On the various existential crises of citizenship..

Across Europe, there are nationalisms of many different types. In Britain as in Ireland finding the weight of a new citizenship is proving tough and in complicated by ‘red in tooth and claw’ politics: whether Bertie’s ill-fated attempt to get a national debate off the ground around any future implementation of Schengen and what it might ask of national consciousness in the Republic; or the political intriguing around Brown’s attempts to get a sane discussion going on the ever vexed theme of Britishness.

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  • pith

    Nationalism is a detestable political idea. All human progress has been based on internationalism which complements rather than negates local identity.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Do you think that there shouldn’t be seperate breeds of dogs,say, and that no ‘national’ characteristics should be preserved? Don’t talk pith!

  • pith

    Pancho’s harse,

    Do you know what “complements” means?


    “On the various existential crises of citizenship..”

    Good God Mick. That’s some headline.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thought you might like it…

  • RepublicanStones

    only those who fear that they lack any kind of national identity or culture would think nationalism detestable.

  • dub


    unless i have got this seriously wrong, joining schengen would be very easy in some ways for the irish psyche.. it would be distancing us from Britain and asserting our independence. Problem is it would also mean distancing ourselves from the North (unless northern executive can be persuaded to come in with us as per the IT editorial).

    Could you clarify what you mean when you imply that joining schengen would be difficult as it would involve getting closer to Britain? Surely the opposite is the case, NOT joining Schengen makes us look like we are a vassal state of the uk…

  • ribery


    my name is Frank Ribery and je veudrais contribuer to this debate. I am a good footballer and I am the last real Frenchman on the French team.

    This is because the Schengen agreement keeps out all except the fast ones oo are good jumpeurs.

    So. D’accord. Sink about it.

  • pith


    I have no fear of lacking national identity. I am happy with my own. However, I pity nationalists for their fear of humanity.

  • HeadTheBall

    Wish I could remember to whom I owe the quote but:

    “Nationalism always seems to me to be suspended between some imagined splendid past and some imagined splendid future”.

  • abucs

    Personally Mick,

    citizenship now is only a piece of paper.

    Any attempt to make it stand for something universally respected, shared and proud is self evidently false and forced.

    Nationalism is also seen as intolerant and creating seperation between people.
    This is especially in Western Europe where so many diverse groups now live with eachother. not so much outside of the west.

    I think it is more a Western European phenomena than a British one.

    Things have always been not so simple but, generally perhaps, once with a more mono-cultural race, religion, language as well as common history, allegiance, predicament and interests you could make the case citizenship stood for something else. As a people you could leverage off these shared attributes to make it mean something else. for good or bad, like the work ethic of the Japanese after losing WW2, or the irreverant self reliance of the british and Irish convicts in Australia, or the German organisation and determinedness between (and during) the world wars, or the outspoken negroes in America during the civil rights marches.

    Western europe can’t leverage off shared experience like that any more. It seems sometimes that we spend most of the time argueing with eachother.

    But that is because we are disparate. Seperateness has good outcomes too – variety, mix of ideas, non tyrannical, more democratic voices encouraging distribution of wealth.

    But it has bad outcomes too – fear, anger, lack of trust or belonging, disparate allegiance to the point of conflict and intolerance in some quarters IMHO (although some would argue).

    sometimes it’s race and religion based that we argue about but of course it can be and is many other things – politics, environment, history, taxes, welfare etc.

    Citizenship is simply a piece of paper now, lets be honest and not try to pretend it means something that we all rally around. those days are gone.

    Whether it is progress or problems that it brings i don’t know.

    I have family now that are citizens of a few nations. They are still mainly English speaking but some are bi-lingual. They have different religions and philosophies and married into diverse cultures and races. some like politics, or music, or TV or sport or holidaying and some can’t stand some of those things.

    That’s just one family which is not so non typical now. When you look at a whole nation there is not really much that you can uniquely claim is practised and cherised universally by only that nation.

    Citizenship simply means a piece of paper which entitles you to the benefits of that state and to be ruled by it’s laws.

    It is easy to dismiss and disregard nationalisms but it would simply be another internal arguement that eats up newspaper print and gets nowhere.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘I pity nationalists for their fear of humanity.’

    What humanity would that be????
    Unionisms idea of humanity??????

  • pith

    Please please please look around you and realise that the world is bigger than NI. Nationalism exists in many places and in most with as negative an impact as here. Unionism has eff all to do with it. “Unionism’s idea of humanity?” No no no no. If you want twenty exclamation marks you can have them.