Thursday, 17 April 2008

Nationalism which negates the possibility of unionism's existence

Nationalism is a mode of political thought which cannot seem to countenance the possibility that alternative outlooks exist. This is demonstrated by an insistence that such outlooks simply constitute alternative strains of nationalism or by the contention that those who do not align cultural or national identity flush with political statehood are confused about their identity or even lack any ‘true’ sense of identity.

The United Kingdom provides a peculiar conundrum for nationalists, because majority populations in each of the constituent countries actually wish to remain part of the kingdom and are quite comfortable with the plurality of identity which that implies. I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting part of a comment left on O’Neill’s blog about Welsh nationalists’ campaign to have Land of My Fathers played before the FA Cup Final in deference to Cardiff City’s involvement, in order to illustrate my point.

Fakey (of the teeth-grindingly irritating Fake Empire blog – why does he add a ‘y’ to the word like for god’s sake?) views the Union in the following terms,

“My perspective is the devolution genie has thrown up a question UK-Neo Unionism hasn't been able - either by choice or by denial - to deal with: is the UK a United Kingdom of distinct but interlocked Nations or United Kingdom of 'Regions'. To suggest the UK is made up of Nations is to admit the arbitrary nature of the Union - that secession is a valid and democratic expression of that nation’s citizenry. The 'Regional' argument is that within a United Kingdom a sense of nationhood is reduced to a secondary inferior inherently emotional status when placed beside Neo-Unionism's preferred default superior identity setting of 'Simply British'.”


Leaving aside the pejorative implication that unionism is not part of a continuous tradition; this paragraph belies the manner in which nationalists’ minds tend to short-circuit when the boundaries of a state do not cleave neatly to their conception of what comprises a ‘nation’. Like a child failing to grasp the possibilities of his toy, Fakey simply keeps attempting to force a round peg into a square hole.

Unionists (civic unionists certainly) do not accept that a sense of cultural or national identity is the default mechanism by which to order a state. Civic unionists are therefore uninterested in prescribing the limits of people’s felt or perceived national identity. Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are nations if people within them feel them to be such. They exhibit characteristics of nations in so far as they have acquired much of the cultural apparatus which allows people to cleave their felt national identity to them. That does not preclude them from also being regions of the United Kingdom and nor does it make their inclusion in that state any more arbitrary than states which are ordered along nationalist lines. Nations are indeed themselves invented and arbitrary units.

Fakey clearly sees a flourishing sense of regional, or indeed not primarily British national, identity as inimical to the Union. He refers to “how people within the UK's Nations see themselves and the inability of Unionism to process this new truth”. The wish to express regional or national identity other than Britishness, is of itself enough for Fakey to infer a lack of cleavage to the Union. Clearly this argument is a non-sequitur. It is manifestly possible to simultaneously feel two aspects to one’s cultural or national identity. It is similarly manifestly possible to separate a sense of cultural nationality from a sense of political nationality. Such nuance does not relegate ‘nationhood’ to “a secondary inferior inherently emotional status”. Rather it allows that aspect of identity to flourish without lumbering it with prescriptive ethno-nationalist baggage.

The more dogmatic forms of nationalism posit a view of history in which the nation is self-evident, almost primordial. By definition it is not possible for this nationalism to countenance the existence of unionism as rational political discourse. Nationalism in its essence dismisses the possibility of unionism’s existence, because nationalism believes that all political alternatives are merely disingenuous reinterpretations of its own central premise. It is unionism’s strength that it can rationalise and encompass nationalism, whilst the reverse by definition cannot be the case.

12 comments:

Fakey said...

Oh Chekov, you crazy, crazy kid.

Your panties are in such a bunch with us Mexican's meddling in your affairs again...

Well, how do I put this... deep breath...

We'll agree that Unionism is going through a period of intense turmoil.

The success of an Independent Irish state right beside the Celtic nations of the UK has offered up a post-colonial model that nationalists in Scotland can hold up and aspire to.

For many years Unionism underpinned it's argument with both emotional - read 'Ulster is British' NEVER NEVER NEVER - and the Economic - Ireland is a banana Republic/Failed entity

Now whether you agree with this admittedly broad analysis or not - the fact is this emotional-economic rational has been the primary argument down through the years from Unionism as a political ideology and a reason to maintain the Union.

But take away the economic plank of this argument and you are left with the emotional.

The Celtic Tiger did this beautifully.

Now the emotional gig for Unionism pre-1998 was a bag of latent bigotry, misunderstanding of the nature of the independent Irish state and a pure distrust of all things Dublin related. I need not point out the many, many, public utterances from Unionist leaders throughout the years to underscore this fact.

Post-peace process and with the rise of 'Nationalisms' within the UK has brought Unionism - and what the Union actually means - into sharp focus. Civic (or as I call it Neo) Unionism is an effort to restore the balance in Unionism's raison d'etre - to get both an economic and emotional story together as a new ideological framework that suggests that you can be Scottish and British, Welsh and British, Ulster British and allows also for individuals to drill down even further into regional cultural identities - as long as the dominant identity '... and British'

That '...and British' IS NeoUnionism's sum total - an ideology that allows subservient identities and cultures to exist only within the '... and British' structure.

Now, there's nothing wrong with holding this ideology or identity but your rambling post on this subject still doesn't deal with the point I'm making. Ideologically, Unionism's arguments in a post Irish Independence, post devolution UK is counterweighted by the rise of Modern-outward looking Nationalism... the success of the SNP the desire of the English to identify solely with 'England' is neo-unionism's counter point.

That's all I'm saying.

That and how badly Unionism is expressing itself and it's arguments.

Modern Nationalism is slowly winning the argument in places like Scotland because in my opnion, NeoUnionism doesn't offer anything other than '... and British' and threats of poverty should the gravy train from London shut down. It's arguments are based on the past rather than the future, it's emotional resonance is based in the Historical rather than the future potential. It's macro rather than micro, and to utilize your badly employed metaphor it's one peg trying to fill three holes.

It's past versus future
It's tradition versus potential
It's '... and British' versus a sole self confident identity

Now, Unionism isn't winning the argument (it's also not losing the argument my view is there's a stalemate presently) mainly because of two aspects:

1. 'Unionism' as a brand has the baggage from NI coloring it's ideology and it's expression. Ulster Unionists have traditionally come off as the least progressive in British politics. If you try to reinvent unionism as the conservatives in Scotland have tried you look like a backslider. Unionism isn't perceived a progressive brand.

2. The Leaders of Unionism aren't effective brand ambassadors Brown and Co.- the emotional-economic axis of their arguments aren't compelling enough when say put beside the SNP's Curve of Prosperity. Equally, the arch emotional Unionist party - The DUP - are settling into the idea of an Island wide economy meaning the centre of influence for NI Unionism is shifting from London to Dublin. NI Unionists have lost the Economic argument and with that DUP-style unionism's emotional rectitude to dealing with Ireland is diminishing year on year.

Ultimately, your ham fisted attempts for NeoUnionism to have it's identity cake and eat it is at the root of the argument. Do people see value in the '... and British' model NeoUnionism is offering or do they feel their identity is better served with a sole national identity model that offers hope, potential and innovation.

Worked here.

Hope that explains my position.

Also, to be absolutely clear, I'm not a 'nationalist'. I've gone on record on my blog of saying a United Ireland would be a 'bad buzz' for all involved - like a hangover that would last forever. I like the boarder as it keeps both Northern Ireland tribes out of my country and prevents us being infected with the pedantic nature of NI identity politics.

And finally, if you don't likeY my blog and it annoys you so much - don't visit it.

Farewell Chekov, I do hope someone other than yourself reads this...

Chekov said...

“The success of an Independent Irish state right beside the Celtic nations of the UK has offered up a post-colonial model that nationalists in Scotland can hold up and aspire to.”

First off – Scotland is not and never has been a ‘colony’. The colonial model does not work well for Ireland either given the links between the two principal islands in the British Isles. Post-colonial theory is a redoubt of the most regressive Irish nationalist arguments (of which more later). Scotland cannot follow a ‘post colonial’ model because Scotland is not, was not and never has been a colony.

“Now whether you agree with this admittedly broad analysis or not - the fact is this emotional-economic rational (sic) has been the primary argument down through the years from Unionism as a political ideology and a reason to maintain the Union.”

Once again you are viewing unionism through nationalist eyes. Unionism is not an immutable ideology. For more you might do well to read O’Neill’s blog on British nationalism and unionism. Of course emotional arguments have been raised in defence of the Union, but political rationalism has always underpinned a great many unionist arguments.

“The Celtic Tiger did this beautifully.”

The Celtic Tiger in a relatively recent phenomenon which has yet to be rigorously tested. It in no way undermines the economic case for a United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland enjoying some economic success does not mean that the dismemberment of the United Kingdom would bring economic success to its constituent parts. Quite the contrary.

“Now the emotional gig for Unionism pre-1998 was a bag of latent bigotry, misunderstanding of the nature of the independent Irish state and a pure distrust of all things Dublin related. I need not point out the many, many, public utterances from Unionist leaders throughout the years to underscore this fact.”

Are you referring to unionism in general or Ulster unionism? I can only assume we’ve moved to general statements about the latter. The ethno-religious prescriptions of the Republic of Ireland were certainly potent arguments which underscored the advantages of remaining part of the United Kingdom. Certainly those disincentives have lessened over the years. Nevertheless the Republic had roots as a Gaelic Catholic autarky and unionists were not displaying misunderstanding or bigotry by pointing this out.

“Post-peace process and with the rise of 'Nationalisms' within the UK has brought Unionism - and what the Union actually means - into sharp focus. Civic (or as I call it Neo) Unionism is an effort to restore the balance in Unionism's raison d'etre - to get both an economic and emotional story together as a new ideological framework that suggests that you can be Scottish and British, Welsh and British, Ulster British and allows also for individuals to drill down even further into regional cultural identities - as long as the dominant identity '... and British'”

The term ‘civic unionism’ may be reasonably new, but the philosophy it categorises is not. ‘Civic unionism’ was a term originated to categorise a pre-existing phenomenon So it is not a new ‘ideological framework’ which allows people to identify themselves as Scottish and British, Irish and British, Welsh and British or whatever. People have categorised themselves as such since the birth of the kingdom. Neither is ‘British’ a dominant identity. It is the identity which reflects political statehood, but a person’s dominant identity is that which he feels it to be. Your nationalist shift is showing again!

“That '...and British' IS NeoUnionism's sum total - an ideology that allows subservient identities and cultures to exist only within the '... and British' structure.”

The identities are not subservient. An identity does not need to find expression as a nation state in order to flourish.

“Now, there's nothing wrong with holding this ideology or identity but your rambling post on this subject still doesn't deal with the point I'm making. Ideologically, Unionism's arguments in a post Irish Independence, post devolution UK is counterweighted by the rise of Modern-outward looking Nationalism... the success of the SNP the desire of the English to identify solely with 'England' is neo-unionism's counter point.”

The majority of people in Scotland wish to remain part of the Union. English people are entitled to identify themselves as English.

“Modern Nationalism is slowly winning the argument in places like Scotland because in my opnion, NeoUnionism doesn't offer anything other than '... and British' and threats of poverty should the gravy train from London shut down. It's (sic) arguments are based on the past rather than the future, it's emotional resonance is based in the Historical rather than the future potential. It's macro rather than micro, and to utilize your badly employed metaphor it's one peg trying to fill three holes.”

Modern nationalism is clearly not winning the argument ‘in places like Scotland’ where a large majority wish to remain part of the UK. Unionism is certainly offering a macro vision. One which is outward looking and inclusive where nationalism is inward looking and prescriptive.

“1. 'Unionism' as a brand has the baggage from NI coloring (sic) it's (sic) ideology (sic) and it's (sic) expression. Ulster Unionists have traditionally come off as the least progressive in British politics. If you try to reinvent unionism as the conservatives in Scotland have tried you look like a backslider. Unionism isn't perceived a progressive brand.”

It is ironic that unionism is not perceived as a progressive brand given the regressive instincts which drive nationalism. That is why civic unionism has to put itself to the fore in arguing the case for union. Out ‘nationaling’ nationalism is counter-productive.

“2. The Leaders of Unionism aren't effective brand ambassadors Brown and Co.- the emotional-economic axis of their arguments aren't compelling enough when say put beside the SNP's Curve of Prosperity. Equally, the arch emotional Unionist party - The DUP - are settling into the idea of an Island wide economy meaning the centre of influence for NI Unionism is shifting from London to Dublin. NI Unionists have lost the Economic argument and with that DUP-style unionism's emotional rectitude to dealing with Ireland is diminishing year on year.”

A majority of people in Scotland still believe the Union should remain. The economic argument in Northern Ireland is far from lost. No evidence has been presented to suggest that the ROI could afford to absorb NI.

“Ultimately, your ham fisted attempts for NeoUnionism to have it's (sic) identity cake and eat it is at the root of the argument. Do people see value in the '... and British' model NeoUnionism is offering or do they feel their identity is better served with a sole national identity model that offers hope, potential and innovation.”

Once again you resort to the simplistic binaries of nationalist argument. It is not a matter of unionism having “its identity cake and eat it”. Unionism does not seek to prescribe identity. National identity is not a pre-requisite of ordering states. People are not diluting their sense of identity by remaining part of the UK.

“Also, to be absolutely clear, I'm not a 'nationalist'. I've gone on record on my blog of saying a United Ireland would be a 'bad buzz' for all involved - like a hangover that would last forever. I like the boarder as it keeps both Northern Ireland tribes out of my country and prevents us being infected with the pedantic nature of NI identity politics.”

Whether you wish Ireland to be united or not, you are still a nationalist in a broader sense. You clearly believe that a national identity cannot be realised properly unless it finds independent political expression. You clearly believe in self-evident national identities.

“And finally, if you don't likeY my blog and it annoys you so much - don't visit it.”

Don’t worry, I won’t. I only chanced upon it in attempting to ascertain who you were having read your comments on O’Neill’s blog. Though I would be fascinated to know exactly why you do use the word ‘likey’. Do you seriously think its amusing? Do you think it makes you quirky?

Fakey said...

It's called fun.

It's quirky. Throwaway. Whimsical.

And lost on you. Ah well.

Anyway...

As a final comment you are indeed correct a majority of people do still wish to maintain the Union. Problem is this majority is decreasing y.o.y.

Ever asked yourself why?

Unionism is losing the long ideological argument.

Why?

Because it doesn't understand the drivers behind nationalisms.

Denial, Checkov isn't just a river in Egypt.

You write, rather wishfully: 'The identities are not subservient. An identity does not need to find expression as a nation state in order to flourish'

Jesus, man... read that again. Now, I'm a Dubliner, and Irish citizen and a European.


But my European identity is subservient to my nationality. My national identity is important as it is the ideological context that fuels my world view. My European identity is a bolt on - a product of interaction with other cultures but it does not define me to the degree of my nationality (not my nationalism)

Again, Unionism misses the point. Nationalism isn't about dismissing other identities - indeed modern nationalism can accommodate multiple and divergent identities - the issue at hand is whether a national identity has a political context as a nationality. In Unionisms case the '... and British' model negates all regional/cultural identities moot as the states governing identity is ultimately 'British' meaning a Scottish identity is in fact subservient to the nationality ethos of the State.

Even you will see the impact of this: a British state means a British nationality - with all other identities legally/politically coming after.

The success (be it recent) of an independent Ireland rubbishes this unionist construct of a centralized nationality. Identity is fluid but the political structures of a state define a persons place in the world. Of course, an individual can be 'Irish and British', or 'Welsh and British' but identity shouldn't require a bolt on political definition via a nationality. NeoUnionism doesn't get this because ultimately the character of the nation is the Union. the state is defined by the Union and nationality is a product of that Union. To pretend that Unionism allows for parity of esteem is a flawed hypothesis. Identity and nations need a political context to validate themselves.

Bu Nationalism is not always repressive just as unionism isn't always artificial - not once do I mention ethicity but it doesn't stop you playing the ethno card, sad because it is your black and white, 'with us or against us' absolutist mentality that underscores why with every poll in the UK shows support for separation growing and why the cracks of dissolution appear greater and greater with each passing year.

It's basic human instinct to belong, and to have a hierarchy of identities. NeoUnionism is essentially an '... and British' construct. And '...and British' is beyond sell by date.

The unraveling of the UK will not be instantaneous. It will be along goodbye. Why? Because Unionism's raison d'etre has expired. It's an idea that has run it's course and is geared to another time and another world where the UK was an imperial and world power. That is why you have modern nationalism on the rise.

Equally your grasp on modern economics is more than a little shaky, the emergence of a competitive Island wide economy has seen the Unionists of NI campaign and trade principles for a piece of the Celtic tiger pie. Look at how the our government is committing to investing in NI's economy - an idea that 20 years ago would have hate Unionists on the street.

Equally your comment on the Irish economy shows how little you know about how small economies thriving by being nimble and quick to change, something Scotland cannot achieve to the scale that we have
because of UK structures.

The Irish economy is in fact changing, within 5 years we will have reinvented ourselves for another economic cycle. We have the freedom to do this unlike the Scots.

Finally, and believe me I've spent WAY to long interacting with intellectual conservative malcontents like yourself, I'll quote Parnell - a believer in a the nation as the vehicle for achieving a peoples full potential:

“No man shall have the right to fix the boundary to the march of a Nation.”

We Likey.

(Excuse typos...)

Chekov said...

“It's called fun. It's quirky. Throwaway. Whimsical.”

Christ. You actually do believe it’s fun and quirky. That’ll be in the same way that comedy ties are fun and quirky I suppose.

“As a final comment you are indeed correct a majority of people do still wish to maintain the Union. Problem is this majority is decreasing y.o.y.”

A contention not borne out by evidence.

“Again, Unionism misses the point. Nationalism isn't about dismissing other identities - indeed modern nationalism can accommodate multiple and divergent identities - the issue at hand is whether a national identity has a political context as a nationality. In Unionisms case the '... and British' model negates all regional/cultural identities moot as the states governing identity is ultimately 'British' meaning a Scottish identity is in fact subservient to the nationality ethos of the State.”

On the contrary nationalism very specifically dismisses other identities because it posits its vision of nationality as self-evidently the centre to which its political vision cleaves. An imagined identity is required to shape the community which nationalism perceives as forming the basis of its imagined nation. Necessarily this identity is comprised of characteristics which are set against those which are “non-national”, comprising the ‘other’. Apart from anything else nationalisms clash all the time. Indeed I accept that they have done so in Northern Ireland (the DUP are Northern Irish nationalists). And ‘modern nationalism’ has inflicted all manner of conflicts and abuses all over the world. I accept that you cannot step out of your nationalist mentality, which is precisely the problem I have with nationalism – but I do not accept that an identity is subservient if it does not find direct expression in the boundaries of a state. That is exactly the type of prescriptive thinking which characterises nationalism, but which should not characterise unionism.

“Even you will see the impact of this: a British state means a British nationality - with all other identities legally/politically coming after. “

If you are preoccupied with what is written on a passport this may be the case. But the UK is a multi-national state and most people do not feel that their identity is in any way compromised by what is written on their passport. Nor do they feel that their identity would be realised more fully if something different were written upon it.

“The success (be it recent) of an independent Ireland rubbishes this unionist construct of a centralized nationality.”

It does nothing of the sort. A few years of economic prosperity is not evidence for the inevitable success of nationalism as a model for all other states. I note incidentally that you have dropped the ridiculous premise that you are not a nationalist.

“Identity is fluid but the political structures of a state define a persons place in the world. Of course, an individual can be 'Irish and British', or 'Welsh and British' but identity shouldn't require a bolt on political definition via a nationality. NeoUnionism doesn't get this because ultimately the character of the nation is the Union. the state is defined by the Union and nationality is a product of that Union. To pretend that Unionism allows for parity of esteem is a flawed hypothesis. Identity and nations need a political context to validate themselves.”

Britishness is not a bolt on, nor does it compromise any other felt identity. Nationality, as expressed on a passport, may cleave neatly to the borders of a state, but that does not make it the summation of what defines that word. Nations and nationality are artificial and arbitrary concepts and therefore it is in no way self-evident that they need validation.

“But Nationalism is not always repressive just as unionism isn't always artificial - not once do I mention ethnicity but it doesn't stop you playing the ethno card, sad because it is your black and white, 'with us or against us' absolutist mentality that underscores why with every poll in the UK shows support for separation growing and why the cracks of dissolution appear greater and greater with each passing year.”

I have not claimed that nationalism is always repressive, but its more extreme forms often are and that core of community which it requires does have an exclusionary aspect. If that exclusionary reflex often centres on a perceived ethnicity I am bound to raise that fact when considering nationalism. Nationalism is time and time again centred on a perception of common origin and it is not possible to consider it as a political ideology without examining that ethno-centric impulse.

“The unravelling (sic) of the UK will not be instantaneous. It will be along (sic) goodbye. Why? Because Unionism's raison d'etre has expired. It's an idea that has run it's (sic) course and is geared to another time and another world where the UK was an imperial and world power. That is why you have modern nationalism on the rise.”

Here we have a classic example of the 19th century nationalist’s view of history. Pre-determined and inevitable. And yet it is presented as the ‘modern’ ideology.

“Equally your grasp on modern economics is more than a little shaky, the emergence of a competitive Island wide economy has seen the Unionists of NI campaign and trade principles for a piece of the Celtic tiger pie. Look at how the (sic) our government is committing to investing in NI's economy - an idea that 20 years ago would have hate Unionists on the street. “

That proves little except that modern economies are not ordered primarily along national lines.

“Equally your comment on the Irish economy shows how little you know about how small economies thriving by being nimble and quick to change, something Scotland cannot achieve to the scale that we have because of UK structures.”

Scotland has benefited exponentially from its place in the UK. This is not the post to go into the economic arguments that Scotland would suffer greatly from independence, but they are covered at great length on Unionist Lite and elsewhere. There is little point in producing one line of wisdom and presenting it as a fait accompli. The Republic’s economy first required a huge investment of EU money before it achieved anywhere close to the infrastructure to challenge in any respect. Similarly it continues to require access to EU markets and a corresponding diminution of sovereignty in order to assure its success. Nothing wrong with that of course, but nothing that cannot be accessed by regions of the UK and nothing that proves the economic primacy of nationalism. The economic argument is actually ongoing. It has not been won as you seem to suggest.

“The Irish economy is in fact changing, within 5 years we will have reinvented ourselves for another economic cycle. We have the freedom to do this unlike the Scots.”

That remains to be seen. The next five years promise to be the toughest test that a small economy like the Republic’s has yet faced. Any amount of re-invention will not insulate the southern economy from international trends and you may see very graphically the benefits of larger economies built on more solid foundations than a transient service boom.

“No man shall have the right to fix the boundary to the march of a Nation.”

Modern nationalism eh?

Fakey said...

Chekov, I'll leave you to bask in denial.

You deny that multiple polls in Scotland and the wider UK has see growth in a desire for greater devolution and indeed separation and identification with 'Britishness' and the Union.

That's simply incorrect. I suggest you switch on Sky News today, St. Georges Day, to see that state of the Union.

I'm not for one moment suggesting it's 45-55 split just that the idea of the Union, Britishness and the relevancy of such construct continues to be eroded.

As for your dismissal of Modern Nationalism. You again brilliantly miss the point. There is many nationalisms as there are many Unionism's as O'Neill has presented ... Secular, pluralistic, liberal Modern Nationalism, where a people are able to exercise self determination based, indeed, on a shared sense of geographic origin but with the capacity for accommodating internal diversity within the nation but not rigidly based on entho or sectarian models of nation within externally defined political contexts is in fact a progressive force.

If as you such nations and nationality are arbitrary in nature then you except than nationality is arbitrary also. It has a life span. Ergo, the UK and indeed the Irish State are fluid constructs open to change. Problem is within Unionism that propensity/relfex to ghetto-ize nationalism in favour of this utiopian multi-national state called the UK underscores why the UK is starting it's long road to confederacy and then dissolution.

Unionism needs to appreciate that Britishness - that sense of shared identity in the multi-national nature of the State, and the Union itself is as arbitrary as the notion of an Independent Scotland, manifestly open to change. But beyond the utopian rethoric the reality is the UK is a heavily divided, economically and socially fractured and 'mono-cultural' in terms of it's political framework. What Modern Nationalism espouses is that smaller nations and states thrive better as the fractures and disparities so evident in the UK today between regions, nations, even within cities and communities cannot be fixed by a catch all state, a catch all and artificial national ethos designed by a centralized political committee or a historical metanarrative attempting to design a sense of national indentities, a brand that bears little or no relevancy to a growing number of citizens.

Like other unionists, I've spoken to, the denial of the success of Irish independence, the success of Ireland on the world stage and the level of influence - be in a small package, that Ireland has - greatly disturbs their imagined post-imperialist ideology of their Utopian Union. The reason why the UK's celtic nations look to Ireland is the same reason other small nations look to Ireland - it's a successful model. It works. Independence from big next door neighbors works - and despited shared history's or past unions, small nations can forge their own futures, based on their ideals. Now I can Understand why Unionists are threatened by this. Physic blows are hard to take, especially when the evidence doesn't support your Utopian ideology.

This physic blow often manifests itself with Unionist's throwing words around like 'Ethno-Nationalism', 'Anglophobia'
etc. I don't blame them. If the rug was pulled from under my feet it'd be easy to fall into the same trap. Problem is Unionism resorts to the past, rather than articulating a future. Nationalisms economic argument as presented by the SNP is a compelling one should you live in Scotland and compare your economy to that of the S.E. of England. Presenting people with a Union Jack wrapped Utopia isn't going to cut in in a hyper Gloablized world.

The 'Nationalism' as espoused by Parnell wasn't ethno-nationlism, nor was in regressive ... it was the view that a nation has the right to determine it's own destiny. You agree that the UK is made up of 4 nations - why shouldn't the avail of there national right to decide their future either in or out of the Union.

Chekov said...

“You deny that multiple polls in Scotland and the wider UK has see (sic) growth in a desire for greater devolution and indeed separation and identification with 'Britishness' and the Union.”

You’ve produced no contrary evidence to convince me. I have viewed a number of polls which suggest that people continue to view Britishness as an integral part of their identity. Or that support for independence in Scotland goes up and down more or less averages out at the same level.

http://news.scotsman.com/politics/Majority-south-of-Border-think.3933272.jp

http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/scottish-independence

“That's simply incorrect. I suggest you switch on Sky News today, St. Georges Day, to see that state of the Union.”

I can’t imagine that a news broadcast on Sky News would portray the ‘state of the Union’, or that it is significantly changed since this morning. If anything dramatically has happened to ‘the state of the Union’ since I last checked, I am sure the BBC will cover it tonight.

“I'm not for one moment suggesting it's (sic ffs!) 45-55 split just that the idea of the Union, Britishness and the relevancy of such construct continues to be eroded.”

Devolution is not compelling enough evidence to support such a contention, hearsay is not evidence enough to support such a contention and you have produced no other evidence to support such a contention.

“Secular, pluralistic, liberal Modern Nationalism, where a people are able to exercise self determination based, indeed, on a shared sense of geographic origin but with the capacity for accommodating internal diversity within the nation but not rigidly based on entho (sic) or sectarian models of nation within externally defined political contexts is in fact a progressive force.”

There are no doubt different levels of nationalistic expression and some of these may have secular, pluralistic or liberal aspirations, but they are hamstrung by sharing the same core instincts with the more extreme forms of nationalism. At the heart of nationalism is still the idea of a nation organised around an exclusive core. This has been demonstrable in Ireland where Gaelic culture and the Catholic Church offered the core around which the Republic was built. Although the country is increasingly secular remnants of this machinery still exist in government and Irish nationalist culture. Take the GAA and its political nationalism as an example of the latter.

“If as you such nations and nationality are arbitrary in nature then you except than nationality is arbitrary also (sic).”

I do accept that nations and nationality are formed along relatively arbitrary lines. I also maintain that nationality should not necessarily be the default mechanism for ordering a state.

“It has a life span. Ergo, the UK and indeed the Irish State are fluid constructs open to change. Problem is within Unionism that propensity/refelx (sic) to ghetto-ize (sic) nationalism in favour of this utiopian (sic) multi-national state called the UK underscores why the UK is starting it's (sic) long road to confederacy and then dissolution.”

I’m sorry. I have no idea what this sentence is supposed to mean. I reject the idea that unionism is trying to ghettoise anything.

“Unionism needs to appreciate that Britishness - that sense of shared identity in the multi-national nature of the State, and the Union itself is as arbitrary as the notion of an Independent Scotland, manifestly open to change.”

I wouldn’t deny that the creation of the identity was arbitrary, or indeed the setting of the UK’s boundaries, but the continued existence of that identity is not arbitrary because there are very obvious elements of history, culture, geography, political reality and shared values which militate against arbitrariness.

“But beyond the utopian rethoric (sic) the reality is the UK is a heavily divided, economically and socially fractured and 'mono-cultural' in terms of it's (SIC FFS!!) political framework.”

The UK is a highly successful multi-cultural, multi-national state. Every society manifests social and economic divisions.

“What Modern Nationalism espouses is that smaller nations and states thrive better as the fractures and disparities so evident in the UK today between regions, nations, even within cities and communities cannot be fixed by a catch all state, a catch all and artificial national ethos designed by a centralized political committee or a historical metanarrative attempting to design a sense of national indentities (sic), a brand that bears little or no relevancy to a growing number of citizens.”

Have you not learned anything? Nations are not self-evident. All “national ethoses” are artificial. Every nationalism “designs” its nationality. The UK is not a particularly large state; it is not a particularly unwieldy state (certainly it was not until devolution was introduced). For every nation which thrives after departing from a larger political unit, there are several that do the opposite.

“Like other unionists, I've spoken to, the denial of the success of Irish (sic) independence, the success of Ireland (sic) on the world stage and the level of influence - be in a small package, that Ireland (sic) has - greatly disturbs their imagined post-imperialist ideology of their Utopian Union.”

For all the bandying about of the adjective ‘utopian’ referring to unionists you seem to have a remarkably utopian view of the Republic of Ireland. I do not deny that the state is currently fairly successful. I do not resent that either. Neither to I think its success should be overstated, presumed perpetual and nor do I wish to be part of it.

“The reason why the UK's celtic (sic) nations look to Ireland (sic) is the same reason other small nations look to Ireland (sic) - it's a successful model. It works. Independence from big next door neighbors (sic) works - and despited (sic) shared history's (sic) or past unions, small nations can forge their own futures, based on their ideals. Now I can Understand (sic) why Unionists are threatened by this. Physic blows are hard to take, especially when the evidence doesn't support your Utopian ideology.”

Are you incapable of understanding the fact that one state’s current prosperity does not make it a template for every state? How long did it take for the Republic to become successful economically?

“This physic blow often manifests itself with Unionist's throwing words around like 'Ethno-Nationalism', 'Anglophobia' “

Those words have nothing to do with the Republic’s success or prosperity. They concern the aspects of nationalism which many civic unionists find distasteful. We find them equally as distasteful when exhibited by Ulster nationalists, Basques, whatever.

“Problem is Unionism resorts to the past, rather than articulating a future. Nationalisms economic argument as presented by the SNP is a compelling one should you live in Scotland and compare your economy to that of the S.E. of England. Presenting people with a Union Jack wrapped Utopia isn't going to cut in in a hyper Gloablized (sic) world.”

You aren’t listening to what unionism is saying. You have ignored its vision of the future because you refuse to envisage any future which does not entail the dismemberment of the UK. This is demonstrated in the manner in which you ignore points of argument and merely resume your long narrative harangue of unionism.
The SNP’s economic argument is not a compelling one. It has been torn apart by economists.

“The 'Nationalism' as espoused by Parnell wasn't ethno-nationlism, nor was in regressive ... it was the view that a nation has the right to determine it's (sic) own destiny. You agree that the UK is made up of 4 nations - why shouldn't the avail of there (sic) national right to decide their future either in or out of the Union.”

Firstly, it was ethno-nationalism. It was based on an imagined nation built around a perceived ethnic core. If Parnell did not take a pre-conceived view of what comprised the Irish nation how could he proclaim its right to determine anything? Secondly I refused to prescribe the national composition of the UK. I stated that if areas of the UK displayed characteristics which would define them as nations, and if people within them felt them to be so, then that they probably were. Thirdly I have no objection to the people of the UK deciding the UK’s future and currently that future is built around a strong Union.

Fakey said...

Checkov, I bow to your superior intellect, your superior grammar and you over blown sense of certitude.

But I will leave you with one last comment.

When you write:

'All “national ethoses” are artificial.'

You are presupposing that one artificial construct is superior to another, belying that Unionism as a socio-political structure is as inherently flawed as nationalism in creating a successful state.

It's a sic-ness (sic) you have ;) - you're self righteous inability to apply the same critical rigor to you're own ideology - and certainly to citing the UK as successful in the wake on internal terrorism, race issues, societal in-balance and the rise of nationalism in Scotland and Wales serves further to only deepen your denial.

Is the UK anymore a self evident construct than Ireland, or for that matter Andorra? If UK's composition does not feature 'nations' why not one football team instead of four?

Reaching for the traditional Unionist time capsule bogey men of the GAA and the RC Church (I myself am CoI) is the kind of knee jerk nonsense that we expect for Unionism, an ideology, bereft of leaders, bereft of vision, insecure as the world changes around it and tied hopelessly to an image of a Utopian pre-devolved, unified past.

What are Unionism's Civic or otherwise arguments to deal with the rise of nationalism? Other than to suggest that the Scots and Welsh aren't able to realise their national potential via any other means other than through a union with England and NI. When they can look at Ireland, Norway, Iceland as examples of what happens following independence.

There are countless polls proving the identification with the Union and Britishness is eroding... you know this, because if it wasn't, if nationalism wasn't gaining a foothold and winning some of the arguments then why the furore. Why the attempts to 'Balkanize' the debate by misrepresenting Modern Nationalism and presenting it as a regressive 'ein volk' force.

Remember, I live in a post-colonial nation, the state was founded on Nationalist principles - not all of it positive - but then again, no state the UK or Ireland , doesn't have it's own social blind spots (such as say an openly sectarian monarchical system). The point being without independence would Ireland have achieved it's recent prosperity, would it look like Scotland, or worse like Northern Ireland - subsistence regions on the fringes of England?

I would say no. And i wouldn't be alone.

But in reality neither of us can truly answer this.

What we can say is the prosperity and social change happened in Ireland, slowly. But these are the growth pains of many a state - must I quote the Union's growth pains, or revert to 18-19th century British policy and social attitudes towards Ireland and the Irish as evidence of enlightened rule from London?

The truth remains that the Union, the UK and a model of British-ness is in terminal decline. The more civic Unionism bangs the Union (Lambeg?) drum and attempts to reduce nations to regions, national identity to fringe protest the more citizens of the big Island next door will seek to define themselves differently and look to break the ties of the past.

I think the collapse of the UK would be akin to the USSR breaking - and would bring untold turmoil these islands. I don't wish for this. What I do respect is the rights of established nations like Scotland and indeed peoples everywhere to define themselves and seek prosperity and opportunity through self determination.

Apologies if my grammar/spelling is off - I haven't the time to proof at present.

However, my opinion of you has shifted.

Chekov said...

I'll deal with the substance of this tomorrow, but I certainly reserve my right to point out mistakes where they are persistent. It's (see how it works?) not a matter of proof readin when you never get it right. Think of it as educational.

Of course a crazy guy like you has no need for spelling and grammar. It's that overflowing creativity which manifests itself in such ways as adding a "y" to the word like.

Chekov said...

“Checkov, I bow to your superior intellect, your superior grammar and you over blown sense of certitude.”

I am not the one speaking with an air of inevitability about the downfall of an established and successful state.

“You are presupposing that one artificial construct is superior to another, belying that Unionism as a socio-political structure is as inherently flawed as nationalism in creating a successful state.”

That does not at all follow. I am saying that states which do not evolve along national lines are as validly constructed as those that are. I am saying that the dismemberment of those states along nationalist lines is not necessarily a good or desirable outcome. I am saying that the states should be judged on their merits and that the identity which cleaves people to a multi-national state is as valid as any other. It is nationalism which is implying that that identity is invalid, that that identity implies confusion or that that identity necessarily suppresses other felt identities. It is nationalism doing the prescribing, not me.

“It's a sic-ness (sic) you have ;) - you're self righteous inability to apply the same critical rigor (sic) to you're (sic) own ideology - and certainly to citing the UK as successful in the wake on internal terrorism, race issues, societal in-balance”

Problems which all multi-cultural societies grapple with to one extent or another. The UK is a relatively harmonious, prosperous, influential and successful state and would be recognised as such by most external observers. That is not to say that it does not have problems in the same way that any developed societies have problems.

“and the rise of nationalism in Scotland and Wales serves further to only deepen your denial.”

The nationalist political parties of Scotland and Wales have enjoyed some success in the wake of devolution. I believe that this success is not irreversible. You still have furnished me with any actual evidence to the contrary. Just hearsay.

“Is the UK anymore a self evident construct than Ireland, or for that matter Andorra? If UK's composition does not feature 'nations' why not one football team instead of four?”

The UK is more self-evidently a unitary construct than Ireland because Ireland is composed of two states. I am not arguing on the basis of self-evidence. I am arguing that the state is successful and that its development has fostered in its people a common cultural and historical root which is just as valid as the emotional pull of nationalism. I did not deny that the UK featured ‘nations’. I am happy for parts of the UK to express ‘nationhood’ in ways which the majority of people within the UK assent to.

“Reaching for the traditional Unionist time capsule bogey men of the GAA and the RC Church (I myself am CoI) is the kind of knee jerk nonsense that we expect for Unionism, an ideology, bereft of leaders, bereft of vision, insecure as the world changes around it and tied hopelessly to an image of a Utopian pre-devolved, unified past.”

If the political aspects of the GAA are still current and if the remnants of church control on such things as (to take one example) the southern state’s education system are still current then it is not anachronistic to point these things out. Your contention is that nationalism is modern and inclusive. I am giving examples of Irish nationalism, which are current and which are not modern and inclusive. I don’t recognise your description of my unionism. It goes back to my central point that nationalism simply dismisses unionism as an aberration and cannot even accept the premise for its existence.

“What are Unionism's Civic or otherwise arguments to deal with the rise of nationalism? Other than to suggest that the Scots and Welsh aren't able to realise their national potential via any other means other than through a union with England and NI. When they can look at Ireland, Norway, Iceland as examples of what happens following independence.”

The arguments are being made but you are not hearing them or else you are deliberately misinterpreting them to fit your hackneyed view of unionism. Scotland and Wales are integral, valued and willing participants in the Union. They are not being coerced into remaining within the Union. Unionism (which exists throughout the four countries and not just in England and NI as you seem to believe) advances a range of arguments that we are stronger together than apart, that our togetherness fosters a liberal multi-cultural, multi-national ethos, that we gain international influence by our togetherness, that we have more in common than what separates us and that we can continue to enjoy economic success and build yet more economic success more efficaciously as a Union. Just because you reject those arguments does not of itself make them anachronistic.

“There are countless polls proving the identification with the Union and Britishness is eroding... you know this, because if it wasn't (sic), if nationalism wasn't gaining a foothold and winning some of the arguments then why the furore. Why the attempts to 'Balkanize' the debate by misrepresenting Modern Nationalism and presenting it as a regressive 'ein volk' force.”

There are countless polls which do not bear out that theory. Unionism is not ‘Balkanising’ the debate, but unionism naturally cannot ignore the exclusivist instincts of nationalism or the historical roots of its ideology.

“Remember, I live in a post-colonial nation”

That is far from the simple truth. The Republic of Ireland does not fit a simple post-colonial model.

“But in reality neither of us can truly answer this.”

No neither of us can. Finally a point of agreement.

“What we can say is the prosperity and social change happened in Ireland, slowly. But these are the growth pains of many a state - must I quote the Union's growth pains, or revert to 18-19th century British policy and social attitudes towards Ireland and the Irish as evidence of enlightened rule from London?”

Prosperity and social change have arrived in Ireland (both parts) and I welcome that. The fact that the Republic has achieved a degree of success, however, does not make it a fait accompli that nationalism as an ideology is a template to dismember multi-national states.

“The truth remains that the Union, the UK and a model of British-ness is in terminal decline. The more civic Unionism bangs the Union (Lambeg?) drum and attempts to reduce nations to regions, national identity to fringe protest the more citizens of the big Island next door will seek to define themselves differently and look to break the ties of the past.”

Do nationalists never get tired of predicting the future? You have produced no compelling evidence to suggest that any one of those things is in terminal decline other than a tub-thumping ‘march of the nations’ style rant. Unionism is not banging a drum. Unionism is not attempting to reduce regions to nations. I’ll say it again – a sense of nationhood is not the only possible way to order a state. Unionism is happy to acknowledge different national identities within its umbrella and has no ambition to relegate that concept to ‘fringe protest’.

“I think the collapse of the UK would be akin to the USSR breaking - and would bring untold turmoil these islands. I don't wish for this. What I do respect is the rights of established nations like Scotland and indeed peoples everywhere to define themselves and seek prosperity and opportunity through self determination.”

The UK bears very little resemblance to the USSR. There is no problem with people defining themselves however they wish. Although when we’re speaking about peoples in the plural we run into just the kind of definitional paradox in which nationalists find themselves mired. What constitutes a ‘people’? What characteristics do a ‘people’ exhibit? What are the territorial consequences of this definition? How big must a people be to self-determine? Do minorities within the self-determining ‘people’ who do not wish to self-determine in the same way also have a right to self-determine? Of course the answers will always depend on which nationalist you speak to and which nationality the view as their own. The answers are always self-evident to them.

“However, my opinion of you has shifted”

My opinion of you hasn’t shifted since I followed O’Neill’s link and found a post heralding ‘Male Grooming Product of the Year’.

Fakey said...

Why are you so offended by male grooming products. Do accountants not 'groom'? Are you threatened by men who groom? If you are, there's probably more to your insecurities than a hatred of expensive shower gel!!!!

You see, I'm a busy modern man, Checkov, a man of many interests, compulsions, observations, gaps in knowledge and flights of fancy. I work in the business of ideas, not numbers, and often when expressing myself quickly, I err with 'there' and 'their', 'it's' and 'its' etc, etc. It's why I have an assistant. She usually ctaches my mitsasks. ;)

While I've enjoyed our little debate immensely - it serves to remind me just how messed up a place Northern Ireland continues to be with people still obsessing about identity and nationhood and statehood rather than getting on with the gig and ... need I go on - I feel it's time to kill the puppy and put our interaction to sleep if you will.

Our exchange proves just how reactive unionism remains in the first decade of 21st C. And really should I care?... I mean, it's a UK issue, a foreign country, and frankly the longer the Scots, Welsh and the Nordies have there hands shackled and depend on remittance from the English to prop up their economies the better it is for Ireland. Having three sputtering, dependency riddled, economic basket cases surrounding you isn't a bad break after all for a small nimble economy. Maybe I am a unionist after all. And before you mention EU funds, I know, I know, Ireland was a basket case once also... yawn!

But before I throw in the towel, and concede defeat to a worthier, more grammatically adept foe, I wish to make to (sic) final comments...

I wasn't comparing the UK and the USSR in actuality - more of a comparison based on the regional and geo-political turmoil such a break up would bring about.

As for your comments on the colonial nature of 'Ireland' - and my passport says 'Ireland', it's the internationally recognized name of
this state by pretty much every transnational organization from the UN to the EU, to the WTO, but hey, don't let this fact get in the way of your continued denial-fest - that is once again, entirely subjective. Crypto-unionism and revisionistas will of course seek to frame pre-independent Ireland as an integral part of the Pre-1922 UK, whereas those with more open minds will see an administration and a democratic deficit that shared more in common with the Indian Raj than it did with Scotland.

Anyway...last time I checked there were two states on this Island: Ireland and the UK of GB and Nordieland?

Alas my erstwhile bean-counting friend, I must go back to my male grooming product reviews, my innane lifestyle prattling on food, drink, urban living, music, the politics of a normal corrupt country, culture both high and low and a whole host of grammatically poor outpourings that has seen me nominated for a 'Bloggy' (yes with another offending 'Y') of what you surely must view as vacuous nonsense standing in the way of details, factoids, speardsheets and Northern dourness that's made unionism such a sure fire hit with the kids.

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Scots-39favour-assertive-First-Minister.3972271.jp

What with me being a Southern pansy at all!!!! Wait

You win sir. I surrender. I hoist the white flag and beg for intellectual mercy.

Because the taste of defeat, we no likey.

Chekov said...

“Why are you so offended by male grooming products. Do accountants not 'groom'? Are you threatened by men who groom? If you are, there's probably more to your insecurities than a hatred of expensive shower gel!!!!”

I am not offended by male-grooming products per se, nor even by the fact that men may groom. If by grooming you mean do I shave and wash, then yes.
I do however have a dim view of those who are preoccupied enough with male-grooming to be able to select a ‘product of the year’ in that area. And might I add that the modern idea that conflates detestation of something with insecurity or fear is nonsense. It is perfectly possible to despise something just because it annoys you.


“You see, I'm a busy modern man, Checkov, a man of many interests, compulsions, observations, gaps in knowledge and flights of fancy. I work in the business of ideas, not numbers, and often when expressing myself quickly, I err with 'there' and 'their', 'it's' and 'its' etc, etc. It's why I have an assistant. She usually ctaches my mitsasks. ;)”

Good for you. Although dare I say it, the ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ thing seems to be pretty incessant. Maybe you need a run through of the grammatical rules?

“While I've enjoyed our little debate immensely - it serves to remind me just how messed up a place Northern Ireland continues to be with people still obsessing about identity and nationhood and statehood rather than getting on with the gig and ... need I go on - I feel it's time to kill the puppy and put our interaction to sleep if you will.”

Identity, nationhood and statehood are preoccupations in many places throughout the world. Northern Ireland is not unusual in this respect.

“Our exchange proves just how reactive unionism remains in the first decade of 21st C.”

Our exchange proves nothing of the sort. My perception would be that the exchange proves the premise of my initial post –nationalism cannot conceive of any frame of reference other than its own.

“Having three sputtering, dependency riddled, economic basket cases surrounding you isn't a bad break after all for a small nimble economy. Maybe I am a unionist after all. And before you mention EU funds, I know, I know, Ireland was a basket case once also... yawn!”

Characterising areas of a prosperous, successful and influential state as economic basket cases simply isn’t a sustainable argument.

“I wasn't comparing the UK and the USSR in actuality - more of a comparison based on the regional and geo-political turmoil such a break up would bring about.”

A break-up which you were championing in your posts. Even as a unionist I would not for a moment suggest that there would be any comparison between the break-up of those two states.

“As for your comments on the colonial nature of 'Ireland' - and my passport says 'Ireland', it's the internationally recognized name”

Your passport can say what it likes. Ireland is an island comprising two states. The Republic of Ireland describes the state to the south without regard to the irredentist baggage which it is yet entirely to shed.

“Crypto-unionism and revisionistas will of course seek to frame pre-independent Ireland as an integral part of the Pre-1922 UK, whereas those with more open minds will see an administration and a democratic deficit that shared more in common with the Indian Raj than it did with Scotland.”

In pre-1922 Ireland citizens enjoyed the same democratic entitlements as those in the rest of the United Kingdom. In addition you previously stated that Scotland should follow the Republic’s ‘post-colonial model’. Now you are saying that Ireland did not share characteristics with Scotland, but rather with India.

“Anyway...last time I checked there were two states on this Island: Ireland and the UK of GB and Nordieland?”

There are two states and one is more properly referred to as the Republic of Ireland.

“Alas my erstwhile bean-counting friend, I must go back to my male grooming product reviews, my innane lifestyle prattling on food, drink, urban living, music, the politics of a normal corrupt country, culture both high and low and a whole host of grammatically poor outpourings that has seen me nominated for a 'Bloggy' (yes with another offending 'Y') of what you surely must view as vacuous nonsense standing in the way of details, factoids, speardsheets and Northern dourness that's made unionism such a sure fire hit with the kids.”

William Burroughs comments on heroin addiction have always struck a chord with me as regards accountancy. He said people become heroin addicts because they had no strong inclination to do anything else. Ah well.

CW said...

Gents please! With this kind of north v south animosity going on, a united Ireland looks a long way off indeed, so you've nothing to worry about Chekov!

So Fakey, you say you like the "boarder"? Do you run a B&B by any chance?

Ironically, many republicans also like the border (even though they pretend they're trying to get rid of it) as it's a lucrative opportunity for smuggling, not to mention claiming benefits twice courtesy of both the British and Irish social welfare systems.

"I like the boarder as it keeps both Northern Ireland tribes out of my country and prevents us being infected with the pedantic nature of NI identity politics."

Fair enough, as long as we can make the odd trip down to Croker and bring back a bit of silverware across the "boarder" it doesn't bother me!