Siol nan Gaidheal
Towards a new definition
If ever there was a term which needed redefinition it would have to be “nationalism”. Whether used with a small “n” , a capital “N", used positively, as a sociopolitical construct or contemptuously spat out by fashionable critics, this word never ceases to take on particular ideological colouring, betraying less a universally acceptable convention than the barely disguised prejudice of the definer.
Siol nan Gaidheal’s view on what constitutes the most salient and significant traits of nationalism is, needless to say, influenced by the obvious fact that we are a Scottish Nationalist body, albeit of the avowedly cultural and fraternal variety. We do not pretend that this highly complex notion can be wholly encapsulated in a word or two — it can, however, be usefully delineated as a philosophy or ideology, call it what you will, that informs the dynamics and policy orientations not only of bodies such as ourselves but fundamentally; nations, states, political groupings, individuals and societies however these may be constituted.
Far from being a dark, irrational force, deriving strength from so-called “atavistic” pulses, Nationalism is in reality the very normal and levelheaded orientation common to all the myriad peoples of the Earth and which consists in asserting the Nation as the fundamental constituency and basis for immediate communal solidarity, that of culturally distinct and defined populations. Thus to be a Nationalist is to view the Nation as the natural framework within which political and socio-economic action must take place. That is NOT to say that the Nationalist is ignorant of, neglects or indeed despises the supra and inter national, it is simply that his essential frame of reference, his priority area of concern, attachment and betterment is the National context, the one which through distinct cultural modality informs, nourishes and underpins his worldview and leads him to responsible yet determined action. His action is in essence as well as in practice outward-looking and progressive, seeking positive amelioration and improvement in all fields of his Nation’s development, including peaceful and collaborative coexistence with his equally distinct neighbours in other countries. Conscious of and indeed proud of national distinctiveness and achievement, the Nationalist does not in any way however, yield to puerile and blind “patriotism” which cannot conceive of the self-criticism and regular calling into question of national priorities which necessarily contribute to the Nation’s renewal and long-term well-being. The “Wha’s like us?” school of schmaltzy, tea-towel patriotism is the infantile response to otherness and foreign-ness of those who will never travel to other countries, never study their languages or cultures and will always wallow in the cheaply and parochially a-cultural. Conversely, a genuine, culturally confident Nationalist is also an internationalist, one who not only respects other linguistic, societal, ethical or artistic conventions but recognises and understands their validity within the contexts which saw their birth.
Cultural exchange and interfacing are the natural effects of international contact. The Nationalist does not seek to invalidate or stifle these contacts. He does not, however, subscribe to the view that wholesale or even partial importing of extraneous cultural practice is any kind of necessity. What is of use and of relevance to his national configuration will be considered on its merits and then adopted. There can be no policy of importing the foreign simply because it is exotic, simply because it has been deemed fashionable to do so. The grass is, in the eyes of the rational Nationalist, occasionally greener, sometimes withered and more often than not of exactly the same worth on the other side. The relative “worth” of the National as opposed to the “foreign” (a loaded, negative term) should be measured solely in terms of familiarity, relevance and adaptation, not according to hierarchical and necessarily arbitrary indices. The one proviso to this model of cultural relativism, and it is a fundamental one, is that the Nationalist views the national, in its individuality and difference, as valid (and validating) per se. Nationality in its broadest possible sense, cultural, political, social, economic and environmental is the vector on which human diversity, that great dynamic mosaic of difference, lives or dies. The Nationalist recognises the obvious yet very often occulted fact that to defend the unique and the particular is to strengthen the universal. Conversely the sniping and terminally tiresome voices of globalism and consumerist “multiculturalism” are the sirens of uniformity and abject submission to the mindless and rootless market. Today’s educated and inspirational Nationalist considers the Nation to be the bulwark on which the uniqueness of his ethno-cultural community will survive. A survival rendered all too urgent by the mercantile levelling of all “obstacles”—cultural or political—to Western “convenience” liberalism. All humanity is threatened by this, whatever the continent, whatever the colour of our skin. Diversity is non-negotiable to the Nationalist, it is the defining constant of our humanity as individuals, as societies and as a species. There can be no tolerance afforded to those who would bulldoze the myriad ethno-national phenotypes and practices of our kaleidoscopic world into the amorphous and terrifyingly inhuman hell of McWorldmart.com. The Nationalist therefore is at once idealist and pragmatist, confident in an ideology unsullied by the repugnant and unscientific pseudo-theories alleging superiority of races, determined to act in a responsible, humanistic fashion, yet yielding to no-one in the defence of a fundamental ethic, that of the unique and self-sustaining contribution that his national community has made and continues to make to humanity.
The Nationalist is the activist who views “progress” as entirely dependent on bio and ethno-diversity as the guarantees to variability and flexibility in human and natural development. The organically developed yet beautifully humanistic insurance to our survival as a polymorphous, multi-dimensional species.
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