Nationalism, in the mind of a nationalist

It’s the racing through life to strive for a goal in recognition to that of your ancestors; to seek a worldly vindication; the confirmation of the values one holds dear that match an example left over; to fulfill a feeling, civic or personal, nationally or individually; to complete or uphold some tangible purpose, or to find affirmation in your beliefs in the proving of action or thought that enjoins the values of the nation into which your blood was sown. Nationalism is the continuation of an idea, simply put; the coalescing of a point wherein the awakening moment of national conscience spreads to envelop, or expand upon, the zeitgeist of the populace, and in turn, helps to further the goal, or perceived destiny, of the idea of a people or culture, nation or ethnicity in regards to internal or outside influence contested against it. It is the idea that one thought preoccupies the collective mind of a nation above all else and in disregard to another; or at least a portion of that nation, in an effort to achieve some definite point in the future; a goal to demand, or work toward that inspires, and conjoins, the motivation of a collective in endeavoring to realize a certain manifest destiny; i.e. independence.

Wha sae base as be a slave‘ is a line taken from a Robert Burns poem, Scots Wha Hae; a wonderful poem that encapsulates the feeling of many a modern Scotsman today; and yet it is not the inherent modernity of the poem’s message that we should focus on here, but the message intended for those of the time it was published; to the Radical movement, as part of a British government crackdown during the French Revolutionary Wars, wherein France declared war on the Kingdom of Great Britain, on 1 February 1793. It was a message intended to stir up feelings of national pride and awareness, out with those of Britishness, for the English to die in the effort of subduing the mighty and chivalrous French, rather than Scots serving once again as shock troops for a disinterested army bent on using up such stock in the game of empires; a result of increasing strength for the victor; a weakening stance for the participant; i.e. Scotland.

When one expends his life for another, without gain for the nation for which bore his blood; should glory be found in dying valiantly for the oppressor, or in the refusal to move upon his word? Standing and dying to refuse such imperial demands, to withstand it all for the chance to maintain fields and crops against such lofty notions as conquering; surely, in the moments between blind subservience, a man should fight only when he is required; and not when it is demanded of him without merit, or provocation. Glory stands to be won by those who strive against all odds to win it; not by those who know nothing of loss, and whom command a score to take it without personal consequence.

Nationalism is the consequence of division; a division resulting from a source of truth; the defining of a people from the mud of civilization; of Gaels and Picts from that of Angles and Saxons. It is the refusal of having ones’ identity obscured by that of another; to remain a distinction to the rapid domination of outside influences. It is a continuation of a fight that has been raging for millennia; a struggle between factions of differing ideals and culture that might once have been similar, but have long been divided by the differences thrust upon one another by the inherent circumstances of being factions of differing ideals and purposes; regardless of how close such factions are to become.

Nationalism is a component of identity, and identity is a component of culture; that which joins a population of peoples beneath one banner, so to speak. But in modern circumstances, such modern nationalism can easily lend itself to Blood and Soil nationalism; of which I can be readily accused. I don’t doubt that, nor do I dispute that; I’m a product of my beliefs, and my upbringing; in my mind, a Scotsman should die for his country. There is no other option other than such a sacrifice; to die and be accountable for ones place in society; it should be a contract, to further the cultural will of one’s nation; of ones people. It isn’t a modern ideal, nor thought; but one that I myself cannot escape as modern as the world in which I inhabit is; the idea of following Wallace toward the pursuit of freedom and liberty for the Scottish people; my people, is something that tugs fervently at my thoughts often; despite even the impotence of inaction of which plagues any such urges with the morality thrust upon me by the age in which I live.

Nationalism is the compulsion to see a result achieved for a country; to be a part of, or to see won, the resulting fate of an entire people and nation. To push in a direction that swerves all hindrances, and settle upon a path wherein one can send all hope upon a road to clear skies and toward fertile fields, in return for bountiful payoffs and profit honestly won. Nationalism is pride, and pride is no more a sin than joy. Pride is why nations exist. Pride is why flags fly, and why language continues in all of its hues and colorful variety. Pride is not a fault, and should be encouraged. Without it, the world would be no more than a collection of slate-grey monotony devoid of individuality or character. It is not to the exclusion of others that such nationalism exists, for many in this world are rich and wonderful in culture and design; but if one can appreciate the outside world, then surely one can also appreciate that which lies closer to home.

Scotland was the warrior; the backbone; the veritable shock-troop of an empire. We were the blood and the flesh, the cushion to withstand against the outer influences of an array of enemies. Wave upon wave, did we stand, to receive all; to fight and die for what, for where lines once stood ever changing; an inch or more. Whilst some might be willing to trade steps with their fellow man, I would be willing to just take a step forward. Yet, more importantly, Nationalism of the blood and soil sort, should utterly transcend such meaningless matters as gay and straight; for what does it matter to me should the man to my right be gay, when all he needs do is fight alongside me? What Scotsman would forsake his brother if such kin would follow his own path, to be gay or bisexual; that is no hindrance to fulfilling ones place in such manifest destiny; whether you’re gay or lesbian, Scotland is the soil in which your blood takes root. It is the rock and dirt through which you yourself found the light of creation; to grow strong and tall among the lofty example of such champions glory as Bruce and Wallace, Montrose, Galgacus, MacColla, Kenneth, MacBeth, MacPherson, Le Hardy, and the Good Sir Douglas. Of all the detrimental attitudes found within such nationalism as I myself might be charged guilty of, this one has to be the issue I simply cannot bear the most, and one I bring up only as a second thought amid this patriotic musing.

Nationalism to me, ultimately screams out for some great sacrifice; a goal or purpose that sets all ideals and dreams in the sphere of actions, big or small; whose end game is one of unison; a spark that lights the tinder. And dear God, that I would die in fire but to see my people free; to see them free in every sense of the word; I would tackle all within my limited power to manifest such destiny. And yet, such conviction has been tempered by the perverse conjoining of such national ideals as sport and identity. When an English person wins, they are English, and when they win, despite them being Scottish, they are British; but when they lose they are Scottish only. This is our role; to prop the national psyche of the English; our entire relationship as unified nations boiled down to a single petty fault; a bug-bear at most. But, I often wonder, that outside of this train of hypothetical and philosophical idealistic thought; would I really be willing to leave behind everything; to have my life ended so abruptly and at such a young age; done before it was started, wifeless and childless? Would I truly be willing to sacrifice it all, and all of that which might lie before me still? Yes. Something in me says yes. I don’t know why; perhaps I’m just wired differently; but it holds no fear for me. It is worth it.

My dream, ultimately, is for Scotland to just be free. To lead an existence like that of so many other nations; to take root and flourish; to step on no ones’ toes, nor seek to dominate, or tell others how they should live their lives. I don’t care about empires or influence, nor do I care about the global reaching and maintaining of some pathetic notion of now long dead power. Neither does Scotland; she never has, content only to defend fiercely when aggression was threatened, and be peaceful for the sake of peace. Scotland should be herself; ever beautiful, peaceful, and free once again.

Cinead MacAlpin.