Paper 5 in the hugely popular ten part series from Professor Alf Baird which has kicked off an excellent debate across the country and has people examining much more closely a range of issues that are crucial in determining our prospects of winning Independence for Scotland. This week’s topic is nationalism. Enjoy.
There are different forms and definitions of nationalism depending on the specific objectives of the national entities and peoples concerned. Nationalism in its simplest sense implies that a nation’s people should be free to govern themselves, which is effectively what Self-determination nationalism is.
Trans-national nationalism, on the other hand, is quite different given this involves one country extending its sphere of influence and control over other, usually neighbouring,countries. Trans-national nationalism is invariably undertaken aggressively and provokes conflict, which in turn leads to demands from oppressed peoples for independence and hence Self-determination nationalism.
Trans-national nationalism involves the occupation by one country of other countries and assuming control over these territories and peoples. Self-determination (or Decolonisation) nationalism, in contrast, relates primarily to the Self-determination and self-government of a single nation and its people. The latter does not involve occupation of neighbouring countries, nor does it lead to their economic exploitation, neither does it involve enforced cultural and linguistic (Imperialism) measures imposed on other peoples’, the latter a common feature of Trans-national nationalism. Within the UK ‘union’, Scotland clearly demonstrates many of the features, and therefore retains a legacy of being subjected to Trans-national nationalism.
Ongoing cultural assimilation has resulted in some Scots developing what Professor Tom Devine termed a ‘dual identity’; this means many Scots live with ‘a complex mix of Scottish and Britishness’ in terms of their national identity. Post Indyref14 research suggests that the constitutional question on Scottish independence is really a question of these two competing identities, which is an outcome reflecting the influence of Trans-National nationalism. This is a consequence of a different (i.e. English / Anglophone) culture and language having been imposed on the Scottish people via Trans-national nationalism, a people who at the same time are deprived of learning and hence respecting and valuing their own (Scots) language.
The policy of cultural assimilation in Trans-national nationalism is combined with economic exploitation, and occupation, the latter in large part creating and constantly reinforcing an Anglophone meritocracy and hence an Anglophone cultural hegemony in Scotland. Taken together, all of these aspects involving socio-political control and economic exploitation over a people and territory reflect key objectives of Trans-national nationalism.
Oppressed peoples, according to Frantz Fanon, must therefore ‘fight for the survival of their national culture’, the basis of which is their language, which in turn means a fight for the liberation and freedom of the nation itself. National culture lies ‘at the very heart of the struggle for freedom’ and provides the motivation for Self-determination / Decolonisation nationalism and hence independence from an oppressor that is enforcing control and exploitation via policies and practices that reflect Trans-national nationalism.
Research in Northern Ireland established that unionism there is viewed as a form of Britishnationalism (Pettigrew 2016). In this context unionism is considered to be an ideological nationalism, and with that comes what is described as a ‘culturally-intertwined political identity’. In Northern Ireland, unionists are deemed to hold an innate emotional attachment to Britain, and thus approach any constitutional question ‘through the prism of identity rather than via any monetary lens’. Given the data on voting outcomes in indyref14, it may be hypothesized that unionism and its influence on national identity is not so very much different in Scotland when it comes to important constitutional matters such as Scottish-independence.
Indigenous peoples seeking national self-determination tend to share a common identity which naturally is culturally and linguistically determined, as reflecting the criteria and definition of ‘a people’, according to the UN/ICJ, which includes factors such as their; traditions and culture, ethnicity, history and heritage, language, religion, sense of identity or kinship, the will to constitute a people, and common suffering. However, those opposed to independence may instead reflect other more dominant external cultural and linguistic influences which help determine or even alter their national identity, which is one of the objectives of Trans-national nationalism (and Colonialism).
Frantz Fanon noted that it is a peoples’ culture which best represents the expression of their national consciousness, because our national consciousness ‘is the most elaborate form of culture’. Fanon also made the point that: ‘national consciousness, which is not nationalism, is the only thing that will give us an international dimension’; a people subjected to Trans-national nationalism are, by implication, prevented from enjoying or benefitting from an ‘international dimension’ to a large extent. Here the socio-economic interests of the colonise rare furthered by diminishing and demeaning the notion or extent of national consciousness in the minds of the colonised people, which is in large part achieved through marginalising and subordinating their culture and killing off their language (i.e. linguicide), much as has occurred with a Scottish people still today subjected to domination through British/English Trans-national nationalism.
Trans-national nationalism and its oppressions therefore involve a degree of British/Englishxenophobia as applying to Scotland, the latter reflecting prejudice – by the British Anglophone ruling hegemony – against Scottish culture and with that the Scots language, Scottish identity and Scottish aspirations for self-government and Self-determination (i.e.independence), all of which Trans-national nationalism seeks to suppress. This represents the reaction of (British/English) Trans-national nationalism which depends on Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism measures to maintain an Anglophone ruling hegemony that views Scotland as ‘its’ territory (or colony) and considers Scottish independence as ‘separation’ ,rather than a sovereign Scottish people merely withdrawing from a dubious treaty-based alliance (i.e. the UK ‘union’).
‘Civic nationalism’, which is all too often stressed by the SNP Scottish Government, is defined as an association of people from different nations and identities who identify themselves as ‘belonging to a nation’. Civic nationalism may sound positive in theory, however, Self-determination stands to be thwarted when those granted national voting rights do not share the same desire for a given national identity or in holding its citizenship, as the ‘people’ seeking Self-determination and independence.
Self-determination clearly stands the risk of failing for a nation and people where, for instance due to demographic change, a significant portion of the voting population has limited or no innate desire for a Scottish identity, or hold a sense of ‘belonging’ to the nation and ‘people’ seeking Self-determination. Post Indyref14 research (Bond 2015) reflects this in the finding that: ‘Many of those who contributed to the decision on Scotland’s constitutional future in 2014 would not understand themselves as subjectively Scottish at all’. Securing national independence first therefore seems an essential pre-requisite before Civic-nationalism ideals may reasonably be implemented.
The stated raison d’être of Britain’s/England’s governing Tories is to create a ‘one-nation’Britain within what is evidently now little more than the guise of a ‘union’. This objective essentially confirms the prevailing British political ideology as Trans-national nationalism which constitutes a nationalist political ideology, despite being referred to as ‘unionism’.Trans-national nationalism is by its nature an aggressive form of nationalism given it involves occupation, exploitation, coercion and control by a dominant core country together with the imposition of its culture, values and language on other nations and peoples, as well as the installation of a meritocratic elite and cultural hegemony that reflects and represents the interests of the dominant entity. Trans-national nationalism is clearly an oppressive political ideology imposed upon other nations and peoples with the intent to subjugate and exploit them.
British Trans-national nationalism therefore involves exploitation and oppression of Scotland and its people. Conversely, Scottish independence and Self-determination nationalism have nothing whatever to do with occupation of neighbouring countries, nor does this form of nationalism involve enforcement of (Scottish) cultural and linguistic imperialism measures, or the economic exploitation and political oppression of other peoples. Trans-nationalnationalism, on the other hand, requires and demands all of these oppressive acts in varying measures – occupation, economic exploitation, cultural and linguistic imperialism, and external political control (Hochman 2015).
Trans-national nationalism is effectively Colonialism, which the UN maintains is a ‘scourge’and should be ended. The desire of Scotland’s people in seeking Self-determination and the pursuit of independence, which may also be described as Anti-colonial nationalism, is a reaction to the oppressions brought about through Trans-national nationalism. Scotland’s quest for independence is therefore Self-determination or Anti-colonial nationalism which is a valid and indeed a typical and well-understood response of any people subjected to the ‘scourge’ of Colonialism and Trans-national nationalism.
Self-determination for the Scottish people is primarily about their liberation from British/English Trans-national nationalist exploitation, oppression and subjugation and hence it is about their Decolonisation. This rightful objective must remain paramount for Scotland’s people, and should not be subject to external interference by any other peoples, as stated in the UN Charter.
Alf’s latest paper adds to this excellent series of papers which is widening the knowledge of the challenges and issues key to winning the battle for Scottish Independence. I have had many messages from readers saying how much they feel they have benefitted from reading this series and there is no doubt it has kicked off a real debate, particularly on the need for a fairer franchise if we stick to a route that involves any referendum. Once again I am indebted to the good Professor for sharing his knowledge
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YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.
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