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?

 

 

 

Acceptable Nationalism?

Can nationalism ever be more than a dirty word? An inward looking concept – fuelled by the identity with a particular group, and by the exclusion and minimisation of “the other”?

I was struck in reading The Hare with the Amber Eyes by the fragility of an accepting and tolerant society. The Austrian Empire up to Franz Joseph seems to have thrived on acceptance and tolerance, or many races – including the jews. And yet. The Nazi Putsch changed everything – in a heartbeat. The same could probably be applied to the Wehrmacht through to 1933.

Nationalism certainly has the potential to release an infectious plague of ugly emotions from the Pandora’s box of a tolerant pluralistic society. What are the balancing reasons for turning that key and letting fly those negative divisive emotions? They should necessarily be overwhelmingly powerful.

The thing is, living here in Scotland I just don’t see them.

Perhaps I’m confused or overly fearful, or maybe just missing something.

What was the quote – jingoism the last bastion or refuge of the scoundrel?

Scotland is an idea…

… a dream and a gift. Outgoing, passionate, vibrant, edgy, generous, educated, intellectual, yeasty.

What loss to the world if this were once again to be bound to the rock of jingoism and re-contained in the economics of a small land, with a declining and ageing population on the rainy margins of Europe.