Is nationalist really a dirty word today?

Nearly 200 new nation states since 1945-but the possibilities are still endless as the above map shows

A PROMINENT Welsh blogger has urged the national movement to consider abandoning the term “nationalist” to describe itself.

In a column in Welsh language news site, Golwg 360, editor Huw Prys Jones suggested there were just too many negative connotations to the English language term today, which could not but serve to damage the national cause.

He therefore suggests that the term be dropped from use, although the article doesn’t actually specify what term should be used in its place.

Mr Jones makes the interesting observation that the Welsh term ‘cenedlaetholwr‘ is less loaded, less divisive and less controversial than ‘nationalist’ .And also less imperialist in its overall reach.

Welsh version less loaded, divisive and controversial

In a generally thoughtful article, which expresses outrage at the Amazon fires and the current Brazilian government led by Jair Balsonara, the editor goes on to declare that this is another example of the dangers of placing the emphasis on sovereignty and nationality above all else.

Although, it could be pointed out that NASA’s satellite data which monitors global wildfires states that the number of individual fires(105,000) in the Amazon in 2019 was actually exactly the same as the average figure for the dry season in Brazil over the last 15 years. With a large part of such fires also being a natural part of the cycle of growth on the forest floor.

Perhaps, it’s not coincidental that this story was given so much prominence at exactly the same time as the G7 summit, which allowed the new French Napolean, President Macron to receive more publicity for his globalist control narrative.

With Bolsonara in power in Brazil, Trump in power in America and Johnson in power in the UK, the author argues that the whole concept of  adopting a’nationalist’ perspective is now fatally compromised.

A modern day political leprosy?

And that Wales should do its level best to avoid being infected by what he believes to be a form of modern political leprosy.

The editor, the current mayor of Llanrwst Town Council in Gwynedd, added we should be moving much more in the direction of trans-national, even global institutions, and seek to finally consign the notion of a nation-state to the dustbin of history.

The argument is made that many of our major modern day problems are so large in scale and impact, that they can only really be mitigated by robust international actions.

Which necessarily means nations transferring much of their individuality to serve the greater whole.

And that Wales has no real choice but to fall in line as well, and accept that the notion of the nation-state is now an anachronistic remnant from the 19th century.

Re-defining the concept of Wales in a 21st century setting

It appears a sane and attractive argument on the surface, and it’s an interesting example of how some well-intentioned patriots are now grappling with the question of how to re-define the whole concept of Wales in the 21st century.

But, placing such faith in trans-national institutions, be they the EU, the UN, or even a possible World Government, just flies in the face of all the historical evidence of what happens when you do amass all power in one large institutional setting.

History shows us very faithfully thatwhenever empires of any nature are built, they just always want more and more power for themselves over people-whatever benign intentions may exist at the outset. 

Such large entities also invariably attract more sociopaths than usual to its ranks, who simply want to lord it over other people, and enrich themselves and their families, over and above any other consideration. 

The old dictum from Lord Acton still holds true:” ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’. 

Imperialist ambitions always get corrupted

The Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Empire, the American Empire show very clearly all the dangers associated with such ‘international over reach’.

Any new trans-national institution would be prone to exactly the same forces that bedevilled and eventually consumed all previous empires.

Humanity is much better served when power is dispersed, where leaders are closer and more accountable to people and where citizens actually feel that they have a real stake in whatever order that rules them. 

A nationalist mindset part of every nation’s development

It’s surely no coincidence that some of the best ranking nations in terms of quality of life for its citizens are smaller nations where people feel closer to the levers of power, and where higher levels of trust thus exist between both individuals and each other and individuals and their state.

It’s also not a coincidence that such small nations are amongst the best economic performers as well. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland  all being in the top 10 such countries in Europe in 2018( World Economic Forum report)

And the undeniable truth is that such nations have only been able to achieve such success by having a “nationalist” mindset at the outset.

Not a binary choice between sovereignty and world-wide outlook

But, then it’s also not a zero sum game between sovereignty and adopting a more global perspective on life.

I don’t think that even the most blinkered Welsh nationalist would want to see a self-enclosed, autarchy emerging here in Wales( an economic market serving Welsh needs alone).

On the contrary, most nationalists are only too keen on having an international perspective on things, not least since it shows that the national cause can be linked to other examples all over the world.

And there are obviously ways in which people of all nations can adopt a global perspective of their own accord, for example, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and an increasing awareness of the dangers of pollution in our world and the need to tackle that pressing problem.

And on the other side, would even the most swivel-headed globalist really want to give up entirely on the key ingredients of nationality, language, culture, land which are the staple  features of every single nation’s life? . 

Both perspectives can co-exist to some extent.

Aspirations to become a nation state

Arguing that Wales shouldn’t use a ‘nationalist’ narrative because of those really, really awful nationalists, Trump, Bolsonara and Johnson tends to play again to this notion that we should always have to give equal weight to external circumstances as  to our own internal circumstances  here in Wales.

The idea that Wales shouldn’t aspire to be a nation-state because of the ‘bad’ nation states that exist at present is a bit like saying you’d better not venture out on any motorway in your car- just think of all those awful pile-ups that happen from time to time.

Why is it a given that ‘nationalists‘ in Wales would automatically follow exactly the same path as Bolsonara, Trump and Johnson?

Same path as Bolsonara, Trump and Johnson?

Speaking in general terms, theirs is an “expansionist” nationalist mindset, whereas all the evidence suggests that a  Welsh version would be a very different “consolidatory”mindset, seeking only to consolidate  and strengthen Wales’s identity, and empower its people to make the most of their own individual potential and the potential that lies within the land of Cymru itself.

Quite simply- if you want Wales to be a nation state, and take its place amongst the 200 or so similar entities that have come into being since 1945- you have to call yourself a nationalist, period. And make use of that term unashamedly as well.

I for one would have no problem adopting a slogan along the lines of ‘Let’ s make Wales the greatest small country around’!

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