For anybody who may have missed it, in October 2020 a new ‘Diversity Built Britain’ coin was unveiled on the UK public sector information website GOV.UK to mark “the profound contribution minority communities have made to the shared history of the United Kingdom”. The coin has been met with some controversy on what passes for the political right at present and I write in the hope I may convince civic nationalists to embrace the so-called ‘Diversity Coin’ and the sentiment behind it as the most realistic vehicle to achieve their goal of an inclusive national identity.
The objections to the coin I have seen have largely been confined to questioning the historical accuracy of the statement “diversity built Britain”, arguing along the lines that the infrastructure of this country is still largely Victorian and built prior to the migrant influx of the post-war period. I have some sympathy for this reasoning, however please allow me to play advocatus diaboli for just a moment.
Firstly, and perhaps obviously, diversity building Britain does not necessarily mean that African, Asian and minority ethnicities built Britain single-handedly. Rather, this could be interpreted to mean it is the collective effort of the multiracial society the white British are a part of by which (it is suggested) modern Britain was built with the white British playing an essential role.
With regards to the subject of the infrastructure of the country, this has of course expanded immensely since the 1950s when the first large immigrant communities arrived and it therefore could certainly be argued that these relative newcomers have made a substantial contribution in constructing the landscape of Britain as we see it today.
Looking at this problem from a different perspective, talking about infrastructure may be taking the statement too literally and not in the spirit in which it was intended. Anybody in the UK today who was not here thirty years ago would have difficulty imagining a Britain without the immigrant communities which increasingly define the character of it’s urban areas. The food of Britain, it’s music, it’s sports stars, it’s television programs, it’s corner shops, these are all significant factors in the make-up of modern Britain. It should not be controversial to state that without diversity Britain would not be what it is today, or in other words, that diversity built Britain.
With that said, do I believe any of what I just wrote? No, of course not. I do still however maintain that the civic nationalist’s best strategy is to go along with this fable, turning a blind eye to the more egregious amendments to the previously accepted record of the past in the interests of achieving their desired outcome. Modern, multiracial Britain requires a Romulus and Remus, it’s own founding myth, remembering the past (or parts of it at least) while confidently setting the path forward into it’s diverse, vibrant and inclusive future.
I am conscious there may be civic nationalists who feel they’d prefer Britain’s character to remain as it was, that this is not what they signed up for and were expecting immigrant communities who came here would completely shed their cultural baggage accumulated over thousands of years, perhaps they subscribe to the ‘blank slate’ view of human nature. This I am afraid is wishing for the impossible and rather naive. Immigrant communities see themselves as British, but they cannot, should not and will not be severed from their ancestral identities, especially as they grow in size and confidence. They rightly consider themselves as British Jamaican, British Indian, British Nigerian and so on, and as such desire to see their particular communities depicted in the statues within St. Paul’s Cathedral and around Trafalgar Square. This country’s destiny is to become increasingly diverse, it has been projected that white British will comprise a minority of births within a few decades, this unprecedented demographic shift will inevitably be met with ever increasing BAME requests for representation both in leadership and in the national legend. This is not unreasonable. With so much of that history already dominated by deceased, white men some of the contributions by the founding stock may have to be de-emphasised and the part played by diversity embellished. Various uncomfortable truths will certainly require removing altogether as we are already seeing, this is all of course essential for social cohesion.
There may also be those who believe that it is leftist trouble makers behind BAME Briton’s desire to cling to their identities and advocate in their particular groups interests, this is of course (and let’s be fair here) childish nonsense.
Britain will soon be welcoming hundreds of thousands of based, capitalist, pro-democracy supporters from Hong Kong all hoping they that can share in the freedom of having their children educated in liberal LGBT+ theory. They too will bring their own customs and traditions, and while they will no doubt integrate relatively well the arrival of this large a number of people will inevitably further add to the richness of the Britain’s culture. Future generations of this diaspora, now feeling that their right to this nation is the product of their being born here rather than seeing it as a privilege as their parents and grandparents will have done, will find themselves discomforted by the lack of figures resembling themselves presented in history books and will expect to claim their place in the Britain’s story. We do not want our BAME compatriots feeling that they are merely guests, we do not want them feeling anxiety when confronted with a sea of pale faces stretching back over thousands years. Perhaps one day it could be “discovered” that Chaucer made his way to England from South-east Asia via the Silk Road.
That was a joke for effect of course. My point is accommodating an expectation for inclusion is desirable from the point of view of the civic nationalists, seeking as they do a common culture and history to bind the various distinct elements of the multiracial nation they value which otherwise would be at risk of being torn apart by conflict as we have seen so many times elsewhere. It is unrealistic to expect British Kenyan youths, for example, to feel passionate about learning the legacy of white men, of King Alfred the Great, Shakespeare, or Churchill who were long gone before their people set foot in Europe and in some cases may even have been guilty of oppressing their ancestors. No, they will learn about figures they can relate to, individuals who convince them that they are woven into the fabric of this nation and are an essential part of it’s past, that they have a stake in it’s future which cannot be taken away from them. They are the future of Britain.
The civic nationalists need to own this situation and their choice is a clear one, selfishly cling to history as they know it or live in a robust, inclusive, cohesive and diverse nation. You cannot have both.
© Zombie_Ramboz 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file