Opinion piece: patriotism and traditionalism, the bloated remains of an outdated system

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There’s an unwritten rule in England, and I’m not talking about the one that involves buses. Patriotism is meant to be at the core of every true Englishman, a burning love for Queen and Country. But it’s hard to love either under such dire circumstances, the last remnants of an age-old system that keeps the lower classes in blinding allegiance to a small group of people that could not care for their health or wellbeing.  

A little backstory to explain myself with an opinion that will quite rightly offend many. I do not and never have understood patriotism. A dying love for your country is all well and good if the country you live in has anything uniquely cultural or creative to offer, but as far as I can see England is not the country to provide such merits. Not anymore, anyway. Even if they did have something to offer or prove, I’d struggle to call myself a patriot. The very definition of patriotism is “devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country”. I’ve not felt vigorous support for anything before, and I’ll certainly not be starting with a country that charges me £3 for Rice Krispies. 

To combat one or two arguments that come from not being a patriot, I’ll dedicate this paragraph to quite simply stating “no, I can’t leave the country”. If I could, believe me, I most certainly would. I was born here, I didn’t choose to be born here, neither did you. It’s one of the fundamental reasons I disagree with patriotism as a concept, this blinding love for a place you didn’t choose to be born in. Would you feel patriotism if you were born into a less than comfortable lifestyle? Probably not, you’d find it hard to paint yourself red, white and blue if you were freezing on the streets or under the pressures of a zero-hour contract. You wouldn’t be able to afford the paint necessary to do so for a start. Those starving and dying in hospital can hardly rely on the goodwill of patriotism to make them feel better.  

Being proud of your country is like being proud of your height or your shoe size, you did not choose it, you should reserve pride for accomplishments, not genetic luck. There are certainly accomplishments where we should feel pride, there’s no denying our success in sporting events and wars that denied far-right extremism worldwide. We have accomplished lots, but now is not the time to celebrate our former victories, we should instead focus on our current issues. When there are those that rely on foodbanks and others that live rough on the streets, how can you feel pride in your country? When 20% of the population live in poverty, how can you expect belting out “God Save the Queen” to be helpful? How can you truly believe your country has done well by your people if so many are suffering under austerity, when so few are thriving with their tax cuts, their care-free attitudes and their snobbish classism, preventing those in need of genuine help because it would cost a little bit less to do so. 

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I’m sure when the Sterling eventually crashes you can wrap yourself in your Union Jack to keep yourself warm, shivering through the cold nights while the few billionaire patriots that are actively betting against our economy are living the high life, you’ll come to realise that patriotism and traditionalism are as archaic as the very system they support. It’s only a broken system when it stops working for you though, isn’t it? 

Traditionalism is much the same, essentially what the Conservative party is built on. “The upholding or maintenance of tradition, especially so as to resist change”. A resistance of change, it implies change is never a good thing, something that could never possibly provide a singular positive merit. If you’ve done your research (or cracked through a British History A-Level like I did), then you’ll know that the few English things to be genuinely proud of all come from a Labour government. The fundamental and core system that is the NHS, a balancing of the deficit under Harold Wilson, the introduction of the Equal Pay act and investment in public services that would benefit, dare I say it, the many and not the few. 

In turn, what have the Conservatives provided? The continuation of austerity certainly shouldn’t be something to be proud of – not if you have an inkling of humanity left in you anyway. Closure of the mines and tanking the Northern economy under Margaret Thatcher, a woman whose eventual downfall was trying to tax the poor more than they could physically afford. Alongside that, you’ve got zero-hour contracts, the raising of university fees, cuts to just about every public service you can think of (including that NHS you feel so patriotic about) and a burning loyalty to billionaires, bankers and Bullingdon boys looking to get an early inheritance.  

Maybe the country feels so patriotic due to its close ties with its Royal Family, which consists of a ginger man who once dressed as a Nazi, an alleged paedophile who had ties to Jeffrey Epstein, an elderly alleged racist, an even older elderly alleged racist and an old woman who doesn’t look like she’s smiled since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I’ve nothing against them as people, I’m sure they’d be the ideal candidates to share a roasted pleb with, but what they stand for and their position within our society makes it nigh on impossible to give the country suitable help. I’m not saying get rid of them, but get rid of them. Don’t kill them, obviously, just stick them on the Falklands on an extended camping trip while the rest of the country tries to figure out how you have a democracy without the need for an elderly woman sticking a sword in, on or near people. 

Tourism is the big argument for keeping this traditional family around, but to those patriots who say we need that money, may I remind you of that £350 million we send to the European Union each week. That should cover the costs, or at least it would do if that figure was anywhere near the actual amount we send to the EU. Tourism certainly is one of the few talking points England has left, outside of continually discussing the weather and reminiscing about 1966, the Royal Family is a staple of the British diet, a bit like Spam or unspoken tensions. We could, however, provide ourselves with more money if we levelled Buckingham Palace and placed a car park there instead. Think of how much the people of London would save on congestion charges if there was a 77,000 metres squared of parking space. Coincidentally, one family does not need that much living space, especially when 320,000 people live on the streets. I’m pretty sure Buckingham Palace has enough spare rooms in it to provide a good percentage of those a place to live. 

Inevitably though under this style of blind leading the blind patriotism, it is the rich that will survive when the power goes off. When the internet switches off, the roads seize up and the taps stop pouring out water, only then will you realise it’s the rich that benefit from patriotism. When we live in a dystopian society akin to Mad Max: Fury Road or the deleted ending for Army of Darkness, only then will people realise how toxic patriotism is. Your blind support for your country has created a system where those that do not care for you can cut and kill anything and everything they want, all in the name of Queen and Country.  

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