Thoroughly English Anarchists

April 5, 2009

tea It’s not often that we’re in agreement with a Holy Joe, but a recent statement by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, reminded us of a tongue-in-cheek project we worked on once. Sentamu warned recently that a failure to shore up English identity risked creating “a vacuum” that could be filled by extremist ideologies such as jihadism or by the far-right British National Party. Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival he said…

“Previously an icon of extreme nationalists, a sign of exclusion tinged with racism, the flag of St George instead became a unifying symbol for a country caught up in the hopes of 11 men kicking a ball around a field […] As is often the case with cultural revolutions, the change came not through a directive from the top, but from those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. […] In the city of Birmingham, where a good number of taxi cabs are operated by Asian, often Muslim, men, the flag of St George became an addition to every cab. The commercialisation of the flag and its linking with a national hope which sought inclusive celebration led to its adoption by those for whom it was previously used as an exclusionary symbol.”

Sentamu suggests we make St George’s Day a national holiday and, surprisingly for self confessed anarchists, we agree – and not just because it’s a good excuse for a piss up.

Although we’re not big on national sovereignty, we did once play with the idea of creating a group called the Thoroughly English Anarchists (TEA). This was to show that the BNP and similar ‘nationalist’ groups  were – despite their patriotic claims – largely ignorant of English history. The English people – as opposed to the capitalist elites who used force and slavery to create the British Empire – have always treasured mutual aid and social justice; it is the beliefs and principles of the common man, not nobles and barons, that are enshrined in Magna Carta. Magna Carta Day should be another national holiday – the more the merrier!

England is arguably the birthplace of both socialism and (with the writings of William Godwin) anarchism; whereas fascism is, in general, an imported notion. Our history is filled with heroic commoners both real – Wat Tyler, John Lilburne, Gerrard Winstanley, Robert Lockyer, William Cobbett, Thomas Paine, etc – and imagined – Robin Hood, Ned Ludd, etc. Put simply, we have much to be proud of – although we’re still waiting for E.P. Thompson’s ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ to become part of the national curriculum.

It is possible to have a soft spot for England without being a nationalist (just read Gorge Orwell’s collected essays if you want proof of this) and a good knowledge of real English history is always good for pissing off the BNP!

We even designed a nice red & black three lions shield that will really upset Nick Griffin – it has multi-ethnic lions!..




3 Responses to “Thoroughly English Anarchists”

  1. Dave E said

    As you are probably aware, I’m a closet Welsh Nationalist, but owt that will upset the fat fash twat is alright by me…

  2. Class War - Barnsdale Brigade said

    I bet the Welsh Nationalists would have some good ideas about what to do with MPs second homes!

  3. […] to a discussion we’ve been having since April a good friend of ours, Wynfrið Wynn (who’s name means ‘Friend of Peace & Joy’ […]

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