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‘I firmly refuse to gratify the devil by allowing myself to become discouraged’.


According to a British government report released today, ‘Britishness’ should be taught in schools in the United Kingdom. It is a curious recommendation because, although Britain clearly means England, Scotland and Wales (but not Ireland, including Northern Ireland), nobody has ever had any concept of ‘Britishness’. England and Englishness, Scotland and Scottishness, Wales and Welshness, Ireland and Irishness are clearly recognizable sets of values, with which we can identify. But Britishness? Does it even exist? And if it does not exist, then it certainly cannot be taught.

Thus, does ‘Britishness’ mean the English language? If it does, then it means that the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand should also confess ‘Britishness’, but that parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should reject it.

Does ‘Britishness’ mean democracy? That would seem strange in a country, which became only partially democratic since the early twentieth century, which since 1945 has only had one government elected by a majority of voters and where the present government, with a massive parliamentary majority, was elected by only 22.5% of the electorate.

Does ‘Britishness’ mean fair play? That would seem strange in a country so unfair that the public is currently not being protected from dangerous criminals, because its government is so incompetent that it cannot build enough prisons to hold them.

Does ‘Britishness’ mean tolerance? That too would seem strange in a country so intolerant that the monarch is not allowed to be a Roman Catholic (though he or she may be a Muslim or a Hindu) and Roman Catholic adoption agencies will probably soon be closed down by the politically correct government, because the agencies refuse to let homosexual couples adopt children. Perhaps this latest fact, coupled with the recent unsuccessful attempt by British Airways to deprive Christians of the right to wear the cross, or the refusal of the European Union to call itself Christian, is only a foretaste of the coming persecution of Christ all over Western Europe. As the penitent last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has said: ‘The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to recreate the Soviet Union in Western Europe’.

The fact is that Britain was an invention first of Roman Imperialism nearly two thousand years ago, later adopted by Norman Imperialism after 1066, only to be taken over by German Imperialism in 1707. It was in the name of ‘Britain’, and therefore ‘Britishness’, that in the eighteenth century Scottish crofters were cleared from Scotland by Hanoverian troops, that English colonists were massacred by a mad German monarch in the American colonies, that slavery brought prosperity to ‘British’ seaports, that in the nineteenth century English peasants were transported to the ends of the world by landlords who had stolen their land, that India and Africa were exploited by greedy merchants, that the Chinese were poisoned by opium, that at the turn of the last century poor Dutch women and children in South Africa were herded into concentration camps to die in their thousands, that in 1945 the British government forcibly repatriated many tens of thousands of Russians to Stalin’s monstrous genocide, that in the late 1990s the present government decide to meddle in the internal affairs of Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq, with all too predictable catastrophic consequences.

Frankly, the associations of Britain and therefore ‘Britishness’ - hypocrisy, cant, cold indifferentism, insular ignorance, imperial arrogance and exploitation - are hardly the best. Perhaps, rather than harass teachers into teaching the present government ideology of ‘Britishness’, we should teach moral and spiritual alternatives to Britishness. We cannot but think that this present government push towards ‘Britishness’ has come about only because it follows a sixty-year period when successive British governments have welcomed large numbers of refugees and economic migrants into the United Kingdom, without consulting its native peoples or their common sense. And now they have realized the blindingly obvious - that the integration of some of those Non-Christian groups is not so easy.

The more cynical might add to this that the present and future government is largely Scottish and rules over 55 million people who are not Scottish. Their claim to legitimacy in England, when they have a Scottish Parliament of their own, but which they do not allow England, is therefore dubious in the eyes of many. In other words, once more, the concept of Britain and therefore ‘Britishness’, is merely a piece of self-justification and political opportunism. But then if the Imperial Romans, followed by the Normans and the Hanoverians, fantasized, why should the present ruling clique not also?

Perhaps the present government should abandon its fantasies of ‘Britishness’. Perhaps rather it should set about solving some more urgent problems, for example, protecting the public from crime, encouraging stable family life through fighting against family breakdown, immorality, abortion, alcohol, drugs, gambling – all of which it has in reality directly and indirectly encouraged.

But then we would no longer be talking about ‘the United Kingdom’, founded by venal politicians in 1921, but rather the Kingdom of Christ, founded by the Eternal One before all the ages.

Fr Andrew

12/25 January 2007
Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome

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