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June 16, 2005

Comments

Tom

Note the shift from Garton Ash's "British" to Orwell's (and Scott's, and your) "English". Not the same.

AHR

Hate to say it but J S Mill, like John Ruskin, was born of Scots parents...

dearieme

"The Home Guard were heroes": very possibly, but they didn't give my dad his shotguns back. Bastards.

Dander

Patriotism makes me cringe. Flag-waving makes me judder. When people say they are proud of Britain or being British I come over all autistic. I just cannot understand what sort of emotion they might be feeling.

Do I fit into the mould of the self-hating squishy left? Not likely. Not with my realpolitik voting record. It's just that I have a problem with "Pride".

What does it mean to say you're PROUD to be British? As far as I can tell what's happening at a sub-conscious level is that you are augmenting your sense of identity or self-worth by annexing to it some widely-acclaimed fact or historical personality. Newton was a genius; Newton was from Lincolnshire; I'm from Lincolnshire - you see what us Lincolnshire yellow-bellies are like?

I've never felt proud of being British; just as I wasn't shamed by Heysel or genocide in Tasmania or Celebrity Love Island.

Can someone analyze for me what pride feels like - to someone who suspects it's a vicarious technique of pseudo-superiority?

I didn't win two world wars and one world cup. I didn't write 'On Liberty'. Why should I be proud of other people's achievements and muscle in on their glory?

Even if - and it's a gargantuan if - we accept that some of these exploits have helped create a culture that rubs off on me, so what? It's not my achievement.

My missing sense of pride extends to other countries. I find it illogical. And this applies as much to Italian pride of their beautiful language, French pride of their cuisine, Dutch pride of their progressive society etc. etc. etc.

Scott Campbell at Blithering Bunny

>just as I wasn't shamed by... genocide in Tasmania

Why would you be ashamed of something that never happened?

Paddy Carter

I quite agree Dander, and like you wonder exactly what the hell people are feeling when they talk of being "proud" - some sort of football-fan-like unconditional devotion or tribal fervour, I suppose. Then again people also talk of being proud when their spouse get promotion at work, for instance, which is something else again.

However I think when people talk about things that make them proud to be British, they just mean things they like about Britain, that make them pleased to be British. In that sense I'm proud to be British - there's loads to like about the place (nevermind all the bad bits)

Dander

I knew the examples were controversial (some people think the 'love shack' is pure genius). If the Tasmanian example is too contentious, pick you own example of imperial excess.

If you can't think of any, lump that into the list of things that make some people proud to be British but that leave me cold.

Dander

I knew the examples were controversial (some people think the 'love shack' is pure genius). If the Tasmanian example is too contentious, pick you own example of imperial excess.

If you can't think of any, lump that into the list of things that make some people proud to be British but that leave me cold.

dearieme

Come off it, Blithers. Of course it happened. Dead easy: you form a line of armed men, a yard or so apart, across Tasmania from coast to coast, and then you advance just as if you were beating game birds. You shoot every abo you put up until you've beaten the whole island. Handy that Tasmania is a grass-covered flatland that measures about 1 mile by one mile, isn't it?

Blimpish

Be warned: I believe Scott is a real live Tasmanian, so I'm guessing he knows quite a bit about such stuff.

Obviously, I'm offended by the rank treachery on display in some of these comments. How weird a society this is, historically, where it's viewed as odd to be proud of our own. But that's all from me - right now I'm going to go off to fly the flag and law down some good British governance across the world.

Tim Worstall

Wasn’t it Rhodes? Winning the lottery of life by being born an Englishman?

Angry_Economist

A close relative of mine is not British and it amuses me when they see the country for what it is from an outsider's perspective. Through her eyes its a bit of a dirty smelly place, where many people are uneducated and behave in an uncivilised manner and there are many incompetent people running businesses. She came from an ex-communist country expecting the streets to be clean, everyone to be sophisticated, charming, polite and intellectual! she got a bit of a shock. Major plus points are higher standard of living, freedom, security, freedom of press and speech, pop culture, lack of corruption.

I like Britain and its an extremely stimulating and diverse place to live. I think quite a few people enjoy wallowing in their own sh*t too much though (see above).

flapple

I quite like visiting england, and London seems nice if you earn an investment bankers salary. But is is a bit crowded, dirty and uncooth. Public services are unreformed like they were in Australia twenty years ago and service in shops is like a communist country.

Me and my Australian mates call it "the richest third world country there is".

If you want to see real football, come to Melbourne and watch some Aussie Rules Football, it fixes all the crap things about soccer (like not being able to pick the ball up and never scoring any goals).

Toni

Are you really serious about British beer?

David Wildgoose

Well I'm proud to be English.

I don't care what the socialist self-haters think, this country has probably done more good overall than any other in the world. It's not perfect, after all, who is? But on balance, we've got a lot to be proud of.

APM

Re point 10: Americans more likely to have ended up speaking German. When the national language was decided, there were apparently more German speaking people than English. Fortunately of those few voting on it, the majority spoke English.

Could it have made the second world war turn out slightly differently I wonder?

Dander

To David Wildgoose: why are you proud of something that other people (arguably) did? It had nothing to do with you. Not your story, not your glory.

The French think that they did more than any other to sow democracy and liberty (there's an amazingly pompous inscription on the Pompidou statue on Avenue Winston Churchill in Paris - if anyone can recall it). Are you sure they're wrong?

The Americans believe it of themselves too.

I can't take French pride in la Revolution seriously. I can't take American pride in the land of the free seriously. Why should I take an English passport holder's pride any more seriously?

Show me why I'm wrong without resorting to name calling.
(not that you would).

chris

Pride in being British has *always* been inauthentic. Kipling did a hatchet job on it in "Stalky & Co.", for Gods's sake. The appropriate emotional response to being British is relief.

Oh, and the elision of British/English is OK, because the whole fiction of Great Britain was made up by the English to keep the Scots in order, and nobody else really believes in it. There's a dubious joke among white South Africans that "We used to get the blacks to do the garden, now we get them to do the government." A lot of English feel like that about the Scots and Welsh.

dearieme

APM: "When the national language was decided, there were apparently more German speaking people than English. Fortunately of those few voting on it, the majority spoke English." Good yarn, but entirely bogus.

dearieme

P.S. APM, here's a site:- http://www.serve.com/shea/germusa/dtinusa.htm

Monjo

How can we be proud of Britain when someone who works for the FT can't spell analyse? Being proud, flag-waving jingoism is very American - normally it is a sign of an inferiority complex. If your country really is so free, so rich and so great - why the hell do you need to remind everyone all the time?

Seems to me the only country that doesnt need to worry about showing pride is England (lesser extend Britain/UK) because everyone else is jealous. (That said we do seem to have a small inferiority complex to Germany at football)

Irene Adler

If your country really is so free, so rich and so great - why the hell do you need to remind everyone all the time?

I don't like all the American flag-waving that much, but your comments show you don't understand Yank psychology very much. We don't talk about the "land of the free" to remind "everyone." It's to remind ourselves -- what we could lose if we aren't careful.

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

bob aldridge

all you knockers have no idea ,this is agreat country still the best in the world and if your not proud to be english your not english

jsmith

who gives a shit bout all this comments.. i live in the best country in the world that is england.. if your not proud of england u dont deserve to be called english.. fly the flag with pride

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