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A more Napoleonic Britain

The Labour government is planning to introduce ceremonies for ‘citizenship’ and ‘coming of age’ to add the imprimatur of The State to being ‘British’. Yet surely one of the things that has always made the British so different from many of the people’s of Continental Europe who live with the legacy of Napoleon is that we have not really needed the state to tell us via ceremonies and ID cards that we are British… or that we are in reality ‘subjects’, a far more honest term that ‘citizen’. Even the United States has its strange hand-on-heart ceremonies in some schools in which they pledge of allegiance not just to the principles of constitutional governance but also to a bit of coloured cloth. Yet in Britain such notions of social identity have generally been, well, social and not some propagandising artifice of the state.

This is yet another part of moving Britain into the more Napoleonic traditional in which the state is the core around which everything rotates in a politicised fashion and the highest virtue is political engagement (not a view I share, to put it mildly, given my view of politics). Such things are alien in this country and yet another sign that our political masters are obsessed with the fetishizing democracy as a way to make as many aspects of life as possible political in nature and requiring the intermediation of the state for ever more things. Such ‘ceremonies’ may be banal but what they represent is far from trivial.

55 comments to A more Napoleonic Britain

  • Pete_London

    A more European Britain too. It is yet another round fired with the aim divorcing Britain from its past, making it ripe for assimilation into the EU nation. The simple and ever increasing use of the term ‘citizen’ is proof enough. I would have suspected that Telegraph article of being a parody if I hadn’t also had the misfortune to catch that ridiculous Mactaggart creature being given an all too predictable easy ride on the matter on BBC radio:

    She thought that October was appropriate for a citizenship day “because it is already Black History Month” and coincided with Local Democracy Week.

    Well they make October worth living.

    You can already picture the absurd, multi-culti dirge that the Home Office will settle on for a ceremony:

    The document suggests that a citizenship day open to anyone, not just new adults, could be held in October to act as a “focal point for activities that promote inclusive citizenship”.

  • Stehpinkeln

    Is it true that you can stand next to Orwell’s grave and hear a ghostly chuckle? He was off by 20 years or so, but what is a couple of decades to the immortal State?
    On the Bright side, at least you don’t have to sit to pee in a public toilet like your German cousins do. Yet.

  • zmollusc

    You are damned right we don’t have to sit to pee in a public toilet. All the public toilets were closed years ago and the savings in council expenditure were refunded to the taxpayers ( I assume).

  • You assume wrongly, zmollusc, a fact which I doubt will surprise you. My own local authority appears to have used the savings you mention to write off almost £100,000 of council house rent arrears (though they still chase me for council tax payments when they’re a week late).

  • dearieme

    If we’re going to ape the yanks on this, will we also have to ape the pronounciation?

  • Can you say, “Road to Serfdom?”

  • Findlay Dunachie

    What about October 21st (today), Trafalgar Day?

  • noone

    Hey,you wanted open borders and free movement,you got open borders and free movement.
    This is just one of the many consequences of your ideological fetish.

    Libertarians often claim to be pragmatic,yet insist on throwing good money after bad,so to say.
    Open borders has been a bad investment,yet you keep trying to make it work,why?How are you different from leftists who insist socialism can be made to work,all evidence to the contrary?
    Multi-cultural immigration has led to ethnic/cultural conflict the “State” has deftly used to empower itself to provide “solutions” and ever increasing authoritarian measures to insure “social peace”.
    A process ably abetted by ideologues unable to say “I was wrong,this was a bad idea”.

  • Richard Easbey

    this is truly repulsive. And just for the record, most of us libertarian types here in the states LOATHE the pledge of allegiance. (I hope!)

  • Stehpinkeln

    No Public restrooms? What do you do, find a shurb? Carry a mason jar around with you? Do I really want to know? Is there a market for Umbrella/pooper-scooper combo tools? The Delux model has a paper dispenser in the handle.

  • Sigivald

    Dearieme: Do Brits pronounce it “kerr-a-munny” or something similiarly quaint?

    But, more seriously, here in the States I don’t think I’ve ever found anyone who has thought of the US flag as anything more (and, really, isn’t it enough?) than a symbol of the Republic. No matter what the Pledge says literally, “the Republic for which it stands” has always overshadowed the flag, and hopefully will remain so.

    (Then again, officialdom aside, I imagine there’s a similar fondness for the Union Jack in the less-EU/UN-ified strata of Britain, yes?)

  • Julian Taylor

    Richard Easbey, I totally agree – this is a seriously repulsive move by Blair, and quite possibly one of the most sinister he has done. It has always struck me that a need to pledge allegiance to something reeks of an insecurity by the state over the loyalty of their citizens.
    If an 18 year old holding a dual UK/USAcitizenship by birthright was to decline to swear the oath of undying love and affection to Phoney, Cherie and their little dog Milburn, what would be the outcome of this? Would that individual become some kind of Gordon Freeman-esque “anti-citizen” (sorry for the lapse into Halflife 2 there)?

  • Verity

    Sigivald – I imagine there’s a similar fondness for the Union Jack in the less-EU/UN-ified strata of Britain, yes?

    No. You seldom see a Union Jack flying in Britain. The excuse give by Tony Blair and his slithy, scampering minions is, “It’s been hijacked by the National Front. If you fly the Union flag, you’re showing support for the nazis.” Clever, huh? Like all the thoughts that form themselves in the foetid brain of Toneboy Blair. Toneboy doesn’t like the Union because it’s too big to go down the greedy gorge of the EU.

    I met a woman at a luncheon the other day, Welsh, speaks perfect Spanish – because her husband worked for the UN in guess where? Why Cuba, of course (they loved it!) – and an American was talking about the American habit of private individuals often flying the Stars and Stripes in their yards. She asked whether the British flew their flags in their gardens.

    This Welsh Gramscian immediately answered for the entire United Kingdom: “Oh, good heavens, no! It’s the symbol of the British nazi party!!”

    So I said, “You’re talking about the flag that hundreds of thousands have died for.”

    “No, no! It’s the symbol of the British nazis! I wouldn’t dream of flying it!! It belongs to the BNP!”

    It would have been unforgivably rude to the hostess to have got up and hit her, so I said, “You prefer to let a band of politicians hijack your national flag? And you won’t defend it? The symbol of your country? You let some tiny little splinter group hijack one of the proudest flags in the world?”

    The Gramscian shook her head vigorously, for the benefit of the Amrican guests and pursed her unlipsticked lips. “No, no, it’s the symbol of the nazi party! I cannot support nazis.” So, you, see, they never rest. They won’t rest until everything has been pulled down and laid to waste.

  • John K

    This is a great idea. these ceremonies will need organisers, co-ordinators, administrators, support staff, HR managers, all with public sector pensions. More drones whose jobs depend on voting NuLabor. I’m only surprised it’s taken his Supreme Phoniness this long to come up with it.

  • Richard Easbey

    John K:

    I don’t know whether to laugh (at the absurdity) or cry (because it’s so close to the truth, at least from I can see from this side of the pond) at your post; I think I’ll settle for laughing.

    As for Verity’s post, I think I WILL cry at that. We’re seeing a similar trend towards connecting the U.S. flag to distasteful ideas here, too.

  • Hank Scorpio

    “this is truly repulsive. And just for the record, most of us libertarian types here in the states LOATHE the pledge of allegiance. (I hope!)”

    And that’s why you “libertarian types” are associated with a fringe group of whackos. There’s a very good reason for concepts like the pledge, and like the citizenship ceremony. America is an immigrant society, and when you pledge allegiance, and when you take the oath of citizenship you are renouncing the ties that bound you to where you came from.

    If that’s something to loathe, while then I guess I’m comfortable with being loathsome.

  • Richard Easbey


    The dry cleaners called. Your brown shirts are ready.

  • Hank Scorpio

    That’s the best you can do? Weak Nazi accusations?

    But hey, let me know how that libertarian utopia of a shack in the woods where you shoot anyone for invading your sovereign territory is working for you, kay?

  • Richard Easbey

    Hey, Hank!

    gee…I didn’t know you cared. Let me know how your allegiance to the state works out for you, ‘kay? After all, governments killed over 170,000,000 million people in the last century, and it’s looking like they’re going to raise the bar in this one. Something to be proud of and pledge allegiance to….

  • Bostonian

    Verity, that is extremely disturbing.

  • ss

    Yes. This is the point that needs to be made when Europeans complain about the low level of voter participation in the U.S. To these “democracy fetishists”, participation in democracy is central to life in a democracy. In the U.S., however, democracy is simply a means of governing while you’re busy living your life; democracy, government and politics are not ends in themselves.

  • ss

    Dick, er, Richard-

    I’m thinking you’re an anarchist, trying to pass yourself off as a libertarian.

    And really, Nazi accusations are pretty damn weak. Needless to say, they say more about you than about your alleged subject.

  • mike

    Oh Verity – if in the flesh you’re anything like you are here at Samizdata, I would love to see you do that to someone. I would pay money to see you berate a Gramscian lefty as you just described! Surely there can be fewer more slow-motion wondrous sights in this world?? I would make a film around you so you wouldn’t have to do anything other than be yourself. I’d call it ‘verity in veritas’ or something…

  • Shawn

    “Even the United States has its strange hand-on-heart ceremonies in some schools in which they pledge of allegiance not just to the principles of constitutional governance but also to a bit of coloured cloth. Yet in Britain such notions of social identity have generally been, well, social and not some propagandising artifice of the state.”

    Sorry, but this is a load of ignorant crap.

    Americans do not swear allegiance to a “bit of colored cloth”, we swear allegiance to our nation, which is represented by the flag. Also, patriotism in America, including the use of the Pledge, is VOLUNTARY. The Pledge is not enforced by the state. It is used by so many because many Americans are patriotic people. There was a Foriegn Policy article about the difference between European and US patriotism a year or so ago, which clearly showed that while European patriotism and its rituals were largely state enforced, US patriotism arises from civil society, not from the state.

    The difference may be with new citizens who are required to undergoe some citizenship tests and ritual acts. Imo, not nearly enough.

    I see no problem with new citizens having to undergoe some language and history education, and undergoing ritual acts like the Pledge. Given what we now know about the state of Muslim immigrant communities in Europe (especially compared to the US where the situation is much better), then I can understand why many people, not just politicians, are concerned about large groups of people living within your borders who not only have no loyalty to your country but may well be acting against it through support or participation in terrorism.

    Sometimes Libertarians sound every bit is adolescent and stupid as leftists.

  • Shawn

    MY apologies to Perry for an overly harsh response to his post. I just see red when Europeans misrepresent American patriotism in this way.

  • cj

    Well, Shawn, I second your comments, however intemperate.

    I myself was thinking this post and thread was sounding a bit Communistic.

  • This is odd. When did Britain surrender the flag of the Great Union to nutbags? Here in the New World when we see the flag we don’t think “ah yes, British National Front.”

    Is the BNF a fascist party, or just ultra-nationalist? I lose track of British nazism after Mosley.

  • Blacknimbus

    The American flag arose from freedom…it never flew over any king’s castle and was never carried into battle by a tyrant’s army. It is not a symbol of the State but the antithesis of unbridled govermental power. The Pledge affirms our belief in a system based in freedom and governed by the people, not by politicians.
    It reminds us that we broke from tyrany and on this continent have established a nation born of freedom.

  • Hale Adams

    About the Pledge of Allegiance– I think it’s harmless enough as far as it goes. We Americans do have some folks (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses) who refuse to recite it, claiming that it’s idol-worship, but most people see it as just something we’ve always done since childhood, and a fair expression of our feelings for our country.

    Though it does amuse me to think that the Pledge, as originally worded (without the phrase “under God”) was composed by a socialist…….

    I think that one thing that keeps our country from going the way of Europe is the oath that our federal officials, both civilian and military, take upon assuming their offices. We (I say “we” because I was a lieutenant of air defense artillery in the Army once upon a time) are sworn to obey, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Note well– the oath is to the Constitution, NOT the Government, of the United States.

    (Incidentally, having sworn to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, I decided that I really should read the Constitution to find out what I was defending. It was soon after that that I became a libertarian, figuring that in some ways the federal government had become a domestic enemy of the Constitution– the War on Drugs being a case in point.)

    Anyway, I think it’s because of that oath that most federal officials are mindful that it’s not the Government of the United States that’s sovereign, but “We the People”, as the Constitution puts it. And so they’re at least much more circumspect about their authoritarian impulses that are their European counterparts.

    And yes, I’m an upper-case “L” Libertarian, too. With life membership, no less, though I’m half-tempted to renounce it, given how the Party has gone off the deep end since 9/11. It’s all and good, even necessary, to argue what shape our country should take, but first one must have a country. And isolationism and “blame America first” just don’t cut it, Mr. Browne and Mr. Badarnik……

    Hale Adams

  • What happens when someone refuses to take part in the ceremony for,shall we say, religious reasons? Or even national loyalties held elsewhere?
    What if some regard this as an infringement of their human rights or racial identity?
    Anyone want to bet this won’t happen.

    Verity I have absolutely no sympathy,you could have duffed her up when she went to the bathroom.

  • Former Libertarian

    Our flag stands for liberty, and it is that to which we pledge. Our National Anthem says it all, phrased as it is in the form of a question: “Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

    It didn’t over Abu Ghraib, though the piece of cloth did, and there’s not an American alive who doesn’t feel ashamed at the divorce of values from symbol, who doesn’t see it as patriotic duty to bring those who betrayed our principles to justice.

    When we show our flag we’re not showing blind love of “King and Country” or passion for “The Fatherland”, we’re showing our pride in having the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to due process, and the right to pursue happiness without undue interference from government.

    What other nation can say that?

    “Millions died because of governments?” What an ignorant generalization. Roosevelt, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, all the same? All just interchangable Organs of The State killing because that’s what governments do? Crap like that is why I stopped calling myself a “libertarian”.

    Millions were also saved because of governments. Americans in particular know this, and it is why the most powerful army in all the world’s history consists entirely of volunteers.

  • The UK’s national anthem is, I believe, God Save the Queen. The American national anthem is The Star Spangled Banner. The symbolism of the American flag runs deeper than what may be intuitively surmised by the disinterested or uniformed. My advice to any conscientious Yank visiting England would be to rise when others rise to the playing of God Save the Queen, and to treat a portrait Her Majesty with the same level of respect as he would treat the American flag. And, in turn, my suggestion to any British subject concerned with courtesy when visiting in America would be to stand when others stand at the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, and to treat the American flag with the sense of respect he might be inclined to afford the image of his sovereign. If anyone has a better and briefer guide to the courteous etiquette in this matter, please present it.

  • edit “uniformed” to “uninformed,” s.v.p.

  • Verity

    Peter UK – Verity I have absolutely no sympathy,you could have duffed her up when she went to the bathroom.

    No! It was a private luncheon in someone’s home, so no chance to follow her into the loo and tear her frizzy hair out in private – unheard.

    I left while the rest of them were still seated, and accidentally swung my shoulder bag round vigorously a couple of times while bidding my adieus, but missed both times.

  • Charlie

    PeterUK said:

    What happens when someone refuses to take part in the ceremony for,shall we say, religious reasons?

    This actually has precedent at the highest level of government in America. The Presidential Oath of Office, administered on Inauguration Day, begins with the words, “I, {name}, do solemnly swear…” Quaker doctrine forbids the swearing of oaths; President-elect Herbert Hoover, a Quaker, could not in good conscience repeat the oath as worded when he took office in 1928, so an allowance was made for him to reword the Oath of Office in his case to read, “I, Herbert Hoover, do solemnly affirm…”

    (Richard Nixon, our other Quaker president, had the same option, although he chose not to exercise it.)

    We Yanks are nothing if not flexible. As long as the essence of the oath is preserved, exceptions can be made, usually on a case-by-case basis.

    What if some regard this as an infringement of their human rights or racial identity? Anyone want to bet this won’t happen.

    You folks please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it already did at some point, and the complaint did not pass SCOTUS muster (forgive me, I can’t remember the case law in question). There’s being flexible, and then there’s being so open-minded that your brains fall out.

  • Wild Pegasus

    Actually, the Stars and Stripes stands for the United States, not liberty. There are many possible liberty flags – the Gadsen flag, the green banner of the Levellers, the anarchist flag – but one representing a large and powerful government isn’t going to be one of them.

    – Josh

  • The American Pledge is a load of crap.

    It was invented by a Socialist for God’s sake.

    We ought to be pledging to uphold the Constitution. The oath of citizenship taken by new citizens and the military – suitably modified.

    I have more to say about this here.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not know whether anyone else has yet made this point, but the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States was written by a socialist (Francis Bellamy – the brother of Edward Bellamy of “Looking Backward” fame), and it is to “the flag” rather than to the Constitution, because Mr Bellamy hated the Constitution.

    No doubt someone will now write in saying I have misspelt “Bellamy” (or other such mistake), but the facts remain the same.

    The Bellamy brothers promoted the Pledge via their National Socialism magazine and they got some support from the flag companies (who hoped for more sales of flags if schools adopted the pledge). I believe that President Chester Alan Arthur was the first Preident to support the Bellamy Pledge idea.

  • Thomas Hazlewood

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    The ‘bit of cloth’ represents quite a lot, as the pledge implies. Some quibble over the ‘under God’ clause utilizing ‘the separation of church and state’ all-purpose hangout defense. They also believe that a gov official who says a prayer violates in the same manner. As was said earlier, we’re willing to be flexible. Just don’t ask us to be hypotonic.

    Mostly, though, those who dislike the pledge just don’t like much about the US. The pledge incapsulates the American essence in the final clause , ‘with liberty and justice for all’. We believe it, truly.

    The Brits once felt the same about ‘King and country’. When the Empire broadened, it was not just respectful to feel so, it was the belief that drove the expansion that made England wealthy and powerful, above all other nations.

    Nowadays, the Royals are pretty much an embarrassing bunch, the Empire is long gone, and what wealth there is left is gouged by an ever-growing government that seems intent upon casting off the last vestiges of nation.

    The basis for every society born in the islands has always been ‘for King and country’, albeit, sometimes writ small. The many humanistic advances we, the ungrateful wretches in the colonies, gained from your efforts were always defined as within that same ‘King and country’ context. What defined the American constitution and, in the end, people, was the rejection of ‘King and country’ and an attachment to ‘liberty and justice’. Our own (American) humanistic advances have, since then, been defined within a different context, clearly.

    Anyway, the pledge means something different to we Yanks than it will to you who midwifed our nation.

    We could discuss how the loss of all their old totems has cast the British people adrift and that they latched onto socialism and, now, the EU in hope of finding the oneness they’ve lost, but, hell, I’m a Yank. What do I know?

  • B

    Why the big fuss over a citizenship ceremony? Maybe this would deter the radical Muslim types when they have to recognize the Queen as their sovereign in English, before they could go on the dole.

    As an American who lived in Nottingham for a year and a half I was happy to see all the St. George flags fly during the Euro Cup and other sporting events. The people who flew the Union Jack, St. George, St. Andrew and Welsh flags were good and honest people. The ones who made snide or violent remarks or wanted to burn them showed no respect. They were the ones to remember and fear.

    My family came to America after being persecuted, their lands and houses confiscated and that is why they were proud to say My wife was happy to go through a ceremony to become an American so she could vote, run for the local school board, vote on the town budget instead of a bureaucrat decide for her. I rather have my kids say the pledge than some the crap that is pushed on them.

  • Whatever its merits might be in the abstract, the Pledge is just silly when recited by school kids. “One nation invisible” is what they think it says. And what’s a “republic”? They don’t call it that any more. They did back in the 19th century – that famous anti-slavery song wasn’t titled “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy.”

    The “under God” bit is inappropriate from any viewpoint – it cheapens both religion and civil government. It’s no more dignified than a football banner bearing the text “Go God, He’s our man!” would be. And like that fine Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, I’d like to see it removed from money, too. “In Mammon We Trust” would seem more appropriate.

  • Charlie,
    I was specifically thinking of the ceremony as applied to the UK,I presume those who go to America still wish to be American,many of those who come here do not want to be British.Therein lies the problem,will there be a opt out.
    It is also an impertinence to expect those whose forebearers have lived here for thousands of years to pledge allegiance to a nation that is theirs by birthright

  • Shawn:

    Sorry, but this is a load of ignorant crap.

    Why? The wording is rather clear and is also why I stated “not just to the principles of constitutional governance but also to a bit of coloured cloth”. Yes, I understand what the flag is said to represent but the wording does specifically pledge allegiance “to the flag of the United States of America, AND to the republic for which it stands…”. I also understand the flag is more or less a sacred icon to many Americans. Certainly I do not share that view but I also do not feel my remarks were excessively impolite or beyond the bounds of reasonable tolerance.

    So yes, I do think explicitly pledging allegiance to a bit of cloth is a bit odd.

    Thomas Hazlewood:

    The ‘bit of cloth’ represents quite a lot, as the pledge implies. Some quibble over the ‘under God’ clause utilizing ‘the separation of church and state’ all-purpose hangout defense.


    Mostly, though, those who dislike the pledge just don’t like much about the US. The pledge incapsulates the American essence in the final clause , ‘with liberty and justice for all’. We believe it, truly.

    I understand that is what it means to many, Thomas. I have spent a very large chunk of my life in the USA. It is just that to me the national flag also means ‘redistributive entitlements, eminent domain and aggressive tax collection for all’. For me the true ‘American flag’ which stands for the ideals of ‘liberty and justice for all’ can be found in the sidebar of this blog, it just does not happen to be the stars-and-stripes.

    Moreover I am usually accused of being excessively pro-American and plan to some point to move to New Hampshire, so that dawg don’t hunt.

  • Verity

    Peter – Absolutely!

    This is another Blairesque sleaze-wheeze to diminish real British citizens. My ancestors have lived in the British Isles since time immemorial and it is an absolute impertinence to suggest that people like me attend “citizenship ceremonies” in order to downgrade me to alien and immigrant status – what Melanie Phillips calls “ethnic camouflage”. I am British by right.

    The Tories need to address this issue….although Tony Blair and his grotesque consort have probably hammered some new clauses into our tattered constitution forbidding suggestions that the indigenes of Britain own our country and others are in it under tolerance – under pain of a visit from Trevor Phillips and the jackbooted, goose stepping Ethnic Thought Police.

    Strange, no? If we were a native tribe in Africa, Toneboy wouldn’t be able to stress strongly enough how connected we were to our heritage, how magnificent it is that we developed all these wonderful traditions, and how we had an absolute human right to resist intruders trying to diminish our magnificent achievements and culture …

  • Pete_London


    I suspect being British and affirming one’s Britishness in front of the local council’s ‘Citizenship Outreach Co-ordinator’ simply won’t come into it. This government does nothing without an EU element to it. If Britons are ever ‘invited’ to pop along to the local town hall to pledge allegiance it will be an allegiance to ‘European ideals’. Funnily enough, a mate of mine agreed with me in the pub last night and he’s a member of the Labour Party and an aide to a Labour MP. He thinks it will be compulsory too one day. As always, the best response is contempt, disobedience and individualism. Therefore I dream of the day I’m invited along to take the pledge; the day they cart me off to take a pledge of allegiance I’ll be wearing nothing but a Mickey Mouse thong.

  • AST

    I have no problems with instilling patriotism and making people aware of their duties as citizens. I’d want to see the content of the ceremony. If the Pledge of Allegiance were being written today, it would probably be directed at the U.N., and have an anti-religion clause and some multi-cultural, feminist, Gay rights message.

  • Thomas Hazlewood


    I don’t know how well you’ll fit in New Hampshire. The views you’ve expressed sound particularly ‘libertarian’ and NH isn’t a stronghold for those. It’s more of a ‘safe room’ for people fleeing Massachusetts.

    Anyway, I’ve never before heard anyone describe their core beliefs in the US encompassing “aggressive tax collection” or “redistributive entitlements”. Certainly, you may.

    I take it you’re not a native to the US, right?

    Being considered TOO pro-American in Europe might not be a very difficult tasking. If one were simply less bombastic in their anti-Americanism than others, that might qualify. I’m not doubting you… just saying that, without knowing your circumstances, it is difficult to gauge your affinities.

    Anyway, I wish you well. Regards, Tom Hazlewood

  • Shawn



    Sorry, but this is a load of ignorant crap.

    Why? The wording is rather clear”

    The wording and how people understand it are two different things. If you asked people I seriously doubt that many would say they use the pledge to affirm their loyalty to the cloth the flag is made out of. You indulging in a liberal tactic of playing word games with the literal meaning of a phrase when everyone knows what its meaning is.

    But what in fact I was responding to was this:

    “Yet in Britain such notions of social identity have generally been, well, social and not some propagandising artifice of the state.”

    The popularity and wide use of the pledge is social, and not the “propagandising artifice of the state” as you seemed to be claiming.

    Paul Marks,

    The issue of Bellamy’s poltical beliefs are irrelevant. I couldnt care less that he was a socialist, in fact I couldnt care less about him period. The pledge should stand on its own merits, and as such it has stood the test of time and been accepted by civil society. It contains no socialist doctrines. Americans are not pledging allegiance to dialectical materialism or Marxism. So I dont see the problem.

  • Verity
    Since I am English, I regard a pledge to Blairs Briton as an infringrment of my basic human rights.Blair has presided over the dissolution of Briton,every nationality is entitled to a homeland,mine is England.
    I think Tony Baloney is going to regret incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

  • Verity

    Peter – Excellent call! It is indeed an infringement of our human rights! Now this would be most telling – taking Blair and his slithy tove “human rights” lawyer wife to court for an infringement of human rights. And someone should do it. Preferably a “transgendered” person whose family history in Britain goes back to the Norman Conquest. Yes, and I would like to take Tone to court for stealing my country from me.

    OTOH, I do not think Toneboy is going to regret incorporating, without debate in Parliament, the European Convention of Human Rights into British law, because it is a tool of control. Tone has never seen a tool of control he couldn’t relate to.

  • Verity,
    What would be better is hiring Cherie to take Tone to court,preferably on legal aid.My people were here before those Johnny come lately Frenchies,but I am not keen on having the operation.

  • Daveon

    This does smack of a double standard here. There’s a lot of chat about immigration and the issues created by a “multicultural” society (whatever on Earth people mean by that) and also on the nature of the nation and what an immigrant sees as their nation.

    There was a thread a while ago with people talking about the “Old Country” and the values which used to be ascribed to it. IIRC Verity had rather a lot to say on the subject of what Britain meant to her and so forth.

    Assuming we stick with nation states and have passports to limit what, in my opinion, should be the completely free movement between them, then having a process and afirmation of alligence to the nation to which you intend to join is perfectly understandable.

    Sometimes I can’t work out if this site is meant to be Libertarian (at least Perry’s posts leave no doubt) or just conservative.

  • speedwell

    It’s not the Pledge I object to, per se. It’s the requiring people to say it. It’s the assumption that every time you say it you have re-ratified your forged signature on the bottom of that big, blanket “Social Contract.” It’s got all the charm and relevance of any other obligatory goverment form. It’s worshipped by those who have more or less successfully assigned themselves the place of the “good men” in this country. It has nothing at all to do with the real patriotic sensibilities of the speaker, and quite a lot to do with the scripted apology of an American hostage forced on TV by his Middle Eastern captors.

    It’s a shameful outrage in a supposedly free country that any free individual should be expected to rise and say out loud some prescripted assertion, at any time considered appropriate by a contingent of powerful people. It’s incredible that the saying of such a thing could be regarded as a free expression of personal patriotism. It’s the very antithesis of patriotism.

  • Shawn

    “It’s the requiring people to say it.”

    Its voluntary.

    “and quite a lot to do with the scripted apology of an American hostage forced on TV by his Middle Eastern captors.”

    Of course, a voluntary act of patriotism is the same as being forced by Islamic terrorists to read a script. Sure, I can see that. Now where did I leave my tin foil hat?

  • dearieme

    Sigivald, sorry for my late reply. We pronounce the word with the emphasis on the first syllable, and pronounce the last as “money”. You’ll have seen that we have trouble with our flag because a scummy bunch say that a different scummy bunch hijacked it, so that decent souls get bullied into not enjoying it. Mind you, we decent souls are usually fairly relaxed about the flag itself, tolerating tedious lectures about how it is the Union Flag and not the Union Jack, and not much minding when silly young things make underpants from it. I once opined to an American that much though I liked the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes, aesthetically I thought that the Maple Leaf was their superior. From his grim silence I deduced that this pleasantry had been ill-judged. Since you don’t have a Queen to toast, and must sometimes accept that the President of the day is just another politician, it seems pretty reasonable to me that you take your flag rather more earnestly than we take ours.