One of the frustrating aspects of addressing the political questions of our age is bridging the gap between truth and presentation, or put another way, how the process of political bargaining will take place.
There is a tension between the idealist, extremists and radicals on one hand and the reformers, pragmatists and "reasonable guys" on the other. It is these opposing forces which have led to majority of fractious in-fighting, splits over "optics" and overall lack of unity between and within dissident groups.
One of my favourite expressions of British chauvinism, "The wogs begin at Calais" is great starting point for us to come to understand and appreciate the mediated and neccessary role of going too far in our unrepentant and narrow-minded in-group loyalty.
The saying, "The wogs begin at Calais" (implying that everyone who is not British is a wog), appears to date from the First World War but was popularised by George Wigg, Labour MP for Dudley, in 1949 when in a parliamentary debate concerning the Burmese, Wigg shouted at the Conservative benches, "The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all 'wogs'. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford [i.e., Winston Churchill] thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais."
It would appear that "calling out" racism is hardly new, and it is amusing that one of the most common Tory-flavoured xenophobic catch-phrases originated from a liberal politician putting racist words in an accused racist's mouth.
To give some further context to the phrase, Calais is a port city in the north of France, which has historically been the link between Britain and France by boat, and now train and car. The historical rivalry between Britain and France (when they weren't the same country) has formed a substantial role in forming the respective identities of both nations.
The clearly over-the-top grouping of their Norman cousins in the north of France with Indians, Middle-Easterners and Africans serves as a caricature of British patriotism, yet nonetheless reveals a grain of truth about just how deep European particularism can run, and how willing we are to draw distinctions between sub-groups within our greater family.
The somewhat depressing irony of "the wogs begin at Calais" is that they not only begin at Calais (where hordes of African and Middle Eastern males congregate to invade Britain), but they have already breached the Channel and are doing so in ever-greater numbers.
The self-effacing jab at the swarthy Frenchman and his continental eccentricities has become a cruel reminder of just how great our societies used to be. Much like the internet memes about Italians being black, the reason it's funny to call French "wogs" is because it's not true. If only we could make Frenchmen outsiders again - which they never were in the way that an Algerian is today - then we would know that Europe has been restored.
The reason I point this out is that in the context of winning, knowing what we want, before getting into the dirty business of concessions and "making deals" is non-negotiable. The great trick played by conservatives is to create the appearance of truly having national ethnic interests at his heart, while deftly "playing the game" of politics, in which he always loses to the principled and ideologically open and driven liberal.
See the conviction of the creature in this video:
There is a level at which, like mammy in that video, we are not ready to enter any kind of negotiation with the current system. That is not to say that one has licence for foolish antics and idiocy on the part of those claiming to represent our ideas. It is an unapologetic assertion of our identity at every level from the local to the regional, national and supra-national.
Europeans must unite and put aside our differences, if only so that we can still have any left to bicker about. The competition and cooperation between European states and peoples is a defining force of our greatness, and I don't envision a future where this will ever cease. But if that is to ever take place we must cheerfully and set our sights high and start from a bargaining position that presumes our victory. That means putting aside our differences, and mutually looking forward to the day when we can return to ribbing each other over the relative merits of our food, wine, women and swarthy complexions.
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