The French writer Pascal Bruckner was in town this week discussing his book The Tyranny of Guilt — An Essay in Western Masochism. Europe’s self-hate has reached such a point, he says, it has become a pathology.
Of course, this is, so to speak, an elites thing. And right on time, we have a great example of it, in the shape of little Nick Clegg. The Daily Mail has unearthed a copy of articles written by the would-be leader of our country — a country he seems to have a healthy disdain for. Writing in 2002 as an MEP, he said:
“Watching Germany rise from its knees after the war and become a vastly more prosperous nation has not been easy on the febrile British psyche.”
“All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still.”
“A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place.”
And in 2003, he spoke of “Britain’s culture of superiority” dismissing our “belief in our innate difference from our mainland continental cousins… No other culture in Europe is quite so enamoured by such a false notion of difference…We Brits concoct a historically illiterate notion that we are divorced from outside influences. Maybe it was loss of empire, the choppy waters of the Channel, or the last war.”
Lovely. Let’s hope Cameron or Brown bring these little gems up tonight in the foreign affairs TV debate.