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The end of nationalism? May 2, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I was in Spain recently, Andalusia as it happens, and staying with Spanish people some of the time. Talking to them what struck me was how off the mark talk about EU federalism or the end of nationalism was. Spain isn’t going anywhere and I suspect that’s true of most states in the EU. And that being the case one has to wonder how much an UK vies of these matters the narrative even Ireland is reflected through. Because reading some commentators, such as McGurk, and on a bad day McDowell, one would think a federal Europe was all but a done deal. And this is reflected in a variant manner by some parts of the left. And what this makes me wonder how many people in these states those arguing this view have met because while pro-EU sentiment was in evidence in the sense of states in Europe working together and sharing a degree of sovereignty so was a realism about the negative aspects, the contradictions, hypocrisies and indeed limitations of that project.

I think that latter is not just healthy but essential.

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1. Geraldus Galwensis - May 2, 2017

Thinking out loud has its merits. One thing I find absent in Irish public life and among journalists writing about EU matters, Brexit and all that – overt professions of love for the European Union and its institutions. I sometimes see and hear Irish citizens expressing love for their country; I don’t observe expressions of effusive love for the EU.

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2. Roger Cole - May 2, 2017

It is often a good idea to actually read the articles of the succession of EU treaties, all of which transferred power away from the individual member states to the EU and its institutions. The loyalty of the current EU leaders is to the EU and not the people who live in the individual member states of the EU. PANA for the last 21 years has argued for a Europe which is a partnership of sovereign states without a military dimension, but the terms of the EU treaties, especially the Lisbon Treaty, the core of which was to accelerate the process of the militarisation of the EU are directly opposed to that objective. The problem for the European Empire Loyalists like Macron is that the a very large number of the people of the individual member states do not want a European Empire with a European Army which is what Macron, Blair, Merkel etc want. This reality added to their support for the US/EU/NATO axis and its doctrine of perpetual war, plus their devotion to neo-liberal economics has created mass movements of the left and the right in opposition to the emerging EU Empire. When I first became involved in politics I supported the national struggle of independence by the people of Vietnam, just as I support the 1916 Proclamation and our struggle for national independence and I see no reason to believe that I was right then and now. It looks like the EU Empire Loyalist Macron will win, so they will seek to accelerate the march towards Empire. However the Resistance, the struggle to regain national independence, is not going away any time soon, and I am confident Macron, Merkel and the others will be defeated. If I am wrong then the US/EU/NATO axis will start World War 111, so it will not matter.

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3. Joe - May 2, 2017

It’s a hard one isn’t it? I don’t think people living in the EU think of themselves as ‘Europeans’ in the way that people living in the USA think of themselves as ‘Americans’. People still think of themselves as ‘Irish’, ‘German’ and so on. And the national governments do have pretty strong agency. We may be moving to a European superstate but we are not there yet.
As of now, countries can still exit the thing. Britain has just begun that process.
Just reading Roger’s post there, is there a touch of any anti-EU candidate is better than a pro-EU one? So, vote Le Pen? Roger?

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4. CL - May 2, 2017

“there is a strong case to be made that Ireland is now one of the most “post-nationalistic” societies in Europe….
Irish respondents come out near or at the top of the bloc’s 28 members when it comes to pro-EU sentiment…
the post-nationalist electorate in the Republic is hardly clamouring for an end to partition….
A lot of people are simply disinterested in affairs north of the Border, while a good many are disdainful.”-Dan O’Brien
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/dan-obrien/101-years-after-the-rising-nationalism-is-dead-and-gone-35626450.html

“the danger of a slide into nationalism and confrontation is real — on both sides of the channel. The Brexit negotiations are starting with the two sides miles (or possibly kilometres) apart. After meeting Mrs May last week,…
Popular culture and the education system have produced a fairly pronounced “finest hour” reflex in most British people, which is susceptible to an appeal to glorious isolation.”…
https://www.ft.com/content/8f169d1e-2bfd-11e7-bc4b-5528796fe35c

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Alibaba - May 2, 2017

Interestingly, the same Financial Times columnist argues:

“The EU, which has been troubled by divisions over everything from the euro to refugees, is currently enjoying the unusual unity of purpose that Brexit has produced among the other 27 member states. The British hope that this unity will crack, as the negotiations become more difficult. But it is just as likely that the EU will find that confrontation with Britain continues to serve as a useful rallying point for an otherwise divided organisation — and as a focus for the anger at everything else that is going wrong inside the Union.”

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5. Roger Cole - May 2, 2017

Joe, my father was born in Belfast and my mother was born in fascist Portugal, so I was brought up in a double edged anti-imperialist house.
It also means that while I don’t have a drop of “anti-European” drop of blood in me, I don’t support Imperialism, not just the British version, but the Portuguese one either, and for the record, the French Vichy version or the current French one that Macron represents, that destroyed Libya. The problem with the EU is that it seeks to build a new European Empire by merging the imperial cultures of France, Germany, Italy, etc. Even the heart and sole of the growing Imperial culture led by the IT knows it would have some difficulty encouraging 150,000 Irish people to go and and die for Britain again. In the case of EUROPE however that’s different matter. Just read its Foreign Affairs Editor Smyth, and the terms of the Lisbon Treaty we were forced to vote on again so we came up with the right answer.

CL, “post-nationalism” is just another way of saying imperialism

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CL - May 2, 2017

“post-nationalism” is just another way of saying imperialism”

So when Dan O’Brien says that Ireland is ‘post-nationalist’ he’s really saying that Ireland is imperialist?

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WorldbyStorm - May 2, 2017

” The problem with the EU is that it seeks to build a new European Empire by merging the imperial cultures of France, Germany, Italy, etc. ”

Isn’t that close to a sort of conception of national original sin? That states and nations can never outgrow their origins. The logic of what you’re saying is that anything that those states engage in is tainted by their imperial ‘cultures’. I find that difficult to engage with as an argument.

Yet this is the same Germany which has been an engine of social democracy across the latter half of the twentieth century and still has social protections we could do well to emulate. France has an extremely strong statist aspect. Etc, etc. None of this is to deny France’s little mini-area of influence in Africa etc. Or issues with Germany etc. But does this mean we shouldn’t engage with these states?

I also think the idea that Irish people, 15 or 150k, would be highly unlikely to die for Europe as an ideal. I just don’t think the EU is the same as the US or a nation state. That’s part of why I’m so sceptical about euro-federalism. I can’t see how it can gain traction given how deep-rooted nationalism is.

Again, one can be anti-EU or even EU sceptic or even supportive of some aspects and deeply antagonistic to other aspects while feeling perhaps there’s a bit of rhetorical stretch going on in your argument Roger.

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6. Roger Cole - May 3, 2017

The thing to do is to read the various EU treaties if you wish to decide if the EU is evolving in a progressive direction. I have read them, and campaigned against them because of the terms of those treaties. I am glad you agree that the Irish people should not be willing to die for the EU, however you and I don’t necessarily mix with the same sort of people who do think we should, like Foreign policy editor of the IT. After PANA helped defeat the Nice Treaty, it took part in the Forum on Europe, where I met a large number of people from the mainstream parties I don’t normally meet, including the current Minister for Foreign Affairs, a very decent man called Flanagan. When I said to him that all PANA sought was a Protocol, similar to what the Danes have, to exclude Ireland from the growing militarisation of the EU, the Battle Groups, etc, to ensure, that Irish people did not die for the EU in the way they did for the BU, Flanagan said ” but we should be prepared to fight for the EU”. The problem is neither you not I are the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Flanagan is, neither you nor I are the Foreign Editor of the IT, Smyth is. The ruling decision makers, the main opinion makers do want us to die for the emerging EU Empire.
Of course we should build good relations with progressive forces in the other states in the EU. I am going as part of a delegation to a major anti-NATO conference in Brussels this month at a time most the EU states have agreed massive cuts in health and social welfare in order to massively increase their military expenditure, and to make EU/NATO military collaboration even stronger. I am going to the conference at a time the number of US troops and military equipment going through Shannon Airport is massively increasing,a reality totally ignored by the IT, RTE, and rest of the corporate media, a reality which is also largely ignored by many progressives in Ireland.

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oconnorlysaght - May 3, 2017

Whatever about Lisbon, I think that in any actual war situation, there would be a large number of member states (according to where the front line stretched, of course) that would opt out of their obligations. (Think Italy and the Triple Alliance, c.1914-15).
On the other hand, I would say, as one who believes he knows Britain as well as Roger, that the Brexit vote was dominated by those who would be only too happy to resort to war if it suited their interests. The Anti-imperialist/Lexit supporters will be swamped in such a case.

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7. Roger Cole - May 3, 2017

oconnorlysaght, I hope you are right, but I have my doubts. All Trump had to do was to bomb Syria, and all the Irish Liberals led by Fintan O’Toole decided he was a great guy. In the US the Liberals like Clinton backed Trump to the hilt, only complaining that he did not bomb the entire Syrian Airforce. As the corporate media in Ireland, the IT, the Independent Newspapers, RTE etc, that already support Ireland’s integration into the US/EU/NATO doctrine of perpetual war by actively supporting the use of Shannon Airport by the US, I doubt they would have any problem in advocating war to defend “Europe”. As regards Brexit, was clearly dominated by those who love war and imperialism. and have already said they would, like Turkey, remain involved in the military dimension of the EU, which is little different from NATO anyway. Corbyn, who has a track record of being anti-imperialist, is hated by the entire media throughout Ireland and the UK, just listen to playback of last Sunday’s MFS.
As I said before, I don’t normally mix with Irish Imperialists, but met them over several years in the Forum on Europe, and I have not doubt they would lead the charge to war to defend EUROPE.

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WorldbyStorm - May 3, 2017

In a way I wonder are you confusing cause and effect. Trump didn’t bomb Syria because of liberals. He bombed Syria because he wanted to.

And you ascribe enormous agency to the IT et al. I just don’t think that there’s any genuine political movement against neutrality (however compromised) at this point in time. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen. But the simple existence of the IT etc isn’t sufficient.

Frankly the idea that there’s any sentiment to support a European war or a war prosecuted by the EU (though through what structures I mean politically how would that work?) seems unlikely. If anything as noted above the examples we can think of Iraq etc have seen EU states step away from US adventures. Perhaps they’d step towards something else but all 27? I’m dubious.

BTW, I mentioned it elsewhere but I spent part of the 90s reading CSFP docs for DL and have a fairly good handle on the Treaty’s. I’m neither blindly optimistic or entirely pessimistic about the progressive potential if not for the EU institutionally at least for the space it opens up for the left to operate transnationally. I’m also unconvinced that if the dial can be tipped one way by the right as has been very evident in the last two decades (prompted by the UK in no small part) that it can’t be tipped the other way if we can get sufficient progressive governments into power in Europe.

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Starkadder - May 3, 2017

“. All Trump had to do was to bomb Syria, and all the Irish Liberals led by Fintan O’Toole decided he was a great guy.”

Roger, have you read Fintan’s articles? This is his most recent article on Donald Trump.


Trump in office has invited the taunt with which he damned his putative Republican rival Jeb Bush: “low energy”. It’s a weirdly manic form of low energy, beset by Twitter storms and sudden outbursts. But Trump has shown himself to have no patience, no political stamina and no ability to concentrate or grasp boring detail.

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-how-trump-blew-his-first-100-days-1.3064948

That doesn’t sound like Fintan thinks the Orange One is a “great guy”.

” the Brexit vote was dominated by those who would be only too happy to resort to war if it suited their interests. The Anti-imperialist/Lexit supporters will be swamped in such a case.”

Indeed. Most UKIP supporters also support NATO (except for a few alt-right Kippers who put their trust in Putin instead) and the party’s defence spokesman recently complained about an “underfunded NATO”.

http://www.ukip.org/operation_atlantic_resolve_highlights_importance_of_commitment_to_nato

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