We need to talk…
… about Britishness, about patriotism and national identity. About these questions, prompted by our recent, slightly embarrassing, outbreak of national pride:
So, do we treat Danny Boyle’s vision of the Isles of Wonder as a requiem for what we value about our country, or a celebration? Or even, perhaps, a warning and a call to action? Do we allow our ‘normal state of being’ to be reinstalled in the British psyche, without protest, without attempting to hold on to what we briefly experienced? As Billy [Bragg] asks in his blog, ‘Has the euphoria of the past two weeks has caused a seismic shift in the meta-narrative of Britishness? … Can a new spirit of engaged and transformational patriotism emerge from this experience? One that seeks to build a fairer, more inclusive tomorrow, rather than constantly rehashing a narrow vision of the past?’
The Our Island Stories blog is a place where that conversation can continue.
We’ve launched it with a powerful piece by Mike Press. He says that
‘Following the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a number of us starting discussing a new sensation we were experiencing – national pride. For those of a certain generation who are broadly speaking on The Left, national identity and patriotism have been problems over the years. … My contribution is far less any form of profound reflection on these questions – more an explanation of how I ended up having a highly vexed relationship with the idea of Britishness. Flagging up the issues focuses on my experiences during two days in 1977. If strong language and descriptions of violent acts offend or disturb you, then please do not read it.’
My own piece is a personal reflection on Englishness and insularity. We hope to feature diverse contributions that are academic, political, philosophical, personal (or all of the above). If you’re interested in being part of the conversation, contact me here.