The following discussion took place a few days ago shortly after posting a blog entitled, The shame of the Left: http://mosaic007.blogspot.com/2010/07/shame-of-british.html
Well, Nobby, here is a left-winger who doesn't hate his country. I think what we dislike is perhaps the idea of unthinking and misplaced loyalty, flag-waving and attempts at rewriting history. You correctly state that this country has done a lot of good around the world, but best put away the rose tinted shades and accept that there has been a fair number of balls ups along the way.
It is also, I think, a mistake to see 'the left' as some sort of cohesive and unified group with a policy. It is not. Just like the right, it is a loose and disparate grouping, which I think you are identifying as anyone in opposition to the 'right'.
Much depends on whether you are talking about patriotism or nationalism? There is nothing wrong with patriotism but some left wing intellectuals find any form of patriotism cringe worthy. This is their problem and this issue was correctly identified by Orwell in his essay the Lion & the Unicorn many years ago. This blog is a response to those who often seem ashamed of their own country's history. So what you say about 'rose tinted shades' is missing the point by a wide margin. I do not see the Left as a cohesive unit at all. But since I do not know each and every individual by name (nor do I wish to) it would be strange to refer to this collection of individuals by anything other than by what they have in common. That they have differences does not surprise me in the least. Differences define us. But so does agreement and there is usually some sense of shame in the minds of The Left on matters relating to patriotism which, by the way, is not always unthinking but genuinely heartfelt.
Hello Nobby. I have to say I have a serious dislike of nationalism, and certainly do make the distinction between that and patriotism. It is a matter of choice, and whist it seems to be a characteristic of 'the Right' to embrace both. I think you will find many socialists and liberals, like me, who have fought, or in my case, supported troops with medical services. I think you will find many socialists who died in WW2 and WW1 with weapons in their hands. Whether they died fighting for 'their country' or their fellow men is the question.
With regard to my country's history, I am ashamed of large chunks of it, and that is my prerogative. What I am proud of, is the fact that nobody can stop me saying so, and that is how it should stay. I also reserve the right to question whatever parts of our history I see as questionable. It is by no means all of it.
For me the crux of it is when you say that you are ashamed of large parts of British history. Of course you are entitled to this view and this is but one strength of a tolerant democratic society. But I am also entitled to question your view which I believe is based upon unthinking conformity with prevailing fashion. What exactly is it about British history that makes you feel so ashamed? I ask not so much for the history lesson but to analyse what I suspect is a UK centric outlook, albeit Left sided. My guess is that you will depend on Britain having once had an Empire. If that is where your shame is located we will have much to discuss especially since so many former countries of Empire are now willingly and proudly part of a British Commonwealth.