Not only that, but they’ve a completely distorted memory of the relatively recent past.
If you look at Britain since WWII, the economic and social history hasn’t been all that wonderful. It went through an immediate post war boom, which ran into the 1960s and then the economy effectively started to deindustrialise as the world changed. By the 1970s you’d really serious poverty in a lot of areas, rolling strikes, power cuts, and the IMF having to bail them out.
A lot of British reality in the 20th century was not a hell of a lot better than Irish reality. There were pretty bad living conditions, slums, tenements and all of those things in cities like Liverpool, Glasgow and various other places.
They claim that North Sea Oil saved them. It helped, but when you look at it the opening up of the EEC to them in the 1970s gave them a huge economic boost by putting a big market on their door step and they integrated into an economic system that has served them extremely well since then.
What I notice is that when you talk to people in England is they’ve a sort of bizarre ‘memory’ of a past that is either viewed through some kind of nostalgia about lives they didn’t have - e.g. looking back at it through say the window of looking only at upper middle class life.
Or, and this is something that really shocked me, they’re actually remembering American history. I had someone tell me all about the 1950s and it was most definitely the US 1950s as viewed via Happy Days or something.
The reality of Britain was far more Corination Street and Eastenders than it was Dallas.
Ireland and Britain both had massive emigration, serious problems with poverty and so on. Ireland tends to wallow in it and almost glorifies poverty somehow while the UK tends to pretend it never happened, never existed and focuses heavily only on the positive sides of its history, while seeing massive emigration as ‘colonisation’.
The reality is that millions of Brits moved to Canada, Australia, NZ and the US and elsewhere over the 20th century and they did so to get a better life and for economic opportunities, not because they were colonising the empire.
I’m not saying that the UK isn’t a successful country nowadays, but it has a patchy 20th century history and it has had a lot of very inglorious history over the centuries that they simply don’t acknowledge in the mainstream.
I’ve lived in both England and France and it’s quite shocking to see the difference in how they see their imperial past. In England it’s kind of glorified whereas I found in France, because it’s grossly incompatible with their ideas of republicanism and liberté, égalité et fraternité .. they’ve sort of almost shed their imperial past into another entity that they’re a bit disgusted with and have disowned.
I find it odd though that an element of England has just basically revised the whole history of the empire down to it being a lovely golf club with lots of garden parties and actually I find Hollywood and British film and TV and so on tends to feed into that with endless fawning over British royalty and aristocracy. There’s a lot of imagination about the old days : Downton Abbey, various films about glorious Victorian society and so on ... Most of it is a total distortion.
Reality was Dickens for the majority of British people’s ancesators. They had it pretty much as bad as we did under the same oppressive masters. The only difference is for us .. those masters in Ireland are are classed very much as “them”. For the British they’re “us” and that’s where it gets confusing and that’s also where there’s an absolute divide between the British (more so English) left and right.
Ireland has a huge amount of common ground with the English left and centre left, and basically nothing at all in common with the people who are driving this madness at the moment - a cabal of right wing, elitist Tories who’d bring the UK back to the 19th century if they could.
I think there’s a HUGE problem brewing in England and it’s more about an internal conflict between a deluded right wing conservative element and a mainstream left.
Looking at it from that perspective, Brexit is just an unfortunate symptom of the age old English class divide. They’ve lashed out at a straman enemy created effectively by spin and propaganda.
When reality dawns and the economy is in the toilet, that’s when things are going to get nasty in England and I think we’re looking at a rerun of the 1970s social tensions.
Where I saw this brewing was back in 2011 when the ‘London Riots’ kicked off and then spread to cities all over England. There was clearly a general malaise in society where people were getting fed up with a whole load of issues. However, it was very quickly written off with almost no analysis by the mainstream of British media and politics, even though it was HUGE display of upset.
Then add to that things like the shooting of Jo Cox. Again, that seems to have been swept under the carpet to a large degree. There was a little bit up upset and then the whole thing was forgotten about.
Can you imagine the level of analysis that would go on here if a TD were shot like that?! It would have been an absolute national trauma and you’d have years of discussion about it.
It’s like in England nobody wants to analyse these things and they’re just thinking Brexit will solve all their ills. It won’t. It’ll make them 10X worse.
They’re all focused on what is largely irrelevant anti-EU jingoism, while their modern society is being dismantled by a weird element of the Tories that isn’t even representative of the mainstream of the Tories. They’re prepared to privatise the NHS, sell off everything, unravel the NI peace process that everyone from John Major to Tony Blair to Mo Mowlam and countless other UK political figures put large chunks of their lives into bringing about.
It’s a complex place with a very complex and conflicted history and identity. I’ve a lot of English friends and family and I really worry about what’s going to happen over there. England can be a really vibrant, outward looking, progressive place and at the same time it can become lost in nostalgia, class systems and imperialism. I would be very slow to refer to “the English” as there are many faces of England.
What’s happening at the moment is utterly mad though. I really think you’re looking at some kind of national mental breakdown.
Last edited by Skedaddle; 19-02-2018 at 09:35.