Right, I’m going to chuck a few ideas out there because I’ve been thinking about the state of the USA and the UK for a while now and there is something that nobody is saying and it fries my mind.
Here it is: patriotism is for fucking half wits.
Nah, I know you think I mean nationalism, but I don’t. I mean patriotism. It is stupid, it’s a devious political tool, it’s a smoke-like concept that is easy to twist, it’s a weapon for attacking all those you disagree with, it’s an arbitrary line in the sand that politicians the world over do not dare to cross no matter the cost. Patriotism is a lubricant that allows the government to fuck anybody at all, whenever they like.
To be anti-patriotic in the USA is akin to blasphemy, and the UK’s not far behind. You have to love your country, you have to blindly support it in all its actions, otherwise you’re a traitor. In the USA, children sing the national anthem every morning and salute the flag. What the fuck? What the actual fuck is going on? Why are we singing a national song and performing a military salute in front of a waving bit of cloth?
If you’re offended by this, if you’re red in the face reading these words, good. That means I’m right. If the idea of me saying that singing a song at a dangling bit of cloth is fucking dense causes you pain, that’s because you’ve spent your whole life being indoctrinated through processes very similar to singing at a bit of dangling fucking cloth.
In the UK at the moment everyone is pissed off because Big Ben has to be repaired and won’t go ‘bong’ for four years, except on special occasions. Theresa May has issued an angry statement about the fucking big clock, but not about Donald Trump’s *literally* defending Neo-Nazis in his country who *literally* murdered someone not one week ago.
In the UK all the Brexiteers want to ‘Take Back Control’, just like in the US they want to ‘Make America Great Again’. The Brexit crowd are very excited to have blue passports again, like we used to. The American far-right are fiercely defending statues of long-dead generals who fought for the right to own black people as slaves.
Blue passports, national anthems, statues, big clocks, flags, addressing the president as ‘sir’ – what do these things all have in common?
These things are all symbols, they are all emblems that we attach meaning to. An idea is mercurial – what the USA means, what British values are; they change over time. The British Empire fell long ago, and the USA’s reign at the top of the empire wheel looks to be almost at an end. Those all-conquering ‘glory’ days are gone, and all we have left are useless tokens of what once was.
For the record: the ‘empire’ spirit is stupid. It’s all just dick-measuring, trying to get ourselves remembered, wanting to be part of a mighty surge against the inevitability of old age and death and being forgotten. Some of us write, some of us paint, some of us wage war. Yeah, the British Empire colonised large parts of the world. They (I first typed ‘we’ there but fuck me, I didn’t bloody do it and I’m not including myself in that mess) also killed untold millions and caused enough suffering for a thousand lifetimes and Winston Churchill was a colossal racist who called killing Indian natives ‘fun’ and why the fuck is he on the five pound note and oh, also: They. Invented. Fucking. Concentration. Camps.
Post Second World War, post giving the boot to fascism, being British and being American used to mean something, but due to endless recycling and marketing of easy to consume symbols, rather than the sturdy maintenance of values and ideas, we have lost any notion of what it was that actually made us great. It’s easier to wave a flag than it is to read a history book. The phrasing of those two hateful phrases ‘Take Back Control’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ is so successful and emotive because they look to the future while simultaneously evoking the idea that the past was better, and that, if we only follow our screaming demagogues, we can rediscover those (entirely fictional) halcyon days.
History’s next dictator-in-waiting is no doubt locked away as we speak scrawling slogans for the next beer hall putsch:
Return to Greatness
Forward to Old Glory
Back to the Future
Fuck sake. All of this, the loud-and-proud revival of Nazism, the closing of borders, the outpouring of hatred, wouldn’t be possible had we not spent our whole lives being bullied into believing that to say out loud that your country is wrong and shit and stupid and things could be better is to be anti-patriotic scum. You really gunna spend 12 years singing to that flag and then have the guts to question it?
Love your country, sure. Be proud of your country. Work hard and contribute to your country. But my fucking god, if you can’t explain why you love your country when asked, beyond spouting steaming hot rhetoric that you skim-read on the front of the screaming red-top tabloids, maybe don’t vote Brexit. Maybe don’t vote Trump. Maybe don’t pick up that confederate flag. Maybe back away from the Nazi armband, you twat.
Understand that a country is made up of individuals, and if you insist on being a ‘patriot’, it might be a good idea to actually act like one, instead of singing to flags and portraits of the fat racist cunt and the empathy-starved robot who run our countries. Pay your taxes and help your community, and vote for a party that will aid those less well-off than yourself. And ditch those fucking useless symbols that demagogues rely on to stoke up fires in the hearts of half-wits. If you’re unhappy with your life, a fucking blue passport will not change that. Big Ben going ‘bong’ every hour will not change that. Flags and songs are the tools of politicians who occasionally need to send people to die in useless wars, or to vote for things that are palpably, actively against their own well-being.
As far as I’m concerned, Big Ben’s silence is entirely apt. Until the rising hatred in the world is quelled, there’s fuck all to sing about.