A Post- or Super-Nationality in the European Union
The British: Reverence towards Nationality
The British have a long history, full of unity-forming myths. In this, they differ from the Germans. British national solidarity stood the test when Britain remained alone in fighting Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II, between the evacuation at Dunkirk and the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The English and the British have allowed broad classes of people to participate in the political process, giving British nationalism a wide base of “a nation in power,” in the same sense as “a nation in arms.” This power is expressed daily in their parliamentary House of Commons.
That broad-based political concern began with looking after the poor, first undertaken in the sixteenth century, in addition to the participation by broad sectors of the population in the political process, and MPs’ concern for classes with which they were not associated – a motif that emerged in the seventeenth century.
In the nineteenth century their broad-based politics caused the British to view their subjects in the colonies as equal partners. The sense of a broad, inter-connected public was born in connection with myths of a national character, going as far back as the eighth century.
Historically, there is a link between British empire building and Britain’s expansion by way of membership in the EU. However, for the British, the latter serves more as a means to strengthen their national home rather than a course to construct a Pan-European national identity together with the other EU members. In our series' survey Britain was found to be the only country with a vitality and strength greater than the tendency towards Pan-European integration within the EU.
The volume about the British may be of interest since it demonstrates that the British – the only one of the ten groups – value their national identity over their European feelings. That result is important in regard to the proposed British referendum, schedule to take place in 2017, regarding Britain’s membership in the EU.
The British are the only group depicted in this series who are unwilling to give up their specific nationality, in order to become full partners in EU integration if and when the EU’s citizens come to constitute one united super-nationality; thus it seems that Britain may secede from the EU.