Saturday, 13 June 2009
The last refuge of a tired old anarchist?
Not for the first time Ian Bone has put the cat among the pigeons, this time by suggesting that being a bit fond of England does not necessarily make you a raving fascist. He has gone on to make the point that there is still much to admire in the kind of love of country that was expressed during WW2 and epitomised by the writing of George Orwell, Humphrey Jennings' films and Frank Newbould posters. I tend to agree and think that for too long anarchists/progressives/the left have, in an effort to trumpet our (quite correct) internationalism, allowed a simple love of place to be hijacked by the Right.
Those of us who were young in the 60s tended to sneer at the wartime and post-war make do and mend camaraderie of all those seemingly dull people in their demob suits and co-op socialism. What did they know of rock 'n roll and The Beats? How cool we were, and how ignorant.
The truth is that in wartime England there was not only a love of the old place but a real determination that once the Nazis were beaten there would be no going back to the old world of greed and privilege but the creation of a new kind of society. All right of course it wasn't perfect. The injustice of Empire. The wartime black market. A top down rather than bottom up socialism after the war. We could go on but the fact remains that during the 40s there was a kind of patriotic collectivism that we will be hard pressed to surpass. The message of all that propaganda that Ian was talking about comes down to something that bears repeating today. We can get through this, if we pull together we can get through this and when we do we will build a better future. It is not nationalism and is based on a generosity of spirit that the likes of the BNP would not begin to understand.