Nationalism and Identity

In response to a British report about teaching Britishness at schools.

Every country has to inculcate patriotism and citizenship among its members but not for propaganda. During the communist era, and it is still the case in some third world countries, citizenship means allegiance to the regime and its leaders. People become just parrots repeating anthems and slogans as thinking otherwise means dissent and treason.

Today’s youth are somehow disenchanted with established values as they seek freedom and new ways of seeing things. There is apathy towards elections as many have little faith in their government, as for them, electoral programmes are just old wine in new bottles. Perhaps the only events that raise patriotism in people are sport events. Hooligans express their patriotism by causing havoc during matches. Hooliganism, until recently was the shame of the British abroad.

What can make people good citizens of their country is to be ready to ask the famous question, “Dont ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” This can be possible when they feel there is justice, equality and freedom that can make their actions for their country worthwhile.

Another threat to national identity is globalization. Many values and traditions are being lost because young people are in majority exposed to commercial values whose interests are financial gains and not the cultural impact they can have. It will be dreary if one day people live in a country knowing about foreign stars and influenced by outside events while ignoring basic facts about their countries.

Democracy should be dealt with in a new way by offering people what to be active about, not in the archaic sense of just glorifying one’s country for self-deceit but to be involved in what is taking place while extending the hand of friendship to all people around the world.

On Britishness:

Britishness should be viewed in terms of the present. Britain shouldn’t continue to be seen as a colonial power as colonialism is a matter of the past. British population has undergone diversity due to migration. Sections of British society should be seen as a part of the whole and not as sections set apart from the whole.

The British were successful in spreading their values around the world. Now the ball is in their camp. They should succeed in spreading the values of tolerance among themselves to set a good example on how to preserve national identity and harmony.

To paraphrase British Education Secretary Alan Johnson, people from all over the world, regardless of age, religion or race should think critically about issues of race, ethnicity and religion with “an explicit link” to current political debates, the news and a sense of national values.


  1. billdunc said,

    January 26, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Abdelilah,
    I agree with your comments on “britishness”. I am british and our past identity has both its good and bad aspects. there were some terrible things done in the “british” past but I also like to think that among that we brought some good here and there. What matters though is our present and our future. I like to think that we are a tolerant people and we expect the same from people who come to live here.
    Our repsect for the rule of law and our general distrust of “fundamentalists” of any persuasion (religious, political etc) is another characteristic I think that we have.
    I tend to distrust “nationalism” as I think it has brought misery around the world. But have a sense of national identity and some pride inthis ( but not at the expense of other people) is important. I like your blog.

  2. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    January 26, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks Billdunc for your comment. I do share your views. The best way to exist is to live and let live.

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