Friday, 24 April 2009

St George's Day... or not

It has lately become a tradition to use the annual occurrence of St George's Day to navel-gaze about English identity and debate whether an additional public holiday should be instituted. This came up at the end of Thursday's Question Time on the BBC - with historian David Starkey getting himself into the papers for deriding the Scots, Welsh and Irish as 'petty nations' and causing a flurry of complaints from literally dozens of thin-skinned Celts. The other panel responses covered the predictable ground, with Vince Cable going for the usual pro-British/'shut up about England' tosh and John Denham by contrast welcoming the new NF-free English consciousness.

Firstly, as for David Starkey, he is quite wrong to suggest that national days are an indicator of a 'petty nation'. I am certain that virtually all countries have one, including the USA and Russia, neither of which can be described as 'petty'. Moreover, St. George's Day has never been an exclusively English event, as St. George is patron saint of many places, including Catalonia, Genoa, Turkey, Georgia. In Barcelona, the custom is for the women to be given flowers and the men to be given books; a charming tradition that I'd far rather import to this country than 'trick or treat'.

Secondly, Vince Cable's view, which is that he is proud to be British, and that this is the acceptable and preferable way for English people to feel, is fine for him, but I don't share it. I do not feel proud to be British, I don't care about Britain. I was born in England, I live in England, I speak English. I am English, and that's enough for me.

I am an English nationalist. What that means, in part at least, is that I am a nationalist who happens to be English. My view of the nation state is bound to my belief in democracy and popular sovereignty. As I've said before, without national sovereignty there can be no democracy, because there will be nothing for the demos (δῆμος) to rule.

My nationalism is also linked to my views on the economy and opposition to globalism, the force which has tried and very largely succeeded in destroying national sovereignty the world over. A propaganda war has been waged for almost a century to deride nationalism as a reactionary and dangerous creed. We have been told that nations alone cannot solve the problems they face, and, as sovereignty is continually stripped away from nation states, this becomes ever truer, but this is not inevitable, rather the consequence of policy, driven by the IMF, the WTO, the EU, NATO, the OECD etc - the pillars of the post-1945 World Order - with the international corporate banking elite smiling benignly in the shadows.

What must be understood is that acquiescence in this globalist agenda means the extinguishing of democracy. This country (England or Britain, take your pick) has never truly been a democracy, but what meagre serving we had is fast disappearing. If that MP we elect can no longer influence the laws that govern us, and if our government is no longer answerable to the people, but rather to international institutions, which can dictate policy no matter what the people of the country cry out for, and no matter what party is in power, then democracy has flown the nest.

Back in 1951 at the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community (cromagnon man to the EU homo sapien) Minister Herbert Morrison turned down an invitation for Britain to join with the famous comment 'the Durham miners won't stand for it'. Today's government can disregard the wrath of Durham's miners; the question they must ask is whether the IMF, the EU and the WTO will stand for whatever policy they are considering.

To return to the original issue, that of St George's Day and whether it should be celebrated with a public holiday, the simple answer is; of course! Going to work is shit. The more public holidays the better (within reason I suppose), and screw those statistics which allege a bank holiday costs the nation £6 Billion or whatever (who cares anymore? That's probably the amount the national debt has grown whilst I've been writing this post). The only reasonable argument against it would be it's timing in relation to other public holidays, and that it would be better to have a day off in summer, say the 1st July, which is fine with me, and an opportunity to push my particular innovation;

Robin Hood Day.

Just think about it... happy people, smiling in the sunshine, archery contests on the green, drunken mobs laying seige to tax offices... A celebration of Englishness.


alison said...

Interesting. I agree with Starkey that national days are petty. Sign of a lack of self confidence and weak constitution.

Corporations are what will end nation states. We are utterly powerless to stop them. So democracy and sovereignty matter very little in the end.

Trooper Thompson said...

We are not powerless, we are lazy, weak and passive, and have been corrupted by licence. As Alex Jones said:

"The answer to 1984 is 1776".

He also said:

"If you want the solution, look in the mirror".

As for a national day, what's wrong with, say, Bastille Day? Surely this is not a sign that the French lack self-confidence?

I think the resistance to an English national day comes from those who do not like the idea of English nationalism, but as I've pointed out above, St George is not limited to England, and I'm sure the vast majority of people would treat it the same as any other public holiday, in other words put their feet up, do some gardening or whatever.

alison said...

No it's not. A quick glance at America tells me that. We don't need a bloody or not so bloody revolution to hand over power to politicians anyway. We are already doing it. And none of them are there to serve their country. In the end you can continually enact revolutions and you will wind up with the same thing - leaders, out to serve themselves in the end - with no greater idea above them to keep them in check..

I don't know why the French celebrate their bloodthirsty revolution. In which so many people who deserved freedoms were ruthlessly shafted. Women for one.

Look at Sarkozy. He is feted like a king. But has more power than one. Given to him by a willing electorate who are misguided enough to believe that this cretinous self serving ego puts his country first. Because of some romantic ideal around a republic and what it is supposed to embody.

I would happily celebrate a Churchill Day. Equally I would happily celebrate the Queens birthday!

alison said...

And I know you don't like it when I mention women being shafted in revolutions, so to speak...but in that one they specifically were. Mary Wollstonecraft went on to write the Rights of Women because of it. 1776 would have served her no better. Besides she died broken hearted and shunned. Why these brave souls had to be shafted so is beyond me. Wasn't that the entire purpose of such lauded freedoms back then? It wasn't for lack of their trying to make a difference. And had they been we would never have ended up with feminism. In a nutshell that revolution was nothing more than a civil war in America which resulted in the minority winning over the majority who were loyal to the Crown and imposing a republic on the people using the basis of English rights - born out of a decent and progressive English monarchy.

Anyway. It's depressing thinking about that so I'll take my leave!

Trooper Thompson said...

"We don't need a bloody or not so bloody revolution to hand over power to politicians anyway."

but the 'constitutional monarchy' you applaud was founded by the 'Glorious Revolution', which indeed handed power to the politicians and limited the power of the monarch.

As for the 'romantic ideal around a republic', how is your view of the monarchy any less romantic?

1776 was most certainly better than the French Revolution, and you can look at the experience of Thomas Paine to illustrate that. There was no 'Reign of Terror' after the American Revolution.

Certainly the American Revolution was driven and won by a minority, but that is always the way, as the majority do not care one way or the other, but the basis of English Rights were most certainly not 'born out of a decent and progressive English monarchy' but wrested from the English monarchy, under duress in the case of Magna Charta, and with reference to recent history (i.e. Charles I's decapitation) in the case of the 'Glorious Revolution'.

I don't mind if you bring women into it - I've done the same with reference to Henry VIII. But Mary Wollstonecraft; she didn't die 'broken-hearted and shunned', but in child-birth, leaving her husband, William Godwin, bereft and grieving.

alison said...

I mean we don't need one now because we are busy ceding power to self styled republican politicians already.

They did care. They were loyalist for a reason. To my mind it was a civil war not a revolution.

how is your view of the monarchy any less romantic?

It's not really I suppose. But I see it as functioning out of great workings and progress. I'm not chasing an ideal that will wind up providing me with nothing better. I don't see any benefit in a republic having seen the way America panned out.

Mary was broken hearted and shunned. The lifestyle she chose essentially ensured that and her true love left her. The marriage was a compromise and in many ways an admission of defeat. Tragic.

Trooper Thompson said...

"we are busy ceding power to self styled republican politicians already"

Well, all the more reason to write down the constitution in a proper form! How can we defend our traditional liberties if they are not written down clearly and concisely? In America, the written constitution is by no means enough in itself, your rights can be violated for sure, but you can hold up the Bill of Rights and say "this is the Law". We can't do this.

As for the American loyalists (or Tories, as they were known) I dare say some of them cared, but it is worth noting that the King of England sent German mercenaries to put down the rebels, because he couldn't trust British troops to do the job. It could be described as a civil war, but all revolutions could be, as they involve spilling the blood of your fellow countrymen.

You know my views on America, how it has strayed from it's lofty ideals, but even so, it's not done too badly for itself, has it?

I don't know too much about Mary, I admit. Pioneers often come to sticky ends - by definition they go into uncharted territory. However, how much of her heartache was due to loving the wrong guy?

alison said...

Our constitution is represented physically by a Parliament. I can see it, touch it, attend to it, listen to and read it's laws. I can vote into it a representative to act for of and by me.

Direct constructs like laws which govern the country and so the people who live in it are also written down. I can get access to those in a second. Others which are not codified allow deliberately for flexibility and change to occur without too many problems - which in and of itself can be a huge benefit to a people over time.

In what way have we not preserved our constitutional liberties in such a way as to make us unfree all of a sudden.

you still pay taxes and you are still governed by laws whether you are a subject or a citizen, whether codified into one document or not.

It's all about the SIZE of the state at the end of the day and funnily enough that has increased the more we are prone to put so much belief in self styled republican politicians and move away from what we were. I DREAD to think what kind of people would be responsible for codifying Christ knows whatever is fashionable nonsense now - talk about giving the state and it's little do gooders more power. Besides I am no less free than an American!

Trooper Thompson said...

"I DREAD to think what kind of people..."

A very good point. There'd be no 2nd Amendment that's for sure!

To return to an earlier point, the reason we went down this particular avenue of discussion, besides the other simultaneous threads, was because of my quote regarding 1776, which was just to say that we do have power, if we only use it. Even in small ways, such as my own recent disputes with the local council, I have got something which I wouldn't have got, if I hadn't fought for it. We can make a difference, each of us, if we can shake ourselves free of the lethargy and isolation of the modern urban condition.

As it's getting on, I will save the rest of my thoughts for tomorrow. Good night, and thanks for stopping by!

alison said...


I'm a fighter on all matters council or government. It's funny how we are sold these extra layers of democracy in the name of freedoms too eh...local councils give us all direct control etc and so on? Bullshit of course. It's all nonsense. You taught me that re the EU.

I'm off out to grab some of this sunshine. Hope it's sunny in south London :)

Trooper Thompson said...

It's always sunny in South London!