Ben Wellings
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Great wars
England and the defence of British sovereignty
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The memory of twentieth century conflict is the ‘third pillar’ on which Anglosphere thinking rests and a major point of intersection between Englishness and Euroscepticism, but one that again occludes England. It positions Anglosphere countries on the side of ‘right’ in the pivotal conflict of the twentieth century against Nazism, totalitarianism and militarism; a conflict remembered as a straightforward contest between good and evil compared to the more complicated memories of conflicts of the Cold War era and afterwards. In the Anglo-British memory, the Second World War also serves as a point of difference between the EU narrative of ‘never again’ and an English worldview which represents ‘1940’ as the apogee of Britain’s greatness. If in the ‘European’ narrative the Second World War represents a catastrophe followed by a renaissance, then in the dominant English narrative it represents an apogee followed by a decline: a decline, moreover, institutionalised in the form of the European Union.

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