ASIDE: this was written by 2010 Wilf. My thoughts may have changed since.
I don’t get nationalism. I think it’s stupid.
I’m English, though I think of myself more as British. I admit that I cheer on England in football and rugby matches, and I root for Team GB in the Olympics.
But I can’t see nations1 as anything other than arbitrary containers. What’s the difference between me and an Irishman? Why should stepping over an invisible line just North of Berwick upon Tweed mean that I’m in a different country with different laws?2
A few thoughts:
- I only support British/English teams because I happened to be born there.
- I only happen to be cultured as I am for the same reason.
- I wouldn’t fight for my country.
- Fight for an ideology, yes, but not an arbitrary country.
- I don’t think Brits are superior to the rest of the world.
- I don’t think I should treat them any better than the rest of the world.
Why do nations exist? Are they anything other than the result of a history full of battles between the rich, with borders being placed at the extent of a force’s reach?
Now I come to the idea of a one world government5. Oooh! Whenever I watch something by teh conspiracy theorists, crowing about a “New World Order”, I think: what would be so bad? What would be so bad about there being a global government which could legislate for the whole world, globally creating and enforcing high level-laws? Some things should be illegal.
Why can’t we be citizens of the Earth, rather than citizens of France or subjects of The Queen?6
The next question is how much power should this global government have, and to whom should the rest be given? The simplest solution would be to give all power to a single global government, and to have no derivative, local governments. Perhaps that is the way we will eventually head, but7 we would not reach that place without passing intermediate steps, and it’s those steps which interest me more.
In the majority of countries at present, there are many levels of government. In America, there is the federal government, state governments, and then local governments in individual counties. It’s similar over here. It might just be my prejudice from growing up in such a world, but I think it’s right that local populations should have some8 say over how they are governed, separate from other localities. For example, different counties could have different class sizes, or different speed limits, or different environmental policies9.
How do we divide these localities? I don’t know. Perhaps we’re back to drawing arbitrary lines in the sand. Maybe the concept of a nation shouldn’t die, and could still act as another level of government. Despite everything I’ve said, what bothers me is not that nations exist, but that some people are so patriotic. Yes, your country might be a better place ideologically10, but it doesn’t mean that your people are ‘better’11, and it’s only by chance that you happen to have been born there anyway.
Such thoughts are childish.
A conclusion/aside of sorts. When I see people pushing for increased nationalism – as is the case in Scotland with the SNP12 – it bothers me. In my opinion, we should be moving in the other direction: few countries and borders, not more.
At present, the Scottish Government has full control of Scotland, except for these powers. Whether or not particular areas should be legislated at a more local or more global level, there is no need for Scotland to become yet another sovereign state.
What happens if, after Scotland gains independence, Perthshire decides to be its own nation? And then after that, Blairgowrie decides to be its own nation, and so on? Why would it be any less ridiculous than Scotland exiting the Union? Why does the SNP want to leave the UK but not the EU? I don’t know.
- By nation I mean: nation, country, state. ↩
- Whole islands being nations – Iceland, for example – doesn’t seem so arbitrary, but the classification of land into ‘nations’ does still seem artificial. ↩
- There is a lot of mixing of cultures between nations so this is less relevant. ↩
- As I shall call laws about things such as murder, assault, rape, and fraud which almost all would accept should be illegal. ↩
- The structure of such an entity is not my concern at present. ↩
- Star Trek has it right. ↩
- Regardless of its merits or failings, of which I have not even started to think. ↩
- I don’t know how much. ↩
- I’m just making stuff up here, but the specifics aren’t important. ↩
- And it might be more fertile, productive, resourceful and attractive. ↩
- Whatever that would mean. ↩
- My constituency has been SNP for a while now. ↩