But, really, the news? It seems dominated by absurd CNN reporting on MH370, an endless succession of false statistics from the White House (e.g., unemployment, Obamacare, gender pay inequality) and a host of trivial matters of no consequence (e.g., John Kerry's latest MidEast proposal). There is no real MSM coverage about the stagnant economy; Russia's drive for dominance in eastern Europe; China's drive for dominance in Asia; the Iranian drive for a nuclear weapon; the Syrian civil war which went from an imminent threat" to something relegated to the back pages; the involvement of a major San Francisco anti-gun Democrat in gun running; or the melt-down of the Argentine and Venezuelan regimes.
Anyhow, my mind was in a wandering mood, so I began reading up on the Scottish independence referendum due next September. People in Scotland will vote whether Scotland should become an independent nation. It is none of my business, and the British, especially those in Scotland, can tell me to get stuffed and go worry about Detroit and Obama. Since, however, this is a blog of opinion, opine I must, opine I will. Hate me if you must . . . . sniff, sniff . . .
Let me state my bias upfront. I am a huge admirer of England. If I had to pick the one country of greatest consequence to the modern history of mankind, it would be England. No other chunk of real estate in the world comes close to the contribution England has made to the development of the modern world and to our ideas of freedom, liberty, and democracy. It never ceases to amaze how this small country, possessed of relatively few natural resources and living with some of the worst weather in the world, has so influenced the globe's intellectual advancement, be it in science, engineering, exploration, philosophy, politics, literature, theater, or economics. It is a stunning achievement.
OK, back to today's topic. I won't get into the issues involved in the drive for and against Scottish independence. I will note, however, that some of my English friends would vote "yes," seeing it as a step in England's independence from Scotland. Suffice it to say that for some on either side of the border the three hundred-plus-year union of England and Scotland has not been a uniformly happy one. That's too bad. As an outsider and, as noted above, a long-time admirer of things British (pace warm beer, English toast racks, and Benny Hill) I have a nostalgia-tinged view of Albion. Scotland, homeland of the father of the US Navy, was part of that; British troops advancing under fire with bagpipes playing was a staple of my childhood movie-watching, and I would recreate it with my Airfix soldiers. I will get back to the nostalgia part in a second.
Independence? I can't see the big advantage, but that is not my call. I have seen proposals, for example, re whom an independent Scotland would consider Scottish, and those would seem to present problems. Lots of people who don't live in Scotland, and have not been born there could get citizenship if they have one Scottish grandparent or some other vague connection to Scotland. That would mean that if those folks got the vote, Scotland's elections could get decided in Canada, Australia, and the US--some Hollywood types, too, no less. Maybe I am out to lunch on that, I don't know.
I assume the Scots are practical sorts and will make their decision on independence in accord with what's best for them. English and Scots seem handling the matter in a very civilized, even civilised way. No car bombs; no assassinations; no riots; no massacres. Not something to sneeze at in today's world of violent extremists.
I found it weird and off-putting, but the fish and chips were good. In the end, all the death and destruction, some of it facilitated by those passed buckets in Boston, that rained down on Northern Ireland and spilled over to England, what was it all about? Did it bring about some good that was worth the price? Not in my calculus.
Basque nationalism also left me cold. Unlike Ireland and Scotland, the Basque region of Iberia did not have hundreds of years of history as an independent nation. As with any good nationalist movement, there was a lot of chicanery, fraud, and charlatanry: lots of made up history. Basque nationalism, much more so than Catalan or Gallego nationalism, always seemed to have an air of desperation, of time running out. The demographics, after all, were shifting against the Basques, as people from all over Spain moved into the region; the nationalists blatantly racist definition of who was a "real" Basque seemed rather repellent in a eugenics sort of way. They would refer to non-Basques as "coreanos," Koreans. I was also troubled by the fact that some of the most fanatic supporters of ETA, the Basque copy of the IRA, were from places such as Mexico, Cuba, and, alas, Idaho. As with the IRA, the ETA took up partnership with the PLO, as well as the Cuban, East German, and Soviet intel services. Basque nationalism was violent and racist, and founded on a romanticized notion of a Basque land that had never existed. The violence and bullying in the Basque areas succeeded in driving many people out of the region, and led to a fearful political ambiance which exists even to this day. It is the least democratic part of Spain; it is marked by a pronounced intolerance for the rest of Spain, a highly anti-Israeli and even anti-semitic political culture, whacky environmentalism in the extreme, and a strong support for the EU as the power broker rather than Madrid. None of that, however, can hide the fact that they have the best food in the world.
I have seen some other odd little nationalisms that turned into big disasters. The worst I have experienced was the Tamil-Sinhalese warfare in Sri Lanka. Both sides were insane, and fought an exceptionally bloody war aimed largely at non-combatants that in the end was about nothing except the war. That very nasty war eventually came to an end, and, again, one was left wondering what was it all about? Tamil nationalism received lots of support from Tamils in the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and the US; in other words from people who had no intention of living there, and who did not have to put up with the daily horrors of what their money bought.
One wonders about the Muslims in India and the creation of Pakistan (and later Bangladesh). Was all that blood and gore worth it? Are the Muslims who stayed in India living less well than those in Pakistan and Bangladesh? Doubt it very much or they would leave. It can be argued that Muslims in the subcontinent would have been better off staying in democratic India than living in authoritarian Pakistan.
Finished. No more. Just some thoughts. No real conclusion. Just wondering about the different types of nationalisms running fee in the world. Some good; some bad.
Must get back to the dogs.