But, even as I (in both my religious and political activities) push strongly against this kind of nationalism, I realise that, given the high likelihood that the UK is going to leave the EU and that this, in turn, may well cause the break-up of the UK itself, it is clear that someone like me (very much an Englishman) has a duty (and no-choice but) to begin to think of ways to develop a sense of what it is to be English that doesn't, itself, then turn into a problematic, narrow-minded, reactionary nationalism.
It was with some relief, then, to discover that Paul Kingsnorth and Warren Drapper (whose work I know and have admired through my interest in "The Dark Mountain Project) have begun a project to produce an anthology of writings called "The Anglarchist: For the Liberties of England."
They are currently seeking crowd-funding to publish it and I've already put some of my money where my mouth is. Having done this I realised that some English readers of this blog may also be interested in doing likewise and, as an encouragement to consider doing that, below I reproduce their brief synopsis. If you click through the link below you can also watch a short three-and-a-half minute long film in which Kingsnorth and Drapper introduce the idea further.
The Anglarchist is an anthology of work which examines England as it was, as it is, and how we might like it to be. It will pull together the threads of English political and social philosophy in the hope of weaving a platform for a new positive patriotism.
Some may feel uneasy about speaking of England in a positive light, in case they are somehow seen to be fuelling the crass, jingoistic nationalism which the English have long found distasteful and rather embarrassing. But to remain silent is to give the bigots free rein to dictate their own vision of Englishness. This is why we must distinguish ourselves from those on all sides of the political argument who would use English identity as a divisive tool. In the light of Brexit, rapidly shifting political landscapes, ecological crisis and global economic upheavals, the future of England has never seemed more uncertain.The Anglarchist hopes to help shape it.
The term 'Anglarchist’ has been coined to celebrate the existence of a gentler strain of radical political thought which runs throughout English history. It rejects both the angry jingoism which can be found on the right and the placeless intellectualism which often characterises the left, and looks instead to our forgotten history. From the social guarantees of the Charter of the Forest (sister document to Magna Carta) to William Morris’s most perfect of Utopias, News From Nowhere, there exists a uniquely English concept of liberty. Maybe it has something to do with us sharing a small, rain-dampened island, with our neighbours and with each other, but radical English philosophy is awash with ideas of kindness and kinship (a word which has the potential to go beyond the boundaries of species, let alone the misguided divisions of race and culture). To quote George Orwell: “The gentleness of the English civilization is perhaps its most marked characteristic.”
This anthology will celebrate that gentleness in the hope that we can build a new and radical vision of England and Englishness. Not as a singular dream of nationhood, but as a diverse and inclusive celebration of England as our home. Where a nation seeks to define its people, a country is defined by its people. How can we - all of us in England today - redefine our Englishness to suit the times we are living in?
With a diverse range of contributions from writers such as Jay Griffiths, Robert Macfarlane, Tom Hodgkinson and associate editor Paul Kingsnorth, The Anglarchist will look at every aspect of England and the English. From the wonderful richness of our history, heritage, political philosophy and ecology, to the darker recesses of the country’s past imperialism, growing inequity and blatant class divide, this anthology will endeavour to paint an honest, but ever optimistic, portrait of England. We hope that this will be the first step in an essential journey (and perhaps the first in a series of Anglarchist anthologies). To get to where we want to be we must first understand exactly where we are.
As well as pledges we are also looking for contributors to help build a positive patriotism based on tolerance, diversity and the Liberties of England.