Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It is nonsense to talk about a civic national identity

It is a mistake for Sunder Katwala to talk about "civic national identity" in reference to what he calls "Englishness".

English identity predates cities and was already fully formed centuries before any civic identity emerged, therefore it is anachronistic to say that urban-dwelling people are English in any cultural sense of the word.

Indeed if you look at any large city in England you will see that well over half the urban area is not "city" at all, but suburbia - urban areas pretending to be rural (with half-timbered mock-Tudor houses, trees along all the roads, pubs pretending to be country inns etc).

London has more parks and open green spaces than any other European capital, and it is a cliche to describe it as a collection of villages.  Even so, surveys of Londoners routinely report that a majority aspire to moving out of the city to the countryside.  Many achieve this aspiration through buying second homes.

Therefore it is nonsense to talk about a civic national identity. 

The majority of the population may live in the urban areas but this is through necessity, not choice.


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