May 27, 2007

Britishness

In the runup to the recent local elections in Britain, Neil Ascherson wrote a piece in the LRB about how "Britishness" as a self-description is falling out of favour with the British, and how more and more self-identify as "English", or "Scottish", or "Welsh", etc. — there's definitely an air of inevitability about the centre not holding….

Personally, I think the question for me boils down to: if Britain disolves and there's no longer any such thing as a British passport, what passport would I get? What would I want? Unlike most Britons, I really don't feel properly anything more specific than "British": it'd take a lot of chutzpah to claim I'm particularly Scottish (despite my name, ancestry, and the fact that I've actually lived there); I'm definitely not English (London's hardly "England", and un-London England's a place I disliked intensely for the most part); and nothing else really fits the bill either (and what to make of those who think I'm Australian?). It's tempting to riff on Arendt's riffing on Hillel (quoted in another recent LRB): "As Scots we want to fight for independence because 'If I am not for me — who is for me?' As Britons, we want to fight for Britain because 'If I am only for me — who am I?'" In London I often felt more European than British, and definitely more British than Scottish or English — and more Londoner than anything.

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3 Comments:

At 6/25/2007 10:19 PM, Blogger Spike said...

A perplexing whatsit. And a ole an EU passport could never really fill.

 
At 6/25/2007 10:20 PM, Blogger Spike said...

A hole, even.

 
At 6/26/2007 8:28 PM, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

Yeah, a European passport isn't quite the ticket, is it? Now if only there were a London or San Francisco passport…

 

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