Poundshop Patriotism…

In some ways, the idea of a Royal Yacht is an effective metaphor for Britain. We have all but given up on the Royal Navy, once a symbol of British innovation, adventurousness and power, but we might invest in a Royal Yacht: a pretty, quaint and rather pointless little plaything for the rich.

I will give Boris Johnson a little credit for suggesting that it could be funded by donors and not the state. But, regardless, this could be the clearest case of what I call poundshop patriotism: a nationalist attitude that is less concerned with the health of our institutions that with little novelties: a Royal Yacht; a Blue passport; a poppy that demands and signifies less than a handkerchief. It might play well with the papers but it’s useless.

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About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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4 Responses to Poundshop Patriotism…

  1. Simon says:

    I guess this David Chapman essay is correct and much of what we think of “traditional British culture” was not codified until the Victorian era, when the country’s culture industry scrambled to provide some kind of lasting but flexible cultural identity for a rapidly modernizing country?

    https://meaningness.com/invented-traditions-and-timeworn-futures#footnoteref3_k4uoo83

    Because what you describe seems to be that process seems to be happening all over again, just with a very different goal as Britain is now struggling to find a new place in the world’s increasingly multi-polar political landscape. I imagine something similar happened in the immediate post-WW2 era when the British national consciousness found it necessary to acknowledge the dismantling of the country’s old colonial empire, though now Britain might not even any longer be capable of projecting direct military/political influence in the former colonies as until very recently…

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    • bsixsmith says:

      Indeed! And without that influence it is astonishingly superficial. If I had more influence – or, indeed, any influence – on our culture I would emphasise our scientific, literary, artistic and religious achievements but I fear our politicians are incapable of understanding them.

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      • Simon says:

        I think it doesn’t help that in Britain the strongest cultural identities are the most localized and exclusively regional ones that are so strong because they don’t apply to the entire country. Maybe I’m wrong and reading the country’s political landscape incorrectly as a result of being an outsider, but it’s the impression I get from for instance how much closer Scottish independence is to becoming a reality than say Basque, Breton or Catalan separatism.

        I keep wondering that if a second Scottish independence referendum passes and succeeds then we might see globalization begin to reverse.

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  2. bsixsmith says:

    Oh indeed. Though I think one of our problems, ironically, is too *little* regionalism. People used to have clear local identities (Yorkshiremen as the most famous example) and now they are casting about for a sense of allegiance.

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