Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Everyone is Tribal. No Exceptions.

So said a wise blogger upon calling it quits not so long ago. Perhaps never have truer words been spoken in our politically correct age of multiculturalism, for even the most rootless cosmopolitan who finds it too taxing to muster a smidgeon of loyalty for the home team, at least glows over his or her own Italian or French or Hispanic or whatever parentage. Identity will not be denied - whether we admit or not, each of us is naturally wedded to our own cultural bias, putting the lie to the preachers of postmodernity who proclaim we should value all cultures equally. Impossible, for in spite of our delusions, none of us can actually live and practice it.

As the wise blogger also truthfully blunted: "Some tribes are better than others." Which tribes would those be, I wonder? Well, the open tribes of course, the ones whose tribal impulses are tempered by a free and universal spirit. Long before the rise of Christianity even, it was Greek and Roman Stoics such as Cato the Younger and Epictetus who recognized and advocated the brotherhood of humanity and the natural equality of all human beings. Epictetus, commenting on man's relationship with the world in Discourses, wrote the following:

"Each human being is primarily a citizen of his own commonwealth; but he is also a member of the great city of gods and men, whereof the city political is only a copy."

All great civilisations intuitively embrace this philosophy, which combines the primordial need with the utopian sentiment of Socrates: "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world." Stoicism became the most influential school of the Graeco–Roman world, the belief that all people are manifestations of the one universal spirit, the distinctive feature of which is its cosmopolitanism. All free societies inevitably lead to it.

So yes, I believe we are all instinctively tribal, that we are all primarily citizens of our own experience. I'm a Canadian of British heritage, living in a mostly cosmopolitanised nation-state containing most of the world's tribes. Naturally it is easy for me to accept that my tribal chief is also the chief of tribes, that the seat of traditional authority remains the British Queen. For those still disappointed about this stubborn fact, may take heart that the eclipsing power and prestige of my tribe is now all but dead, and all that remains are the uncelebrated fruits of the Britannic inheritance. Like the Greeks and Romans, we have been done in by our own worldly success.

5 comments:

Kipling said...

Do not go gently into that sweet night dear Beaverbrook! The British Canadian tribe isn't finished and neither is the Crown! My own "tribe" is not British, though it is Britain's oldest ally on the continent, yet I very much appreciate the Peace, Order and Good Government which British Canadians developed and which my ancestors took until the 1970s to figure out. Some "tribes" are better than others and / or better in different ways.

As for the idea of cosmopolitanism, I interpret that differently that most. To be cosmopolitan is not be rootless but to be rooted and aware and engaged in other cultures and ideas that are "good and noble." I think the Crown embodies this idea well. It is both a Canadian as well as a Commonwealth institution, it links us both to our past as well as to the wider community that shares the British Crown.

Beaverbrook said...

I agree, Kipling. I consider myself a rooted cosmopolitan, which I suppose makes me a modern Stoic. And I will not go gently into the night; the pathology of being a tad overinvested in the past, however, requires that I take a more routine reality break :)

Anonymous said...

Everyone is invested in the past. No exceptions. Given that the past is absolutely determinative of all present circumstances, that is.

Burton

Beaverbrook said...

Burton, you wise blogger - you know I was referring to you.

Greg Benton said...

As that eminent 'medicine man' of the 'British' tribe once wrote:

'To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.'

In the dizzying transformation that has occurred in our culture over the past half-century, there still remains that unique, though oft-subdued spirit that is the principal, most precious, and essential civilising force for good in the world that finds its expression in free people and that gives even greater hope to all those of other tribes: the legacy of British law and fortitude and fundamental respect for the individual 'man'.

Elusive as it seems to have become toward re-energising that spirit, even within the tribe itself, it's strength is greater than that of it's enemies and will indeed find it's 'hour' again...perhaps not in the same way as we have known or to which we have a particular affection, but it will indeed triumph in succeeding generations.

The monarchy, with all its warts, is and will continue to play a role in that enduring cause in another age.