Siol nan Gaidheal

The Necessity of Nationalism

A nationalist is necessarily an internationalist, and celebrates the great weave of cultural diversity of which their nation represents a single thread. Indeed the critics of nationalism are often betrayed into their posture of antipathy by their confusion of nationalism with the narrow chauvinism they secretly profess and which has been employed historically to entrench their economic advantage by asserting a cultural supremacy over subject peoples. Were these peoples to aspire to self-determination, to seek to attain freedom as a people, they would stand accused of charges of which they were entirely innocent, accused because those charges are the only way, after generations of oppression, that their accusers can relate to what their aspirations imply - whereas nation is to those aspiring to be free the repository of all that makes freedom meaningful, to their oppressors it has been but a means of levying armies and articulating dominance. Thus is the oppressor impoverished and in his self-absorbed myopia he will seek with his criticism to rob others of a concept of nation that enriches them. Therefore a nationalist stands shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed of the world and repudiates the crimes committed against them in the name of "nation" by those for whom a mere chauvinism has proved to be of temporary convenience.

A primary reason for a nation to aspire to freedom and self-determination is to enable it to fulfil one of its duties to the community of nations it can then take its place among, the duty of custodian of its part in the cultural inheritance of the world. Metaphors inevitably prove odious when discussing such matters, as they invariably elicit inaccurate interpretations and prompt unintended inferences. The term custodian in no way should be taken to imply the preservation of something static or dead. Rather, the nation is the proper forum for the nurturing in all the participants in that national culture of ways they can effectively express their humanity, and is a fluid, vibrant, living thing. A nationalist admits that such expression is fully engaged in the specificities of the participants' circumstances, and is not an abstract construction. Such abstract constructions have been attempted and have blighted more than a century during which people have been restricted to expressing themselves only as finite economic atoms conforming to this or that theory, ultimately finding themselves alienated, dehumanised, and capable of any atrocity. A nationalist is in essence tolerant because, in rejecting the spurious universalisms which have beguiled the last century, the various differing and complementary modes of relating to and expressing ones humanity entailed by the worlds nations are accepted. Nevertheless, while nationalists may appreciate the beauty of each, they have the duty of custodian only in respect of their own.

The path to self-knowledge begins in the real world where we accidentally reside and in whose effects we lodge our interim hopes and fears. As we consider our connections with this world radiating outward from us, from the most mundane and intimate comforts and irritants to the horizon of our awareness where we begin sense ourselves on the brink of something greater than ourselves, we find many different answers to the question, "who am I?" We rise from our slumber and set forth towards that horizon, and on the way encounter those who would press upon us the masks of temporary convenience, identities defined by ideological affiliation, lifestyle choice, and other such intellectual chewtoys and distractions. But it is only when we look upon the dawn flooding over the horizon before us that we recognise the lustre of truth. And though we come to it last, we acknowledge its prior claim on us, and say "I am a Scot."

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