Who Do We Want To Be?
What is it to be British? The idea of national identity tends to be associated with xenophobic nationalism, and so those on the political left generally give the idea a wide berth. However, this may well be mistaken. The country urgently needs to have a conversation about this topic, and, on the eve of the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU, we invite people to consider this with us.
It is, of course, impossible to describe everything that has played into the Brexit vote and the subsequent division in every sector of UK society from the ongoing clashes in Parliament, the bitter arguments online and in the street, the deeply polarised articles in newspapers. Nevertheless, it seems clear that this is, to a large extent, a struggle over British identity – what it means to be British, who counts as such, and the consequences of these ideas for the kind of society we want to build. One vision of what it is to be British excludes many, and underpins practices that are alienating, othering, deprives people of resources and opportunities, fractures lives, and underpins even detentions and deportations. These practices are partly premised on ideas about what it is to be British, who has a right to be here, and which people should be accepted into British society.
We do not need to accept this vision of what it is to be British. A new conception of our cultural identity can be forged. This event is an invitation to begin the project of imagining a different way. It provides an opportunity to reflect on notions of identity and culture, migration, nationalism and the symbols through which we express ourselves.
Gil Mualem-Doron's New Union Flag