Saturday , May 25 2024

Why do so many British people hate Britain?

We all know Guardian reading men who will launch into a diatribe against the UK at the touch of a pro-UK button.  We have all heard it:  “How can you say this country is worth preserving when it is run by corrupt big business and people who don’t give a damn?”, “The British have done nothing but colonise and destroy” and so on.

This hatred of their own country originated in the wartime generation.  After the war there were many ex-servicemen who really hated what had happened to them.  They knew that the war had to be done but hated Churchill, the “nation” and the people who were associated with their misery.  I can remember a friend’s father, who had lost a finger from frostbite in Austria, raising his mutilated hand and telling us that the posh f**kers are “b*stards.  He had voted for change in 1945.

The newly educated children of these victims of war were fodder for anyone peddling Internationalism and anti-British sentiment.

I was anti-nationalist until I had travelled.  I love the world and began my travels as a 19 year old hitch hiker.  I had Belgian police poke me with loaded pistols and an Iranian soldier scratch my stomach with a fixed bayonet.  I was shaken down by customs officials.  As I got older I encountered planning officials in superficially civilised european countries who asked for bribes and so many places where the wealthy lived alongside the sickly poor.  I still love the diversity of the world but it dawned on me that every place had its problems and Britain was doing much better at achieving a balance between liberty and prosperity than most, including most of Europe.

Many people have told me that England is where they would like to live.  I cannot number how often I have been asked to sponsor people to come here. I particularly remember a taxi driver in Tehran telling me that England was the centre of civilisation, that wherever you start in the world civilisation improves as you approach London.  He didn’t mean wealth, he meant civilisation.

The deep problem is that British tolerance and sense of fairness is not a gift of some utopian plan that was given to us by our forebears, it is the net result of hundreds of interacting events over a couple of centuries that are carried from parent to child as an idea of what is right.  WWII dented that idea but also added to it.  It is the succeeding generations, the children of the disillusioned ex-servicemen and their children and the people who they influence who bear the angst of war without knowing its roots.  They do not realise that Britain is an idea.  They imagine that by changing laws and the government system over progressive areas of the globe and merging nations the whole world will be better.  But the “idea” does not reside in laws and government.

The idea of Britain is fragile.  It is transmitted from one generation to the next.  There is no system of government that can implement this idea.  Places can have the same apparent system of government but many local and national factors such as underlying tribal and caste loyalties will rapidly transmute it into something that is very different in practice.  It is the post WWII hubris of the Anglo-Americans to believe that they are immune from any backwash due to fully opening their societies.  Obviously becoming deeply entangled with global business and political practices will slowly destroy any uniquely British idea of society and governance. It is a “numbers game”, if Britain had two thousand million people our idea would be dominant but we are a small island.  The ignorant will say: “Hey! what does it matter, we are all the same people aren’t we?”.  No.  It is both the glory and pain of the world that it is diverse, there are good people, wonderful people, everywhere but we are not the same, we are our parent’s children.  May we always have diversity and never be the same, that is the meaning of loving the world.

A word of warning.  The greatest threat to any people, nation and the world in general is corruption.  Corruption arises because people have no sense of duty to their locality.

The best way to keep the idea of Britain and maintain its civilising force in the world is to grow closer to Canada, Australia and New Zealand which are the countries that are closest to us culturally.  We will need them as China rises.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog:

About John Sydenham

Dr John Sydenham has worked in International Pharmaceuticals and for one of the "big four" International Consultancies. He ran a successful company for 15 years and after selling the company devotes his time to travel, science, black labradors and freedom.

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  1. Jonesy Wales

    I fully agree with this article, except for one point.
    I don’t believe it was the ordinary returning ‘squadie’ (demographically most likely working class) that became disillusioned with Britain.
    The intense dislike of the concept of ‘Britain’ has it’s roots in the Left-wing liberal, ‘highly educated’ elite class. They are currently ubiquitous and over-represented in all institutions in positions of power and influence (and notably in media and teaching positions). They are in a unique position to push their agenda for further than their actual numbers should allow.
    Conversely the working class are the main bedrock of pride and patriotism in the UK, they are the ones pushing against the anti- British sentiment; hence Labour’s loss of support in their traditional support base.

  2. Did the left wing liberals create the anti-British lobby or did those who were already disgruntled buy the Guardian because it represented them? The bedrock of anti-British feeling lies in those who had working class roots but benefited from the boom in educational opportunity after 1965. Many became parents and teachers and, as you say, spread their anti-British outlook.

    What always surprises me is that when you scratch the surface of internationalist beliefs the believers often get angry because they don’t really have any good reasons for what they believe. They mention “racism” but there is a deep personal trauma that has informed them that they cannot explain. I actually wrote this article because last week I heard an ex-senior Civil Servant spitting venom about the “British” at a poor woman in our company, I approached him afterwards and it was clear that he had got his anger from his disillusioned dad.

    In case you were wondering, the anecdotes in the article really are all true. In retrospect the recklessness is appalling, mind you, I visited San Pedro Sula on my last travel before COVID.