We’ve lost more than we’ll ever know
‘Round the rocky shores of England
We need roots.
It seems to bristle from everywhere.
Everywhere I look, everywhere I turn, there seems to be a deep, profound and heartfelt longing for a revitalised England, and with it, a grounded sense of national identity that is uniquely English. The most rousing example I have found of late is the song Roots by folk-rock band Show of Hands.
The song succinctly details the flaws inherent in the present ‘English’ culture, drawing attention to how:
‘Everyone stares at a great big screen
Overpaid soccer stars, prancing teens
Australian soap, American rap
Estuary English, baseball caps’
Furthemore, I’m inclined to heartily agree with the fact that we ought to be ashamed of ‘the way we look, at the way we talk… without our stories or our songs’. This incisive critique is telling of a culture destroyed and diminished by multinational capitalism, decayed sense of identity and commodification of our shared heritage. There is no better demonstration for this than English sport. For too long, English people have been content to be superficially, and temporarily English during sporting events, draping themselves in flags, hats, facepaints, football or rugby shirts before hastily packing all traces of polyester and PVC away embarrassedly. Plastic in more sense than one.
This most peculiar ritual phenomenon of what I shall, in absence of any other apt turn of phrase, ‘time-share nationalism’, has long left me cold. I refused when I first considered it, and refuse still, to believe for a second that all that remains of Englishness is half-hearted support for the predicted failure of overpaid sportsmen.
This superficiality of national identity is in fact emboldened by the continued fixation with ‘Britain’. ‘Britain’ is an all-too easy umbrella under which to hide all manner of political inconsistencies, with uses varying from a valuable prop for the dated multiculturalism policy of the mainstream parties to its precarious position on the world stage. This in spite of the fact that, thanks to slow but steady devolution, ‘Britain’ as an entity is slowly ceasing to exist. This gross hypocrisy has been highlighted by the General Election of this year which will mercifully (but probably not definitely) come to an end tomorrow. The excellent Britology Watch highlights the inconsistency of mentions of ‘Britain’ and ‘England’ in the manifestos of the ‘Old Parties’, with the Labour Party predictably offering the worst confusion between the two. What does one expect from a party who claimed that the English were “potentially very aggressive, very violent” and were frightened that English people would “increasingly articulate their Englishness following devolution”? I digress. It is clearly time to free ourselves from a stifling ‘British’ umbrella and establish a distinction between England and a Britain in which power is unfairly and unequally devolved.
To my mind, there has never been a more important time to fight for this country. We stand in danger of being entirely swept away; our Green Belt land in danger of being colonised by bland and faceless cardboard box housing to accomodate an artificially exploding population; our culture damaged and shrouded in shame and uncertainty or claimed by those who have no ownership over, or understanding of it; our pride in our nation misplaced, transient and easily exploited by unscrupulous corporations: everything that is unique about this country is under threat.
We must, as we have so many times before, heed the familiar warnings of the past, and look to their lessons and wisdom in our own efforts to better ourselves in the present and the future. Perhaps one of the most inspirational texts that I’ve ever read is Edward Carpenter’s rousing hymn, England, Arise! The Long Long Night Is Over. The protagonist also dreamed of a future England; one we as English Nationalists can take strength from: unifying intentions that recognise the inherent strength of the English nation.
As we have done recently, Carpenter lamented and disdained deception and idleness…
Over your face a web of lies is woven,
Law that are falsehoods pin you to the ground;
Labour is mocked, its just reward is stolen,
On its bent back sits Idleness encrowned.
… and the dangers of uncontrolled capitalism…
Out of your ruin rich men thrive and fatten,
Your merchants rub their hands when food is dear,
Capital says your claims are not forgotten
If wages keep you just starvation-clear.
So. Let us dream instead of a future England.
Let us dream of an England connected to a past of which it is not ashamed, and instead, in which it has immense pride. Let us dream of an England where Englishmen and women are content to work for the common good. Let us dream of an England where we have pride in our country without it clouding our judgement of elsewhere. Let us celebrate what we have given the world as enthusiastically, if not more enthusiastically, as we celebrate what the world has given us. Let us dream of an England that Edward Carpenter dreamed of so many years ago, even before he helped found the Labour Party to try to bring his noble aims to fruition. (Perhaps that is a warning in and of itself!)
People of England, all your valleys call you,
High in the rising sun the lark sings clear;
Will you dream on, let shameful slumber thrall you?
Will you disown your native land so dear?
Shall it die unheard —
That sweet pleading word?
Arise, O England, for the day is here.