… now that devolution’s there …
But here’s one commentator who isn’t happy that old empires are being replaced by human-scaled political formations. As the super-sized nation-state totters and reels, historical cultural affinities are spontaneously reviving themselves:
In its place comes a vast phalanx of somewhat ill-defined racial types, clamouring for recognition â€” from Catalonia, the Basque region, Flanders and the two Galicias, from Transylvania, from Friesland, Brittany, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, ad infinitum.
The author, Rod Liddle, tries to delegitimize the revival of historical identities as “tribal stuff” which he dismisses as “the most atavistic and baseless of principles.” But why, if identification with one’s extended family is baseless, has it defined human history so profoundly, and, more important, why does it continue to shape current events (including today’s never-ending presidential campaign)?
Mr. Liddle indulges in the nihilism and extreme sceptisicm that multicult/globalists often resort to in claiming that races don’t exist because, so they claim, it’s impossible to put anything into a category — especially people:
Which brings us to what is meant by â€˜Englishâ€™, that race represented by a patron saint from Cappadocia or maybe Palestine, which converses in a modern derivative of low German, was created by an invasion from France and whose gene pool is hopelessly mingled with that of our Celtic neighbours and that of any number of influxes from France, from the Jewish diaspora, from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
This kind of thinking can be shot down with but a whiff o’ logic. Aristotle’s categories are just as appropriate for human categories as they are for anything else. Folks like Mr. Biddle assume that an other-worldly ideal must be the starting point for any system of knowledge; since all attempts to pack reality into those ideals fail, then knowledge is impossible.
Pshaw! Let’s instead work with what’s real and build our ideas around that. A nation, just like an individual, arises from a whirlwind of apparently disparate and accidental causes. What’s more, both nation and individual never stop adapting. That’s the real world philosophical idealists can’t explain, and therefore dismiss as not quite real. However, Aristotle’s categories of substance, relation, place, and time correpond well with our understanding of genetic history, family ties, nationality, and history. Richard Weaver provided one of the best explanations of how categories are essential to human knowledge. In his essay, Status and Function, he wrote:
… we see things maintaining their identity while changing. Things both are and are becoming. They are because the idea or general configuration of them persists; and they are becoming because with the flowing of time, they inevitably slough off old substance and take on new. The paradox of both being and becoming is thus continuously enacted. We say that there is a “nature of things,” but this nature ever appears in a changing embodiment, so that if we attended only to the latter, we should no sooner say of a thing that “it is” than we should be obliged to say “it was” or “it is now something else.” It is an ancient observation that “no man steps in the same river twice,” yet we continue to conceive it as a river and to call it by one name. At one and the same moment permanence holds us enchanted and change urges us on. Visions of Order, p. 23.
Existence, argues Weaver, is identified by both status and function, that is, by what a person or thing is and what he or it does. There is something essential that lives on despite the changes a thing, person, or culture experiences. The same applies to nations, says Weaver:
The same process is visible even when we look at the political state. It persists under one name, and it may even affirm in its organic law that it is indestructible. But its old leaders pass on or are removed, and new ones appear. But while these individual particles are being shuffled and replaced, “the state” goes on, maintaining some character and identity through all these changes. The most conservative state must yield something to the pressure of historical increment, and the most “progressive” one conserves something that it considers its special form and spirit.” Visions of Order, p. 24
With that in mind, notice that Mr. Liddle eventually stumbles upon the answer to his own objections:
But when I examine precisely what it is to which I feel allegiance, I find that it is that bleak and discredited notion, the nation state: Great Britain. It is Britain, not England, with which I feel a shared identity and, try as I might, I cannot separate the southern province from the rest simply because we say â€˜nowâ€™ instead of â€˜nooâ€™ or â€˜noyâ€™ …
And isn’t that the whole point? We’re in an age of redefining who we are. When I was younger, it was the Free World vs. the Soviet Bloc. “We”Â included Americans, Danes, and others,Â suchÂ asÂ Vietnamese south of the 17th parallel, while “they” were Russians, Chinese, and Vietnamese north of the 17th parallel. Despite the “universalism” of their Marxist-Leninist ideology, ancient loyalties split the Russians and Chinese and united the Vietnamese.
The massive influx of legal and illegal immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean that Liddle tries to list as just one more component of British identity is actually corrosive to it. That’s why floodtide immigration is simultaneously dissolving the idea of “Britishness” while focusing attention on the actual and historical meaning of “Englishness.”
Meanwhile, in the last days of the republic once known as “America” …