In conversation recently with a couple of folk, there was some dispute about the difference between “national” and “nationalist”. I maintain there’s no real difference, the “differences” are fictions worked up nationalists trying to make out they’re not territorial, that they are internationalist in spirit. I don’t buy that, myself.
They were very good at listing the serious problems with the United Kingdom, but no better than me. The serious problems are all too serious and too problematic, and it’s easy to imagine that Scotland would do better on its own.
Anyway, the discussion turned to the late John Hume, hero of Irish peace talks, earning tributes from all quarters, a sign of greatness. And to Irvine Welsh, as conversations with me have a tendency to do. Welsh has said he’s in favour of breaking up the UK, in order to produce “small” countries. He also said there is no place for nationalism and went on to correctly identify the real enemies: the poison of greed and money, facilitated by over-privileged elites operating internationally, with ease.
What is “small”? That’s a matter of judgement. China is too big? Lithuania is too small? There’s no single answer, and the best answers have to be influenced by geography. My vision is for a United British Isles, including the present Republic of Ireland (we share a compact archipelago of islands), with strong, robust devolutionary or federal arrangements that genuinely work for all the regions and for the whole, and a full member of the European Union.
And before you cry me down as a daftie, be sure you’re not putting yourself in the same bracket as the naysayers of John Hume in the 1970s who said Ireland could never be re-united. Never mind listing problems, anyone can do that: real, lasting answers require hard work, courage, and patience, on the John Hume level.
A final note – I’ve just had an interesting day at Little Sparta, and I wish this wasn’t the first time. Inspiring. I’ll be going again. One aphorism from Saint-Just: THE ORDER OF TODAY IS THE DISORDER OF THE FUTURE. Everything is in flux. Who is doing the fluxing? A question for all of us. In my view, the SNP is fluxing in the wrong direction: history favours the unifiers.