Tag Archives: British

How to destroy a culture

History offers us many terrible examples of attempts to destroy cultures through violence and oppression. What it also demonstrates is that, so long as there is someone left alive who cares, and either has access to memory or other sources, something of the culture will survive. People will go to remarkable lengths to protect the things they are passionate about.

As a consequence, I am endlessly confused by the people who think that immigration, and Europe, can somehow damage British culture. I find it doubly odd when you factor in that our radio stations are not carrying anything like as much European pop music as they do American songs. Our cinemas are not awash with arty continental films, but with Hollywood films. Our televisions are not broadcasting French sitcoms and Italian dramas to a great degree (I gather there was a Scandinavian  woman with a jumper, but it’s hardly a cultural takeover).

I have a suspicion that many of these fanatical defenders of ‘British culture’ would struggle to identify anything iconically British. Chicken tikka masala, perhaps.  Football, which clearly no one else in Europe plays. Saturday night drunkenness, which literally no other country on the planet goes in for. King Arthur (and many of his stories actually come to us from the French, but who’s counting?) Defenders of ‘British Culture’ also don’t seem to know that since the last ice age, all we’ve had is immigration. Our language is a composite of the languages of settlers, and invaders. Our traditions and history are deeply intertwined with the histories and traditions of people across that tiny strip of water. Really, it’s not a lot of water, people have been back and forth across it in boats for thousands of years.

A culture dies when no one cares about it. How many people who claim to be pro-British culture have any involvement with, or interest in any British traditions? I suspect most of them don’t. I note that every single folk person I know has made no suggestion that we need to protect our traditions from other people. Why would we? Other people’s traditions are not a threat. Cultures die when people stop caring about them.

The threat to Britishness does not come from outside. The threat to Britishness, and I do think there is one, comes from the apathy of the British. If we don’t care about our history, heritage, landscape, unique natural phenomena, folklore, and traditions, that’s our fault. No good blaming people from other cultures. It’s not like anyone is closing our libraries and museums, selling off our most environmentally important landscapes for development, fracking our land, destroying our archaeology in the name of progress, taking away funding from indigenous language projects, or creating a culture of forced work mobility to undermine communities… Oh, that would be our government, wouldn’t it?