To:    Comment at the Guardian
Re:    National identity, the nation state and the capacity of enlightened, self-organizing individuals for ANARCHY
Date: Monday 1 January 07

In response to a Guardian article, "Don't overlook the impact of empire on our identity", by Madeline Bunting on British identity

Link to article and thread at The Guardian.

First, let me add my support to [llivermore] and [KennyB]: abolition of the slave trade by the British government in 1807 and its subsequent enforcement are things for white Britons to be PROUD of, things they should give themselves credit for, rather than blaming themselves for what went before, and which not just "white men" were guilty of.

This particular anniversary, it seems, is set to be used by Ms Bunting and others as yet another opportunity to demand more self-flagellation, prostration, and concessions (e.g. yet more immigration into his already overcrowded homeland!) from the wicked "white man".

Where does this self-hatred come from, I wonder? There is something very medieval-Christian about it. Was Adam not a "white man", who disobeyed God, thus causing Him to curse all humankind? See "An Atheist's and Agnostic's (not yet definitive) Guide to God":

Could it be that Ms Bunting et al. are not so much self-hating themselves, but adept at exploiting the self-hatred - or rather, the culturally ingrained guilt - of their fellow white men and women, in order to weaken and gain power over them?

By claiming for themselves the victories over past evils (slavery, Nazism, apartheid, etc.)* they cleverly and deceitfully (although, not consciously, I suspect) secure for themselves the "moral high ground" from which to conduct their own, personal, Darwinian struggle for survival and advantage in the "socio-economic environment", that for Homo sapiens has effectively replace the natural environment.

* Anyone opposing mass immigration and the Left's vision of a multi-racial/multicultural society (i.e. the melting pot, in which racial (and cultural?) differences will eventually dissolve and disappear) is damned and dismissed as someone who in the past would have supported slavery, Nazism, apartheid, etc.

I'll leave the second point I want to make to a later post. 

2nd Post

The second point I wanted to make relates to NATIONAL IDENTITY, which is based on the need for a sense of belonging and group identity deeply rooted in human nature that evolved over millions of years - not to preserve and serve the power structures of the nation state, as it does now - but to facilitate the Darwinian struggle for survival and advantage in "extended family groups" in the "natural environment".

With the development of civilisation, in just the past 3000 years or so, the struggle for survival and advantage moved from the natural to a completely different, ARTIFICIAL, "socio-economic environment". Human nature (the biological foundations of our behaviour and emotions), needless to say, has barely changed.

As the socio-economic units of human population got larger, leaders struggled to gain and retain control of members' loyalty, using physical force, of course (as befits our primitive animal nature), but also cleverly exploiting individual members' fundamental need (material and emotional) for a sense of belonging and group identity. Leaders were usually driven to increase their domains without limit, creating empires, but these have always tended to break down into smaller, more manageable units, the NATION STATE being the final, relatively stable, product of this development.

In a modern democracy such as ours, the ruling class has grown and developed into a much wider class of "stake holders", which, notwithstanding massive inequalities in the size of the stakes, embraces virtually everyone, providing them, in theory at least, with the chance of increasing the size of their own stake.

We ALL have a stake in the NATION STATE, and in maintaining the power structures which constitute it. But some (Gordon Brown, for example) have a far bigger stake than others.

The notion of "British identity" is an artificial, necessarily very rubbery and superficial, construction, which taps into and exploits human nature, which evolved to benefit us under entirely different circumstances. A sense of British identity was created and is cultivated to maintain and serve the power structures of our nation state, and the interests of, particularly its biggest, stakeholders.

Our need for a sense of belonging and group identity is a fundamental part of human nature. It is a need that has been commandeered and exploited by the demands of the nation state, i.e. the primitive animal drives and behaviour of those (leaders) instrumental in creating it.

Now, at long last, WE (the ordinary, honest, decent people, rather than those who would lead, deceive and exploit us) have the freedom and the means (the technology) to take back and determine, each for him or her self, our OWN (in the modern world, multi-faceted) sense of identity.

At the moment we ALL depend on the power structures of the nation state, so we cannot simply do away with them. What we can do, however, once the necessary open-source software becomes available on the Internet, is SELF-ORGANIZE, and gradually replace (perhaps not completely, but largely) the power structures of the state.

The political Right wants to use the power structures of the state to advance (i.e. impose it on others) their own (Christian) morality and world view, along with their vested interests in "property rights" and free-market capitalism for the exploitation of others (a natural inclination of our animal nature), while the political Left want to use the power of the state to advance their own, largely misguided, vision of human civilisation (in which they, of course, belong to the "progressive" ruling elite, e.g. as a Guardian columnist).

I, on the other hand, want to see the power structures of the nation state, in so far as they are rooted in our primitive animal nature (which they very largely are), become redundant.

Although I've not read any of them, I suppose I'm an ANARCHIST - but only in the most positive, humane and non-violent sense.

More in this vein at

3rd Post

I am not going to be told by Mr Brown, or anyone else, what my identity is or should be, or what OPTIONS I have to select from.

I do NOT have multiple identities, as some suggest we do. What I have is an impossible-to-define (in some respects, deeply mysterious), multi-faceted identity, the different facets of which, depending on circumstance and mood, are blended and emphasized in a confusing (even to myself), sometimes contradictory, variety of ways, none of which has much to do - not any more - with Britain, or British citizenship.

As far as I am NOW concerned, British citizenship simply provides necessary official documentation (a passport) and access to certain, valuable rights and privileges. The same rights and privileges, of course, which have attracted so many immigrants to these shores, and undermined the (largely spurious, but powerful, nevertheless) sense of British identity I once had.

The nation state (in this instance, Britain) is just an assemblage of power structures (clothed in lies and myths), which serve us ALL (i.e. anyone with a British passport) to some extent, but which serve some (not mentioning any names, classes or professions) far better than others.

Perhaps I'm odd and unusual, but I tend to identify MOST with those I share MOST with, as I do with fellow, native (ethnic), Englishmen and Europeans: common (or closely related) ancestors (hardly unimportant), history (going back to the ancient Greeks), prehistory, culture, religion (even if lapsed or outgrown), not to mention our ancestors' part in the scientific, technological and industrial revolutions that have formed the modern world and on which we now all depend (even if many of them ARE arseholes, or worse!).

With Britain's ethnic minorities (New Britons, collectively) I share nothing but our "common humanity". That's a lot and its important (it means that I try to show them the respect I owe to all human beings), but it is no more than I share with 6 billion plus other human beings on our planet (that our government, in its infinite wisdom and authority, chooses to issue some with a British passport means nothing to me). UNLESS, that is, I know them as INDIVIDUALS - which changes everything. But I cannot possibly know more than a relatively small number. The vast majority must remain strangers, which whom I share nothing, except a passport: no ancestors, no history no culture (except to the extent that they may, or may not, have adopted mine).

But, of course, Mr Brown, and a lot of other people (not least in the media) want and need us ALL to believe the MYTH and LIES of shared British identity.

More of my views on the MADNESS of mass immigration and multiculti society at

4th Post

[shlick], I agree with you about capitalism, i.e. the far greater efficiency of "wage slaves" over actual slaves, playing an essential role in the abolition of slavery, but not with what you add about it having "nothing to do with high-minded humanitarian ideals", which, I'm sure, also played an important role.

And I don't see why white Britons shouldn't be proud of the high-minded humanitarian ideals and efforts of their forebears, while at the same time regretting (perhaps even being ashamed of) other forebears' less noble behaviour.

5th Post

Bix2bop], no, I "wasn't aware that the term the White Man (capitalized) originates with Kipling and connotes more than skin color", but thanks for pointing it out. 

I put "white man" in quotation marks because it has so many, mainly negative, connotations, while for me it is synonymous with "ethnic European", which is the ethnic group (its shared history and culture) that I personally, and quite strongly, identify with.   As a "white man" I often feel as I imagine I would, as a heterosexual male, in the company of militant lesbian feminists. I have to be on my guard against those who hate me (i.e. what they associate me with). But I have to be careful: the moment I assert (or just confess) my identify as a white (ethnic European) male, I'm likely to be damned as a "racist" or "male chauvinist". They want me to be ashamed of it, or at the very least, deny that it is of any importance. But I cannot do that without being dishonest, which despite living in such dishonest times, I don't want to be.

In response to your first question, "Why would you think that it's only for white Britons, and not all Britons, to feel proud of Britain's abolition of the slave trade?" The answer is that since anyone with a British passport, irrespective of their origins, race, culture, native tongue, history etc. is now generally referred to as a "Briton", I no longer consider myself to be one.  As I've explained in previous posts, above, I do not identify with multi-racial/multicultural Britain, but with those I have most in common with, whereby shared ancestors (race), history and culture are - for ME, at least - not absolute or unconditional, but nevertheless, of CENTRAL importance.

The government invites into our already overpopulated country, with its mixed, but nevertheless - ethnically, culturally and historically - closely related, native European population, not just a few (no problem with that) but MILLIONS of people of (noticeably) very different origins, culture and history (with their OWN identities!),  and tells us, "these are now Britons too". They are people, and I respect them as such, but Britons? They are not even Europeans!  If I were to immigrate to Africa or China, would I suddenly (or even after several generations) become an African or a Chinese? Hardly. I'm a European because my ancestors (going back, not decades, but millennia!) were European.

I'm questioning the relevance now, and for the future, of a "British identity" and of the nation state which is its purpose to hold together. That's dangerous, I know, and scary, because it undermines the power structures of the British state, on which we ALL (non-UK residents excluded) depend, and they ARE powerful indeed.

This is why some will condemn and dismiss me as a "racist". Because you don't have to discuss issues with "racists". And this is an issue, with truly revolutionary implications, that we have good reason to be fearful of. Although, to my mind, that is all the more reason to discuss it with as much openness and honesty as possible. We need to know what we are doing and proceed very carefully when we start to dismantle (at least partially) the power structures of our nation state - which, I'm pretty sure, is what must happen, if we are to make REAL progress towards creating a more just, humane, and above all, sustainable socio-economic order.

[jumeaux], I found your post particularly interesting and will respond to the point you make in reference to me in my next post.

6th Post

[jumeaux], What you refer to as ONE of your (multiplicity of) identities (a sense of Britishness amongst Americans), I would refer to as a "facet" of your (single) identity. It's two different ways of looking at the same complicated phenomenon. But to me, having multiple identities seems schizophrenic. SomeONE has to take responsibility for ALL my different identities, and that's ME.

[doctorbrydon], While I agree that there is some element of choice in respect to identity, I think it is very restricted. Being a native and ethnic European is a central part of my identity, because that's what I AM; it's what my ancestors (certainly most of them) were. I cannot choose to be Chinese or African instead, even if I'd been born there and had largely adopted their culture and way of life. What I can choose to identify with, however, is what I find good in European history and culture. I certainly wouldn't choose to identify with the Nazis, for example, but to some extent I have to, because they WERE, I'm sorry to say, Europeans, and I have to accept and deal with that.

Many on the political left, who sometimes like to call themselves "antifascists" or "antiracists", choose to deny the importance of that ethnic connection, preferring to embrace (identify with) other races  (especially Africans, who are perceived, I presume, to be less tainted by the evils of civilisation) in an attempt to dissociate themselves completely from Nazi crimes, rather than facing up to the terrifying possibility that there might be a bit of "Nazi madness" lurking in themselves, as  I know there is in me.

There are things I find good in African and especially Chinese history and culture, of course, which I would certainly want to identify with if I were Chinese or African; but I'm not, so I don't. Which doesn't mean to say that I cannot identify with INDIVIDUAL non-Europeans. Certainly, I'm more inclined to identify with Buddha (as a man, not a deity) and his teachings than I am with Jesus or any Christian (European) theologians. Identity is a very complicated and contradictory business. It's of huge personal, social and POLITICAL importance (or SOON will be), but because you cannot precisely define or grasp it (even for yourself, let alone for someone else) it's good (sometimes, vital) to remind ourselves of our "common humanity" and not take it (a particular facet of our identity) TOO seriously, notwithstanding that this is sometimes a lot easier said than done.

And there endeth today's sermon. I'm sorry if that's how it comes across.

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The abolition of the slave trade is "a painful reminder of British imperial history"? I would think of it as one of the proudest legacies of that imperial history. Britain was one of, if not the first major civilisation, to voluntarily outlaw slavery, even at some considerable cost to itself. If I recall correctly, we even went to war in some cases to stamp out the slave trade in other countries that were not so progressive. Where is the shame in that?


KennyB's post: well done llivermore.

however I fear you will get no thanks on here, populated as it is by yellow-bellied hand-wringers.

far easier for them to blame the UK for all the ills of the world, and forget the proud legacy of Wilberforce and those who fought slavery.

shlick's post: reality check?

It was an emerging industrial capitalism that got rid of slavery. Nothing to do with high-minded humanitarian ideals. Capitalism and slavery are completely incompatible economic systems, as well as human labour costs under capitalism being far less than under slavery. Labour is also far more mobile and flexible under capitalism.

The civil war in the US was essentialy a conflict between northern industrial capitalism and southern slavery to determine a United states of economic capitalism.

All the British self-congratualating back-slapping for abolishing slavery because of humainatrian considerations is sentimental hogwash, and a perversion of history. As said above, it was a clash of economic forces, which a vibrantly emerging capitalism won, hands down.

Ironically, the slave trade generated the capital which financed and fuelled the industrial revolution, which in turn, caused the death-knell of the slave trade itself.