Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Janan Ganash in the Financial Times adds his quizzical views

In an article of 863 words Janan Ganash in the Financial Times adds his quizzical views to the bemused debate about what “British values” are:  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e1041832-f536-11e3-afd3-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz34snx2eON
 “…exactly how does the state go about instructing people in matters of allegiance?” asks Mr Ganesh.  The simple answer is that it can’t.  As the example of Iraq demonstrates, if the people of a state do not feel any loyalty to the nation they will not exert themselves to make the nation work.
To define a society’s values you have to look at what the people in that society value.
Therefore, let us ask what ordinary people value:
  • They value their families – and this means all the aspects that sustain the family (stable “marriages”, good schools, easy access employment etc).
  • They value their health (obviously) – which explains an uncritical view of the NHS and the sometimes erroneous view that doctors and nurses are “wonderful”.
  • They value the land and the “unspoiled” landscape – even city-dwellers feel a close connection with the countryside and this is one of the key ways in which ordinary people visualise their national identity. 
  • They value continuity to a degree that is exceptional among most industrial societies (except perhaps Japan) – therefore we still have a monarchy and an established church and a House of Lords and the National Trust that propagates an entirely benign view of an avaricious aristocracy that in past ages was out for itself.
  • They value their safety and security – which is why the British police are “the best in the world” and the armed forces are given uncritical support.
  • They value the control they have over their lives and resent anything that demeans or belittles them – which explains the intense aversion to “little Hitlers” telling them what bins they can use, Health & Safety regulations, political correctness lecturing etc.
  • They value familiarity – which explains the intense reaction to the whoopee-cushion social revolutions of the New Labour era (like it or not, politicians have to accept that the British want to live in an homogenous society).
  • They value their pride, which includes national pride (encompassing a quasi-mythological view of their history and a less than appreciative view of foreigners).
Happily most people do not need to be taught these values. 
They express most of them instinctively, and those that are not instinctual they absorb from friends and family. 
Only among migrant communities is there any doubt over what the national values are, and that is where the effort needs to be made.

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