3.) All Quite on the English Front
I went to an English national love fest. It was a football match between England and White Russia (Belarus). From the experience of being among the English as they enjoyed their national sport I was allowed the chance to see something quite unique.
Notice that the home team was England and not Britain. The English, who have a provincial sense of superiority and nationalism, were in full dress. They wore the English national flag as a cape and painted Saint George’s Cross on to their faces. When the match began English fans held up a gigantic English flag the size of an entire section. It surprises me how nationalist the English are. (Of course America is very nationalist as well, but on slightly different lines). The English come from a much smaller country and so are quite nationalist. Partly this is due to recent attempts to invade England (Napoleon and Hitler), Partly this is due to the defensive way small nations behave, and partly due English insistence on being unique among their neighbors. If you looked at the size of England and the amount of nationalism that it has it would likely be per capita more nationalist than the United States.
England is the size of Louisiana with a population roughly the size of Texas, New York, and New Jersey combined. The English often make an ethnic distinction between the rest of the United Kingdom and themselves. Some get fussy when you call them British. I have found a few Englishmen who prefer to be called English rather than British. English history labels Scots and Welsh as ethnically apart from the English. The persistence of ethnic distinctions on Great Britain is unhelpful to unity.
Nationalism is a swampy subject to muck around in. You tend to step on sensitive toes when you ask what good does it do. I come from a country that doesn’t have an ethnic backbone for nationalism. There are no ethnic Americans. The indigenous people of America were killed. However, England is still held down by their notion of an ethnic possessor of the nation. I conclude then, that the colonies of the British Empire were inclined to eliminate the indigenous peoples of Australia, Canada, and America and found nations that were not inhabited by the ethnic possessors of the land. For this reason we don’t have a shared ethnic sense of coming from the land we live in. Our nationalism will be less ethnically focused.
In America we consolidate around the multi-ethnic identity of our countrymen. Our French Louisiana, Spanish southwest, independent Texas, English north, and speckled Midwest. American unity would be compromised if we chose to be as ethnically particular as the English.
However, I cannot judge that American sense of unity would serve England well. American ethnic unity is primarily held together because of a fear of separating over intra-racial distinctions when Americans are preoccupied by racial distinctions. I can imagine as Britain becomes more racially diverse they will adapt a paranoid American sense of racial unity instead of intra-racial ethnic distinctions.
My final word for this entry is to clarify what I personally think of nationalism. It should be clear that I don’t think any better of American or English notions of nationalism. I think that the 20th century should have taught human beings that nationalism and ethnic distinctions are harmful ways of viewing other people. In an ideal world we should unite around the fact that we all rotate around the sun and have the ineffable miracle of life. Human understanding is not going to happen anytime soon, but the world needs people who hope for these types of things, instead of people who hold on to backward notions of distinctions and superiority in the face of humanity.