Non Natives

Off road with Charli – picking a not too muddy route to stop it being a slog; there’s mud to be had if you want it, now there’s been rain for a while. The Rapeseed fields are pretty well fully out around here – Charli says she’s heard this is early. It wouldn’t surprise me; nothing about the weather or the seasons is as they were.

Photo: Rapeseed field in April

Rapeseed in April - coming on early this year

Rapeseed’s an old plant in England but a relatively new crop: you see a lot more of it now than even just a couple of decades ago. When you ride by a whole field of it, it has a strong and not that pleasant smell – something you’d just never have experienced once. That is a slightly odd thought.

Something else that’s new is the spread of ‘English Flags’ or ‘Flags of St George’. The desire to mark St George’s Day (23rd) seems far more common now. There were a fair few flags around today – cars, some pubs, some houses.

Photo: The English flag, on a bag, dumped

The English flag on a bag, dumped

I can’t have anything but a knee-jerk mistrust of patriotism. It seems nothing good is ever done in its name. It’s generally built on bogus foundations. (St George was a Turk. Most of what people think of as Scottish ‘culture’ is a Victorian English invention. And so on.) All too quickly it lurches into racism, discrimination and persecution.

Surely, some of those who want to celebrate aspects of a localised culture are doing so out of genuinely good intentions, but their intentions, and ultimately their emotions, are all too easily hijacked. There are any number of examples, world-wide, of racism being stirred up where once there was none or what did exist was contained. From the former Yugoslavia to the Rwandan genocide, you don’t have to look very far to find out how easily passions are poisoned.

And make no mistake, the culture of any country is a localised thing – and the fundamental inappropriateness of a localised view is accelerating as economies and communications become ever more global in scope.

Make no mistake, too, that any propagandized notion of what a culture is, is false. Cultures are built on shifting sands.

The people who’d profess to be leaders – politicians in the main – who invoke anything to do with patriotism are always out for their own aggrandisement – the only thing that varies is how well they disguise it and how long it takes for the truth to come out. They always do damage: invoking divisions always does and always will. The damage can be horrendous – war, genocide, slaughter – or ‘just’ the creation of mistrust, the emphasis of difference. Even if you want to downplay the damage these people cause as they seek to gain power, any ‘leader’ invoking an inward-looking parochialism when globalism is a simple, bald fact of everyday life will do those being led no favours at all.