Sunday, 6 March 2011

The extended family

Last Thursday's 'yes' vote in the Welsh referendum suggests two possible trends that can be welcomed by National Anarchists and other radical/revolutionary nationalists.

You may or may not know that the Welsh were asked if they wanted further devolution of powers to the Welsh National Assembly (which has functioned since 1999) Hitherto the Assembly could only pass laws for Wales if they had been approved by by the UK parliament in London. The Welsh people were asked if they wanted the Assembly to be given the power to pass laws directly (without first seeking approval from London) over things like agriculture, education, health, housing, local government, fishing, forestry, culture, the Welsh language, water supply and social welfare - run of the mill stuff like that! ....The Welsh said 'yes'. The turnout was 35% (not that low a figure for this sort of thing) 517, 000 (63%) said 'yes', and a not insignificant 297, 000 (36%) said 'no'. This is not an astounding endorsement of devolved power, but then the Welsh only narrowly voted for having their own Assembly in the first place back in 1997. What this shows is that minorities - pioneers - make history. They take the lead and the masses follow. Relatively small numbers of people have changed the course of history by taking the lead - this is the human condition - and the masses (usually) follow. The great mass of people do not constitute the 'engine of history' as the Marxists would have us believe.

The 'yes' vote was strongest in the rural North West and West - areas where the Welsh language and therefore Welsh national identity, is strongest - and also in the valleys to the south where there has always been a healthy tradition of rebelliousness. The only region to return a narrow 'no' vote was Monmouthshire, an area where Welsh speakers do not top 12% and where English heritage and blood (one would have thought) must have played their part.

So what were those two trends of interest, mentioned earlier, of interest to National Anarchists? Firstly the 'yes' vote represents some form of appetite for political devolution, not much of a one, granted -the Welsh still cannot raise their own taxes - and it is nowhere near the the scale of decentralisation envisaged by National Anarchists: devolved power down to the village, parish or district level...But it is a start. It's important to be pragmatic in this day and age! The 'yes' vote also shows that the Welsh as an ancient nation are still hearty of spirit and consciousness. This is something to be applauded in this most cosmopolitan of epochs.

Secondly this referendum indicates that although the Welsh are very much a proud and unique people, the vote suggests that many still regard themselves (rightly) as part of a wider, extended family of British nations: i.e. the English, Scots, Welsh, Ulster-Scots, Irish, Cornish and Manx - peoples intertwined through hundreds of years of close cultural and blood ties. Although this truth may irritate the more resolute of Welsh nationalists, currently only 15% of the Welsh want full independence - could this be due to the close bonds of the British family of nations? A wider collective Britishness?

Speaking for myself as a National Anarchist, your editor would dearly love to see free and independent Welsh, English and Scottish nations alongside an independent Ulster and yes, Cornwall and Mann should their peoples want it. But this has to be within a framework of mutual respect and recognition of a shared, meta-tribal kinship throughout our Islands.

One task for UK based National Anarchists is to encourage this fashion for bourgeois political devolution as a springboard for the maximum tribal and localised autonomy which is at the heart of our programme.