Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Friday, June 29, 2018

National Identity

It occurs to me that every nation tries to define itself in terms of the things about itself that it is most proud of. I imagine Britain likes to think of itself as the country of Hume, Darwin, Newton, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Battle of Britain, stiff upper lip, and also things like religious tolerance, chicken tikka masala, the Kindertransport, as well as Freddie Mercury, Monty Python, and the English language as a whole, even when used by non-British people.

On a more prosaic level, Britain undoubtedly likes to think of itself in terms of its well-educated, well-behaved, witty residents, tolerant and sober (in manner at least), cosmopolitan even if they live in the countryside, and so forth. But this is a class thing. Not really class in an economic sense, but class in the sense that Britain does not want to think of itself as a nation of chavs and hooligans, bigots, or idiots.

Now I think Britain would also not like to conceive of itself as a nation of toffee-nosed snobs, the sort of Oxbridge pieces of shit who get their degrees in like PPE or something. So it cuts both ways in terms of class. But predominantly I would imagine it is lower class behavior that Britain would rather not be known for.

Similarly when you think of Italians, or Germans, or Australians, there are various stereotypes that are probably not how those nations would care to think of themselves (it's complicated in the case of Australia because I get the sense they've somewhat embraced a certain kind of Australianness that you might not have expected them to, but it makes sense when you think about it).

Anyway I wonder, idly, whether Trump voters sense that they are the people the U.S. doesn't want to be known for, and they resent it, and they basically thrust themselves onto center stage, send Ted Nugent to the White House as an emissary of their shitty culture, and generally wreck the world for the sake of their bruised egos.

[updated to fix a typo]


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