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Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm a Little Englander (original take)

Surely in a era where Britain, in tow to the USA, seems to interfere in the affairs of one country after another, there is a place for old fashioned military isolationism? After all, I think a lot of people here would be irate if outside powers were to send in their militaries to sort out the problems of Northern Ireland.

The original phrase used here for British military isolationism was "Little Englander". However, as the Wikipedia submission below suggests, a lot of incidental baggage has been attached, which clouds the waters ad infinitum.

Little Englander is a term dating from the time of the Boer War (1899 - 1901). The term then designated people who wished the British Empire to extend only to the borders of the United Kingdom itself, i.e., these were people who wished to end British rule over India, South Africa, Canada, etc., and to withdraw the empire to domestic borders.

Since those times, the term has come to mean any Englishman who sees only "Little England" and who is unaware of the wider world. From there, it has come to refer to naïve and bigoted English nationalism and middle class ignorance. It is often used by Scots, Welsh and Irish to describe English people who seem to be unaware, ignorant or intolerant of their own countries and peoples.

The political implications of the term have, therefore, changed. When introduced, a "Little Englander" was a radical and/or an anti-imperialist. This could be either from a left-liberal or a conservative direction. For example, G. K. Chesterton would count as a Little Englander; his party-political allegiance in the Edwardian period was to the Liberal Party, but his politics were always small-c conservative.

Now, a "Little Englander" is assumed to be either ignorant and boorish, or an extreme nationalist (chauvinist), typically with anti-immigration views. Various satires have been created to illustrate this character, one being Henry Root in Root Into Europe.

"Little Englanders" regard themselves as patriotic. Similar views can be found in many other countries, cf. United States isolationism.

Shouldn't there be a "Campaign For Real Little Englandism"?


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