The Americanisation of Britain | Jared Pailing
In 2007 Peter Hitchens wrote an article titled ‘The American Way’ in the mail on Sunday describing what we now know as the Americanisation of the U.K. In this article Mr. Hitchens described the seemingly growing desire of the British People to copy what they perceived to be the American way of life, adopting basketball, building American style stadiums and suburbs. Hitchens could be describing what some may call trivial, but this issue goes much deeper than we like to admit.
Hitchens describes how we will have losses amongst the gains, our sense of history, who we are, our heritage, and the sense of what being British is. In this article, the question raised is: are we British, or are we an off-shoot breed of new Americans?
Recently this phenomenon has become more and more apparent in everyday life. The Americanisation of Britain has spread to all aspects of our society. It impacts trivial things, such as the spelling of words, to our political institutions which have been disfigured and morphed into a system completely incompatible with how the U.K is supposed to be run. This phenomenon has spread like wildfire and we’re yet to see anyone on the political right or left recognise this issue as a serious threat to how we perceive ourselves in the world.
Let’s take for example our language in everyday conversation. When was the last time you were able to have a conversation with someone (especially younger people) without noticing the constant use of the filler word of “like” throughout the conversation or “literally” over and over again ad nauseam?
Where did this come from? When did British people begin talking as though they are American college students? The worst part is that it isn’t just the British who are experiencing this. Recently I was watching an Australian T.V show where the young stars were also talking in a similar fashion. What happened to all the local dialects of these people? Why are we allowing an odd concoction of languages that is blending them all into one irritating hodgepodge of filler words and foreign mannerisms, with accents being destroyed by a simply stupid way of speaking?
Another instance is more and more usage of American terms and spelling. For example, “initialised” became “initialized”, “finalised” became “finalized”. You get the picture. More and more we have seen British people adopting Americanised words both in a non-professional and professional setting. Gradually we’re replacing our language with another, this may seem trivial but as mentioned above, the fact is that we are our own distinct nation and people.
Musically, we’re bombarded with American music. Culturally, we’re bombarded with American films and T.V shows. The explosion of social media and the internet has meant an enormous market for American franchises through avenues such as YouTube. In the media we’re bombarded with American news and coverage. Why on earth is the BBC, Sky, ITV, etc, all showing me non-stop back-to-back coverage of an American election, or an American court case, or some other American problem? Our young people are increasingly speaking in a dialect more and more similar to the American internet or T.V stars they are viewing. They are increasingly less aware of our own history and the issues that are facing 21st century Britain as they consume American material.
I ask, what would the reaction be if every day we were exposed to French media and back-to-back news reporting of intrigues in the city of Paris? We would quite rightly be asking questions.
Politically, however, it is the worst. Since the post-war era, we have seen a gradual Americanisation of our political parties, our institutions, and how we even view the electoral process.
Let’s take the Blair years as a prime example. Blair thought it a wise idea that Britain should become more like its American and continental partners and forced through a Supreme Court with additional judicial powers. Why? Since the post-war years and Britain’s decline as an imperial power, America has risen to become the dominant cultural and political power. Therefore, British politicians have been, whether consciously or subconsciously, in a constant attempt to “fit in” with this new system.
The British system is designed to work with an elected House of Commons with sovereignty drawn from the people it’s elected to represent, a second chamber in the House of Lords to serve as a counterbalance to the first house and finally, the Crown, which serves as the cornerstone of our political system. From this, Parliament draws the supreme authority from power vested from the Crown to govern those who have elected it to serve.
Simply put, a Supreme Court does not fit into this equation. It makes no sense for another body to be siphoning power away from a Parliament designed to be the supreme authority in the land. Instead, we have ended up with a paradoxical scenario where Parliament is again and again taken to a Supreme Court which has never existed in the history of these isles. Our system is not designed to work like this. We’ve lumbered a system intended to be quick and flexible in the face of challenges with a ball and chain, and this is without even mentioning the disastrous attempts at devolution encouraged by Blair in an attempt to federalise the U.K.
Our Conservative party has abandoned the traditional values of British Toryism created over centuries and shaped through the Civil war and the French Revolution. Values espoused and represented by politicians such as Edmund Burke and philosophers such as the late Roger Scruton. Ideals such as loyalty to the Crown, desire to serve God, and patriotic duty to one’s nation in favour of American-style Republicanism where money, profit, and capitalism seem to be the end goal. Sure, they may wave the flag come election time and make a loud ruckus, but, once they’ve got what they want it’ll be gathering dust again for the next few years.
They have abandoned God, King, and Country in favour of rampant neoliberalism, Capitalism, and American style politics of socialism vs capitalism, instead of understanding the Christian notion of charity and duty. At this point, it would not be surprising to suggest they would abolish the monarchy if they believed it could give them a few more years in power. I was shocked to see so-called “conservative political commentators” recently on Twitter referring to local elections as “midterm elections” as though we’re somehow a presidential and congressional system rather than simply electing who’s responsible for taking our bins out.
American social issues are repeatedly imported onto our shores despite our own system having different issues (the oppressive class system springs to mind). We’re bombarded with American media which, in turn, becomes a British problem and dominates our society and political world. I’m so sick of watching shows such as Question Time or political leader debates, only to be forced to watch them try and say how much more they hated Donald Trump than each other, or what they think of some situation occurring over 4000 miles away rather than what they’re going to do about our own hospitals falling apart.
I’m not even going to get into British politicians eager for us to join in more and more wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, at the behest of the States just so they can have a few short years of feeling important in the walls of Congress.
We seem to be exchanging a culture that has developed over centuries of political and cultural evolution. A culture that found a home in politicians from British Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to one of consumerism, short sightedness and frankly foreign to British society. We are not American. Any serious British Conservative or so-called Nationalist group needs to recognise that Britain is rapidly becoming a carbon copy of the United States. I am not personally prepared to see Britain become the 51st state and quite frankly, neither should you. Once the Britain that has existed has gone, it cannot be recreated.