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Sympathy for the underdog – our proud tradition the woke would destroy

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BRITISH people have always felt sympathy for the underdog. It’s an innate characteristic of ours, perhaps even the defining one. As a rule, we don’t like seeing people bullied; we won’t tolerate it. Something – call it a natural sense of injustice – stirs in our stoical temperament. 

It’s a trait we can be proud of, and it’s served us pretty well over the years. Those two things don’t always go together, of course. Entering into the First World War for little Belgium was the noble thing to do; whether we’ve recovered, or ever will recover, from losing a golden generation is another matter.

But I’m thinking not only of our generosity towards others, though that’s a big part of it. I’m also thinking about how we’ve habitually seen ourselves: as a tiny island race which, against all odds, has had a disproportionately far-reaching, overwhelmingly benign influence on the world. Perhaps in some respects the stars aligned in our favour (being surrounded by water helped). But ingenuity, courage and perseverance were the decisive factors.

By and large we wore the mantle lightly. Our triumph-of-the-underdog self-image conferred an inner stillness, a quiet pride, a sense of gratitude towards and deep respect for our ancestors, those who made Britain ‘Great’. We knew who we were because we knew what wonders they accomplished. All things considered, remarkably rarely (to the Left’s fury) did this settled confidence find outward expression in arrogance.

For those who despise Britain, it’s this precious self-identity which is the ultimate target. If they can invert our self-image, make us see ourselves as the bullies of history, everything changes. This is what ‘Decolonise Britain’, like all anti-imperialist movements, is really all about.   

This inversion has dire consequences. If we’re now the oppressor rather than then the plucky underdog, we no longer have the stomach to resist uncontrolled immigration. Indeed, we see it as our just reward, for now we ‘owe’ the world. Fundamentally it’s not a lack of resources which threatens our borders, nor even the migrants themselves, but our twisted mental state.

It doesn’t end there. When we see ourselves as the oppressor not the underdog, our defences against any group or philosophy which claims underdog/victim status are fatally compromised. The entire edifice of wokery is built on this premise. Britishness or Englishness, the tainting original sin of colonialism and, increasingly, industrialism, is the fountainhead of our new oppressor status. But it filters down into other tributaries of our identity: heterosexual, white, Christian, male, as the case may be.      

Every defeat to cancel-culture, every concession to a minority group, is motivated by a perverse desire to live up (or rather down) to and atone for our new-found oppressor self-image, which in its many insidious biases the law has enshrined. Our natural sympathy for the underdog is still there. Tragically, however, no longer counterpoised by the underdog status we afforded ourselves, it has become a warped, self-flagellating version of what it was. Emboldened enforcers of the new creed complete the job.

Our opponents, aided by migration-inducing globalisation and vigour-sapping material comfort, have finally found the key to unlocking Britain. What you do is turn our inherent altruism against us. Even by the standards of the cynical Left it’s a new low. Not that they care.  

Can we recover our underdog mentality? Can we look in the mirror and once more see ourselves for what we really are? It starts with the teaching of history, with knowing what we’ve given the world, and how little we owe it. Only then will we have the fortitude and moral compass to stem the woke tide. 

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Stuart Major
Stuart Major is an independent scholar based in Sussex.

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