A need to see the White Cliffs of Dover as a symbol that reflects a new found positive patriotism is the conclusion of a new pamphlet by philosopher Julian Baggini published today.
“I want people to see the Dover chalk and think of liberty, hospitality and freedom,” he concludes. But he worries that they can also be seen as “a citadel wall” which he claims “would be an immense loss to our national reputation”.
As part of its ongoing fundraising appeal to buy an iconic stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover, the National Trust commissioned Julian Baggini to spend a week based at the cliffs in August to examine their role in shaping our national identity.
In the introduction Julian Baggini says: “The White Cliffs of Dover are among the symbols which are formative of Britain’s national identity.
“If they stand for us, then what we see in them we will also see in ourselves. And so we should make sure that we are happy with what see in the chalk.”
During his week at the White Cliffs, Julian Baggini spent time unpacking their meaning by talking to local people, delving into their history and thinking about the role they have played in shaping our image of ourselves and how they have influenced the world’s view of Britain.
“The power for the Cliffs to stand as a unifying symbol is already there: it just needs to be harnessed” he writes.
“We can and should build an open, inclusive, generous and hospitable patriotism, and we can lay the foundation stone for it on the White Cliffs of Dover.”
The pamphlet is free to download from the blog pages at http://whitecliffsofdoverwriter.wordpress.com and you can also watch a film about Julian’s time at the White Cliffs of Dover.
The National Trust launched its biggest ever coastal appeal in June this year, needing to raise £1.2 million, to acquire a 0.8 mile stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.