As a liberal, I'm inherently suspicious both of the claimed necessity of a thick shared political heritage for lasting states, and of the value of one, because thick shared political heritages have to be imposed on people who don't quite see things that way, usually coercively imposed, which is hardly a tactic with a unchequered record on the peace, love, milk and honey provision stakes, an obvious way of excluding some from full citizenship, and a violation of people's freedom of conscience. So any wailing for the heady days on nuns on tricycles coming over the crest of the Watford bypass, struggling through the tangle of undergrowth with their machetes towards the Holy Grail of the wife-beater next door, or whatever tendentious but pleasant-sounding claptrap that earnest reactionaries come up with next to cover up the fact that they're actually reactionary and tendentious, doesn't go down well with me.
The other thing is, whenever they actually get pressed on what they want done to inculcate this thick shared political heritage, in Britain at least, it ends up being boringly liberal anyway, exactly the sort of thing that there's no need for a thick shared political heritage to sustain: respect for the rule of law is hardly a particularly distinctive British value, as it is essential for any democracy anywhere. I think there are two reasons for this: one is that the British are actually pretty liberal, and the other is that they know that anything thicker, more demanding, more particularistic, would be unacceptable, at least in part because the British are pretty liberal. I think I disagree, for example, with Blimpish, when, as an afterthought in a piece on George Monbiot, he claim that the British working class is predominantly conservative or reactionary, which is perhaps hardly surprising. It certainly is in ways: the trade union movement is, I understand, incredibly patriarchal, for example. However, there is a fine tradition of British working class protest against authority which stretches back at least as far as Wat Tyler, encompasses the Levellers and various other quasi-Millenarian radical Protestants, the Jacobins, like Tom Paine, around the end of the eighteenth century and the beginnings of the nineteenth, the Chartists and the early Trades Unionists. All of these movements were essentially liberal, featuring strongly a distrust of authority and the demand to not be interfered with, which to my mind speaks of a powerful current of suspicion towards claims that someone else should be able to force an identity on you as a condition of remaining a full-fledged citizen. Perhaps the reason we haven't been subjected to such impositions so far is precisely because the best things to force on anyone tell us that there is nothing to be forced.