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I hope you realise that I would not knowingly entertain a Daily Mail reader for dinner ;-)

You may be right, maybe it's not linked to education. And certainly the Austrian propaganda (with its associated "if you don't sing the gospel you'll never get one of the good jobs") is a serious pain in the neck.

But I remain surprised by the change between France and England, people working the same jobs, the English had lots of qualities (they were, in general, much friendlier in their work relations), but apparently much less curious of the world (apart from the football-playing world, of course).
Is that because we need to learn another language, whereas you don't necessarily? Or just that we like to argue and need to find subjects to argue about?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 12:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm actually not the best qualified to comment on Britons in general, as I seem to mostly attract/interact with discursive people - and I spent a long time living abroad - but I guess I haven't found people to be as incurious overall as you. Misinformed however...

That said, I think that the key element to my argument is that here in Britain, Thatcher not only won an election, she won the discourse to the point that many people believe that "she saved Britain from the unions / saved Britain from itself / saved Britain from the looney left."

I am a similar age (and possibly partly similar profile) to this lady. The key difference could be personality, it could be that I grew up in the North of England (which received the harshest blows from Thatcher) or it could be that my Dad has always been interested in politics, so I grew up aware that there is a debate to be had about how things are done...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 02:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also the idea that after Thatcher there are no classes any more in Britain which explains why Cyrille's friend could believe that Britain was more equal than other countries. Which is patently absurd when one first comes from abroad - Britons' social class is very visible.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 03:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would expand on that point. Britain (England?) has a very strong class-based culture (in fact I read Hindu India's present system of four castes is a colonist creation, with the Brits classifying and grouping hundreds of clans into castes modelled on British society) that is intimately tied to language. Which doesn't just mean dialects and mannerisms that are more class-based than locality-based, but discussions that are less about exchanging thoughts about subjects than about reinforcing community by regurgitating the same memes that can be safely assumed to be shared. Such behaviour is of course far from being specific to the subcultures of classes in England, but never do I get as strong a sense of posters engaging in social confirmation with second-hand talking points rather than expression of own thought than when viewing discussion forums of British media.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 08:16:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exchange at my book group:

"A; I love living in this village. It's like a little microcosm of England. We have so many different types here with interesting stories. One of everyone."

"B: Except ethnics."

[awkward silence]

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 08:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
they were, in general, much friendlier in their work relations

The friendliness is an aspect of English culture, without which you are seen as a curmudgeonly outsider. But beware, it often hides extremely self-seeking attitudes. And is, in any case imo, a form of denial of the class system, a kind of soggy blanket covering up the differences.

I prefer the discursive/argumentative culture of the French. One of the reasons why I took to France.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 05:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
The friendliness is an aspect of English culture, without which you are seen as a curmudgeonly outsider. But beware, it often hides extremely self-seeking attitudes.

very continental judgment! as half brit half italiano, i have to say i agree.

not that self-seeking attitudes are foreign to the other euro counties either, it's just gone further in that direction in England. what used be a victorian frosty politeness is now covered with a sauce of 'mateyness', but its ability to truly warm the heart is rare.

i put it down to centuries of satanic mills.

industrialism lifted many out of rural penury, but then ground them under its heel eventually anyway, now the chinese get their turn at despoilers-in-chief, what can stop them?

certainly not our moralising about anything. this is what dooms capitalism-as-we-know-it, its the old model that's rotting under our feet but we can't seem to let go of it and move on without blood spilled, so over the falls (into the streets) we 'must' go... you can try and squeeze humans into being machine cogs only so long before enough get indignant enough to claim their lives back.

resistance may well be futile, simply allowing the status quo to hold its sorry course is worse. ya takes ya pick.

(and shovel).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 22nd, 2011 at 11:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience of working in London for 4 years was that I thought I had lots of friends - in work and around the fringes of work.  However when I left the UK (but not the company) hardly any stayed in contact - although I remained on the same corporate e-mail system.  The friendship seemed largely instrumental, about career advancement, getting the work done etc.  Even those I had helped very substantially in their careers disappeared.

Whereas in Ireland, friendships originating in a work context often transcended the work context, to the point where the work context becomes irrelevant or incidental.  Perhaps it was because I never saw myself as settling down in the UK, or because it is much larger, more urbanised and more mobile society.  People rarely stayed with the company more than a few years in the UK - whereas in Ireland the norm was lifetime employment increasingly undermined as the "English" managerial culture became dominant.

Certainly there was no sense that the English would ever challenge the corporate system, whereas many Irish prided themselves on their subversive capabilities. Perhaps it is reflective of the difference between a colonised and a colonising culture.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 06:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There used to be a culture of subversion and challenge with the unions, but the British - like the most aggressively independent and ¨individualistic¨ Americans - are basically timid but angry conformists.

You won't find much direct confrontation or challenge in the workplace, but you will find epidemic levels of passive aggression and sullen incompetence.

As for friendships - I wouldn't expect much from corporate friendships. But I do have British friends who've been anything but trite and transient - very much the opposite - so I'd expect the impermanence to be more about the situation.

Britain hasn't had a positive image to aspire to since the end of the 50s, which is when the old benign middle-class paternalism became impossible to take seriously.

The end of empire confused everyone, and there's been no leader with a positive vision - as opposed to a negative, mean-spirited, and racist vision - of what the UK could be.

The UK could become a very interesting place if someone like that appeared - like a Brtish Obama, but for real.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 07:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
There used to be a culture of subversion and challenge with the unions, but the British - like the most aggressively independent and ¨individualistic¨ Americans - are basically timid but angry conformists.

You won't find much direct confrontation or challenge in the workplace, but you will find epidemic levels of passive aggression and sullen incompetence.

very true...

ThatBritGuy:

The UK could become a very interesting place if someone like that appeared - like a Brtish Obama, but for real.

i wonder if that's true of anywhere on the planet...  

ThatBritGuy:

Britain hasn't had a positive image to aspire to since the end of the 50s

don't forget beatlemania, albion's last enduring global image success story!

the positive, paternal image got upsided then, but brits still knew how to have irreverent fun.

watching that spirit of freedom turned into a fashion industry has been a heartbreaking hallmark of the late 60's onward and downward spiral of brit kulcha, now mostly a sorry parody, except of course what's under the msm radar, still innovative and real, vital and edgy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 24th, 2011 at 04:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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