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Would Scotland's leaving the union be good for Europe?

by Alexander Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 05:00:27 AM EST

There is already a diary which marks the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union and discusses the possibility of disunion, but I thought that an article on this subject in today's Independent merits its own diary.

Neither the diary nor the article discuss what a breakup of the UK would mean for Europe, so I'll say a couple of words about that. My hypothesis will  be that such a breakup would break the stalemate that currently exists between Atlanticism and pan-Europeanism.

From the diaries -- whataboutbob


The Big Question: What would happen if Scotland achieved its independence?

Today is the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Act of Union between England and Scotland, and if the latest political opinion polls are to be believed it may be one of the last. In little over four months the Scottish parliamentary elections could see the Scottish National Party (SNP) win power, or at least enough votes to hold the balance of influence and push a referendum on independence. And according to recent polls, around 52 per cent of Scots would back moves to dissolve the Union of 1707, which means that after three centuries of shared blood, toil and tears, the marriage of convenience that turned a small island into a world power is shaping up for divorce...

If countries such as Malta, with a population less than Edinburgh's, can be self-governing, supporters of independence believe there is no reason why Scotland shouldn't. Optimistic nationalists claim Scotland could be as prosperous as Ireland, Norway, Denmark or Iceland with enough revenue from oil, gas, renewable energy and other industries to invest in a fund to look after future generations. The idea would be to invest revenues in a permanent reserve fund and use the interest to fund public services, pensions and other expenditure for years to come.

According to UK government estimates only about half of the reserves of oil in the North Sea have been extracted so far, which means that there is still enough to support a population of just five million people.

An international convention has determined that the North Sea north of the 55th parallel is under Scottish jurisdiction, which means some 90 per cent of the UK's oil and gas reserves are within Scottish waters.

As far back as 1975, experts recognised that oil could make an independent Scotland one of the richest countries in Europe. A government report saying as much was labelled incendiary, classified as secret and hidden away for 30 years until it came to light at the end of 2005 as a result of Freedom of Information legislation...

As a member state of the European Union, Scotland would possibly have more of a role in international affairs than now, as its politicians could argue their own case. Unionists have warned that an independent Scotland might not be able to join the EU if the UK was split. However, such a situation is highly unlikely, not least because the same argument of denying membership could be applied to an independent England. Similarly, many countries share overseas embassies and assets and there is no reason why Scotland and England couldn't continue to co-operate...

The SNP has already said it would scrap Trident, the nuclear submarine deterrent, and would prevent Scottish troops from taking part in any future illegal wars - such as the invasion of Iraq. This, they claim, would likely make Scotland less of a terrorist target. However, Scotland would continue to have a conventional military defence that would work alongside English forces in the mutual defence of the British Isles...

With a population more than 10 times the size of its northern neighbour England will always be the dominant force in the British Isles but without Scots troops and revenue, it would probably have to adjust to a diminished role on the world stage. And while England would retain Britain's nuclear deterrent, it would mean having to find a new base for the Trident fleet and supporting it from a smaller national defence budget. It is also possible that if Scotland made a success of independence, this would hasten calls for Wales and Northern Ireland to seek self-determination of their own.

It is well known that one of the things preventing Europe from emerging as a world power in its own right, one that adheres resolutely to European values such as social democracy and non-aggression, is Great Britain's consistently acting as a Trojan horse for the United States. Clearly, if Scotland left the union, it would ally itself with "old Europe", not the US. That could finally break Britain's strangle hold on Europe, preventing Europe from finding its own way in the post-Cold War era.

Poll
Would Scotland's leaving the union be good for Europe?
. Yes 84%
. No 15%

Votes: 19
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Any Scottish nationalists out there?

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:08:32 PM EST
It's selfish, but I think that this would force the British Army out of Iraq.  And that I think would precipitate an American withdrawl. Chalk me up for the SNP for that, or at least a good scare to get the Brits out of Iraq.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 08:32:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That angle hadn't occurred to me. I wonder how many other Scots think the way you do. Could the upcoming elections be a referendum on the war, the way the recent elections in the US were?

But what specifically do you think would force the Brits out of Iraq: the SNP winning, or a referendum on independence being voted through?

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 08:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a Scot.  My middle name's Andrew (patron saint), like my father and brother, and on my paternal grandmother's side, but I'm American.

I really do feel that the coming electon will be a referendum on the war.  I think that Labour knows this, and that Gordon Brown may pop a suprise as a result.  In the event of a SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament, I think that the UK would withdraw almost immediately.

Would PM Brown allow the Scots to hold a referendum?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 09:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
would go down in history as the PM who destroyed the Union. The thought of that alone makes me want to send a contribution to the SNP.
by Matt in NYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:57:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the UK is no longer the only trojan horse in the EU. Poland fits the bill nicely, too, and most of the countries of the former soviet bloc seem to lean atlanticist.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:22:28 PM EST
That occurred to me. The US was very crafty in encouraging the already existing EU countries to let the new ones in: I couldn't believe the West Europeans fell for it. They are evidently not used to thinking geopolitically.

Still, I think that in many respects, all of "new Europe" taken together is less influential than the UK by itself. On the other hand, each of them gets a vote. So I don't know. We are talking about gradual historical development here. The breakup of the UK would be a watershed, I think.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:38:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, in addition, the "new" EU member states which are not from the former Soviet bloc are UK client states, Malta and Cyprus.

But there is more behind the espansion to the East than just US inducement. There was a very real fear that, if the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe were not "validated" by achieving EU and NATO membership (and, here, Atlanticists were successful in making people believe the couldn't have one without the other),  involution and a rise of authoritarian and populist politics would result. Whether or not that's true, it's the way it was perceived across Europe, both East and West.

IMHO only Slovenia and the Czech Republic were ready for accession in 2004, politically and economically. But you couldn't have CZ without Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The Baltic states were probably ok economically but there are serious unsolved human rghts issues surrounding their large Russian populations, and now the EU "owns" the problem. They and Cyprus show that the idea that the EU could more effectively deal with problems in member states than in candidate states is a delusion. And the same delusion has been applied to Romania and Bulgaria with their "conditional" accession this year (supposedly they could be suspended after 1 year, but that's exceedingly unlikely). Finally, Malta is a microstate island nation, more catholic (read: socially backwards) even than Spain, Italy, Ireland or Poland, and smaller than Luxembourg, and I question the wisdom of effectively giving them veto power over key EU developments.

The last 15 years of EU leadership have given us the "growth" of the EU and the constitution fiasco. Not much to be happy about.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:17:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO only Slovenia and the Czech Republic were ready for accession in 2004

Make that Slovenia only. The situation of the Czech Roma is not dissimilar to the problem with thew Baltic states. Then again, in the EU-15, there was Greece, and in terms of malfunctioning political system, Italy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:53:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

They and Cyprus show that the idea that the EU could more effectively deal with problems in member states than in candidate states is a delusion.

It's not delusion: it works. These problems are headaches, sometimes long and painful ones, but they do not turn into international crisis, hot or cold wars. just that is worth it, even if it's never counted as an achievement.

Just like Italy having the same interest rates as Germany: sure their debt and economy is a problem, but it's not a crisis that destabilises several countries.

How quickly we forget what the alternative looked like.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:30:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are thinking Germany-France. But there making peace was the basis for going union. This is no longer valid when you think Greek Cyprus-Turkish Cyprus/Turkey or Baltics-second-class-Russian-citizens/Russia (to make things worse, in both cases with the patron outside of the EU), or Hungary-Romania, or Central European majority populations-Gypsies.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I am speaking specifically of what's happening right now in these countries: no international crisis. Sure, simmering stuff, but it hasn't gotten out of hand. Thanks to the EU.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Simmering was the status quo, pre-EU already. In the candidacy period, there was at least some progress, some lessening of the simmering. I can't see what effect of the EU membership you see.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And why do you not credit the EU during the candidacy period?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:32:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do, all I'm saying is that it is delusional to expect significant progress when the EU Becomes tied to one of the parties and gives it the power to use tge issue in horse-trading at the Council.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You misunderstand, I did, and that's the very point! A longer candidacy period would have been more beneficial, a candidacy period extending until the conflict parties hammer out lasting solutions fitting into the EU framework. The prize at the end of the road (e.g. sitting on the table, be recognised, and get the money) was and would have been a motivating factor, and if the top accession negotiators and the decisionmakers in the Council had made it more clear to the leaders, the spirit of the (old) EU(EC) would have been adopted to a fuller extent.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you tell me what progress has been made on the second-class status of Russians in the Baltic states (or the open display of fascist, WWII paraphernalia), or on the Roma in Czechia or Slovakia, since accession? Has it even been an issue?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 05:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With emphasis on: after the accession. I note though that at least one the open display of fascist, WWII paraphernalia in the Baltics front, there was progress - as was discussed on ET, last year's veteran march was banned and then police stopped those who still came.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 10:30:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland's Atlanticism rests on three factors:

  1. In the Cold War the Atlanticists were on the right side from Poland's perspective, their opponents were on the wrong one. That's fading and will continue to fade over time.

  2. Russia. That's not likely to fade as fast. There's a very easy way to lessen Poland's inclination to Atlanticism, but it carries a price.

  3. The most vocal anti-American, anti-Atlanticist voice in Poland is the radical right. That affects the way left-liberals view things.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:06:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia. That's not likely to fade as fast. There's a very easy way to lessen Poland's inclination to Atlanticism, but it carries a price.

What exactly is the "easy" policy towards Russia that you're hinting at?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:20:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A strongly antagonistic policy - the kind of stuff that plenty of people are pushing for and Jerome rails against. As long as Poland views its geopolitical interests as opposed to those of the big EU players, but aligned with those of the US, it will act accordingly.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:30:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's easy to be strongly antagonistic to Russia, but not necessarily smart.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:52:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like I said, there's a price.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose to make the Poles really happy we could be strongly antagonistic to both Germany and Russia.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lol

more seriously, the center and left may occasionally be a bit touchy about Germany but they're in favour of good relations and the idea of Germany as a close ally. It's an attitude thing. Germans don't go around celebrating their conquest of Poland and wondering why the Poles aren't properly grateful.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:14:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
btw, just to make clear how fricking extreme it can get, the main foreign affairs commentator for Nasz Dziennik, Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, sees an eternal Jewish conspiracy dating back almost two thousand years. That conspiracy rests on the essence of Jewishness which is to destroy Christianity and enslave the world. Its current incarnation is neo-conservatism and globalization And oh yeah, the central rite of Judaism is a perverted ritual celebrating the sexual union of Jews with Satan, making all Jews the children of Satan.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:52:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's mainstream?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:54:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. But minus the weird ritual part it's par for the course on the fundy nationalist right represented by Nasz Dziennik and Radio Maryja

To take another example from one of their columnists, Father Jerzy Bajda:

History is bracketed by this `great war' which is waged beyond historical time between Satan and the Virgin who is the living image of the Church.[...] Man has merely been able to observe the visible aspects of thiss history, in which man, under the influence of the Evil One, chose sin, falsehood, hatred, battle, confusion, division, and war. One might even say, though one can't be certain, that all wars ever thought between nations and states are in some measure the work of Satan and fully reflect his aims.

[...]

.
It is horribly tragic fact that the nation which was chosen in order to serve God in the realization of His plan, has become in a large degree Satan's accomplice. Christ, revealing their sin (for they had decided to kill Him), said with the utmost clarity: "You have the devil for a father".   It was a severe judgement, but a true one, for the Jews in seeking to kill Christ, "fulfilled the aims of Satan". The hatred of Christ inspired by Satan in the leadership of the Jewish nation, immediately turned against the Church, as can be seen in the persecution of St. Stephen and then in all subsequent persecutions. They were always instigated by the Jews and fanatically carried out by them. It is for good reason that the Book of Revelations speaks of the "Synagogue of Satan".  

Seventy years ago a book was published in Warsaw which contains valuable materials about the systematic campaign of the Jews to conquer the world through both perfidious and revolutionary means.

The Great War (PDF - Polish)

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:04:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which particular weird part did you mean?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
think i could do with only one reason (why multiply entities etc)

Poland, being sanwiched between Russian and German (whatever one'd call it) Empires dreamt for senturies to become an Empire too but failed.

The EU may be seen as some German Empire's extension - a long-hated enemy and then there's another nasty one -Russia (sure, all, we Russkie may think of is swallowing and enslaving poor little Poles). So where to go and whom to love? Another Empire, the Anglo-Saxon one, powerful enough to feel protected from those nasty two.

by lana on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:27:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Bush manages to stay on another two year, I think even the Poles will be vaccinated against Atlanticism...

LOL.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:34:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if Marek can dig up a more in-depth poll on this, but the impression I got from earlier polls is that to some extent the majority of the population is already vaccinated, but not the (non-ultra) political class.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Always wonder what kind of connection Poland has to Atlantic ocean and Atlanticism barring transatlantic dreams of descendents of empoverished Polish immigrants overseas?
by FarEasterner on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 08:13:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that the US beat the shit out of Germany in WWII (Russia's role being too controversial there from the Polish perspective), and then "beat" USSR in the Cold War.

So from Poland's perspective, they are the big boy who can protect them from their perceived enemies.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't think anyone didn't recognize that it was the Soviets who really beat the Nazis, other than Americans and the Brits. Don't the Poles read Tolstoy? Hitler's mistake wasn't that different from Napoleon's, after all.

Are the Poles really so much in denial of the basic facts of history? That would make them little different, in terms of their connectedness to reality, from the neocons.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:03:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a narrative. Liberation from Hitler Was followed by occupation by the Soviets and then came liberation from that, attributed to Solidarnosc, Pope Wojtila and Ronald Reagan. The next to last liberation doesn't count for much.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:17:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. That makes things a little clearer for me. Although I think you should have used scare quotes for "liberation from Hitler". My guess is that, in the long run, the outcome of World War II will not be such a big deal for the Poles, since all that happened to them is that one occupier got replaced by another. So the question I posed which you are responding to was not a well formed one.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also consider the Warshaw Uprising Stalin let be defeated by the Nazis. Ans also that Stalin shifted Poland 45% to the West: the Eastern parts of old Poland became parts of Belarus and Ukraine, while the Western parts of Germany became Poland (and refugees from East Poland settled in the homes of chased-away Germans). It was even worse than one occupation following another.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:45:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure they realize that. They also realize that Hitler invaded them in alliance with Stalin, that Stalin proceeded to kill hundreds of thousands of them in less than two years (a faster pace than Hitler at that point), and while the second coming of the Red Army wasn't as bloody, and it sure as hell was better than the Germans, it still wasn't gentle. Then they stayed for almost half a century. And it was only twenty years before WWII that Poland had become independent - with the bulk of Poles under Russian rule during the Partition perid.

Liberation is nice, but it doesn't outweigh the rest. The Czechs, Hungarians, and Slovaks only have the latter part of this history, so less suspicion. (The Hungarians got the Russians in 1848, but they left immediately and two decades later they got the Ausgleich)

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:34:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very informative, as always. Thank you. My question, actually, was formulated as a provocation to Jerome, but he sensibly hasn't taken the bait.

It is interesting that you write about these things that happened to Poland as very real and significant, whereas in an earlier exchange you said, "All nations are social constructs. Period." The usual view in philosophy is that either you are given an access to reality through your individual experience (this is empiricism), or reality is "socially constructed", in which case there are many different, equally valid (or invalid) realities. The philosopher who worked out how social constructs can be objectively true was Hegel. So I would suggest that you look at him more carefully than you have up until now. That would allow you to view the experiences of Poland as objectively true, while still being social constructs.

I might as well mention at this point that both my parents are Russian and were born in Russia soon after the revolution, although they grew up outside the Soviet Union.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally I don't think nations are social constructs that are objectively true. But this won't keep different individuals with different concepts of the nation by the same name from feeling prode or feeling wronged or killing in the name of that nation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, as someone of Russian origin, I am curious if you ever heard of the 1848/9 intervention in Hungary. (I guess it is dwarfed by the major 19th century Russian wars with the Ottoman Empire and its occasional Western allies, but special in the lack of own power interests included.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 04:55:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's considered one of the stupidest foreign policy moves in Russian history, made on wrongly understood obligations (mostly of honor), and a proper prelude to the catastrophe of 1856.
by Sargon on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 09:25:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I probably learned about it in history class, but now I'm afraid I can't recall it specifically. I just have a general recollection that after the Congress of Vienna, Russia would intervene in Central Europe to prop up absolutist governments.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All identities are social constructs (not just national ones - class, gender, sexual orientation, political, etc.). But just because I realize that doesn't mean that I don't have any (and we all have them). Objective truths are assembled and understood through the lens of various values to create those identities. There is no one Polish identity. Mine is largely that of the liberal intelligentsia and really bears little resemblance to the national identity of the folks I speak of above. I feel on some level a sense of collective shame at various acts of repression and discrimination committed in Poland's name, e.g. against the Ukrainians. Those events and policies are objective facts, my understanding of them is on one level a combination of my values and my national identity, on another a constitutive part of that identity, a reflection of a collective understanding of what being Polish 'means'. Someone with a different Polish identity will understand various objective facts in a completely different manner.

Virtually everyone in Europe and the US has some sort of national identity, and that includes those who dislike the whole category. Take DoDo for example, his feelings about Horthy or Kossuth are, I am certain, of a different nature than about Antanas Smetona or Garibaldi. On the other hand a few centuries ago most Europeans had no such identity. National identity is a relatively new phenomenon. At the same time most had some sort of estate consciousness, most don't now.

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Take DoDo for example, his feelings about Horthy or Kossuth are, I am certain, of a different nature than about Antanas Smetona or Garibaldi.

Well, I must admit I don't have much feelings regarding Horthy, but Kossuth is another thing, but that's probably because I am related to him. I don't know Antanas Smetona, but do Garibaldi, and until a year ago better than all 1956 revolutionaries, which says something. The single historical figure I must have read the most on is Jeanne D'Arc.

I'd say yes there is an over-representation of historical/cultural influences in me of the places I have been longer at, and that much of these influences were nationalised (e.g. a state TV, a dish provided...), but to call that a national idenity, I think is forced.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 05:44:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(And if called a national identity, what is its name? Y-ungar-ger-am-eu?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 05:48:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say yes there is an over-representation of historical/cultural influences in me of the places I have been longer at, and that much of these influences were nationalised (e.g. a state TV, a dish provided...), but to call that a national idenity, I think is forced.

Maybe I'm reading things into what you write, but my impression is that it is there, even if in an attenuated, rejected form. As the what it should be called - I don't know. Presumably at least as a child you felt Hungarian to some extent as the default, almost automatic way children assume things. That wouldn't necessarily been the case with Germanness as a foreigner, though it could have been (I have no way of knowing).

In my case, while I developed a strong feeling of attachment to Geneva and to French culture in the broadest sense of the word, to the extent of feeling a sense of being at home when I visited Quebec in college, I never got any Swiss or French national identity - I was always a foreigner.

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 06:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'm reading things into what you write, but my impression is that it is there, even if in an attenuated, rejected form. As the what it should be called - I don't know. Presumably at least as a child you felt Hungarian to some extent as the default, almost automatic way children assume things.

I will reply in three directions.

The first 'default' I personally felt was actually something else, as I gained self-consciousness when in Yugoslavia. (One of my first surviving memories of thoughts is actually looking out of the window and thinking that 'this is my homeland'.) Later on, I did develop a feeling of Hungarianness, albeit not as default but school education and partly family, and the rejection (not of Hungarianness but the whole frame of reference) started to kick in very early (first grade, effects of thinking about some books I read).  I never could 'do' collective pride and shame even to the extent you describe, though I discovered that I have more of it than realised, as Euro-booster (back when I battled freepers).

I mention that what I diary or comment on ET is not a random selection of thoughts. I do aspire to bring unique material, or to cover things not covered, be it trains or obscure history or local politics. Given the current readership of ET, within the scope of my cultural influences, that also makes me the reporter for Hungary. And thus writing stuff is usually also an educational experience for me, and funnily enough, I never learnt as much about all things 'Hungarian' than when searching for stories or researching for ones I found in the last year and half...

On a second level, my case of having lived within multiple 'nations' and thinking about categorisations as small kid rather than torture hamsters may be not common, but I view the more general 'objective' identities (say Polish-speaking intelligentsia) vs. sense of identity issue you described differently. I do think that there are multiple collective identities in most people's minds, to the extent of feeling pride and shame and having in-group/alien distinctions and codewords and solidarities, even if they are 'aware' of only a singular national identity. So I see casting things in the national framework as a deeper denial (or more generously, oversimplification) than just of differing individual senses of a nation by the same name.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 04:54:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, the two main allies of the 'trojan horse' weren't even anti-Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to be slow—I have not been following European developments as much as I should—do you mean Malta and Cyprus?

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By past tense, I indicated governments now elected off -- Aznar of Spain and Berlusconi of Italy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
During the Lebanon crisis the unholy alliance of wanabee bombers included the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Czech Republic. It seems Atlanticism is a centre-right disease in Western Europe.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't there Europeans who think that "pro-American" is another term for "right-wing"?

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's generally the case in the West, but not in Central-Eastern Europe where pro-American = anti-Russian = patriotic.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but if you come here to the new members, the picture gets blurred. Here a significant part of the Atlanticists is on the mainstream left, though that left is nothing like the Western left. This mainstream left is in large part ex-communist, and in my view just switched which Big Brother to align towards. Meanwhile, as Marek pointed out, in the more extreme regions of the right, which here is usually sovereignist and sees the US as the source of unholy (even ungodly, heh) Western influence or a vehicle of the Great Jewish Conspiracy, there can be strong anti-Americanism, in fact stronger and much more visible than on the non-mainstream left (unfortunately).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:15:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This also skews the perspective of left-liberals. The smear that anti-neoconservatism equals anti-semitism is laughable in Western Europe or the US. Not the case in Poland. The folks I'm quoting are relatively mainstream, in the sense that they are leading commentators for one of the most influential media outlets in the country, one whose recent anniversary celebration drew top clerics and government politicians, and whose director is the PM's closest media ally (though the recent spat over Archbishop Wielgus may have strained that relationship)

btw, how much of this sort of stuff do you get in Hungary?

On the post-communist loyalty to the US, it's not just switching to another big brother, it was also a way of refuting the perception of themselves as Russian puppets.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot about the Russian puppet factor, though today it is valid only from Poland northwards.

btw, how much of this sort of stuff do you get in Hungary?

I'm not sure I understand the question -- do you mean to I hear of the Polish troubles in the local media, is there open anti-semitism in the media, or far-right-media--mainstream right collusion?

For the first, the answer would be yes, but not much -- the Archbishop issue was all over the news, but not too deeply.

For the second, yes there is, but the local little Goebbelses use a more veiled and less often religious language, and have a much more self-contradictory worldview, especially in terms of anti-semitism. Recently I talked to my brother who also knows some far-right types from work, and got similar impressions of a schisophrenic state of mind: these guys constantly talk about Israel (as if it were a domestic issue) and always note the Jewishness of an evil liberal media personality or Soros et al, but also proclaim that anti-semitism is a liberal slur on them and they have 'their' Jews.

Yes, far-right (even anti-semitic) Jews. Including one of the most notorious little Goebbelses, and there is also that interesting guy who was born to a Hungarian Jewish communist emigrée in South America, lived through the Pinochet coup and returned home then, where he volunteered to the secret service, met Carlos the Jackal here, got disillusioned when seeing what happens in Yugoslavia and became a mercenary for the Croats, later sought Jewish roots in Israel but found the I/P conflict, then came back to Hungary to become a speaker on Israel at meetings of the MIÉP party...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for the third, very much so. When Orbán was PM, and was in the let there be a two party system phase, creating a right-wing media network was one of the goals. And he wasn't picky in choosing whom to support. In one infamous interview, he gave the direction to his followers by proclaiming that the newspapers/magazines he reads are two notorious far-right ones. For fairness, there still doesn't exist a fully integrated right-wing media, but there is no far-right/centre-right delineation, and the Fidesz politicians studiously avoid any clear statement or act against both far-right politicians and media.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:01:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, far-right (even anti-semitic) Jews.

Reminds me of an article I read about jewish israeli youths of russian ancestry who stood before court for desecrating a (jewish) cemetary in Israel with nazi-symbols. It appeared both the court and the journalist was a bit confused of what to make of it.

I did not save the link though.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:10:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that could be more counted as a silly prank. A more strange and much graver case I read of long ago was that of a female Jewish Gestapo officer who hunted Jews in Nazi Germany (sorry, don't remember any details).

But either way, one shouldn't be that surprised: that generalising about groups of people (groups which can't even be properly defined) is false also means that prejudices aren't uniform either, so there may be prejudiced people some of the other prejudiced include in the Evil Group while they themselves don't.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:21:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I remember it, the youths were quite serious in their neo-naziness. You know (euro) far-right uniform, nazi symbols and such.

But either way, one shouldn't be that surprised: that generalising about groups of people (groups which can't even be properly defined) is false also means that prejudices aren't uniform either, so there may be prejudiced people some of the other prejudiced include in the Evil Group while they themselves don't.

And of course you are right.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:50:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so many Israelis question the "Jewishness" of many of the  Russian immigrants. Some extremists claim that as many as half of the immigrants don't have a drop of Jewish "blood." And even the Israeli Bureau of Statistics acknowledges that 23% of the Russians are not Jewish even by the lax standards of the Law of Return.
by Matt in NYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:50:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding far-right schisophreny about anti-semitism, I forgot the best example. Last year during the riots here, I wrote about the gang of 'Goy Motorists' who turned up at the far-right protests (showed them here).

Now the name already (goj = non-Jew in Yiddish) is already schisophrenic. But when journalists asked them about anti-semitism, they said no they aren't, "we have six Jewish members"! Bend your head around that: they take their name from Yiddish, a word to signify exclusion, but they aren't anti-semites as they involve Jews, but they keep account of the exact number of them...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 02:04:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I learned about the number of Jews among the mighty 7 original Russian oligarchs (pre-1998 ones) from NYT! It was surreal, especially after the perestroika years when only the "black hat" guys were counting Jews in science, administration, and history...
by Sargon on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 05:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for "right-wing"

Isn't it?

by Matt in NYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, unfortunately given the last few decades, it is. Still, America did have its brief progressive periods, such as when the liberalism of people like John Dewey was influential, so the equating of the two is a bit unfair, or at any rate, ahistorical.

Still, to be frank, I should admit that under current conditions, personally I do equate the two.

It is an interesting question why—when the American break for independence with its proclamation of universal human rights that, as far as I know, had some inspirational influence on the French to launch their own revolution—America has come to be the agitator for everything regressive. The only thing that comes to my mind at the moment is that Americans, because they were all immigrants, were never able to develop a deep sense of community, one that spanned the entire nation. And that inevitably lead to capitalism, with its indifference to the problem of the existence of poverty in a society of great wealth, developing unchecked, like a cancer (the New Deal and other expressions of the progressive impulse in America notwithstanding).

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden I am not aware of "pro-american" (and especially its counterpart "anti-american") being used much until after the end of the cold war. During the cold war I think the term was "pro-western" or something.

That it has come in use after the end of the cold war suggest to me that the term (and its counterpart) are acknowledgements of the "American Empire" with the question of if you are for or against it.

I think someone accused of being "anti-american" should defend themselves with explaining that they are anti-liechtensteinian. That all there actions are determined by their hatred for everything from Liechtenstein and that their single-minded purpose is to crush that nation and everything it stands for. If delivered the right way it should expose the underpinnings of the term "anti-american" (and thus also "pro-american"). (If one lives in say Austria, Switzerland or Liechtenstein one might want to choose Andorra instead.)

</rant>

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 07:22:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on whether a future England would decide to remain in the EU or not.

On the other hand, by today, the problem of Atlanticism took hold in too many countries. Presently, I'd say the main problem aren't the insanely pro-US medium powers or the stupid vassal small countries, but mainstream ones that have fallen for too much of it, primarily Germany and the EU Commission.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:28:25 PM EST
If any future England chose to leave the EU, it would have to surrender the enormous subsidy it is currently given. This would 1) never happen, and 2) be good for Europe.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:26:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
England would never admit to being subsidised by the EU.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a member state of the European Union, Scotland would possibly have more of a role in international affairs than now, as its politicians could argue their own case. Unionists have warned that an independent Scotland might not be able to join the EU if the UK was split. However, such a situation is highly unlikely, not least because the same argument of denying membership could be applied to an independent England. Similarly, many countries share overseas embassies and assets and there is no reason why Scotland and England couldn't continue to co-operate...

Hm, we had a long discussion with checking of historical precedents and such in a diary which name I have forgotten ("Nations of Europe"? - anyway widely commented). And according to our conclusion a country that breaks apart from the "mothercountry" does not automatically retain membership and has to apply. The "mothercountry" does however keep their EU-membership.

That the "mothercountry" in this case would be England I think is fairly certain. Even though scots might view it differently England is perceived as the main entity of UK, and just as Russia took over the position of the USSR in for example the UN I think England would carry on the obligations of the UK.

So Scotland would need to apply for membership and England would have a say over its negotiations. If the split is on good terms, this might mean little but otherwise England might block Scotland from joining.

Then there is of course the "Greater Luxembourg"-option. That is making a new union with an already existing member country. Ireland perhaps?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:03:36 PM EST
of Scotland be a member of the EU or would they have to apply and prove they could meet the criteria?
by observer393 on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 06:22:27 AM EST
It would have to negotiate an accession treaty, but it would obviously meet the criteria, so barring some politically motivated roadblocks (say, the split from England being acrimonious, or Greece and Cyprus wanting to extract a stronger EU stance on Northern Cyprus, or something like that) it should go through. However, an accession treaty needs to be approved in referendum in at least some EU member states.

See this comment subthread in MfM's diary on the Nations Of Europe, which begins with

There hasn't been a single case of breakup of an EU member state, and the treaties have no provisions about it. So we don't know what standing an independent Scotland or Euskadi would have in the EU.
and seemed to end with the position I outlined above.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 06:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given all that oil, I wonder if the Norwegian route would be in the cards.

Have to believe the SNP would require a referendum on membership.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 07:51:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference is that Scotland is more pro-EU than Norway or England. And the Netherlands doesn't have a problem having access to North Sea fields and being in the EU.

But, sure, a referendum would be appropriate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 07:58:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't know that.

Point taken on NL, but then, the quantities and proportion to pnb is quite different.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 08:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, I don't think Norwegian Euroscepticism is motivated by oil, it's mostly about fishing (especially whaling) and a good measure of Scandinavian "we have better standards than the EU anyway, so we'd have to downgrade". Scotland is not in that situation, I don't think. They tend to think the EU is a good thing, and Scotland receives structural funds.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 11:29:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My Norwegian partner - who actually voted "No" twice - tells me that oil was never mentioned the first time, as you imply, and that fishing was indeed a serious issue.

Moreover, many women - who tipped the balance in the second vote - were very much against the EU due to the "downgrading standards" point of view you mention.

But far and away the key issue was the Norwegian attitude to land ownership and both the "Odelsrett" - ie the law of promogeniture - and the obligation for farmers to live and work on the land.

The concept of absentee landlords/ rentiers - particularly by foreigners (where legal resrictions applied, and may still do) - was and remains anathema to most Norwegians.

There was a deeply held view that membership of the EU would lead to undesirable changes in land ownership and tenure, which would have a detrimental effect on Norwegian Society.

The Scots were - prior to the Union and the Clearances - in many ways identical in view to Norway (which they would be, bearing in mind the history), and in fact through the vehicle of Scottish Land Reform we are beginning to see the faintest stirrings of a possible change of direction.

There are deep issues here relating to flows of Capital and rural depopulation.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 02:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If England (with Wales and Northern Ireland) and Scotland are to re-negotiate their relationship, a Treaty of Disunion will be needed to replace the Treaty of Union which preceded the Acts of Union.

Just as in 1706-07 the negotiations may be a bit difficult, particularly on financial issues, but at the end of the process everybody should still be on reasonably good terms. I am sure England would not cause difficulties about Scotland joining the EU, because if it was not a member sorting out the consequences of disunion would be more difficult for England.

With both parts of the former UK in the EU, there would be minimal economic disruption or problems about the free movement of people. A resumption of the endemic lawlessness of the borders and the periodic wars, which characterised the Anglo Scottish relationship before the union (and indeed for a time after it with the two  Jacobite risings of the eighteenth century) would be in no ones interests.

by Gary J on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 12:20:52 PM EST
Let's look at all the necessary steps and the time frames involved...
  1. Scottish Parliament elections
  2. Scottish Independence Referendum
  3. Negotiation and approval of a Treaty of Disunion
  4. Negotiation and approval of an EU accesion treaty for Scotland
Let's recall that there is a UK parliamentary election no later than May 2009, and that an early election might be precipitated by a successful referendum.


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 12:31:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is possible that the new Prime Minister who will take over this year (if Blair keeps his promise to retire this year), will hold an early election to take advantage of any honeymoon he may have with the electorate.

The Scottish Parliament election will take place next May. For an independence referendum to be possible the SNP would need to assemble a coalition prepared to support the necessary legislation. This will not necessarily be easy, even if the SNP has had its best election result ever.

However on the assumption that the Scottish Parliament votes for a referendum (and further assuming the UK government does not challenge the legality as a referendum law may well be outside the powers granted to the Scottish Parliament) the referendum would probably take place in either the spring or autumn of next year.

If the referendum passes then, based on what happened in the eighteenth century, treaty negotiations would probably take about a year. Then the treaty would have to be ratified by both Westminster and Holyrood, before the Acts of Disunion were passed. I suspect it would be 2010 before the formalities were complete, unless there was a political decision to speed up the timetable.

by Gary J on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 02:03:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May 2009 is a likely election date, based on recent practice, but an election is not required under current law before June 2010 (five years after the current Parliament first met after the 2005 election).

It would also be possible to legislate to extend the term of the current Parliament. It would be crazy to hold a UK general election on the usual schedule, if the Scottish members were going to leave Westminster in three months.

by Gary J on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 02:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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