Magazine article The Spectator

American Revolution

Magazine article The Spectator

American Revolution

Article excerpt

AMERICA

A curious consequence of the end of the Cold War is a change in left-wing attitudes to America. Now that we no longer depend on the United States to protect us, or to uphold freedom against tyranny in Eastern Europe, left-wingers seem to have dropped their loathing of Uncle Sam. If reports are to be believed, both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are in thrall to a book by Jonathan Freedland, a Guardian columnist, called Bring Home the Revolution. Many of Mr Freedland's sentiments were echoed in Mr Blair's egregious attack, last month, on the forces of conservatism.

The Freedland thesis, broadly, is that America is a very wonderful place, for two reasons. The American people are bursting with enterprise and a spirit of get-up-andgo; and they have a real sense that they, The People, are in charge of their own democracy, in that they tug their forelocks to no man, and regard the very President of the United States as their servant, not their master. How marvellous it would be, says Freedland, if we in Britain could import that spirit of classlessness and gumption. The answer, he suggests, is to remember that British thinkers inspired the American revolution, and the end of the rule of George III over the North American colonies. Let us bring the revolution home, he urges, and step number one is. of course, to get rid of the monarchy.

Abolish the Queen, he says, and suddenly a huge symbolic weight will be lifted from the shoulders of the British people. The great invisible apparatus of class will be magicked away, and a new nation will be born: unstuffy, undeferential, dynamic and exploding with new ideas for Internet startups. Though Mr Blair and Mr Brown have been careful not to echo the Freedland line on the monarchy itself, they are avid supporters of the underlying thesis: that we need a new idea of 'Britishness', in which the oppression of ancestral symbols is cast off, in favour of a 'new nation' of equal citizens, each thrusting vigorously in the best American way.

Now it would be possible to do battle with the Freedland argument, and reply that the Queen is held in harmless affection by the majority; that any replacement - as the Australians have just shown - would almost certainly be worse, in the sense that he or she would be the product of party politics; and that, in any case, the existence or otherwise of the institution of monarchy (or, indeed, the hereditary peerage) has no bearing for good or ill on the spirit of enterprise, or democracy, in this country. But that, in a way, would be too kind to Mr Freedland, Mr Brown, Mr Blair and their hilarious mistake. …

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