Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St. George and the Coloured Rag

Things have moved a long way since Enoch Powell's rivers of blood speech 40 years ago. Today, all the mainstream parties are against immigration, as long as it's illegal of course. A border police force has even been set up to keep them out. St. George's Day was once celebrated only by fascists. Now the red-and-white coloured rag is even flown on public buildings. The gentlemen of the League of Saint George (see http://www.leaguestgeorge.com/) must be happy.

Yes, unfortunately, St George's Day is upon us again, but what is this mythical saint supposed to have done?

We all know that, according to legend, he slew a dragon but in The History of the Seven Champions of Christendom we are told that, among his many feats of valour, he did away with two.

He was, so the story goes, born in Coventry, son of Lord Albert, High Steward of England. Having been abducted as a baby and held captive by the witch Calyb for 14 years, he tricked her into revealing her magic whereupon he split a rock and imprisoned her in it. This freed not only St George but also St Denis, patron saint of France, St James (Spain), St Patrick (Ireland) and St David (Wales), after which they went their separate ways on great adventures and acts of valour. These included sorcery, battling against incredible odds and rescuing princesses.

George, the legend continues, fought and won many battles, apparently single-handed. In the course of one he also freed St Denis who had carelessly allowed himself to be captured. And, of course, he slaved that dragon.

On his return to England he wanted to turn to a contemplative life but the king asked him to slay one more dragon which was terrorising the people of Dunsmore. This time, although he killed the beast, he also died from the poison spewed on him by it. He was, we are told, buried in the chapel at Windsor Castle and his sons - no mention of a wife - were given high office by the king.

If you believe all this you'll believe anything, including that St George's Day is anything more than an excuse for xenophobia - and for pubs to sell more beer.

We shan't be celebrating today but will continue distributing our leaflets in favour of world-wide socialism where the planet and its resources will have become the common heritage of all humans and the world won't be criss-crossed by frontiers.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, and I find it hard to resist pointing out to 'patriots' that St George is the patron saint of most European countries, it seems. Certainly I remember enjoying a Schultheiss beer in the shadow of a statue of St George on the banks of the Spree in Berlin.

Igor Belanov

Entdinglichung said...

btw ... according to the traditional legends, St. George was something like a conscientious objector, who disobeyed orders (slaughtering christians)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and wich one of us born on this part of the planet, chose to be "British" eh? It's conditioned into us from birth, when we fall for all that old tosh we're shackeld by the traditions of the dead,and banged up in the prison of history.

Danny.

TOM said...

It looks primitive to be blinded by a piece of cloth, but we could also make the legitimate argument that people are - rightly or wrongly, correctly or otherwise - bound together by a shared genetic heritage and a shared culture. It is obvious that the greatest genetic family is humankind itself, but is it totally irrational for intelligent human beings to want to foster a shared sense of themselves among those who they perceive to be like themselves? Can national-ism be a legitimate expression of our wish to be part of a family of like-minded people? Is this a human social urge, perhaps a by-product of our evolutionary heritage? If so, how might socialism address it?

Londonsocialist said...

You could be right that humans, as social animals, need to feel part of a community. But feeling part of a community and being part of a community are two different things. A real community cannot exist within a class-divided society as exists today in all countries. In this case nationalism would be a false community, with people identifying with the ruling class of the country. In any event those nationalists who claim that the members of their imagined nation share a common genetic heritage are talking dangerous nonsense. There is no such thing as a pure "race" let alone a genetically pure nation. As you hint at, genetically all humans are members of the same species. Cultural diversity is something else and there's nothing wrong with it.

TOM said...

I agree with your comments. I think that nationalism is just stupidity. The difficulty is that people are so thoroughly and completely brainwashed by it, that to embrace the socialist perspective you summarise would require a monumental leap of rational thought.

Anonymous said...

Of course you'll be handing out the leaflets on "world" socialism. Think global, never act local? I'm sure you'll be hard campaigning for socialism anywhere but on your own doorstep!