Loving England Again

Scotland wouldn’t be what it is today without England. That much is obvious: England is our neighbour on the largest of these islands; we’re more or less the same age; a northern branch of their ancestors, the Angles, are among the four peoples who founded Scotland.

It’s nigh impossible to live in Scotland and not have some sort of regular encounter with England. Our public broadcaster is primarily focused on England, with English opinions and interests and accents on the main news, the continuity announcements, all the way to the soap operas and property shows; we elect MPs to a Parliament in Westminster which controls a great number of our laws, frequently against our own representatives’ wishes; the vast majority of newspapers are owned outside Scotland, and regularly headquartered in England. While most folk in England can live their lives largely untroubled by Scottish opinions and interests and accents, we in Scotland cannot avoid England and the English even if we wanted to.

That’s our lot as part of a United Kingdom of England Plus Three.

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Ending On A High Note

These memes just keep getting more and more apocalyptic.

Jings, it’s been a year, hasn’t it?

It’s been a quiet year in the Wilderness, but there were still some fond memories and popular enough posts. I aim to do better next year, as always. For now, I’ll take a look back on the most popular blog posts of each month from the year that was.

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Irrevocably and Forever

“Irrevocably and Forever” is a curiously emphatic phrase which turns up in otherwise dry legalese. United States law not only waives “the performance and discharge of any and all obligations and restrictions” in the cases of amendments to bylaws, but does so “irrevocably and forever.” On 25th November 1802, Count Ferenc Széchényi donated his collections “for the use and benefit of my dear homeland and people, irrevocably and forever.” The phrase crops up in all sorts of discussions, from secession to forbearance agreements to international treaties.

Forever is a long time for something to be considered irrevocable, and according to the European Union Court of Justice, Article 50 is not something which can be issued “irrevocably and forever.” It is, it seems, something which can be withdrawn by the United Kingdom, should it wish to do so between now and the 29th of March next year.

So the question becomes not if the UK can do it, but if the UK will do it.

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And Even Her Very Name!

So a lot of folk in Scotland are quite angry just now, and I’m rapidly running out of patience for those who deliberately refuse to see why.

I’m going to do my best to explain why people like me are angry. Normally this would be the part where I say “I understand if you disagree, but please try to see it from our perspective.” Because in this case, I don’t think I can understand. The Phoney Union is reaching its breaking point, & the endgame for the Union is approaching close.

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Patriotism vs Nationalism

It’s funny: in many dictionaries, Patriotism and Nationalism are treated as synonyms. Yet for some reason, I keep seeing people arguing that they are different – opposites, even.

When did this distinction between Patriotism and Nationalism arise?

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Desperate to be Proven Wrong

Ever since the wee hours of the 19th of September 2014, I’ve been desperate to be proven wrong on some things.

After a few weeks of recovery, I attended The Big Debate at the Beacon in Greenock in the later months of 2014. Stuart McMillan, then-MP Iain McKenzie, and Mona Siddiqui were present. When discussion of the Smith Commission came up, Ms Siddiqui warned us that we shouldn’t “go into something expecting to be betrayed,” that we should have good faith that the parties of Westminster would listen to Scotland. I knew then that we shouldn’t, because how many times has Lucy snatched away Charlie Brown’s football before now?

All through the referendum campaign, I didn’t think about what would happen with a No vote. Then I had to deal with what happened, and all the things that were lurking the back of my mind came flooding out. And in every single case, I was desperate to be wrong.

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The Privilege of Nationalisms

You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what, we can’t have that. You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, ‘Really, we’re not supposed to use that word?’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. Use that word.
Donald Trump

I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. My nationalism includes the well-being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength. Not so with a single nation in Europe today; they do not give strength to the others.
– Mahatma Gandhi, Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

GandhiNationalist

Most countries in the world today have the privilege of nationalism. That is, by their mere existence as independent, sovereign nations whose governments and territories are coterminous, they practise nationalism every day. They don’t call it nationalism, of course: they just call it normal. A country running its own affairs isn’t an “ism.” It’s just what countries do.

Donald Trump is abusing that privilege, because the United States is already a nation: the USA gets the government the USA votes for; the USA commands every facet of its national and international policies, every resource, every inch of soil; the people of the USA have full control over their own nation’s destiny, whether they realise it or not. Invoking nationalism in opposition to globalism – as if the globe and the nation are not interlinked by virtue of each other’s very existence, let alone the notion that the globe and the nation can both do well at the same time – is signalling to those who prefer to use nationalism over other words. Trump’s USA is, like the nations of Europe in Gandhi’s time, a nation that does not give its strength to others.

Those who would compare the nationalism of independent nations to that of ones which are not independent are equally complicit in this privilege. This is the privilege of nationalisms – the irony that you can denounce nationalism while practising it every day of your life.

The highest ranking politician of a country referring to themselves as a nationalist means very different things depending on whether their country is independent or not. Nationalism in non-independent countries has a bad name in large part because of nationalism in independent countries – usually, because the already-independent nation has a vested interest in preventing a piece of their country depriving them of people, resources, and territory. Hence the “all nationalism is the same” nonsense. Who could seriously argue that the nationalist movements of Gandhi, Garibaldi, Connolly, Kenyatta, Kossuth, Mandela, and Mazzini are remotely comparable to the nationalisms of Antonescu, Franco, Mussolini, Pinochet, Kai-Shek, Malan, and Milošević?

 

 

Or Nicola Sturgeon & Jacob Rees-Mogg, apparently.

Yet plenty do – because it’s easy to be against nationalism when you have a nation.

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