“Brexit” – Patriotism v Nationalism -Part One

Having written recently about why I had turned down a kind offer from a long-time friend to visit them in the USA I received a response from someone in the USA saying that I had no right to an opinion on the political situation in America

What was also – and I have to say I found also quite amusing for obvious reasons – is that they then went on to say that we had our own problems with Brexit and finished off by saying “How’s Brexit working out for you”?

Actually that wasn’t the final part but let’s just say apparently I shouldn’t visit the USA because I wouldn’t be welcome because Americans are Patriotic and I’m clearly not.

So Brexit – Which I could sum up in a very short article by simply saying :

What a cluster – f**k.

And leave it there except that just like patriotism it is a little more complicated than that.

Incidentally I served for 23 years in the Royal Navy and serving alongside some of the most professional and patriotic people both in my service and with counterparts in the US Navy.

That didn’t stop us – bloody democracy here! – having our own opinions and views on our political masters but it also didn’t stop any of us doing our duty as the legal means of military enforcement for our respective countries.

Anyway back to Brexit and how it’s going for us.

What those such as Farage, Johnston, Fox, Davis, Leadsom, Rees-Mogg, Gove and May et al – whatever anyone may think about them and I certainly have never hidden my views on them – clearly latched onto with and whilst lying to get the result they wanted – namely Brexit – is that they appealed to the overwhelming feeling that voting Brexit was somehow patriotic and a sign of national loyalty.

In fact they are still playing on it with Johnston and Leadsom in particulate claiming that anyone who doesn’t support the Government on Brexit is a traitor and unpatriotic.

The reality of course is that on the point of the strength of patriotism is that it can be an overwhelming positive force for good – and just as equally for bad – if harnessed by those in power and there is nothing else like it on the planet.

The ardent Brexiteers – as they have become known – also played on the fears amongst many UK citizens that continuing to be a member of the European Union was a step towards a United States of Europe in which all citizens would be treated and seen as being alike.

The problem as I see it in this argument is that those who voted to be treated as independent British Citizen simply don’t seem to realise that whatever the political structure the European Union morphs into the peoples of the different countries display behaviours and characteristics that are incredibly different.

It has been a problem – not so much for Europeans – that has been a foundation of the British character down the ages based on one very simple basic principle ingrained into the British psyche namely – at all costs never trust someone who is foreign and especially if they speak a different language to English.

Bloody hell fire we in these islands don’t even trust the Americans because they have taken the ‘u’ out of colour and use a ‘z’ in place of a ‘s’.

Top that off with our climate and lack of sunshine and suddenly the envy kicks in which is exacerbated by the fact that whatever the Brexiteers claim Europeans don’t want to come and live here unless they have the opportunity to work.

Conversely of course you only have to look at the number of UK ex-pats who prefer to live in Europe rather than stay in the UK.

Even Americans would prefer to live in Europe rather than the United Kingdom which is understandable because even though we – and some in the USA – would like to think that Britain – or to most Americans England – is the mother country the reality is that the USA has chiefly been built on the backs of and ingenuity and ambition of European immigrants.

Let’s return to the Brexiteers rousing arguments for leaving the European Union.

“We are a proud independent nation who will be able to take back control”

Sounds very good as a sound bite however is it even true – bearing in mind the number of other untruths they used during the European Referendum campaign :- 

Are we even a Nation?

And what is a Nation?

Most of the world see our little group of islands off the North West coast of the European mainland as a single entity – called England.

Tell that to the Scots, the Welsh or the Irish – in fact tell that even to the Cornish and don’t get me started on trying to convince a Yorkshireman that he is the same as someone from London or Surrey.

Isn’t the truth that we have regional identities within these islands and aren’t we really 68 million individuals?

What has our son and daughter -apart from having the same mother and father – in common with me and Liz?

Throughout their formative years they benefitted from a superior education, they had a demonstrably better diet, they lived in far better quality housing etc etc than we had.

And no this isn’t a “Baby Boomer” complaining about the “Millennials” because it is exactly what they deserved and as much as I – and many others who was raised on a Council Estate – like to think I’m still working class the fact is I no longer am and our children are definitely middle class.

What is even more impressive about the “Millennials” though is that they have a mind of their own and will not blindly follow the politics of their parents.

Which is perhaps why in the UK we are seeing – driven by the media and xenophobes – attempts to cause a rift and dislocation between the generations.

I’d even argue when Brexiteers pronounce on the importance of “taking back control” that they have no idea what it means just as they have no idea what they mean by national identity.

I don’t even – apart from being the same human mass – recognise myself as the person who worked down a coal mine, served in the Royal Navy or even who I was twenty years ago never mind what I see in photographs of a small boy taken sixty five years ago.

What Bexiteers have very cleverly and carefully avoided when talking up leaving the European Union restoring our national independence is the sheer hypocrisy when it was the United Kingdom – or Great Britain as it was then – who at one time controlled an Empire that covered over a quarter of the globe.

As an aside when I was in junior school we still had and used world maps that showed the British Empire in “pink” – is there any wonder my generation is screwed up.

It took a six year global conflict to eventually make the UK allow countries and billions of people their “independence” from colonial and imperialistic control.

And who was it who ruled the Empire and made their wealth from exploiting other nations?

It was those who owned the land and property here – the aristocracy – in simple terms those who were the forebears of Johnston’ Cameron, Rees-Mogg and the rest.

The level and scale of wealth inequality in the United Kingdom is the highest in Europe.

What is surprising is that even though it is a well known fact across the whole length and breadth of Britain that leaving the European Union is going to massively increase the wealth of the already wealthy – millions still believe that they are arguing to leave not for altruistic reasons but because they want to help and support the “ordinary hard working man and his family”.

Stupidity cannot be legislated for, or as the famous actress Edith Sitwell said,

“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it”

And there-in lies the problem – not the stupidity of those who voted for Brexit – but those who promoted and led it.

Almost entirely they are all millionaires who went to public school and I know this is a bold statement but not one of them has displayed any sense or even excused the fact that they have based their whole Brexit strategy on their own xenophobic self interest.

Let me however be absolutely clear on this so that there can be no misunderstanding,
“Not every one of the 17 million who voted to leave the European Union are xenophobic racists and the majority of them have their own reasons for the way they voted whether it was fear of a United States of Europe instead of a trading block or simply wanting to teach David Cameron a lesson”.

What is almost certain though is that every xenophobic racist did vote for Brexit and sadly in 21st Century United Kingdom there are an awful lot of them who continue and will continue just like Johnston, Leadsom, Rees -Mogg, May and the rest of them will continue to hide their true colours behind claims of being Patriots.

The problem is that rather than being Patriots they are simply Nationalists who don’t understand and don’t want to understand the internationalism of the world.

Where will this new found – in reality old but re-emerging – nationalism lead us is something I’ll address in Part Two of this series on Brexit.

Perhaps a “revolution” is on the horizon.