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Written by

Omar Alleyne

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The OBE/CBE/MBE Dilemma

Our relationship with nationhood and the powers which influence it means we are not just citizens, but are also ambassadors for countries we have little management of. Thankfully, the MBE exposes this warped power dynamic.

State accolades are less about choosing or rejecting the Empire as the awards process is not one you opt into. Instead, these medals reflect our inescapable attachment to the state, meaning our status in this nation is less important to the nation when compared to what entitlements the Empire can extract from us.

Established in 1917 by King George V, the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ has been awarded to people who have made public service contributions within the UK or Commonwealth countries. It is the first award tier of several and explicitly excludes civil service duties.

Like many institutional commendations, the ‘-BE’ was designed to celebrate citizens who an institution deemed exemplary.  As such, the award became a status symbol; ...

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