Britain – Great or not?

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  • Britain – Great or not?
  • Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    Omitn – you seem to connect 'great' with military or political power.

    Sorry, my post was somewhat of a ramble. I meant that, beyond the semantic definition of "great" in Great Britain, our greatness was built on a fairly straightforward political attitude, itself based on military might.

    But, what I was then trying to say was that, the empire having ceased, we have declined as a nation in that sense, but have had influence in other ways.

    I do agree that the general principle of fairness that we display through being one of the oldest democracies (and the oldest parliamentary democracy) is something that remains attractive. Though, I do not think that we have a sole streak of fairness – we are a pretty ambitious bunch, and are happy to drop principles when it comes to making a few quid (hence the massive economic migration of the mid and late 20th Century).

    China, I agree on in the context of its internally socio-political construct, but its aggressive international economic stance will create in it more power than the USA, with its inward looking puritanism at its heart, ever could in its heyday during the C20th.

    for me, though, the next "great" country will be India. And, it will be in part a reflection on Briain's own greatness that we will have had such a defining influence on such an extraordinary nation state.

    b r
    Member

    Try visiting other countries, there aren't many you'd want to live in as an 'average' person…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    TJ we've discussed this before. As empires go, the British along with the Roman was relatively benign in many cases and was often based on trade and altruistic (but often misguided) ideas, rather than simple hunger for power as some were.

    I do disagree though about asylum seekers being treated worse here than anyone else. We tend not to for example round them up and shoot them or chop their limbs off.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I do agree that the general principle of fairness that we display through being one of the oldest democracies (and the oldest parliamentary democracy) is something that remains attractive.

    That apparently goes back to Anglo Saxon days.. interesting to see how such ancient political ideas become part of an enduring national socio-political culture.

    Molgrips – I was thinking of our immediate neighbours.

    I do agree that the general principle of fairness that we display through being one of the oldest democracies (and the oldest parliamentary democracy) is something that remains attractive.

    Hard to argue a case to be the mother of all democracies when we still refuse to offer a fair democratic voting system to our own subjects and hard to argue a case to be the champions of fair play when in the lifetime of many we still presided over an oppressive, brutally administered empire. Poor track record, poor current form.

    thomthumb
    Member

    british manufacturing (bear with me) is and always has been (since the industrial revolution) the best in the world.

    100 years ago this wass mass production, mass production is now 'old hat', we specialise in high end, low volume production.

    the uk builds most (is it all?) of the formula one engines, most of the wrc engines. and the last three land speed records (and it's been us and the US sharing it since 1920s)

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Trailmonkey.. empire was a very long and complex period of history with many factors and threads in different areas. I don't think oppressive and brutal sums it up.

    As for fair voting – there's arguments for and against PR. The 'mother' part is about historical development, not current supremacy.

    Norton
    Member

    how about being the only "major" western European nation that didn't have a fascist government at some point in the 20th century and the only major European country that didn't ever succumb to totalitarianism of any hue in the 20th century?

    donald
    Member

    We became Great Britain after the Acts of Union with Scotland.

    Actually we became Great Britain after the Acts of Union with England 🙂

    JonEdwards
    Member

    One thing I think is "great" about Britain is the variation in the countryside itself within a very compact area. Sure there are loads of places that do "bigger" better than us, but not many where you can get find so many differnt geologies (and therefore types of riding) in such a small space.

    I know I *hate* the drive down to the Alps because of the never ending dullness of most French countyrside…

    Oh, and as well as beer – there's some damn fine cheese, roast dinners, and stodgy puddings. Oh, and custard! 😛

    mansonsoul
    Member

    I don't think we are great country at all, in any sense of the word. We have a lamentable attitude to our environment, to sustainability, and to land access and ownership.

    Once upon a time more than half of Scotland was covered in forest. By the 1660's 90% of it had gone, leaving just 5% covered with native forest. It is now 1% of Scotland.

    Brazil has one of the worst patterns of land ownership in Latin America, with 1% of people owning 45% of the land. But in Scotland in 2000, 1000 owners controlled nearly two thirds of the private land. These owners represent one-fiftieth of 1% of Scotland's population, many of them not even living in Scotland.

    We have consistently pushed forward the idea of endless growth, and still equate GDP with quality of life.

    We aren't even secular, we still have Lords FFS!

    There are some good things about Britain, no doubt. But we have to quell our collective ego, arrogance and violence for Britain to be in any way 'great'.

    I don't think oppressive and brutal sums it up.

    Molgrips. certainly not if you're looking from inside of the British discourse. Rather different if you are an indigenous Australian/ American etc.
    Fair comment about the historical reach of our democracy. Pity it hasn't moved forward much.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Clearly, trailmonkey, I would not only be looking at it from a British point of view. The question of how brutal or oppressive the empire was is ONLY valid from a native point of view, obviously.

    Point still stands tho. It was relatively benign.

    We have a lamentable attitude to our environment, to sustainability, and to land access and ownership.

    No worse than most, and tbh better than most. Every developed country with similar population pressures and economy has the exact same issue.

    The whole of Europe was covered in forest at one point. Most of lowland Britain was felled in the Iron Age.

    We aren't even secular, we still have Lords FFS!

    We so are secular. Come off it. You may be alluding to some technical aspect of the definition of the peerage system but practically we are secular.

    But we have to quell our collective ego, arrogance and violence for Britain to be in any way 'great'.

    Whilst that may be a fair observation of a certain section of the population, since when does that section represent the nation as a whole? God help ANY country if its international standing is judged by the worst of its citizens…

    I love the way that if i see a friend for the first time in ages, rather than kissing him or hugging him like other nationalities would, i'll most likely call him a wa***r and take the mickey out of his lack of hair or expanding waistline. ..or does that just happen around here?

    We're proper hard… and are still sending our young men overseas to whoop arse …..
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    Bleeding football hooligans!!

    I don't know how "great" the rest of Britain is, but Scotland is f**kin' magic, and I think the whole country should be renamed as "**** magic Scotland And Some Other Bits"
    And that's because it's **** magic here, partly because we didn't invent the Daily Mail.

    ..apart from Aberdeen, Ardrossan and Cumberbauld. We should export those.

    Adders69
    Member

    Frank Coopers Thick Cut Oxford Marmelade is what makes Britain great!

    donald
    Member

    Fit's wrang wi Aeberdeen?

    tazzymtb
    Member

    Britain can't be great as long as we're associated with those buckfast drinking skirt wearing nancies up north over the wall. 😀

    Free healthcare (flawed, but better than everywhere else in the world)
    Education (why else do people from all over the world want to study here?)
    Clean drinking water
    Proper sanitation systems
    Food (nowhere else does decent fish, chips & mushy peas)
    Public transport (try using buses and trains in America – nightmare!)

    M6TTF
    Member

    Its one reason why folk seeking asylum come here – the reputation for fair play. Shame they don't get it when they come here – being treated worse here than almost anywhere else/

    twaddle – they would stay in Europe if that were the case – the main problem is letting so many of them in to begin with.

    aka_Gilo
    Member

    As per Rusty Trowel – p*ss taking. It really defines Britishness for me (among other things obviously).

    Edukator
    Member

    NHS – we do more for less than anywhere comparable

    My mother-in-law fell over and broke her hip here in France and was operated on within four hours. Job well done, excellent physio. Cost – free.

    She fell over two years later in the Midlands and broke the other hip. After five days of suffering in a hospital bed I decided she was being left to die (younger patients were being operated on). I phoned with the hospital and read out the outline of an article I had written for the Daily Mail comparaing the treatment in France and England and told them I would be ringing the hotline if she were not operated on by the end of the day. She was then operated on within two hours and the insults of the hospital staff were music to our ears. No free physio.

    There's a train of thought that goes along the lines of "British people are just morally better, more deserving, more naturally honest and decent than those ghastly, dirty, corrupt foreigners".
    Crap of course, but the sentiment is surprisingly widespread.
    The reason Britain has always been a stable, relatively honest country is down to an accident of geography; we live on an island with a benign climate and very fertile soils (In fact the grain yield during the Iron age wasn't much bettered until intensive techniques of the 1950s)

    This is the reason that allowed Britain to become 'great', by always being able to produce an excess of food, it allowed the earlier diversification of labour, and more importantly allowed the building of armed forces, leading to the ability to venture abroad and steal the resources of others.
    And there's the thing, The British Empire, that many are still nostalgic for, was simply the same resource grab as EVERY other nasty little empire.
    The fact that 'we' dont think of it as such is largely because the same diversification of modern roles gave rise to the publishing industy, which produced the accounts on which modern views our founded.
    'He that controls the history books' and all that.

    The one thing that is good about Britain, is the fact that The Empire IS gone.

    mogrim
    Member

    My opinion, after over 15 years as an ex-pat: Aside from beer and the international cuisine available (at least in London) it's hard to think of anything that really sets GB apart from anywhere else in the first world.

    Take mike's list, for example:

    Free healthcare (flawed, but better than everywhere else in the world)
    Education (why else do people from all over the world want to study here?)
    Clean drinking water
    Proper sanitation systems
    Food (nowhere else does decent fish, chips & mushy peas)
    Public transport (try using buses and trains in America – nightmare!)

    You can get all that in Spain. Some bits are a little better, some a little worse. On average, I'd say it was fairly similar.

    Oh, and JonEdwards: you can get custard in Spain. Just call it "natillas".

    redthunder
    Member

    Chips 🙂

    scuttler
    Member

    Blokes like him

    Picking up the torch (a big LOX burning torch) that the UK aerospace industry dropped in the 60's.

    See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article5167164.ece and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8535938.stm for more.

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    I believe the "Great" in Great Britain comes from the fact it is the biggest, in other words "greatest" of the islands of the British Isles. It's to do with physical size rather than anything else.

    As regards the Empire though, it was the greatest emprire the world has ever seen and although it wasn't perfect, it was on the whole a good thing for all concerned, despite the trendy PC modern habit of vilifying it.

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    BigButSlimmerBloke………..that bit about renaming the country is both the worst and the best post on here tonight. It's sent me to bed laughing! Cheers.

    As Kipling said 'what do those of England know who only England know'.

    As someone who has spent far too much time working abroad I realise now that, without doubt, the best city in Europe is London!

    In 2 words it's just the 'cultural diversity' of London that makes it so good. And the beer.

    Currently commuting to Lisbon, Portugal. Nice enough, but nothing there that isn't Portuguese. Popped into the local supermarket looking for a beer. Nothing but Portugeuse shit. Tesco's has got beer from every where. That's what makes London the city it is.

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