Britain is dead, get over it!

Normally, Philip Pullman doesn’t get on my nerves. I’m not a fan of his books, or his beliefs, but I accept his right to hold said beliefs and publish said books.

But this time, I find myself fuming, and it’s all because of one horrible article. A piece appeared in the Times last month called ‘Malevolent Voices that Despise our Freedoms’, essentially a long riff on the erosion of civil liberties by power-mad national governments.

So, nothing new there. But then he oversteps the mark. The whole piece is a reflection on William Blake’s ‘Albion’, an artistic allegory of Britain asleep to the dangers surrounding it: ‘Sleep, profound and inveterate slumber: that is the condition of Britain today.’ This is not an argument for human rights, it is yet another stupid, pointless, bigoted cry of ‘We want our country back!’ He bemoans the decline of traditional identity with comments like: ‘we don’t know who we are any more’, and ‘are we anything we can all agree on and feel proud of?’

I’m not having this. I’m sick and bloody tired of people moaning about ‘broken Britain’, or the decline of ‘British values’. People devote their entire lives to wars, both public and private, to drive out the ‘enemies’ that interfere with these so-called values. And what all these wars have in common is that they all rest upon the feeble notion that things were better in the past, and that the past can and must somehow be recovered.

Shut up you miserable cowards! Crawl back to the intellectual gutter from whence you came, where you can live out your deluded fantasies without bothering those of us who are smart enough to challenge the status quo in meaningful ways! Don’t use democracy as an excuse to promote the stupid, the useless, and the inexcusable!

We’re only ‘British’ because we have been told that we are ‘British’. The concept of ‘Britain’ and being ‘British’ is drilled into us at school, at home, in the very words we read and things we do. But that does not make us identify as British. That is a choice, a choice we all have to make. We don’t choose to be born ‘male’ or ‘female’, ‘gay’ or ‘straight’, ‘black’ or ‘white’, so why in the name of all that’s holy should we forced to identify as any of these things?!

Some people will doubtlessly argue that we need the nation-state; we need it because no other structure can prevent so-called ‘anarchy’. This rests on the principle that as long as we can’t think of anything better, we should stick to what we know and ignore its problems. Bullshit. No society ever developed by ‘sticking to what we know’.

Other forms of identity, such as race, class, gender and political orientation, are just as important and effective as means of segregation (in the wrong hands) and empathy (in the right ones). It’s just that some people aren’t strong or wise enough to realise that the days of the nation-state are numbered, and the age when ‘Britannia’ ruled the waves has well and truly passed, never to return!

If the twentieth century taught us anything, it is that attempts to promote the national cause over the safeguarding of individual identity, always results in violence, personal trauma, social instability and death. The sooner people like Pullman realise this, the sooner we can all snap out of our simpering delusions, and start thinking about who we really are, rather than just what they have been told we are.

My name is Daniel Mumby, and I am NOT British.

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