A Conversation for United States of America (USA)
Ferdi Posted Feb 9, 2000
Since my original posting I have recieved many messages asking why I am not proud to be British or saying that I should be, I wrote this in reply:
Proud to be British?
You know I never really understood this, to-day people seem to be posing the question "what does it mean to be English, Scottish or whatever?" all the time but the whole question of having an identity based around some geographical area or political zone has puzzled me. When I think about who I am, what i believe, who i identify with the question of what passport I hold or where in the world my mother gave birth to me never figures for a moment. As for the British culture I am supposed to identify with, what is it? I know of none, as far as I can see we are increasingly living under an Americanised world culture, our culture is their culture, is this what I should identify with ? What about the British national character? Well "The British" are a very diverse bunch, for me to identify with them en masse because we share a nationality would mean having Peter Sutcliffe, Margaret Thatcher or other such objectionable characters as part of my personal identity and when I look back through the "great and good" of British history I find not people I identify with but people I too would be arguing against had I lived then. British history does give examples of groups I can empathise with, groups and movements that inspire me but I also find these people and groups of people in other countries too; both now and in the past. There are also things done in the British name that I deplore; the concentration camps in southern Africa, condoning the use of terrible weapons like DU tipped bombs, massacres in Indian, and the operation of the Empire in general to name but a few, how can I call these my history and part of my identity?
I don't even like the concept of countries, countries are artificial creations, constantly changing with the wind even within small islands like our own as economic and political forces change. Wars are invariably fought between differing countries or groups of countries against one or more country; they serve only to divide us and to pit one group against another as political and economic borders on the earth change. What benefit does mankind gain from the continued existence of different groups willing to kill and maim people who are not part of their clan? The only use of terms such as England, Italy or whatever that is useful is for sport or other areas where competition is absolutely vital to it's function and there aren't that many. I can think of no rational reason for the continuation of this state of affairs, we don't need countries, in fact they are a hindrance to our development in areas like limiting environmental damage (think of both the Rio and Kyoto (sp?) summits), the distribution of basic resources like food or advances in health care techniques or life saving drugs (AZT) and in curbing multinational companies like Monsanto or Shell in the world of capitalist "globalisation".
Global problems require global decisions and global action. In the future maybe the formation of supranational political structures around "communities" like the EU or NAFTA for whatever reason will loosen the nostalgic ties people have with the current nationalities and will start people looking for new groups to identify with and feel proud to be a part of. Maybe social forces will bring about huge dramatic changes to how the world functions but whatever development takes place in these areas it is clear to me that mankind's future is not with any nation state. I would argue it is with humanity as a whole, we have more potential together. The more we interact with people from different communities and from different backgrounds the more we will see the similarities we have and splitting people up or defining ourselves by nationality will seem silly, i think this can only be a good and progressive development. And so I have no nationality, no allegiance to any nation state and I look elsewhere for my own identification.
Scottish and Proud As Well
Shelly Cashman Quasney Posted Jan 20, 2001
As an American with English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish heritage I find your dialogues highly interesting. Explanatory as well, as I now know where my self hatred comes from. =P
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