Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Now We Are 28: On Nationalism

I'm not a big fan of rampant nationalism or of nationalist politics. The Nigel Farages and Alex Salmonds of this world, with their clarion cries about the greatness of the nation-state, leave me cold. Nationalism values people because of where they come from rather than who they are or who they might become which is pretty much anathema to everything I believe in.

You see, in the words of Scroobius Pip, I'm from a little place called Great Britain but I don't know if I love or hate Britain. There are lots of things that make being British wonderful - incredible landscapes; the national obsession with tea; the amazing diversity of our language and culture; the prevalence of social liberalism; our rich sweep of history; and Doctor Who to name but a few. But then there are lots of things that make Britain absolutely awful - our political system; ingrained sexism; casual racism; the M6; the bloody weather; the ability of the England cricket team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; flags on cars during football tournaments; the Daily Mail; the EDL... You get the idea. There are days I love living in the UK and days I loathe it but I'd never really say I'm proud of being British. How can you be proud of something that's an accident of fate? It's like saying I'm proud of having green eyes - I had absolutely no say in the matter!

People are though, aren't they? Proud of their little strip of land, of their English (or Welsh or Scottish or Irish) descent and scathing about anyone who isn't from these shores. Given that the UK is essentially an island of incomers this always seems to me a rather hypocritical position to take but whatever. I don't get it, how does love for one's country become hatred for other countries and other people? Surely you can have affection for the place you were born or where you live without using your nationality as a weapon to oppress others? And if your strip of land is that great why don't you want to share it with people and attract people from all over the world who can add to it's greatness? After all, this island would be pretty empty if it weren't for immigrants...


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