I’ve been thinking about why Britain has so many social problems, and so little social cohesion. I think the root of it is that there isn’t really any such thing as “Britishness”.
For many countries, the their modern identity has been defined by some revolutionary event. The French had their revolution that defined the principals of equality and liberty. For Japan and Germany, it was when they lost the last great war. For the US, it was the declaration of their constitution.
We have never had anything like that. Our civil war didn’t help us very much. Instead, we have had a slow decline, starting with the loss of an empire and following through to our decline as a world leader in science. The occasional triumphs we have had have not been based on any particularly strong philosophical grounds, merely survival (in the case of the world wars) or sports. Our defining moment never came, and as such we are not very well defined any more.
The Scottish have their own strong identity, but here in England a lot of people either seem to feel no kinship with their neighbours at all, or they hold on to outdated and outmoded ideas of Britishness. Well, if anything our identity is based on hatred, of the kind spewed out by the Daily Mail. I get the impression that a lot of people feel that things would be much better if it just wasn’t for everyone else. Unfortunately Thatherism has taught us to only look out for ourselves at the expense of everyone else. Perhaps that is what Britishness is now.
I don’t know how you can have a cultural revolution when everyone is so apathetic, and when all they want from government is someone who doesn’t have any particularly interesting policies.