United Kingdom, currently of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Wrong Anxieties

scottish and hypothetical ewnicish flags

I see David Cameron is getting round to supporting his supposed cause of unionism.  Or Brand Britain at least.  This is basically whatʼs wrong with the United Kingdom.  Itʼs not about a nation, in the sense of a group of people with something shared – however illusory.  Not according to the Tories and their ilk.  Itʼs a marketing opportunity.  A brand.  A way to allow shareholders to turn a profit.  That non-shareholders, and even the small scale shareholders, arenʼt now, nor will regularly in future, be getting anything worthwhile out of this is of no relevance.  Itʼs not even relevant that the large shareholders arenʼt from any particular part of Great Britain or its associated islands.  International capitalism requires successful brands, be it under Saʼudi, Chinese or British ownership, and the beneficiaries of the branding exercise are few and from around the world.

Well enough of it.  I had started out a couple of years ago assuming that the arguments for separation were mixed, which they are.  What has taken me by surprise is how abysmal the arguments for remaining in the UK are.  A reheated serving of romantic nationalism about a Britain that never was, but which has been getting increasingly ladled out by UK media for the last decade.  British sports, British baking, British monarchy, British reality TV, British I-donʼt-know-what-any-more.  You can tell that an identity is in trouble when it has to be so massively hyped, and that was before the referendum came over the horizon.  And underneath it, what?  More opportunities for the rich to become richer at the expense of everyone else.  I used to be amusedly tolerant of it, at least, so far as it wasnʼt the kind of malevolent Britishness of Ulster Unionism or British Imperialism and Nationalism.  After the last few years of brand exposure, Iʼm seriously sick of it.  Can has some clear headspace please?

politics in a cardboard cutout sense

Having spent most of my life alternately bored stiff of or driven to despair by the one-dimensionality of conventional descriptions of political thinking, I am interested to find a website based on an explicitly two-dimensional rather than one-dimensional analysis: The Political Compass.  Their two dimensions and many interesting graphs are stretched between poles of “social authoritarianism/libertarianism” and “economic left/right (or communism/neoliberalism)”.  So, from uselessly simplistic to descriptively two dimensional.  Not much of an improvement, given the hugely polydimensional nature of politics and the underlying factors that produce it, but an improvement nonetheless.

(Though there is a curious echo here of The Thatcher Lie about the initial divisibility of economics and society.  I donʼt wholly reject these graphs, but I think it important to understand that social policies have economic implications, economic policies have social implications, and both have wider ecological implications.  These things arise mutually.)

Subscribe to RSS - UK