Thursday 4 June 2020

Being the best

One of the problems for a certain type of nationalist is that they have a deep and abiding need to believe that their country is in every way ‘better’ than any other country. English nationalists are one of the most extreme in this respect. Indeed, they believe themselves so much better than anyone else that their form of superiority must not even be referred to as nationalism at all. They’re so nationalistic that they believe themselves to be uniquely not nationalist at all.
Such nationalism is often displayed by claims that the country is in some way ‘world-leading’. It’s a phrase trotted out regularly and is so self-evident that it never needs to be justified by mere facts or evidence. The phrase ‘mother of parliaments’ is one example, even if it doesn’t actually mean what most of them seem to believe that it means. Westminster is neither the oldest parliament nor the model for most other parliaments in the world, excepting only those that had some sort of version of Westminster imposed on them by Westminster itself. And most of those have reformed significantly since then, jettisoning the most arcane rituals such as the approach to voting.
Last month, Boris Johnson claimed that the UK’s approach to testing and tracking would be ‘world-beating’ and in place from the beginning of June. It isn’t and it wasn’t. Despite both of those negative statements being patently true they haven’t stopped him repeating the claim. It is an essential part of the nationalists’ approach to Brexit that the UK will become a ‘global leader’. It won’t and it can’t. I often wonder whether they really believe – despite all the evidence to the contrary – that the UK really is the best at everything; can they be that blind to the facts?  I’d almost like to believe that they know it’s just empty rhetoric – that would demonstrate that they have at least some connection to reality – but I can’t be certain. The intriguing question is why they have such a great need to believe that ‘we’ are in some way ‘better’ than everyone else. Perhaps the apparent arrogance and superiority masks a feeling of inadequacy. That’s a question for the psychologists – but for the rest of us, what’s wrong with being a normal state rather than demanding that everything ‘we’ do is labelled as being the ‘best’ merely by dint of being British?
Whatever the underlying reason, it leads the nationalists into saying and doing things which are increasingly farcical. Yesterday, the PM insisted that he is ‘very proud’ of the UK government’s response to the pandemic. That would be the response which has taken the UK to the number one position in the league table of deaths per million of the population, most of them avoidable, and managed to combine chaos and incompetence on an almost world-leading scale, beaten to the top slot only by Trump. I suppose, though, that coming top of any table is ‘world-leading’ in a sense, it’s just not the sense that a rational person would seek.


Anonymous said...

Interesting that you have avoided commentiong on the George Floyd issue. All very 'Welsh' if you don't mind me saying.

As for your suggestion we just accept being a 'normal state' that again is very 'Welsh' thinking, it's precisely what is happening in our schools and hospitals.

No ambition, no aspiration, just a wish to live off the proceeds handed over by others. That seems to be your philospohy for Wales at the moment. Thank goodness the 'people of Wales' are having none of it!

dafis said...

If and When the crisis eases some of those Tory half wits will view the premature deaths of 10's of thousands of people of pension age as a well managed reduction of state pension and social care expenditure. Eugenics lurks just under the surface with a lot of these bastards. All people, except those close to them, are valued in either what they make (laudable) or what they cost (disposable).

Gwyn Jones said...

Is this berk an an alter ego of the sais addolwr which you blocked a few month ago?

Gwyn Jones who is not scared to sign his comments

John Dixon said...


Not at all sure why you think you should set the topics for my blog posts, but in your comments about 'normal' states you have, as one might expect from an English exceptionalist, spectacularly missed the point. A normal state has plenty of ambition and aspiration; what is not 'normal' is to eschew aspiration and ambition in favour of an unevidenced assertion that 'my country' is already the best. What is also not normal is for the people of any country to eschew ambition and aspiration because they believe that they are particularly stupid or unable to run their own affairs after the nationalists running the country next door tell them so. English exceptionalism isn't normal; aspiration for Wales to do better is.


Almost certainly.