England: The Glory that was and may yet be (Robert Henderson)


Robert Henderson

National identity is most commonly presented in terms of such banalities as “national dress” (often a mark of past servitude), food and crafts or in the more demanding but still narrow world of High Art. Both are inadequate explanations because they touch only a small portion of human existence. To find the answer to a people’s national identity one must look to their general culture which includes at its most sophisticated, science, technology, politics, education, sport, history, morals, humour, language.

From the general culture comes what might be called the secondary human personality, which is developed by and is continually developing the components of culture. By secondary personality I mean a nurtured overlay on the innate personality. The range of basic human traits – aggressiveness, placidity, timidity, extroversion and so forth – are universal. But those qualities are the mere skeletons of minds. Above them stand the modifications of experience. From experience develops the secondary personality. The social context of that experience and the reflection of that experience through the secondary personality creates culture, is culture.

All of this is not to say that the material and mundane accoutrements of a man’s life are completely unimportant to the foundation of national identity. There are certain things which are such a part of the warp and weft of life over a long period that they acquire true symbolic value. For example, The wilful destruction in England of their historic measures which arose naturally from man’s everyday needs and a coinage more than a thousand years old, has helped undermine the self confidence of a people who retained such things not out of backwardness, but from a sense of national worth and importance.

The most extraordinary fact of English history is that it happened. On the periphery of Europe, sparsely populated for most of its history, always faced by powerful neighbours, it is barely credible that this people achieved such a prominent place in history. Rationally England should have been throughout its history a small impoverished backward state, an extra on the European stage. Consider the history of Ireland which was placed in much the same general situation as England. A novelist who created an equivalent fictional history would be laughed out of court on the grounds of utter improbability.

There is so much that is unusual about England. Not only did she possess the only world empire ever worthy of the name, she produced the one bootstrapped industrial revolution, has displayed a quite unparalleled political stability and a unique political evolution leading to representative government and perhaps most importantly in the long run created a language which for its all round utility cannot be equalled. England is the cause of the modern world. Let her self-respect rest on that massive fact. The English do not need to invent a mythical past for their self-esteem: the reality with all its warts is splendid and marvellous.

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19 comments

  • I gave this 5 stars.

    But I’m wondering to what extent what Robert called a secondary personality is dependent on education, or on a certain type of culture that passes things down. What I mean is this: are we still the same people we were in the 1950s? Or does the fact our young people know little of our achievements mean they have become alienated from Englishness? Can they still be English again?

    I don’t know the answer, but I suspect Robert could give a good answer.

    I notice when I go to the European Continent how different the people there look. In Brussels airport in December, I noticed how young French, Belgians, Germans etc – all look handsome, all look relatively athletic, and are all very well dressed. The comparison with England is depressing. I raise this partly because I think the English now feel inferior, culturally inferior, to Europeans. The obese leggings-wearers of Doncaster look up on the beech at Benidorm to see the svelte, attractive Swedes – and we cannot convince ourselves of anything other than that we have declined to such a point that we have become a “chav” nation. I think this is part of the appeal of the EU project in England — Europe seems desirable by contrast.

    So why is this? I feel that England’s sudden fall from glory in the 20th century had robbed England of much of its meaning — to the point where many English people visibly no longer try in life. It is clearly undeniable that many more English people let life happen to them than is the case with the French, the Germans, the Swedes, the Czechs, the Dutch, etc. Somehow we have gone from having a glorious national identity nurtured in us, to having no heritage at all we are aware of — and the effect on the English is plain to see.

    Can this “secondary personality” just stop being transmitted at some point, leading to a feeling of pointlessness of existence among many members of the nation?

    • D J Webb – the important question is not whether the English today are what they were in the 1950s but whether a sense of patriotism and national self-worth is gone forever. I would answer most emphatically no. Patriotism within a nation-state is simply an expression of tribal solidarity write large and that will never go from any people who share the same history and culture. In any people with a shared history and culture there will also be a biological dimension because innate behavioural traits will be subject to natural selection, for example, a population may select for greater aggression or more restraint because the nature of the culture and society is forever in a feedback loop with natural selection. For example, the more peaceful and law abiding a population becomes the more the innate behavioural traits to fit into the population will be selected for.

      If the stranglehold of the politically correct elite breaks patriotism will emerge readily enough because it is an inherent part of being human, indeed, a simple consequence of being a social animal. Patriotism is not an optional extra, see my essay
      https://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/patriotism-is-not-an-optional-extra/

      Its contents list is:

      1. What is patriotism?

      2. The roots of patriotism

      3. Nations are tribes writ large

      4. The importance of a national territory

      5. The democratic value of nations

      6. What the individual owes to the nation

      7. The liberal internationalist

      8. How to move from multiculturalism to patriotism

      9 No patriotism, no enduring society

      • Unfortunately, Robert, your answer is not at all convincing. It sounds like boilerplate right-wing propaganda. There is no evidence at all that patriotism is lurking beneath the surface that once PC ends (= never??) it will suddenly surge back to the surface. Idiocracy serves the interests of the élite, because, even without élite intervention, the people will then lack the knowledge or interest to recreate an adequate national culture. Simply asserting the opposite lacks any attempt at cogency.

        • David – You are a Russian scholar. Is it not the case that the Soviet orthodoxy before 1941 was anti-Russian, and that there was a semi-spontaneous revival of Russian patriotism once the Germans invaded?

          Since our patriots haven’t been murdered, I think we should not give up on a revival.

          • Sean, we can try – but I think Stalin backed a revival of Russian patriotism. Actually the Soviet Union was always patriotic, but Stalin allowed the churches to play a role in 1941. I don’t think we should underestimate how clever the ruling class is by fostering dependency and constant calls for state intervention. It is as if they are fighting off demands for state intervention, which, when you think about it, is a useful situation for the state to be in. I’m afraid we need to think about ways to alter élite views on what they’re doing. Islamic terrorism could give them pause — I’m sure many individual members of the élite have private views on this subject that are unprintable.

        • DJ Webb – You make the mistake of thinking national culture is some high faluting intellectual construct which is self-consciously applied. It is not. Nor is it dependent on personal success in life. The working class in England have long had a reputation for being ferociously patriotic even though their material conditions were what we would call today miserable. People are patriotic because of the tribal spirit. They understand instinctively that belonging to their tribe is important. That feeling exists even if the person is largely ignorant of his country’s history. Just as most religious believers have little grasp of the theology of their faith, but believe blindly in the religion because of the sense of belonging and excitement at the idea that they are part of something greater than themselves, so can patriotism be built upon a few attractive national ideas….

          Sean’s example of Soviet Russia is a good one. Stalin pressed the patriotic button and off the Russian people went willingly to war. Moreover, seventy years of Soviet suppression of nationhood did not kill Russian patriotism as we are vividly seeing at present. it is interesting that WW2 is still called the Great Patriotic War in Russia.

          Even in our own country we are seeing regular signs of rebellion against the internationalists, everything from a growing wish to leave the EU in mainstream politics to the likes of the Chelsea supporters chanting that they are racists and Emma West protesting against mass immigration and its effects.

          • I’m afraid this is miguided and untrue. I will not reply further after this, as I don’t like to be dragged into a sequence of non sequiturs that I then have to unpick. The Soviet Union is not a valid example because educational standards in Russia remained high and the population were encouraged, even in Soviet times, to be patriotic (see Enoch Powell’s comments on the Soviet Union). Also Russia retains the potential to be a great power on the international stage, until England. We are not seeing rebellion against political correctness unfortunately. Only the ***most out of touch** conservatives could think that. Talking to people in my town about the Chelsea rant, I was struck by the way nearly everyone thought the “racism” disgraceful, including football supporters and people I’d link of as chavs. People in my town have told me you have to go in as hard as possible to stop such views from gaining ground, and so they should lose their season tickets, although season tickets ought not to be part of the penal code, in my view. Those with the least stake in the system do tend to accept the views they are fed. We can speculate what might happen if the élite just disappeared, but PC will not be taken down until the ruling Establishment come to believe in an alternative cohering ideology. We are in danger of just talking to ourselves here, imagining people on the JSA are just about to storm Whitehall demanding a repeal of the Race Relations Act; they aren’t.

            • Point 1: education does not = patriotism. Indeed, in England it is some of the most supposedly highly educated who have led to charge to internationalism and political correctness.

              Point 2: Although Stalin reached for patriotism and there was always an element of overt Russian supremacy in the USSR, this was all within the envelope of Marxist-Leninism. It was very far from being a classic patriotism. Russians, along with the rest of the USSR, were encouraged to strive to be the New Soviet Man. It is also worth bearing in mind that for the 20+ years from the October Revolution until Hitler invaded, Russian patriotism was ruthlessly suppressed.

              3. The fact that all the people in your town were tut tutting over Chelsea is unsurprising as the fear of being honest is still strong,.

  • I suppose what I’m talking about is cultural anomie – and I’m wondering if cultural anomie can produce a sense of hopelessness, of drifting in life, that leads people no longer to set goals or strive to achieve in life.

  • A key point that needs to be tackled is whether the creation of cultural anomie is an important step in the creation of an unfree society. I would argue it is. Benefits Britain – the people on the Jeremy Kyle show, say – are simply ill-equipped for life in a free society and ill-disposed to argue for liberty.

  • DJ-

    “Benefits Britain” are a powerless minority. They are easy to point fingers at, but not the source of our loss of liberty. The people doing the harm are at the top, not the bottom.

  • I think they are good questions Mr Webb, particularly when further put in the context of Ian’s reply. I understand and appreciate where you are coming from and I share the concerns raised in both of your replies.

  • The question of whether a “national identity” is good or bad and is not just Stalin “Commissar for Nationalities” style folk dancing and natural costume, is a matter of whether their are good PRINCIPLES bound up with that national identity. Principles worth dying for.

    I can think of some places where the principles (in spite of all the terrible faults the place may have) are basically sound – something to actually be proud of.

    The largest example, in population, I can think of is Texas – where the core principles involved in being a “Texan” (in spite of all the terrible flaws that the place has – as everyone has in this fallen world) are basically sound, basically good and true (worth dying for). Sadly Texas is part of the United States – where I do not really think that is true any more. Being “American” has become far more about being born (or going to live) within certain lines on a map – not believing in certain core principles of life.

    After all if someone such as Vice President Joe Biden can be described as “an American” (without laughter) then it can not be a wildly important thing. Mr Biden certainly could not be described as a “Texan” – and him being born in Texas or moving there would not change that, he would have to change his fundamental beliefs – his fundamental way of life, his principles.

    Britain? England?

    Certainly once it was true of here – but now?

    In 1914 such things as the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was a central part of what being “British” (and being “English”) was about – the British National Rifle Association was bigger than the American one, and the “Constitutional Club” network was large and committed (today such “Constitutional Clubs” that still exist in Britain are social clubs – with no content in terms of principles).

    Freedom of speech?

    Again in 1914 – most certainly, Unlike Imperial Germany no British person (or English person) could be locked up simply for expressing opinions the government did not approve of. The was even true in 1964 – but now?

    How many British people still really believe in Freedom of Speech – the way (for example) a Texan is supposed to?

    How many English people still really believe in Freedom of Speech – how is it NOW part of “Englishness” to believe in Freedom of Speech or the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

    If “Englishness” is just a matter of, Stalin Commissar for Nationalities style folk dancing and national costume, then it is nothing worth dying for. And if it is, as with Herder (personally a nice man – but with nasty principles) and Fichte (a nasty man with nasty principles) and their account of what a “German” was, a matter of BLOOD of RACE – then it is not worth dying for either. Indeed this is actually worse than the folk dancing and national costume – no one is was ever shoved in a gas chamber for refusing to go Morris Dancing, plenty of people have been gassed for having “the wrong blood” or being the “wrong race”.

    I say again – what core PRINCIPLES does “Britishness” or “Englishness” represent?

    In 1914 one could give an answer to that question that was indeed worth dying for – can one do so today?

    What would be an example of “un British” or “un English” conduct?

    Choosing to adopt what principles (what fundamental principles of life) makes someone “British” or “English”?

    Choosing to reject what principles (what fundamental principles of life) means that someone is no longer “British” or “English”?

    J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis understood what principles they meant by “being British” or “being English” – and I agree with them that principles are worth dying for.

    But are these still the principles of “Britishness” or “Englishness” today?

    Are fictional characters such as Dick Barton, Bulldog Drummond and Lord Peter Whimsy – still “typically English” in their BELIEFS?

    Someone such as the late Chris Kyle (“American Sniper” – although what modern “America” really thinks of him was shown last night) or Marcus Luttrell (“Sole Survivor”) is considered a “Texan” – someone who other Texans would wish to be like, and consider themselves failures, as Texans, if they are not like.

    The speech delivered by John Wayne (playing David Crocket – famous in Congress for saying that Congressmen should personally donate to disaster relief but had no Constitutional right to use the money of taxpayers to do so – as well as for his parting “You can all go to Hell – I am going to Texas”) in the 1960 film “The Alamo” – about what a “Republic” should be (nothing to do with not having a King) may be absurd in relation to modern “America” – but it remains basically valid in relation to what Texans think Texas should be like. The Texas of Sam Houston (by the way, like David Crocket, a defender of indian rights), and so on, still (in a sense) exists.

    What modern Englishmen play this role for us in England today? If Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell (or even Governor Abbott in his wheelchair – for it is not about physical ability, it is about beliefs) are “Texan” – what people show us what being “English” is?

    My father knew what being English was about – and could point to Englishmen who inspired him.

    Who serves this function for us today?

    Who sums up Englishness – the principles we are willing to die for?

  • By the way – I agree with Mr Henderson about the evil sign that destroying the traditional coinage and destroying traditional weights and measures was.

    Ditto – replacing the Lord Chancellor’s Office with the Orwellian sounding “Ministry of Justice”.

    What useful purpose did any of these changes since the 1960s – such as getting rid of the old counties, serve?

    Was it not just spitting on tradition (by Wilson, Heath, Blair and so on) for the PURPOSE of spitting on tradition?

    These “little” things matter – they show a country (a set of traditions) is dying. And this country has been dying for a very long time.

    When P.E. Moore (the old tutor of T.E. Eliot) came to Britain, back in the 1930s, to visit his former student – he was at first charmed by our island (so quiet and peaceful – after the violent conflicts between the “Liberty League” and the “New Deal” people back in the United States), but then something horrifying dawned on Professor Moore.

    There was no great conflict in Britain because the Progressives had, quietly, already won.

    Certainly there were still a few conservative minded dons knocking about in Oxford in the 1930s – but they had no following among the young.

    The young (the generation of undergraduates that included Mr Heath and Mr Wilson) were all Progressives, all what Hayek was to call in his dedication of the “Road to Serfdom” members of the group that could be described as the “socialists of all parties”.

    Out in the country people like Alderman Alfred Roberts (stern old liberal “of the old school” and father of Mrs Thatcher), still lived. Just as Tory folk did (after all “Blackwoods” magazine did not finally die till 1980), but England was dying – dying without much fuss or resistance.

    Is England now dead?

    • No.

      • Good.

  • The history of the post-war period in Britain makes much more sense when one grasps this common thread: the British elite’s determination to destroy Englishness and recreate the British Empire within England, partly in order to secure itself from socialism and partly in order to prove that the Empire had been a workable project: ideologically untenable after the struggle against Nazism, the British elite attempted to recreate the Empire – with disingenuous justifications as though it had been a moral project all along – within what had been its citadel, almost the only place it felt certain of hanging on to.

    The power of the English working-class had been enhanced by the shortage of manpower occasioned by the hundreds of thousands of men killed and wounded during the war (the appalling suffering and danger experienced by British troops in the defeat of Germany 1944-5, when casualty rates were worse than during the Great War, has, interestingly, been erased from national consciousness; we remember the victory over fascism, but not who did it) and trade unions were able to gain good pay rises for their members after the war. It is in this context that the decision to use migrant labour and the lofty tone of the dismissals of queries as to the wisdom of this should be seen. I have seen internet postings claiming that some of the post-war migrations had their origins in strike-breaking. Far from being “with it”, multiculturalism is old-fashioned middle-class deference to imperial ruling-class ideology, rippling on like gravitational evidence of the Big Bang.

    The identity “English” was occluded by such terms the as “white British” and Britishness was hijacked by the ruse of taking the original equation (that if one was English, Welsh or Scottish one was British) and transforming it to a meaning that none of these nationalities were obliged to accept: that Britishness was a multicultural identity and that any national identity or none was a sufficient condition to be considered British. Occasionally one senses a sadistic pleasure in this destruction, as in Andrew Neather’s notorious recollection that some in the Labour Party wanted to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity.” Notable also was the inaction against those who made death threats against Emma West, whose spitefully broadcast altercation looks now to have been a defining moment of a character entirely contrary to that expected by the witch-hunters. Like the little boy in the fable she had spoken the truth: “the English are nothing now.”

    In practice it has been the English who have been forced to accept this redefinition. Indeed New Labour gave devolution to the Scots and Welsh, thus implicitly admitting the potential for multi-identity societies to disintegrate (and abandoning any pretence to democratic principle in the process: Scottish and Welsh MPs vote on English law but not vice-versa; there are already “second class” MPs – English ones), just as it embarked on its eclectic-aesthetic “cool Britannia” project. Yet such “multiculturalism” is an implicit admission that multi-racial societies are difficult to make work, as even avowed “anti-racists” seem to assert in this way that it is impossible to assimilate people of different races.

    Below I will make an appeal for a return to a kind of assimilation, but I hope you will see that my idea is a bit more subtle than a demand for conformity; it helps to remember that “the project” is at its heart negative – it hates Englishness, or, rather, any kind of domestic national identity, more than it loves anything. This was the real reason assimilation was abandoned.

    Ordinary English people feel grief. They are bewildered by what has happened. They had, in the overwhelming majority, been willing to die for their country, and this betrayal is their thanks. It is as though the British ruling class knew that it had run up a debt it could never repay and, unable to face endless obligations, decided to liquidate its creditors. Now, like Macbeth, it finds itself so far advanced in wrong that the opposite shore seems nearer than the departed.

    The strongest arguments the “multicultural” lobby have are the arguments of inevitability and practicality: that, with modern communications, immigration is unavoidable and that in any case attempts to avoid it entirely will rapidly become grotesque. I think they are right about this. However, this needs to be dealt with much more robustly. People are willing to face unpleasant realities, it is being made to pretend to like them that causes resentment. We must face the reality that, although driven by technological “progress”, change may not be for the good. Indeed there is no guarantee that society will be workable at all.

    One can see in events like the remand of Emma West (in a maximum security prison), the murder of Lee Rigby and the secret surveillance of three million people (as reported by the BBC; the security services have a budget of £2bn per annum which works out at about £100 per adult), to mention but a few examples, just how unstable and consequently totalitarian British society has become.

    When a large indigenous group perceives itself as discriminated against in what it regards as its country, it is only a matter of time before there is trouble, much more serious trouble than that made hitherto by unhappy minorities. At the moment the English remain just sufficiently visible in parliament, the army, the police and the judiciary, but this cannot last much longer given demographic trends and “equal-opportunity” hiring. From the moment that these arms of the state are no longer perceived as English, the English will consider themselves ruled by foreigners without their consent. No government has ever had a mandate for “multiculturalism”. The English accepted “multiculturalism” because it was inconceivable to them that this was ever anything else than a hypocrisy designed to facilitate assimilation under conditions of strict immigration control, as promised by all political parties in their manifestos (Powell was vilified, but his policies were adopted). Hitherto the English middle-class has sided with the elite, but the recent UKIP vote shows that it is starting to have doubts. It is much more difficult to suppress political movements that have a base among the educated.

    One of the lessons of history is that once such a struggle begins it has a tendency to create the conditions for its continuation: lack of investment (investors demand a higher return to compensate them for the higher risk, driving down wages) and bitterly-resented repression. A point can be reached where there is no hope of victory for the colonising power, unless they resort to genocide. There is no limit to the amount of suffering the indigenous will endure in order to regain what they feel they have lost. This tenacity is often dismissed as irrational, but if one considers the fates of landless peoples and their descendants, it is not.

    One of the most alarming misapprehensions in vogue is that human-made catastrophes are caused by great evil. In fact they often have their origins in trivial acquisitiveness. If this is met by passivity for too long its perpetrators acquire a righteous tenacity and require force to be dislodged. Moral statesmanship is the art of showing sufficient and timely will to deter such misunderstandings. It is lack of assertive statesmanship that is usually the cause of human-made disasters, not evil. Democracies, although, pace the European Movement, very unaggressive, have proved to be prone to appeasement and it is notable that they seem, like Victoria Wood’s “excellent driver” friend, present at a large number of “accidents”. Of course the English have been inattentive in just this way.

    England is perilously close to a fatal “Hobbesian trap” in which the wrong done by the colonising power is perceived as unforgiveable by both sides and creates a vortex from which none can escape: the colonising power, fearing retribution for the wrong it has done already, finds itself impelled to totally destroy those it has wronged; its victims, seeing this logic, find themselves impelled to resist, thus reinforcing their opponents motivation, and so on, into hell.

    I therefore want to make a plea for what seems to me the only way we might avoid these horrors: the relative abandonment in England by the state of Britishness and the relative adoption of Englishness. This may seem implausible at first sight, but, properly understood, it is our best hope (which is not to say that it is likely to be successful; it is not – it is almost certainly far too late for any liberal solution; but, before you scoff, have you got a better idea?).

    The BritishEnglish identity works by maintaining both identities simultaneously. This is more than the logical function, already explained, that one can only be British by being one of Britain’s constituent national identities first, it is also a functional dualism in which Britishness is the body and Englishness is the soul. Britishness and Englishness cannot be separated. People in England who claim Britishness but not Englishness claim the protection of the British state but fail to make a spiritual union with their compatriots. As Rory Stewart said recently, “Nations are held together by love.”

    It is this dualism that is at the heart of the hitherto highly successful combination of liberty and security that British subjects have enjoyed. By using the terms British and English seemingly interchangeably, the BritishEnglish have been able to cope with some cultural diversity because the duality admits the difference between messy reality (Britain) and romance (England): “Nations are held together by love”.

    It is therefore more than merely good manners that settlers in the English part of Britain should agree to become BritishEnglish. The bitterness that “multiculturalism” causes is due to the fact that it is both straightforwardly rude and spiritually distressing to the BritishEnglish. Many immigrants are in fact looking for a new identity and in England that identity must be BritishEnglish.

    There must be, therefore, a general promotion of Englishness. Now, before you scoff, is there any other identity available? Remember “British” won’t work because the English, all 40 million of them, rightly see the use of this identity as proof of the betrayal of their boot-on-face-stomping political class. If the shocking scale and nature of this betrayal was explained to newcomers, and that therefore the noble thing for them to do would be to adopt English as their identity (such as, in addition to calling themselves English, adopting English attitudes to religion and marriage, joining English cultural and conservation associations, marrying English people, making scones, playing cricket and using English names), we might have a chance, because it is the right thing to do.

    It is only normal and natural that state institutions, such as schools, in England should promote Englishness. As in France, as it were, children need to be taught English manners and the fundamentals of English civilisation. This is no time for a long debate about what being English means, however, not least because those who argue that it cannot be defined are missing the point (usually, however, they seem ignorant of the cultural artefacts that do indeed constitute Englishness): what matters most is that the word “English” is used as an identity by everyone in England, just as one sees “Scottish” used everywhere in Scotland (“The Scottish Labour Party”, for example). This is not a draconian demand that everyone behave identically, rather an attempt to create sufficient loyalty to allow democracy to function.

    In Wales and Scotland people must agree to be Welsh and Scottish of course. The English can tolerate these other identities because they have been politically subordinate and because they are extremely familiar. Just how delicate these matters are, however, is shown by the boost to Scottish nationalism that was given by what amounted to little more than tactlessness on the part of the Thatcher government. It is notable but natural that even those in the “No” campaign for the Scottish Referendum wish to be considered British and Scottish.

    Although I have cast some doubt on the slogan “Britain is a nation of immigrants”, it is of course true if one looks back far enough and it is certainly true now. What people who use the phrase seem to forget is that there has been a certain amount of nation-building in-between. The mess that the British state has got into is that it has set up an opposition between Britain and its constituent nations. We need a return to nation-building, but that nation cannot be to Britain per se because there is nothing to be loyal to, apart from tawdry trappings of empire.

    It takes only a moment’s reflection to grasp the grotesque and tragic ignorance contained in the dismissal of things English. The following, for example, used (and where degraded they must be restored) to be the envy of the world: the right to elect for jury trial; adversarial justice and debate; strictly-defined police powers; an unfettered press and free-speech; the sanctity of the home. I will not try to make a list of English cultural and scientific achievements for obvious reasons.

    English civilisation is one of the greatest of human achievements. No matter what one’s origins, everyone has an instinct to love and cherish their land and its people. My father had no English blood and yet he played cricket and supported England at football. One of the first things I can remember him doing is building a model of a Spitfire for me. If I moved to another country I would set myself to loving it. What other behaviour does decency allow? It is time to stimulate and encourage this natural love and end the harping on difference.

    • Promoted to front page

  • Stalin’s “patriotism” was interesting – before the Nazi invasion someone could be shot for expressing Russian patriotism (it was indeed all “New Soviet Man” – plus a bit of national costumes and folk dancing for the minorities). But with the Nazis at the gates it suddenly became “save Holy Mother Russia” – and lots of the old Russian stuff (even the badges of rank in the military) came back.

    As the mocking saying put it about the rulers of Russia – “they changed their slogans as they ran”.

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