« Room cleaning wars in cyberspace | Main | Government's plan to railroad constitutional change gathers speed »

March 22, 2006


Guggi Kofod

Hi Tornandfrayed,
if you think the British have low self-esteem, try talking to the people at the World Toilet College in Singapore, http://worldtoilet.org/ . It was inaugurated last year, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/165260/1/.html , and showcased on http://www.kennysia.com/archives/2005/09/world_toilet_co.php .

Great laughs

Pinay in Barnsley

I decided to post an entry in my blog after writing a 'war & peacey' like comment here. It's a topic I just happen to feel excited about!


Guggi, read Kenny's site. That thread was really funny. I think he almost started a war between Singapore and Malaysia. People can be so touchy...


This is a strange observation coming from a Brit. Are you, by any chance, a hyphenated Brit?

Speaking of Frenchies, the only Frenchman I've ever really gotten along with was one who didn't feel French. Now what does that tell you???


I wasn’t born in Britain and I’ve lived more than half my life away from it so perhaps that counts as a hyphen, although my dad was Scottish and my mum is English. Still, I think many, perhaps most, Brits would agree with what I have written, apart fom the bit about it being a dump of course. Pinay in Barnsley’s post on the same subject is worth reading(link above).

carlos celdran

Perhaps the word word were looking for here is "self-effacing". Which is always endearing.


Perhaps it's to do with getting on in years, but after more than 35 years out of the UK, I'm developing a bit of respect for the old place. Mind you, I don't have to live there, but you have to admit there's quite a bit going on. Just about every pop-culture icon thingie these days seems to be coming out of the UK, from the Beatles back then to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, David Beckham and his appalling wife, Mr bloody Bean, the Teletubbies, the mad heir to the throne and . . . well, I can't think of any more because it's Friday afternoon and I want to go home. Oh, and then there's Tony Blair and Maggie Thatcher, both punching above their political weight, and Lennox Lewis, who would use Manny Pacquiao as a toothpick. And the Beeb and the crazy tabloids. It's a busy place for somewhere with a population of only 60 million. Would I live there? Only when I'm 6ft under.


Because you Brits dont got shit!

We pinoys got the 8th wonder of the world, the rice terraces, built 40,000 years before the great pyramids of Giza (I actually read this in a Philippine tourism ad while travelling in SF).

We invented the moonbuggy, the flourescent lightbulb, the Uzi (daw), and a great many other things that we can't really prove but we know to be true.

Still not impressed? One word: Bo-ra-cay! This place makes Bora-Bora, The Bahamas, and Maui look like crap!


The crap is in the sea water in Boracay. And Bora-Bora, the Bahamas and Maui are easier to get to from Manila.

Major Tom

I am taken a little out of sort upon knowing that there is in fact an issue of whether or not the Brits have national pride for in my mind, they must be the proudest people of all (I mean this in a positive way. The builder of the last known empire could only be standing tall with all the achievements they had in the 20th century, including the railways they've all done all thoughout Asia.

This post reminds me of a dialogue in "Lawrence of Arabia" where a British officer explained to the Arab chief that "Britain is wealthy because Britons have discipline" to which the Arab chief played by Sir Alec Guiness responded " England was still a village when Aqaba already has streetlamps".


Maybe it's generational? Surely Victorian people had much national pride: they produced Ruskin, Darwin and Bentham, after all, and the Empire was still intact at that point. World War II was also a source of pride, as far as I can tell. It's after that period that I think the national self-esteem plunged. The trail of impoverished former colonies consumed by violence (Iraq being one of them) surely does not make a right-thinking Briton feel proud now. To boast of the achievements of Empire now seems obscene.

On the other hand, maybe it's related to class? I read about an Eton exhibition last year that sought to "re-think" the Raj as a constructive era in Indian and British history; to be proud of it, in other words. Wait till the sepoys hear about this, harhar.

Or it could just be that being from a place, you see all its flaws and none of its merits. I'm a foreigner here and I appreciate some things a lot. Okay, the weather, the food, the class and rail systems are crap and people tend to be surly (except in Liverpool). But you have the Stonehenge, the countryside, nice pubs, great actors, sharp humor, excellent museums, the BBC, a music industry whose diversity and dynamism amaze me. Of course you also have Tony Effing Blair, the House of Lords and Charles and Camilla, but you can't judge a country by its politicians and its 'nobility'. As a proud Pinay, I would advise you not to judge us by ours. GMA, JDV and bleached socialites with nose jobs diminish MY national pride.


Carla -- OK! Good points -- I have some theories on the ebbs and flows of nationalist thinking, which I'll post on later. The same applies to Pinoys I think; they were not always the defeated pessimsistic people we see today. Thirty-five years ago with Marcos and Imelda hob-nobbing with world leaders, the peso heavily overvalued, and "prestige projects" like the CCP and the highways under construction, I guess there was much more national pride here. I'm talking about Marcos's early years of course.


I don't think we Brits lack pride in our country, rather we are inately modest (some would say we have much to be modest about). It is not in our nature to proclaim our "pride" from the rooftops: we do not fly our flag from private homes, something you will see all over the USA. Nor do we constantly search for sucessful people in other countries with a tenuous connection to the UK and claim them as our own, even unto the 3rd generation. Sound familiar, Manila?

We are quietly proud, and believe overt displays of nationalism, for that's what we are talking about, to be vulgar. This was not always the case historically, but we have got over it, matured as a nation and moved on.


Listen pal, I'm a Scot, not a Brit. And there's nothing that pisses me off more than the use of "British" as a synonym for "English".
Self-esteem does, I suppose, entail self-awareness. Start with that. Britain isn't a country, but a bunch of them. England is in a State (so to speak), but it isn't one.


A lot of well-educated, well-read Brits are ashamed of our imperialist, colonial history and so get all shamefaced about showing any pride in being British at all. Any expression of pride in the Raj or other colonial history, and Union Jack waving type activities tend to be construed (often rightly) as jingoistic celebrations of an age when Britain "ruled the world". The empire seems to me to have made the British working-classes feel really proud of being part of a superior race in some way; now most Brits are vaguely aware that this kind of attitude is frowned upon and will upset their fellow citizens whose grandparents or parents were brought up in colonies.
I think we do have a lot to be proud of but history runs in cycles and we are now into our post-imperial decline. It happened to Rome and it is happening to us - people start to value their own happiness above the community good and prosperity leads to decadence. I don't know how it will end up but the UK's importance in the world is deifnitely on the way down, and most Brits know it. That's why we're not shouting about our achievements.


Good points from everyone. I agree with peem that the overlapping loyalties of, say, Scottishness and Britishness help to disperse nationalist sentiment. I also think Lucy and Carla are right to point out that nationalist sentiment is a cyclical.

However, I'm not sure that I buy the self effacing argument (mentioned generously by one Filipino and by one quietly proud Brit). If England do well in the World Cup I think we'll see plenty of vulgar displays of nationalism. Still Keith and Lucy are right that you don't see many flags, one of the most obvious examples of jingoistic sentiment, about. Flags are much more common in France, America, and the Philippines than in Britain.


You think you Scots and Brits have problems with overlapping loyalties (and conversely sense of shame), well what about us 80 plus ethnics put under one Filipino banner?

I hate it that we native majorities here in Luzon get identified with Cebuano prostitutes and Japayukis, terrorist Mindanaons, snobbish mestizos from Manila, that "barriotic" Waray Imelda Marcos and domestic helpers from Visayas just because were all under the same Filipino banner.


That should have been Spanish-mestizos from Manila (to separate them from pure native Tagalogs who are alright). I also hate that these greedy, money-worshipping, all-that-is-important-is-riches thinking Chinese Filipinos who SHOULD all be deported to their native China.


frankly i think nationalism is a moribund concept. it's a 20th century throwback. causes a lot of wars and violence if you ask me. lucy was spot-on about britain's post-imperial decline. Hopefully the septics will get there soon as well, then no more Iraqs. i happen to think gung-ho patriots are total morons.


Because in Mel Gibson movies the Brits are always the bad guys...


What you describe as pride in a Frenchman, I would describe as arrogance.

There is a world of difference between the quiet (or not so quiet) pride shown by the average Brit and the jingoism shown by hooligans at football matches. It is true that Scots, Welsh and Irish Brits tend to be a bit more effusive in their pride of their Scottishness, Welshness or Irishness than the English do of their Englishness.

For a damp little island I think we've done very well, and we're rightfully proud of that.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad