Author Topic: Britishness  (Read 4633 times)

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Offline augsburger

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2016, 11:35:23 AM »
Yes, I agree, the old traditional sense of what it was to be British, English, Welsh, Scottish is losing it's place, and being replaced by modernity.

In some ways it's sad, in other ways it's inevitable.

Thomas Hardy was lamenting the changing of the ways in the late 1800s. Now we've got this immigration going crazy that's changing it even more, but those who consider themselves "British patriots" or whatever, aren't really going back to what existed, but creating something new too. That alone with those who are British Indian, Pakistani, West Indian, African etc who are making British something else too.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2016, 12:14:25 PM »
Yes, the bowler hat, striped trousers, red and black uniformed fox hunting parties and upstairs-downstairs are out and good riddance. Anyone who thinks Britain has embraced modernity wholeheartedly should have another look at pub fronts, judges in whigs, faux Tudor homes, TV programs on the 1940s, the train system, road signposts and circulation coins, though.

Travelling and immigration is in. A frenchman working in the financial sector has likely worked in London. A UK top chef has likely worked in France. The ne'er do well sons are no longer sent to the colonies; the former colonies send their best and brightest to the UK and one of them just became mayor of London. A novelty for the British, but not a European first.

According to recent research, Amsterdam in the late 17th century, at the zenith of its power, had a population of about one third born in Amsterdam, one third born in the Netherlands and one third born in the rest of the world. Today, the same is true for Paris, New York and London. That's not immigration going crazy but a centuries old, tried and tested formula for success. London's main problems (notably lack of affordable housing) are very similar to those of other cities. Rather than looking for homegrown solutions, it should learn from cities in other countries, before concocting its own solution.

Insular Britishness is indeed slowly disappearing and fear of modernity and the rest of Europe is still strong. Blair wanted to push modernity and failed, but Britain needs it, or it will keep falling behind.

Peter
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Offline EWC

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2016, 02:35:39 PM »
I recall an amusing debate I had with a fiery Irish red headed archaeologist – (a leftie - goes without saying - and sadly, these days, as bald as coot according to his professorial web pic)

He was working on the anglo saxon period, and making something of it about “anglo-saxon” economics – tied conceptually to old traditions about British empiricism (think Umberto Eco fooling around with medieval Sherlock Holmes types.)

All I had to say was the word “Pelagius” and his whole construction collapsed…….

What I am getting at here is the big thesis that Jared Diamond subsequently pushed in his 'Germs Guns and Steel' effort.  That the global rise of Europe via conquest, industrialisation etc had zilch in the way of genetic or racial roots.  It was entirely a matter of Geography.  Of the four ancient zones of Eurasia:   Europe, Persia, India and China, three were geographically arranged so that unifying empires with unifying ideologies could fairly readily be constructed.  And unifying intellectual empires ultimately become authoritarian and stultifying (all power corrupts etc).

Bottom line then – (and it was obvious to me before I ever heard of Jared Diamond):

Europe’ innovatory lead was merely a product of its wonky geography.

As to a British coin design – how about conjoined busts of Pelagius, Wycliff and Boris Johnson?    :)

Rob

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2016, 02:57:28 PM »
I am sure geography (therefore climate and climate control, therefore innovation) played an important part in human development, but I think making it the only factor of importance is going too far. Your Pelagius example makes clear that religious dogma (therefore attitude towards wealth) played an important role also.

The Pelagian discussion on free will and predestination was largely repeated in early Tudor times, due to Henry VIII's on-again-off-again policy towards religious conservatism and "radicalism". Is it a coincidence that England's rise from obscurity started with Elizabeth I?

Religious extremism's influence is shown by England's stagnation beginning with Cromwell, that needed William III and Queen Anne to be rectified, setting the scene for its two centuries of glory. With that religious perspective, it is no coincidence that the first colonial (excluding Ireland and local coins struck in English trading stations) coins came about under Elizabeth I, followed by a large gap until George III.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline redwine

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2016, 11:15:40 PM »
I have very strong views on this which I cannot relate on a public forum.  All based on living in the UK.  I live in France now.
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Offline EWC

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2016, 08:43:43 AM »
I am sure geography (therefore climate and climate control, therefore innovation) played an important part in human development, but I think making it the only factor of importance is going too far. Your Pelagius example makes clear that religious dogma (therefore attitude towards wealth) played an important role also.

Sure, but as I already said, I do not make it an either or thing.  Jared Diamond’s account is that ultimately geography drove ideology which in turn drove innovation – or maybe more exactly - geography inhibited ideology which would otherwise inhibit innovation

The Pelagian discussion on free will and predestination was largely repeated in early Tudor times, due to Henry VIII's on-again-off-again policy towards religious conservatism and "radicalism". Is it a coincidence that England's rise from obscurity started with Elizabeth I? Religious extremism's influence is shown by England's stagnation beginning with Cromwell, that needed William III and Queen Anne to be rectified, setting the scene for its two centuries of glory.

Yes, I broadly agree. Henry VIII personally maybe  just wanted to keep the Catholic ideological framework intact but insinuate himself at the head of it, instead of the Pope. Later, those around Cromwell wanted to dismantle the religious and aristocratic hierarchy, but on more profound matters like free will and predestination they held a position much like Augustine.  Real English egalitarian types went into exile in Holland under Cromwell.  I am not saying brits had any sort of monopoly on egalitarian thought, just that being of the edge, tended sometimes to give them a bit of an edge.

Rob

Offline redwine

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2016, 12:05:58 PM »
I'd just like to make it clear that the erosion of my personal rights due to the actions of morons, drunkards, druggies et al and the lack of action by the authorities was what I was on about.  The minority were deciding how I should live and I did not like it. 
I also did not like the local council, the British civil service and particularly the NHS which I watched as it turned from something to be proud of into an utter disgrace.
I could go on........  Mind you the French know a thing or too about useless public bodies................ :'(
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Offline augsburger

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2016, 01:27:08 PM »
Britishness being expressed in terms of ideas then?

Like freedom and rights?

Also maybe weather would play a part (it's in my passport).

It's kind of what defines Britain and the British in a positive way.

Offline EWC

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2016, 10:01:15 AM »
Yes, I noticed we kind of strayed away from your original question, and there I cannot really help you much, but will give my own immediate thoughts ICOI.

Mostly what I would say is I much like what seems to be profound but subtle aspects of some traditional coin designs.

For instance, the model for Britannia is very bland indeed, used for near every city in the Greek and Roman world.  but I feel it works here because in a sort of subliminal way, Britannia is, very roughly, the actual shape of the island.

And I suspect the very successful George and Dragon design had some deep roots in the opposition to Napoleon (although critics focussing on London's role in global finance might easily turn that picture up side down!)

One very off centre comment about coin design I recall is from one of the 17th century Ranters – (Winstanley, I think).  He claimed that if you added up the numerical value of the letters in the legend of an Oliver Cromwell Crown, the answer was 666.  False and crazy of course - but still - some sort of subtle and ambiguous puzzle might catch the public imagination, and hit the jackpot.

So my Plan A is to dig into old, perhaps very old, existing coin designs, and see what new spin could be put on them.

A europhile Plan B might be to look at my favourite cartoonist, Grandville.  Lewis Carroll seems to have been primarily inspired by the pre-existing drawings of Grandville…………

I spose all that makes me a reactionary kind of fellow.

Rob

Offline FosseWay

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2016, 07:09:18 PM »
Anyone who thinks Britain has embraced modernity wholeheartedly should have another look at pub fronts, judges in whigs, faux Tudor homes, TV programs on the 1940s, the train system, road signposts and circulation coins, though.

The train system and circulation coins I quite agree with you on.

Pub fronts, judges, faux-Tudor and TV are simply expressions of nostalgia that exist in any settled culture. It's just that it expresses itself in different ways in different cultures/countries. People in Sweden still cover the outside of their concrete or sheetrock houses with vertical overlapping planks painted faluröd (a dark red colour) because that evinces a sense of a subjectively more secure past. Precisely the same as the Tudor thing, just a different expression.

But I am genuinely mystified by your mention of road signage. Can you elaborate?

Offline Prosit

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2016, 08:05:59 PM »
From my distant perspective the things that come to mind when i think of Britain are
Tower of Big Ben, Tea time, Derby hats and canes, Hadrian's wall, A sea power that kicked bvtt for centuries,
an incomprehensible sense of humor, a sense of superiority, the Thames river and tall ships.
Guineas, tanners and bobs, and Pounds, Kings and Queens.

Dale

Offline Prosit

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2016, 08:12:47 PM »
Oh and one more
Great, great, great, great, great, Grandpa, George (Candilan) Hallmark from Marbury, Cheshire County circa 1740ish.

Dale


From my distant perspective the things that come to mind when i think of Britain are
Tower of Big Ben, Tea time, Derby hats and canes, Hadrian's wall, A sea power that kicked bvtt for centuries,
an incomprehensible sense of humor, a sense of superiority, the Thames river and tall ships.
Guineas, tanners and bobs, and Pounds, Kings and Queens.

Dale

Offline augsburger

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Re: Britishness
« Reply #27 on: May 24, 2016, 02:35:37 AM »
Yes, I noticed we kind of strayed away from your original question, and there I cannot really help you much, but will give my own immediate thoughts ICOI.

Mostly what I would say is I much like what seems to be profound but subtle aspects of some traditional coin designs.

For instance, the model for Britannia is very bland indeed, used for near every city in the Greek and Roman world.  but I feel it works here because in a sort of subliminal way, Britannia is, very roughly, the actual shape of the island.

And I suspect the very successful George and Dragon design had some deep roots in the opposition to Napoleon (although critics focussing on London's role in global finance might easily turn that picture up side down!)

One very off centre comment about coin design I recall is from one of the 17th century Ranters – (Winstanley, I think).  He claimed that if you added up the numerical value of the letters in the legend of an Oliver Cromwell Crown, the answer was 666.  False and crazy of course - but still - some sort of subtle and ambiguous puzzle might catch the public imagination, and hit the jackpot.

So my Plan A is to dig into old, perhaps very old, existing coin designs, and see what new spin could be put on them.

A europhile Plan B might be to look at my favourite cartoonist, Grandville.  Lewis Carroll seems to have been primarily inspired by the pre-existing drawings of Grandville…………

I spose all that makes me a reactionary kind of fellow.

Rob

I don't think it has strayed, in fact I think this is exactly what I wanted, people talking about what is Britishness and therefore what should be on coins.

It's not an easy question, and it shouldn't be limited to simplistic symbolism, the issues that people get intense about are more a part of modern Britain than those which are currently on coins.