Thursday, 18 September 2014

Boutique Nationalism is Undemocratic

Oh God, Scotland. I really don't want to get into it. I'm not going to persuade anyone. Anything I say will just be screeching into the void. And yet. I haven't got another voice. I've almost never written anything up here because I can't bear not to say it.

The first country I had any form of relationship with was Scotland. I was five, my family supported Scotland in the five nations, I was Scottish. I still am, and I still do. My brother was married in a kilt, which surprised people, but he was brought up Scottish, whatever he sounds like and wherever he lived. That's allowed in Britain, especially if you weren't born in England. I am British, and the subset of British I am is Scottish.

I was born in Zimbabwe of parents who'd been in Africa for generations after their families had, mostly, gone out from Scotland. Identity and nationalism aren't rational.* My identity could disappear and I don't get a vote and it makes me feel utterly sick, and angry, and miserable, and weird.

Of course, there's no way I can divorce this from what I like to think are my more reasoned arguments that Scotland should stay part of the union. It  comes down to this, though: I believe that the rise of me-me-me boutique nationalisms like 'Scottish', where people try to redraw borders so they can pick and choose only the things they like or agree with, is fundamentally anti-democratic. Democracy is not living somewhere where everyone agrees with you, it's having as loud a voice as everyone else in the place where you live.

It's a sort of national version of the Great Sort, and although there are arguments on both sides, I think that in countries like the UK - which are by every rational measure free, democratic and highly functional - it is solipsistic and frankly a bad example to the world to claim that you are being oppressed/victimised/whatever because your democratically elected government doesn't happen to agree with you.

But I am also incredibly upset because if Scotland votes Yes, I don't know what I'll be then.**

* I supported Zim against England too for a very long time, although I've gone kind of agnostic now, for Mugabe reasons. I'm not trying to pretend all this is simple.
** I know some people think that doesn't matter, and countries are bullshit. That's fine, they're allowed to. I'll never change their mind and I'm not trying to.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Nicely put. When Scots say 'We want to govern ourselves', I keep thinking 'But you do govern yourselves'. Just as much as someone from Yorkshire or Devon does. Arguably more so, because of the Scottish parliament.
I really hope they vote to stay part of our Union, for all of our sakes.