Racism and Nationalism

In Ernest Gellner’s famous book on nationalism, Nations and Nationalism, he describes “.Nationalism as a sentiment, or as a movement, can best be defined in terms of this principle. Nationalist sentiment is the feeling of anger … a nationalist movement is one actuated by sentiment of this kind”

“The term nationalism refers to a link between ethnicity and the state and therefore, the term nation-state is a state dominated by that specific ethnicity, whose signs of identity, such as language and religion, are often embedded in its symbolism and legislation.” (Charlie Peirson- Charterhouse 2012)

In other words – nationalism is entwined with racism.

Christ said “by the fruits shall ye know them”.

What are fruits, what is the real social result, of Nationalism.

What would be the impact on our peaceful island of Britain of an angry Scotland divorcing the “rest” of the UK. I’m pretty certain that the English in particular would react strongly and negatively.

For what purpose? When, as Henry Kissinger puts it – “The World is in Flames”

Same old nationalism

I keep asking a simple question. When has nationalism, of any type, ever been a positive influence? I haven’t yet had an answer, from anyone, of any type.

People talk about “political engagement”. As in – feminism, fight against global poverty, fight for democracy. All good, noble, positive. But “political engagement” combined wtih nationalism and you have what –  Isis, the BNP, National Socialism. The point is that the concept of  “nation” is dangerously intertwined with that of  “race”. Easy to tip from one to another. A cheap way of harnessing base prejudice to a politician’s particular interest. Did I say cheap? Expensive in the end. A bill paid in hatred, division, further prejudice. Ask Jim Murphy.

So I repeat. When has nationalism, of any type, ever been a positive influence?

And living as I do in Scotland – part of a rich peaceful democracy – and nationalism seems to me to be self-indulgent at best – given the quiver-full of real issues that cry out for our political engagement.

Henry Kissinger wrote a telling and thoughtful piece in the Sunday Times Review today – about the dangers that could engulf the world. Look only to Russia and Ukraine, almost anywhere in the Middle-East and much of Africa.

And in Scotland our attention is where exactly? And why?

I would understand some of this if I had an answer to my question. When has nationalism, of any type, ever been a positive influence?

 

 

 

The heavy burden of social justice and the weight of racism

I spent this evening with three vibrant and interesting people. Worth listening to. The debate moved between Scottish Nationalism, feminism and social justice. I lived through that shift in Britain from an integrated society toward a materialist “me” and money driven culture.

There is a frustration, almost a scream across many parts of the United Kingdom, raging against social inequality. The facts speak for themselves – since Thatcher and Regan – the  rich have become indescribably wealthy, whilst the poor have become excluded. The argument for Scottish Nationalism that is based around the desire to create a new socially cohesive society is seductive.. There is a heavy burden – the cause of social justice that weighs on their side.

However..

The argument is waged by politicians and the satanic ally they have called up, wittingly or not, racism pure and simple. Anti-English views are just that. Racist. All and any Scot who even jokingly or in aside to themselves justifies a nationalism on this basis is equivalent, in my view with the worst of the past century’s infamous racist leaders. All of them should consult their motivation in the privacy of their homes. Many will not be honest with themselves. To strive for independence on the basis of social justice as a cloak for racism is just despicable.

And further…

Is independence the ONLY route to social justice in the British Isles? Would independence  promote social justice? If so – then it needs to be seriously considered. But what about a vote for socialism. This is the traditional, integrated and well trodden path which successfully confronted unadulterated capitalism.  The conservatives won’t be in power in the UK after the next election if you believe the polls and  history. Indeed they are not in power in the UK now except in coalition. Without Scottish MPs then most of the British Isles would have conservative rule for the foreseeable future. How socially responsible is that?

There are serious and heavy issues in the balance. On the one hand certainly the UK has significant inequalities, injustice and poverty which in an enormously rich nation are scandalous – indeed evil. On the other, a bail out by Scotland (which I believe would immediately become poorer) would only add to the tensions, conflicts and difficulties. And certainly, absolutely with utter certainty – if won by an emotional appeal to anti-English racism – would be set on a dark path.

Which  is the path to a just and integrated society? It is more complex than the simply question that will be put on September 18th. For me however the name calling that the SNP indulge in is the wrong path entirely.

Scottish Nationalism, playing with fire..

I have lived approximately half of my life in England and half in Scotland where I have married and brought up my family. There is an anti-English prejudice in Scotland which has never previously been reciprocated. I suppose this prejudice is not surprising given the history of enmity between the countries until James VI of Scotland united the crowns and introduce the concept of a Great Britain.

“English”  to Scots is thus the archetype of “Enemy”. Indeed it is to some extent bound up with class – the English being identified, unreasonably, with being “toffs”.   We all have prejudices. A key struggle of civilisation is to overcome and integrate them. I do not believe that on the facts we as voters in Scotland would  break the Kingdom that James V1 United. I believe that the only way that this can be accomplished is to release and play up the ancient prejudice against “The English”, and this is indeed happening.   Alex Salmond is a master at playing to the emotion of the crowd. My sorrow is that this in now stirring up anti-Scottish sentiment in our 60 million neighbours, cousins and previous friends. My hope is that we can quickly get through and past this episode without releasing the spectre of racism from the Pandora’s box that is foolishly being unlocked. It is not too late to put out this fire before it burns us all.

The Passionate Salmon and The River’s Reply

Christopher Marlowe wrote “The Passionate Shepherd” and Sir Walter Raleigh the riposte – “The Nymph’s Reply”. They lived just before the Union of the Crowns under the Scottish King James VI. The “independence” debate is of course a fishy affair with salmon, sturgeon and even “silver darlings” (Scots word for herrings).

The Passionate Salmon
Come live with me and by my love
And we will all our pleasure prove
Forsake these meads, their gentle lure
For mountain air and waters pure
Live there with me and me alone
And we will wish all care begone
That London sews and Brussels sprouts
For Irish, Welsh and English clouts
And we will swim around the rocks
Of wars and economic shocks
To shallow rivers by whose falls
Melodious fish sing madrigals
The River’s Reply
If all the world and love were young
And truth in every politician’s tongue
Thy pretty pleasures might me move
Alone to be with thee my love
But summer’s babble easy flows
Which wayward winter icy shows
Thy siren’s tongue, but heart of gall
A salmon’s spring, but sorrow’s fall
And once your upward urge is spent
Thy fishy soul be seaward bent
For lonely pleasures lonely prove
And ocean treasures all, my love

Political ChitChat – a blog drama or “Money, so what?”

Bar Stool Economist: ( David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, University of Georgia) [speaking loudly]..

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers”, he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20”. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his “fair share?”
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!” “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!” “That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

A student..
replies [timidly, thinking of her grades]
In reality the tenth man owns the bar, and when there is is talk of a price increase he speaks to the bar manager and tells him that unless he adapts his proposed price increases to exclude his favorite lager he’ll cut his wage.

GigglingintheGutter:

The nine remaining men were truly shocked, but soon realised that their taste for beer had to be met somehow. Three of the poorest men, who had had their drinks paid for discovered that they had talents that could make them money and went out to work. They felt happier and so were better company in the bar each evening. Because they had experienced poverty they were generous and paid for the beer for the others. They actually felt more like a group of friends than an economic bar machine and so laughter and camaraderie abounded. In fact the bar was so jolly and friendly that soon 100’s of new men came to drink and that meant that the bar owner (now part of the co-operative) could reduce the cost by another 50%, which increased the happiness. And that my friends, learned journalists and college professors – is Christian Socialism..

..and no the tenth man didn’t own the bar – he was so shocked by being beaten up that he went to drink in an exclusive wine bar with people like him who were afraid of being beaten up. There weren’t many of them and their chat was dire. Interestingly the wine bar was called “The Gated Community”.