The Progressive Patriot
By Billy Bragg
(Black Swan, Paperback, 9780552772426, 368pp.)
Publication Date: June 5, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A passionate and brilliant polemic on the meaning of national identity in modern Britain.
In a world where British citizens can lay bombs to kill their countrymen and where religious fundamentalism and political fanaticism are on the increase, what does patriotism actually mean? The Progressive Patriot is singer-songwriter Billy Bragg’s urgent, eloquent and passionate response to the events of July 7, 2005 when four bombs tore through a busy morning rush hour in London, killing 52 innocent people and injuring many more.
A firm believer in toleration and diversity, and someone The Times recently described as “a national treasure,” Billy Bragg felt hemmed in by fascists on one side and religious fanatics on the other. The suicide bombers were all British-born and well integrated into a multicultural society. Yet they felt no compunction in murdering and maiming their fellow citizens. Did they feel they did not belong? What does it really mean to be British? Is it conferred by a legal document? Is it a matter of blood and soil? Can it be taught? The Progressive Patriot pulls no punches. Its insights and its radical vision offer positive hope for a country teetering on the brink of catastrophe.
Billy Bragg was born in 1957. When punk hit the British music scene, Bragg’s contribution was to form a band called RiffRaff. He then launched himself on a solo musical career, between time working in a record store and absorbing his new-found love of blues and politically inspired folk music. During this time Bragg and his music became more overtly political and he became a fixture at political rallies and benefits. Today, Bragg is still writing music and challenging Britain’s elected politicians.