Constructing Natioanal Identity



The nation state is a stage of transition into which larger trading states evolve. For example, the European monetary union of today is enabling a group of countries to trade as one nation. They form the largest trading unit that has ever existed. The benefits of large organisations are obvious, they can demand better value and set higher prices for their own goods. If Britain wants to succeed in the world economy she must unite with other nations, therefore reducing her own sense of national identity and pride.
The Royal family, and politicians are no longer our icons, we are not united in our respect for them, and we are not in awe of them. British stereotypes of either the man in the bowler hat, or the man in a string vest with a hankie on his head are laughable, and no longer traditionally acceptable. Food is now international, and the high cultural music that we enjoy is from overseas. We are slowly losing our Britishness, and becoming European.
At such close quarters, it is more difficult to define the reasons behind our changing attitudes. Without the realisation of individuals, the hegemonic voice has slowly changed our ideologies and perceptions. The united togetherness, which followed the Second World War was a time of solid national identity. Current perceptions probably began to change during the political confusion of the seventies. Thatcher steered the nation away from communism, towards wanting individual benefits, and everyone willingly agreed.
Although there are still a minority that stick to the traditional British ideals, most would call them racist, pompous, and prejudiced.. Once an individuals ideological view has changed, because it is accepted as common sense, it cannot be changed on a whim. The frighteningly successful hegemonic voice can manipulate nations to unite, or disband, can change what appears to be an obvious common sense view into a ridiculous notion. Therefore, perhaps it is wrong to blame individuals, or entire nations, for their previous prepuces and ideologies.
For the first time, at the end of the eighteenth century, Britain became a nation state instead of a territorial state. The nation state developed out of economic necessity with the influx of wealth from the colonies, this led to the expansion of production and consumption. Nationalism was increased by a compulsory education system, it was a perfect way of spreading the hegemonic ideology. Once people could read, they could also read that they were superior. They could read about them and us, us were always higher on the human scale.
As seen in the presentation, the British construction of national identity was influenced greatly by the propaganda of the imperialist period. Today, the hegemonic voice is generally communicated through the media, but at the height of empire, written literature played an important role. Many colonial authors perpetuated ideas that natives were inferior and that slavery was right and necessary. The British were doing the natives a favour by taking over the running of their countries, educating them, enforcing the Christian religion on them, and enforcing a superior culture on them. It was accepted that they did not have a culture of their own, their religion was mere superstition, and they simply were not capable of surviving without the rule of the benevolent British.
The idea that Christianity was meant to be practised was brought to the people through the reiteration of the Biblical strictures. Milton explains at the very beginning of Paradise Lost that the story is concerned with the fall of Adam and Eve. In reading the epic poem it seems that he is also presenting an in-depth characterisation of Satan. Seen as propaganda it is the symbolic \'war\' between the Christian and non-Christian forces of the colonies and the Empire. Satan becomes the representation of the colonial nation as he is seen to battle
the righteous minions of the Lord (the English). Milton does not represent Satan as evil
incarnate. The Satan that Milton presents was a great archangel who, through the strength of his negative emotions such as jealousy and behaviours encapsulated within deceit, challenges God and brings about the fall of Adam and Eve. Milton concentrates on
the deception that Satan utilises to bring about his purposes rather than demeaning his
character. He does this through the device