A recurring theme in my writing and conversations in recent months has been the manner in which words and phrases are used to mould our perception of the world around us. It was, then, merely a matter of time before I turned my attention to one of the most grating terms in common use in Britain today, and that's the way in which ‘‘UK’’ is used to describe our country. Hearing television presenters and politicians bandying around, casually, the term UK which phonetically sounds like ‘‘U-Kay’’ is another instance wherein I ask myself if it was always like this, did we always refer to the nation with a complete disregard for the weight that words and connotations carry?
The UK of course refers to The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is the official name of the country and how it stands on the passport. It is the remnant of what was in 1801 The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the Acts of Union were passed in both parliaments. This is not to be confused with the 1707 Acts of Union between England and Scotland, which gave birth to Great Britain. The United Kingdom is a purely political designation, and Britain is a geographic location.
When I express my disgust with the term ‘‘UK’’ I'm usually asked ''what about Northern Ireland?'' in response. In other words, if we're simply to refer to the nation as ‘‘Britain’’ that does not include Northern Ireland. This is, I feel, somewhat missing the point, but it does lead us to the problem of the nation being described in purely political terms. The United Kingdom does not actually refer to a single ethnic group or nation or geographic place because it can't. It is referring to a political arrangement, not a people. We are, thus, already one step removed from the nation as people -- blood and soil -- and into the nation as an abstract political idea.
The political class and media have now all but abandoned the United Kingdom in favour of the shorthand ‘‘UK’’ but this has become so normalized and ubiquitous that today, our nation is simply referred to phonetically as ‘‘U-Kay’’. Naturally, many people would (and do) argue that U-Kay means the same thing as the United Kingdom, but I'm not entirely convinced by this. Through repetition, words and their connection to their original meaning gradually change through semantic drift.
The word ‘‘awful’’ once meant to be inspired by awe and wonder, to stand in the presence of greatness or the divine. Now it donates something entirely negative. Gay once meant happiness, now it means homosexuality. ‘‘Fantastic’’ was once associated with the supernatural, now it's just a highly positive descriptive term. The general drift over time, it appears to me, is that language changed to reflect a more materialistic, hedonistic age. The divine and the metaphysical were stripped out of our minds, and then our language. Thus, terms that were once used to describe the transcendent experience are reduced to ways in which we describe having a good time and enjoying ourselves.
Our fallen, disenchanted, and postmodern world retrofitted and changed the meanings of words once used to describe the former world of God and transcendental truths. Our horizons became small, and so did our language. In 1969 Kenneth Clarke's Civilization series aired during prime time on BBC1 to an audience of millions. Today, that slot will be filled by Celebrities Dancing on Ice or some such drivel.
While Clarke was certainly not as pessimistic and apocalyptic as Oswald Spengler, Clarke in his own time recognized decline. For Clarke, the essence of Civilization was in its higher forms of expression and art, and that requires belief.
According to Clarke:
“People sometimes tell me that they prefer barbarism to civilisation. I doubt if they have given it a long enough trial. Like the people of Alexandria, they are bored by civilisation; but all the evidence suggests that the boredom of barbarism is infinitely greater.”
By barbarism, Clarke is referring to a culture or people who live devoid of higher forms of expression. It isn't just a matter of aesthetic enjoyment. High culture provides meaning and, by necessity, a manner in which that meaning can be expressed adequately.
There's a cruel irony in the fact that Clarke has himself been supplanted by low, plebeian cultural forms, as if the BBC was attempting to prove his thesis for him. For Clarke, his nation would have been The United Kingdom, England, or Britain. The ice-skating celebrities who occupy his slot today live in the U-Kay.
England, or Britain, has connotations and meanings beyond politics or geography. They signify identity, too. The United Kingdom displaces identity with a political construct, but still in its own manner reflects an expansive and proud (hubristic?) exertion of power.
What then does The U-Kay mean?
The U-Kay denotes a non-place, like an airport or a bus station. It is a place to be passed through, not a place to Be and dwell in. And this is exactly how it is referred to in the media and by politicians. The U-Kay is an economic zone where, once, Clarke's higher civilization bloomed.
In the 2000s, a small town in Northumberland called Alnwick was designated the most pleasant place to live in England. Suddenly caught in the gaze of the national media, the quiet, rural town with the rolling hills of Northumberland nearby became a hub for new build housing and supermarkets. Alnwick became a place southerners wanted to live or have a second home, and gradually, the identity of the place changed. In a sense, Alnwick left England and joined the U-Kay.
The U-Kay is at war with England and Britain as concepts representing an identity because the U-Kay is a void, a nothingness of consumerism and values imposed by NGOs to facilitate economic activity, which is the only thing it covets. People from somewhere try desperately to remain in England and stand in bafflement as the U-Kay and its people from nowhere, lays siege to them on multiple fronts.
Kenneth Clarke is from England, Rishi Sunak is from The U-Kay. The U-Kay is a vampiric entity that gnaws on the marrow of the substructure of the British Isles, which it parasitized and terraformed. Jack Charlton, breaking the ankles of continental footballers and returning to Ashington with the world cup, represented England. The U-Kay team kneels for black men.
Foreigners come to Britain, and asylum seekers come to The U-Kay. There are no foreigners in The U-Kay because The U-Kay has no internal core to define itself against other than universal liberalism and political correctness in service to Globalism.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when ‘‘gay’’ stopped being a way to describe being happy and joyful and began representing homosexuality. It was no doubt top-down social engineering of an older hue. But similarly, when will Britain or even The United Kingdom become fully replaced by the thought-terminating and anodyne non-term of U-Kay?
Every time I hear U-Kay slithering out of the mouth of a zombified television presenter or politician I feel like a little piece of England dies, that this new construct of non-identity just laid down another slab of concrete on a pasture, that the terraforming advances still further and the end, to complete ruination of identity and meaning, comes that little bit nearer.
I'll leave this one paywalled as a treat to my lovelies here, I might make a video essay of it in the coming days.
Strangely enough whenever identifying myself on forms etc I always select “other” and class myself as “White - English”