Bit by bit:
Britain needs a strong sense of national identity and national purpose to get through the current recession, Gordon Brown said in an interview published today.
The prime minister said that the process of globalisation was forcing countries to be clearer about what they were as nations in order to provide a sense of rootedness and community in a fast-changing world.
And he warned that, without a strong national identity, the danger was that people defined themselves by race or ethnicity.
He said it was important to view British history in terms of the growth of ideas such as tolerance, liberty, fairness and justice as well as through the stories of individual people and institutions.
“Globalisation is something that is here to stay … but it actually forces countries to be far more explicit about what they are as nations. People want to feel that sense of belonging in what is an insecure and changing world, as well as a great world of opportunity.
He is afraid of the consequences of what he’s thinking, so he speaks of allegiance to the nation-state and not the nation, but even that seems hollow as people look for something that can glue them together. Culture as a weapon keeps a nation strong.
The current leaders don’t think that far ahead however.