What is English Nationalism?

nabby

Distinguished Member
So, following on from a point that @Squiffy made in one of the Brexit threads about English nationalism being automatically associated with far-right racists (or words to that effect, and my apologies if I have misrepresented you there), I thought it'd be interesting to see what everyone else sees as English nationalism and how it can be sold to a wider population that's hungry for political change.

I don't have many thoughts on it, save to say that if the boil of association with right wing groups such as the EDL could be lanced then it wouldn't be a bad thing.

We should celebrate St George's Day as a national bank holiday. We should promote English culture more (outside of the tourist version of it) and we should teach it as part of proper civics lessons in schools.
 

nabby

Distinguished Member
To answer @Pacifico's question in the Brexit thread in here, I have no idea if English Nationalism is struggling to gain traction. I'm only going by what @Squiffy said about it when he brought it up (it's something he's mentioned a few times in recent days and weeks).
 
D

Deleted member 293381

Guest
Hard to define due to ages of continual influx of immigrants or settlers all the way back to invasions by Romans, Vikings and Normans. So nationalistic tendencies tend to remain low level in general peacetime England.

Times of emergency and wars trigger the usual nationalistic fervour and politicians and media whip up flag waving and singing songs etc.

I think when the English have their backs to the wall and fighting to maintain their freedom is when true English nationalism comes to the fore.

Extreme right-wing political groups have always tried to entice people to join up using nationalism as a lever, but in general the vast majority stay clear and see it as spoiling what nationalism actually is - pulling together to help meet a threat.
 
D

Deleted member 13294

Guest
The problem I see is that nationalism for the English is sneered at. The sort of reaction Emily Thornberry had (although in that case, for once it was pushed back against).

For the Scots, nationalism is seen as just being proud of your country.

Here we are seen as little Englanders, or harking back to the days of empire, or wanting to kick out foreigners.

I don't want any of that. I just want the right to be in a country that can govern itself in its own interest without fear of being larger and richer than our closest neighbours. We should embrace self interest in our government just as the Scots want to do.

I can't see that nationalism could ever be a movement in England as it is in Scotland.
 

nabby

Distinguished Member
The problem I see is that nationalism for the English is sneered at. The sort of reaction Emily Thornberry had (although in that case, for once it was pushed back against).

For the Scots, nationalism is seen as just being proud of your country.

Here we are seen as little Englanders, or harking back to the days of empire, or wanting to kick out foreigners.

I don't want any of that. I just want the right to be in a country that can govern itself in its own interest without fear of being larger and richer than our closest neighbours. We should embrace self interest in our government just as the Scots want to do.

I can't see that nationalism could ever be a movement in England as it is in Scotland.

I think the issue, and I'm no scholar on the subject, is one of English nationalism being overrun by ideas of English exceptionalism. I have little experience of nationalism in Wales, but, as my wife is Scottish, I have much exposure to Scottish nationalism. She isn't a Scottish nationalist by any stretch, but when younger she sympathised with their cause.

I'd say 99% of the Scots I've met who are pro-independence or at least pro- more devolved power don't feel like they have a superiority over the rest of the UK or any other part of the world. Their attitude to days gone by of Empire, World Wars and ruling the waves is so different to that I see down here in England (admittedly more in the media than in day-to-day conversations).

This, and again, it's just my own view, is that as a country, England needs to confront in a serious, grown up manner, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the Empire. I think being proud of one's country includes being able to acknowledge and if necessary, apologise for, errors made in the past, as well as celebrate in the right way the good stuff too. Once other countries see that, I honestly believe they will see England as a grown-up modern country not afraid to confront its past or its future.

I'd also say as someone born in England but not ethnically white European, that, at least when I was younger, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, the idea of other English people thinking of me as English would have been a total exception to the rule. Not because of them being racist but just because their perception of what made someone English didn't include people of BAME origins. For some it would have been a case of, "You can't be English, we used to rule over you lot." I think (and can only go on my own feelings here, plus anecdotal evidence) that this attitude still pervades in a small minority of people still. Even though things are obviously vastly better than when I was younger.

Would I vote for an English nationalist party? Yes, if it was at least in part aligned with my wider political views. Even if it meant leaving the EU? Yes, I don't see why not. If we had an equivalent English version of the SNP or Plaid Cymru in terms of their inclusivity and attitude to a nationalistic agenda (excluding attitude to the EU as that's a whole separate issue that's not really for this thread, I feel), I'd be very happy to support it and campaign for it.
 

justincase

Well-known Member
This, and again, it's just my own view, is that as a country, England needs to confront in a serious, grown up manner, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the Empire.
Will just point out it was the British Empire...

I think being proud of one's country includes being able to acknowledge and if necessary, apologise for, errors made in the past, as well as celebrate in the right way the good stuff too.
What have i got to apologize for and to whom(not that i have any great pride about England),i wasn't even alive during the days of the Empire..I do understand your sentiment but i doubt there are many (if any) people alive who were responsible for any errors relating to the Empire...Are the Italians meant to feel apologetic about the Roman Empire.the Ottomans,the vikings,the Mongols.Where does it end...

I think this idea of English superiority is just a myth,nobody i know feels superior to anybody because they are Scottish etc, apart from accents there is no great difference..

The rise in English nationalism is likely a direct result of endless calls for Scottish independence ,I understand what the Scot's etc are not happy about but they may geographically be a long way from Westminster but they are no further away from it as the majority of England in most other regards..
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
To me English Nationalism is simply a wish to see England as an independent country, with its own elected government.

I don't mean an assembly, or an extra tier of unnecessary (IMHO) expense and government, but a sovereign parliament as an independent nation.

Just looking at previous parliamentary arithmetic, that would mean a move slightly to the right of where a UK government has been, as Scotland and Wales have traditionally been more to the left than England.
 

Pacifico

Banned
What have i got to apologize for and to whom(not that i have any great pride about England),i wasn't even alive during the days of the Empire..I do understand your sentiment but i doubt there are many (if any) people alive who were responsible for any errors relating to the Empire...Are the Italians meant to feel apologetic about the Roman Empire.the Ottomans,the vikings,the Mongols.Where does it end...


Its interesting that its only ever the English that are asked to apologize...perhaps we are too polite..;)
 

nabby

Distinguished Member
Will just point out it was the British Empire...


What have i got to apologize for and to whom(not that i have any great pride about England),i wasn't even alive during the days of the Empire..I do understand your sentiment but i doubt there are many (if any) people alive who were responsible for any errors relating to the Empire...Are the Italians meant to feel apologetic about the Roman Empire.the Ottomans,the vikings,the Mongols.Where does it end...

I think this idea of English superiority is just a myth,nobody i know feels superior to anybody because they are Scottish etc, apart from accents there is no great difference..

The rise in English nationalism is likely a direct result of endless calls for Scottish independence ,I understand what the Scot's etc are not happy about but they may geographically be a long way from Westminster but they are no further away from it as the majority of England in most other regards..

Thanks for posting a reply. I haven't asked you to apologise for anything. That would be daft, IMO. However I don't see why a country apologising makes it weaker, if that's where you're coming from.

Just exactly how far back do you think the Empire ended? It's within living memory for many all over the world and its effects and repercussions are resonating today as much as in the past.

All nationalism has at it roots an element of superiority, of a nation state being better than others. How that is channeled is important. I feel pride at the superiority of British athletes or the England football team's triumphs over others. I was calling into question English exceptionalism.

As for the roots of English nationalism coming from Scottish independence calls. The way you've written that seems like you're possibly either fed up or envious of what some, perhaps even many, of the Scots want, by labelling it "endless calls". No matter, I'd see it more as a result of a struggle to find a comfortable identity in a modern world where symbols of Englishness are either seen as old-fashioned or have been hijacked by others for their own ends.
 

nabby

Distinguished Member
Its interesting that its only ever the English that are asked to apologize...perhaps we are too polite..;)

Yeah, the Germans were never asked to apologise. Nor the Japanese to the Chinese and Koreans. Nor the Catholic Church.
 

justincase

Well-known Member
However I don't see why a country apologising makes it weaker, if that's where you're coming from.
I will reiterate again it was the British Empire not the English Empire..Is an apology really going to achieve anything..If the UK government issuing an apology makes anyone feel better then by all means petition them
Perhaps i will go and ask Macron to apologize for the Norman conquests :D

As for the roots of English nationalism coming from Scottish independence calls. The way you've written that seems like you're possibly either fed up or envious of what some, perhaps even many, of the Scots want, by labelling it "endless calls".


I'm not envious,maybe a little fed up of the narrative of the poor downtrodden Scots,give them a referendum on a monthly basis if they want ,,it makes no difference to me if Scotland remains in the union or not,or even if there is a union of any kind...All i will say about independence is if Scotland are allowed another referendum the other members should have the same..
I do wonder what Nicola Sturgeons reaction would be if england was given a vote on independence,i doubt she would be happy



Yeah, the Germans were never asked to apologise. Nor the Japanese to the Chinese and Koreans. Nor the Catholic Church.
And were any of them forgiven,,ok maybe the Catholic Church ,they can forgive themselves..
 

Pacifico

Banned
Yeah, the Germans were never asked to apologise. Nor the Japanese to the Chinese and Koreans. Nor the Catholic Church.

When did France or Italy or Denmark apologize for invading the UK? - sorry I think I missed those.
 
D

Deleted member 13294

Guest
What even is English culture?

I can't celebrate something I can't even define.
Why does it have to be defined? Or celebrated for that matter?

I see this as something that would improve the prosperity of England. If Scotland thinks they will be better off leaving, why should I be afraid or ashamed of wanting the same for England?

I'd go further than just independence. I would go full Republic, scrap the hol, proper regional government and a major rethink of our place in the world.

I'd keep trident and stay in NATO but look to reduce our interventions in world affairs.

I'd be happy to be Switzerland in the North Sea, but without the burdens of being in the single market.
 

Liquid101

Distinguished Member
I think nationalism in any form is ridiculous. Taking pride in being born or residing within a set of imaginary lines on a map seems a bit absurd to me.

While I sort of understand the need for the Welsh and the Scots to embrace nationalism to defend the version of their culture they've decided to hold onto, to protect it from dominant English neighbours. I still think it's all just a bit backward.

To me, English nationalism is no more than a stick that certain elements in our society have decided to use to beat those that perceived as different.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
I was addressing Matt's question about Culture, not Nationalism.
 

Sonic67

Banned
What even is English culture?

I can't celebrate something I can't even define.
Wow.

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Dickens, H G Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, D H Lawrence.

You honestly have no idea?

I haven't started on pop or rock music yet. Or a million other things.

If only there was some kind of resource.

Anglophile - Wikipedia

Culture of England - Wikipedia

Oh.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
I believe that one of the main differences between other countries celebrating their own culture, achievements and lifestyle and Britain is that we do not have a 'National day'. We do not celebrate any revolutions, civil wars, or independance from a colonial power. Partly because there aren't any dates in recent history where we radically changed. We were top dog! (Had we lost WW2, history would be very different, and years later, maybe we would be celebrating independance from Germany- who knows)

I don't agree that our own pride in Britain is any different to other countries celebrating. There is always a degree of 'we invented everything' I was reading the other day Mexocoo believed they invented colour tv? ....Edison invented everything at the turn of the century according to the US. (I'll give him credit for being patents savvy)

So celebrating England, and that sort of thing has always been very understated, and open expressions of nationalism, considered rather vulgar. There just wasn't the need to go flag waving. We were confident of our culture and national identity. And that is way before the far right muscled in on flag waving.
I'm quite comfortable with the way we are. No need to invent some contrived nationalism
 

Sonic67

Banned
Winners write history, they don't apologise. The Danish Vikings and the Norman invasion bascailyl became, "us".
Wrong on numerous levels. You seem as ignorant of history as well as culture.

The vikings were defeated at Stamford Bridge. That was it for them after that.

Meanwhile the Normans only really influenced the ruling classes.

England was ruled by Normans, though never actually became truly Norman. In fact there may well have been only a few thousand Normans who actually stayed in England and eventually these became "English."

The Norman influence was mainly on things like our language for instance words like "beef" (boef) when cattle meat was served at the table of Norman aristocrats. At the time Anglo Saxons used the word "cu" (from where we get "cow") to talk about cattle and its meat.

There was also the adoption of names for children like William, John etc and things like Norman architecture in churches.
 

Liquid101

Distinguished Member
Wow.

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Dickens, H G Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, D H Lawrence.

You honestly have no idea?

I haven't started on pop or rock music yet. Or a million other things.

If only there was some kind of resource.

Anglophile - Wikipedia

Culture of England - Wikipedia

Oh.


A list of historic writers doesn't define culture though.

The wikipedia article has a better stab at it - but like most of what we might define as English has been influenced by those we have come into contact with through invasion, war and colonisation. Even our language isn't native to these islands. We'd could just as easily all be speaking something closer to Welsh.

Most nationalists pick on a snapshot of time which best suits their narrative. Why can't we all accept that culture is transient. In 500 years we'll probably have moved on and be calling this island something else, and the idea our separate nations will be just a period in history.
 

Sonic67

Banned
A list of historic writers doesn't define culture though.
It's part of it. Beatrix Potter is huge in Japan. People travel thousands of miles to see the museum. In the same way what elements of Japanese culture would you travel thousands of miles to see?
The wikipedia article has a better stab at it - but like most of what we might define as English has been influenced by those we have come into contact with through invasion, war and colonisation.
And? You sound like another leftie with Empire guilt. You can use the same point about any country. In fact which country hasn't?
Even our language isn't native to these islands. We'd could just as easily all be speaking something closer to Welsh.
All languages evolve.
Most nationalists pick on a snapshot of time which best suits their narrative. Why can't we all accept that culture is transient. In 500 years we'll probably have moved on and be calling this island something else, and the idea our separate nations will be just a period in history.
And? We are talking about now. I'm not going to be around in 500 years.

Why do you have such a problem with it?
 
Wow.

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Dickens, H G Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, D H Lawrence.

You honestly have no idea?

I haven't started on pop or rock music yet. Or a million other things.

If only there was some kind of resource.

Anglophile - Wikipedia

Culture of England - Wikipedia

Oh.

All people to be rightfully proud of, but again, do they define our current culture? How many average British people have even read one book by those writers? Do their works reflect modern British life and the culture for the average man? I'd argue, no.

Are we not building some fantasy British culture by cherry picking our historical highlights?

What can we collectively as a country be proud of right now in 2019?

I'm not saying there isn't anything, but nothing immediately springs to mind.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

JVC adds Filmmaker Mode to latest D-ILA projector firmware
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Bowers & Wilkins launches Px8 headphone
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sky set to launch its plug-and-play Sky Stream solution
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Movies Podcast: 26th September 2022
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published
AV Podcast: 26th September 2022
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom