To add insult to injury, there is a vast cohort of undereducated Brits who can't compete well for many jobs owing to not being able to string two words together. That's what a completely segregated education system will achieve... If you can't afford the catchment area for a good school, or a private education. Anecdotally, there are some jobs native Brits won't do... Probably too badly paid or illegal (below minimum wage), I don't know. An example would be fruit picking. So big employers claim they need immigrants, for diverse reasons. And they get them, despite the hysteria

Pearse Monnet
09-01-2014, 02:33 PM
Socialists in most of the world are nationalists
- James Connolly
- Fidel Castro
- Nelson Mandela
- Frantz Fanon
- Ho Chi Minh
- Mao
- The Italian Red Brigades
- 1) Fatah, 2) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, 3) Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- Hugo Chavez
- Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana (and a whole plethora of other figures involved in the period of Settler Decolonisation in Africa)
- Benito Juárez
- Abdul Gamel Nasser
- ETA
- The Movement for an Independent Socialist Canada (known colloquially as the Waffles) of which Leo Panitch (Prof of Political Science at York University and editor of the Socialist Register) was a member

(No doubt there will be disagreement over who I included in the list of socialists; I’m being very broad to make a point.)

It’s only socialist parties in Europe that were infected with this Euro-communism thing that has disdain for nationalism. Oh and some from the New Left tradition, the likes of Danny Cohn-Bendit. One of the biggest cheerleaders of the EU in this state, Paul Gillespie (and his clone Paddy Smyth), was in the SWiPs in his yoof.

Some people who started out as socialists came to later identify with the imperialist mentality found in the Establishment of most of the former empires.

In the ‘70s (?) the suggestion got hold that somehow the de-nationalised Proletariat in the EU member states would rise up and make the EU socialist! Now answers on a Postcard as to how exactly this would happen. It’s never really been specified.

From my perspective, people are not more internationalised now but rather de-politicised.

C. Flower
09-01-2014, 10:02 PM
I think people associate nationalism with fascism and right wing ideology, however this is not always the case. Nationalism can, and has been in the past, a positive thing. Would many of us argue that, in the round, Irish nationalism has been a negative influence on Irish history? "Nationalism" is not, as a rule, a negative. It depends on the circumstances.

Unfortunately you get those on the left who - as part of their ongoing mission to criticize, sabotage and attack everyone ensuring they themselves do nothing except feel superior - attack any sentiment of nationalism regardless of whether or not this nationalism manifests itself in a struggle for national liberation.

Of course fascists and others have tried to utilize nationalism for their own ends - in this case the are trying to exploit a distorted British nationalist sentiment to trump any sense of Scottish nationalism.

There probably is some kind of British nationalism, mainly in Ireland - over the other side, it is English, Scottish or Welsh nationalism, mainly.

Dr. FIVE
10-01-2014, 12:28 AM
There probably is some kind of British nationalism, mainly in Ireland - over the other side, it is English, Scottish or Welsh nationalism, mainly.

It's a funny one because Britishness is a civic identity but plays completely different in different places where second, third generation immigrants would quite comfortably identify as British but never English. This gets flipped on it's head in Scotland and back again in East Belfast where you won't find many Northern Irish. Nationalism while ultimately toxic is incredibly powerful and there is no getting away from how it has been used in many liberation struggles across the globe, if only in breaking the European chauvinism that got them there in the first place, before fuelling civil war and all the rest.

Dr. FIVE
10-01-2014, 12:33 AM
Unfortunately you get those on the left who - as part of their ongoing mission to criticize, sabotage and attack everyone ensuring they themselves do nothing except feel superior - attack any sentiment of nationalism regardless of whether or not this nationalism manifests itself in a struggle for national liberation.



you do understand though, as seen since 1922, why national liberation could be viewed as no liberation at all.

Saoirse go Deo
10-01-2014, 12:58 AM
you do understand though, as seen since 1922, why national liberation could be viewed as no liberation at all.

But there was no national liberation in Ireland, in either sense. It was crushed by a counter revolution. The point I was trying to make, PM put it far better. Nationalism, socialism and struggle for national liberation are often intertwined - we have seen this in Ireland.

We have seen many examples of the attitude from some of the left I mentioned - it manifested itself in pro imperialist politics - even if we limit the discussion to our small island there are innumerable examples.

National liberation is far better than the impossible dream of universal simultaneous revolution. To belittle and attack the former while demanding the latter only ever results, at best, in zero progress for anyone.

Shaadi
10-01-2014, 01:03 AM
you do understand though, as seen since 1922, why national liberation could be viewed as no liberation at all.The point is that Liberation was achieved. The choices of the liberated majority were free choices to make, that they chose to not ask for much off their choices is another matter, but the freedom was there to do whatever the majority wanted.

Labour in particular failed to create a radical space in an Irish politics that was open in the early era.. and have failed miserably ever since to lead the population out of the post Civil War wilderness.

Dr. FIVE
10-01-2014, 02:29 AM
But there was no national liberation in Ireland, in either sense. It was crushed by a counter revolution. The point I was trying to make, PM put it far better. Nationalism, socialism and struggle for national liberation are often intertwined - we have seen this in Ireland.

We have seen many examples of the attitude from some of the left I mentioned - it manifested itself in pro imperialist politics - even if we limit the discussion to our small island there are innumerable examples.

National liberation is far better than the impossible dream of universal simultaneous revolution. To belittle and attack the former while demanding the latter only ever results, at best, in zero progress for anyone.

yes but your post implied the scepticism was irrational so I am only point towards the root.


The point is that Liberation was achieved. The choices of the liberated majority were free choices to make,

ah here, you know there is a bit more to it than that.

Shaadi
10-01-2014, 03:01 AM
Ah here, you know there is a bit more to it than that.There was the old Carnival Of Reaction alright, but the people get exactly what the people vote for and they consistently very deliberately voted for FF and FG conservatism in droves. It could have been different, but Labour were not ambitious or committed enough to take their chances when they were offered to them.

Ogiol
10-01-2014, 09:18 AM
There was the old Carnival Of Reaction alright, but the people get exactly what the people vote for and they consistently very deliberately voted for FF and FG conservatism in droves. It could have been different, but Labour were not ambitious or committed enough to take their chances when they were offered to them.

I think that you still can't take this out of it's historical context of huge emigration, which stunted natural anti-conservative forces, ever since the foundation of the state. The ever present hang-up from an górta mór and the unnatural partition which was imposed under threat also allowed the two conservative parties to continue playing politics on the nationalist field rather than the right vs. left one, thus further undermining the possibilities of the left.

Pearse Monnet
24-09-2014, 02:34 PM
http://i1315.photobucket.com/albums/t586/blancho15/Other%20Political%20World%20dor%20org%20Threads/BritishNationalism_zps1be63668.jpg (http://s1315.photobucket.com/user/blancho15/media/Other%20Political%20World%20dor%20org%20Threads/BritishNationalism_zps1be63668.jpg.html)

Photo showing Aberdeen bootboy placing himself next to British new Labour MP Anne Begg for promotional purposes – the photo appeared on their website.
It is disingenuous of the National Front in Scotland to do this. It is also disingenuous of the YES campaigners to use this when Anne Begg was clearly sprung upon for the photo op.

However, the recent referendum on Scottish secession from the British state that has seen British new Labour appear on the same side of a political divide as neo Nazis is interesting. Both were arguing for a NO vote to “retain the Union so as to keep a strong United Kingdom” (both Lab and BNP used this formula of words).

C. Flower
24-09-2014, 02:58 PM
There is also anti-imperialism, which often puts people for a time into the same camp as nationalists, but which is quite different from nationalism.

C. Flower
24-09-2014, 02:59 PM
http://i1315.photobucket.com/albums/t586/blancho15/Other%20Political%20World%20dor%20org%20Threads/BritishNationalism_zps1be63668.jpg (http://s1315.photobucket.com/user/blancho15/media/Other%20Political%20World%20dor%20org%20Threads/BritishNationalism_zps1be63668.jpg.html)

Photo showing Aberdeen bootboy placing himself next to British new Labour MP Anne Begg for promotional purposes – the photo appeared on their website.
It is disingenuous of the National Front in Scotland to do this. It is also disingenuous of the YES campaigners to use this when Anne Begg was clearly sprung upon for the photo op.

However, the recent referendum on Scottish secession from the British state that has seen British new Labour appear on the same side of a political divide as neo Nazis is interesting. Both were arguing for a NO vote to “retain the Union so as to keep a strong United Kingdom” (both Lab and BNP used this formula of words).

Who produced that graphicand the "Anyone but Labour" slogan ?

Pearse Monnet
24-09-2014, 03:14 PM
Who produced that graphicand the "Anyone but Labour" slogan ?

it turned up on the feed on me fb page. i've just spent a few minutes scrolling thru the activity log . . i dunno where it came from TBH. Its hard to keep track of all these gadgets !

Pearse Monnet
24-09-2014, 03:16 PM
There is also anti-imperialism, which often puts people for a time into the same camp as nationalists, but which is quite different from nationalism.

yup, nicely summed up by Billy Bragg in an article "Scottish nationalism and British nationalism aren’t the same"
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/16/scottish-nationalism-british-westminster-class