What does it mean to be British? A recent video on citizenship and identity produced by ‘BBC Teach’ (an online teaching aid aimed at ‘early year infants’) argues that Britishness is founded on ‘tolerance’, ‘respect’, and ‘equality’ with no other defining national characteristic given. The video, with its cartoon clips of blue-face painted Scottish nationalist Sue, or Jamal from Birmingham, glued to a giant TV screen showing Pakistan’s winning cricket team argues that all these kinds of activities are just as British as any other, and how could anyone claim otherwise? To any objections which might be raised to this revaluation of British identity- a revaluation which relegates actual national loyalty to a footnote- the program imploringly asks ‘But what is Britishness anyway?’ It ultimately gives no answer beyond referencing a shared love of fish and chips, while reminding us that potatoes were also immigrants – as they came from South America – and that battered fish was introduced by Jewish refugees. Diversity, plurality and inclusivity are what makes us British – it is the absence of coherent national culture which allegedly constitutes our national culture.
However while Britain can supposedly look back upon a halcyon history of mutual cultural interchange there are increasing ‘concerns’ amongst people in response to recent changes. We are shown that a few decades ago someone could get on a bus and expect to speak English with his fellow passengers (but anyway given how reserved the old monocultural British in their drab clothes used to be before the advent of diversity, they probably wouldn’t deign to speak to each other in any case). But today if we entered the same bus in colourful, vibrant multicultural Britain we would be presented with a chattering cosmopolitan microcosm of our new society, with people speaking ‘Australian English’, ‘Latvian’ and ‘Urdu’ (all three count here equally as foreign languages). In response to these changes, many people have reacted badly, presumably being unable to appreciate the chappatis and pizza brought to our shores by minority communities. The video suddenly strikes a darker note. Images of fists and sounds of shouting fill the screen. We see a national-front style rally in full flight. Hate crimes are soaring we are told, due to irrational fears and impulses amongst natives. Of course the video does not seek to address the concerns of natives. Indeed in a post-modernist twist, it argues that there is no such thing as a native. Identities are just a product of various intersectional factors that are entirely relative to each individual’s experience.
The video, with its deliberately simplified cartoon images, emotive music, jolly jokes, and reassuring homely northern-accented nanny-speak narration, is typical of the particularly sinister propaganda produced by modern multicultural states. If you watch the propaganda of an openly totalitarian state such as North Korea, you are at least aware that a particular ideological message is being rammed down your throat. Mass military demonstrations don’t pretend to impartiality, and neither do the forced confessions of self-reproach from dissidents. These regimes want you to know that they wield total power and demand total obedience.
What’s so insidious about Britain’s soft totalitarianism is that its political program isn’t enforced at the end of a bayonet or a truncheon. People are regularly interned and persecuted by the police on the flimsiest of grounds, but nominal civil liberties are still protected generally. BBC propaganda – listen with mother, ‘auntie’ knows best – is sinister and alarming in that it seeks to guide by the hand and reproach the population for failing to see the ‘correct view’. It’s the fact that we have a state religion so institutionally ubiquitous that it even makes daily teaching aids aimed at indoctrinating young children, and that we aren’t even aware of it which is so deeply alarming.
Today state-funded institutions can offer — without challenge — a teaching aid for classroom use in Britain’s schools, which presents as factual truth a series of lies about Britain’s history. An Orwellian process of restructuring the national experience is occurring, in which the British are being gradually written out of their own history. This is a seminal project of national deconstruction. Britishness is being recast as an infinitely inclusive panorama of different cultures from across the globe. We can see this project everywhere, in popular culture, in advertisements and even historical dramas. But most importantly young people will increasingly be taught that we are a nation of immigrants and they will absorb this message from an early age. In turn this will mean that they will not perceive the coming demographic transformation of British society, which they will be witness to as a generation, as a radical break with all past precedent. They will see it as simply another shift, another period of change analogous to the foundational conquests which created England. England, it is true, was founded by one impactful period of migration. But it is now being ended by another. But perhaps what is so strangely unique about this wave of migration is that it is the state, and its attendant institutions – designed to protect and to serve us – which instead seek to blind and delude us from perceiving the reality of national oblivion.