Can Britain do ‘soft power’ anymore?
The intra-Anglo status game makes selling the country difficult
Britain has a human rights record that ranks alongside Russia, Libya and Afghanistan. It is riddled with ‘unlawful unjustified discrimination’ and ‘with these come negative economic, social, cultural, and personal consequences, including racial traumas as a result of exposure to racism, racial discrimination and harassment, racial hostility intolerance, and xenophobia.’ In this hellhole ‘racism permeates institutions, laws, policies, procedures and practices’ and ‘deeply entrenched stereotypes’ have led to ‘harsher judgments and treatment.’
It gets worse, for Britain is among the countries currently experiencing ‘ethnic conflicts, civil disturbances or genocides’, along with ‘Afghanistan, Australia, Bosnia, Colombia, Darfur, France, Germany, Libya, Russia, South Sudan, Syria [and] Spain.’
Wow, what kind of organisation is going around making these claims? Is it one of those Islamist agitation groups which periodically have to change their name because of dodgy terror links? Or is it some ‘anti-racism’ charity run by crazed Marxist academics repeating American race talking points in order to get public funds? No, it’s the British Council, the very group set up to promote Britain. A body once accused of spreading British propaganda.
Of course the people who run the British Council think all this; they’re members of the Brahmin Left, so it’s no more surprising than learning that a group of 19th-century aristocrats believed in the Church of England and the monarchy. These are beliefs that define their caste.
Yet I would still love to be a fly on the wall, but perhaps in someone’s head, when they think up stuff like this. Do they really think Britain, or Germany, are nests of racism, to be mentioned in the same breath as Libya or Darfur? Do they have any knowledge of the vast literature on attitudes towards things like living next door to foreigners, or mixed-race marriages? Are they aware of the incredibly thin scientific evidence concerning things like stereotype threat? Or the different economic and educational outcomes between races, which show white Britons behind on a number of measurements? Why do they think people are moving in such large numbers to these incredibly intolerant and hostile countries?
I’ve heard the argument that the sort of people writing and saying these things are just repeating learned speech patterns. It’s sort of saying ‘we’re educated British people and we think racism is bad and we should do more to fight racism’. The more I see these sort of claims just mindlessly repeated by corporations and government bodies, without reflection, the more convincing that explanation becomes.
Those statements might be the small talk of London’s white-collar public sector, and a mildly annoying part of the national discourse, but it’s surely not ideal when coming within organisations supposed to promote Britain. Elsewhere in the world people might not be aware of the intra-British status games that drive this kind of language. They might actually believe it.
The British Council seems to be pretty popular across much of the globe, and apparently does a lot of good in promoting the country. I just wonder if maybe it would be more effective if it was run not by highly-educated Brits, but by foreigners.