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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Just Another Beat of the Heart

Frans has been in touch, he is threatening to send me more material, I can't wait. Meantime he also tells me one of the visitors to my site has complained that I refer to the Netherlands as Holland:

My mentioning of my position as the ambassador of Bonoboland on my Dutch weblog at least took one visitor to your site. Rightly he commented that he does not live in Holland but in the Netherlands. Holland consists of just two of our twelve provinces!

Frans is of course right. But is this not symptomatic of our whole European problem? The Cathedral and the Bazaar man somewhere has a piece about the Lockean theory of property. Who gets the land first and ring-fences it, gets to keep it. (Terra Lycos and AOL-Time Warner tried this ploy in the virtual world, and mercifully they failed). We are all soooooooooo proud of our nations and our national identities. But what are they, a random hotch potch. Thereis no nation state in western Europe which does not have a national minority which does not want to be there. What we have in Europe is cultural private property. Even in Frans neighbouring country - Belgium - there is a state which is about to fall apart, because the two cultures cannot live together. And then we have the Euro-realpolitic where the big states (see earlier post about the Doha round and agricultural reform) get to have all the say. What do the citizens of the Netherlands have to say about the decision to 'loosen up' the growth and stability pact.?

Yesterday I had a mail from an anthropoligist in Valencia about the Bulgarians down there:

Durant anys he estat treballant en el que ha estat el
tema de la meva tesi: identitats i fronteres territorials i culturals, i concretament en el cas de les identificacions i categoritzacions nacionals. El tema té a veure amb la qüestió de la immigració, però hi està un xic allunyat. Aquest proper estiu (de juliol a octubre) el passaré a la Queen's University of Belfast, a on aprofundiré precisament en el tema que m'ha ocupat principalment. Això fa que tota col·laboració sigui complexa, a curt termini.

Now the majority of you will understand nothing of this. This is precisely my point. This boy comes from Valencia which is considered in Barcelona to be part of Catalan Territory (together with the Balearic Islands). He has spent half his life studying identity and territorial and cultural frontiers. I have every sympathy with him. He feels Catalan in a society where the big power real-politik says he should feel Spanish (Valencia is essentially a 'colonised' region of Spain, with the medieval-original Jewish-Arabic population having been expelled and almost everyone there now being a 'settler': the important difference being that our European system of national identities has not allowed for any 'solution' of this problem. This boy's answer, to try to understand himself: three months in Belfast. May god help him!!).

Anyway, the bottom line is: let the debate commence. Is this the best we can do? David Miller in his clasic work On Nationality suggests that there are two types of people in the world: those for whom the question of their identity is paramount, their roots, their culture, their homeland the most important things there are, and those for whom the world is one gigantic supermarket of cultures, wher on can go shopping and change clothes with complete ease and liberty. I belong unrepentantly to the latter group, but I understand and respect the former. My only question is: what price are they prepared to pay for the things they hold dear? Now Frans:

When I wrote to contemplate on contributing to a regime change in the US I did not imply of course that I did not want regime change in Europe. But with “Iraq” Bush and Blair have made clear that the ideology of no interference in internal affairs has ended. They have good arguments for that too: the UN-declaration of the human rights ASKS for interference. We live in a new situation now. There should be much more (preferrably peaceful!) interference in “internal affairs”

I was a little bit amazed by the reaction of Maynard (does he blog?) and Margy on my contribution on “Fortuyn”; amazed by the similarity of developments and perceptions on these items in so different parts of the world. I think it all refers to the “place” of the state. What can governments achieve (in the end) and what part of the population look upon the government as representing the common interests; as something ou can really rely on to some extend.

I really hope that your “Crossing the Gate of Deflationland” can really contribute to some (european) actionplan.

A tip from another visitor of my blog: “Africa's Scar Gets Angrier” of Georg Monbiot. Not fit for readers that tend to depression.

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