Friday, May 11, 2007

Studies in patriotism

George Orwell, whose reputation grows ever greater but whose alignment with the modern left seems ever more tenuous, had this to say on in 1944 the subject of patriotism and nationalism.
England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.
Having chided Ming Campbell for calling Tony Blair's description of Britain as 'the greatest nation on earth' as being chauvinist, what then to make of Polly Toynbee today?
He was embarrassingly BNP-dreadful when he added: "This is the greatest nation on earth."
For Ms Toynbee, to express love of one's country is redolent of bigotry and racism. I suppose I could attempt to demonstrate the crass stupidity of this idea, but Orwell once again does it better (though describing Polly Toynbee as a member of the intelligentsia is admittedly something of a stretch.
One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.

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