July 29, 2007

IF THE BLOODY BUSINESS WAS LONG ENOUGH AGO IT DOESN'T COUNT?:

Monarchy is the key to our liberty: The institutions that attract the keenest scorn are actually what protect our democracy today (John Gray, July 29, 2007, The Observer)

Liberal opinion clings to the ideal of self-determination as an article of faith, but the truth is that constructing nation-states is nearly always a bloody business. The US became a modern nation-state only after a savage civil war, and France only after Napoleon. China is pursuing a similar path today - with consequences that in Tibet are not far from genocide. Nation building is a prototypical modern project, and yet the result has often been to undermine modern values of personal freedom and cosmopolitanism.

Look at those successful countries with borders that enclose different 'nations': Spain with its Catalans; the United Kingdom with Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish; Canada with the Quebecois. It is worth pondering the fact that the few genuinely multi-national democracies that exist today are mostly monarchies and relics of empire. Except in these irrational relics, democracy has nowhere managed to flourish at a multi-national level. Multi-national democracy has been most enduringly embodied in pre-modern constitutions.

Happily, we do not face in Britain any of the horrors that have accompanied the building of nation-states in other parts of the world.


Those countries are, of course, devolving into nations as well. But the more risible bit here is the notion that the United Kingdom wasn't likewise the product of savagery. Edward was the Hammer, not the Pal of, of the Scots.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 29, 2007 7:06 AM
Comments

He was no friend of the Welsh either.

Posted by: Bartman at July 29, 2007 7:49 AM
« WHAT CHOICE DID HE HAVE?: | Main | NUKES DON'T FILL YOUR GAS TANK: »