Thursday, February 09, 2006
Definition of someone who has lost his faith: someone who fantasizes that he can build systems to control the future and his fears thereof.

He who practices such reason without faith gives definition to heresy.

If the heretic isn't working in the fields of science, he'll probably end up defining humiliation and being broken, taking down all invested in his faithless system.

After seeing Roger Simon link to this comment by EU Justice and Security Commissioner, Franco Frattini, i was wondering if i had found the pefect defintion of Dhimmiwitdude:
The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

Or is it that western leaders are now playing Taqiya to provoke their citizens?

Or are they simply demonstrating the massive stupidity (engendered by the faithless cowardice) of European elites who fail to see that so many of the great achievements of their ancestors relied on the many national divisions within Europe, and the productive contests and lack of overall control that the system of nation-states entailed? When we now have twits (i'm thinking maybe it's time to get back to racial-national slurs) who think they can muffle all of Europe in one swell regulatory blow, have we not perhaps defined Eurabia?

Is it not now time to get over the loss of faith in our nations engendered by World War I? Would you agree that Europeans are only really threatened by Islam or Arabization when they are defined as Europeans, not as Frenchmen, Danes etc.? If many are burning the Danish flag, it is perhaps because the Muslim street don't want to have to admit they can never conquer a nation (not even little ones like Denmark or Israel), but lopping off and replacing the head of an empire or tranzi bureaucracy (or getting it to speak on your behalf) is what their leaders have only ever done. They know what to do with that kind of power, but not the kind that comes from those whose make a covenant to rule themselves, on the model of God's Peculiar People (and not his Umma). History suggests that it is easier to reduce Ottomans to a distant memory than, say, Armenians, which is maybe why Islam doesn't like history.


Buddy Larsen said...

Well said, 'Peers. You're right--PC can't be merely discredited, it has to be reversed back to the era of the hearty west. Those whose feelings are hurt via some comparison or other will have a goal, then, to excel and move ahead.

A tiny little incremental attitude change--times large numbers--can re-color this entire conflict, and put back in the world the antidote--the topical sanitation--for the current and particular festering wound.

Rick Ballard said...

Hear, hear.

The EUnuchs will at least be a little quieter when we deal with Iran. The constant groveling must be putting a strain on their voices.

who, me? said...

"We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

Sounds like a spanked child begging Mommy for permission to come out of the corner. What gives? this mindset may have rotted the synapses.

Knucklehead said...

Why didn't he just say, "We surrender." It would have sounded so much more dignified.

Peter UK said...

"We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."

This is gibberish,if EU Justice and Security Commissioner, Franco Frattini,is talkig of regulation then it is an imposition and not self regulation.Only with legislation or the threat of legislation will the Commission be able to impose this.

What these EU elites,that in itself is somewhat of an oxymoron,the Commission is made up of third raters,forget is that there are very large indigenous populations who at best hold the EU project in contempt and who have, at the very least, "form" when it comes to removing heads of state.
If the Eurocrats lean too far in appeasing the Muslim minorities,it will be they who take the last trip in a tumbril.

Buddy Larsen said...

That's a helluva thought, Knuck--do we have a right to have no rights? Do we owe anything to the folks on either side of us?

Pastorius said...

Interesting thoughts, TruePeers. You are looking for a new Nationalism to arise.

That would be problematic in America.

But, I don't know that we have the problem you describe because our nationalism is defined by football and crassness. (hint: that was a joke.)

Anyway, I think you are definately looking in the right direction. However, I must say, the idea that our leaders are playing taqiyya in order to get us to wake up is very doubtful.

Barry Dauphin said...

Are you sure that wasn't a quote from Eason Jordan?

truepeers said...

Pastorius, nationalism in America problematic? I'd say America is something of a model nation - which is why it is still so strong, free and widely resented - even if almost half the people there are fighting against its future. As long as you are still honestly arguing over the Constitution and the founding fathers you are alright. But when you start thinking about trading it away from a thousand pages of bureaucratese and a culture from nowhere, then you should worry. And as long as there is football and jazz...;>

Here's another definition of American culture for you: anywhere people are speaking English without ever thinking about England.

David Thomson said...

"Here's another definition of American culture for you: anywhere people are speaking English without ever thinking about England."

That's an excellent point. Thank you.

Eric Blair said...

"The Era of the hearty West"?

Ummm...ok, I'll bite. When, exactly was that?

Buddy Larsen said...

Eric, to date it, how about, up until April 30, 1975 ?

Eric Blair said...

buddy, that's silly. The Vietnam war had pretty much gone wrong by the time the US decided to let/approve/order/engineer/whatever Diem or whoever it was get overthown in 1963. Nothing 'hearty' about it. By 1975, the 'culture' of the west was substantially what it is today, sans the neat electronics.

When I see language like 'era of the hearty west' I really have to wonder what is meant by that. If you meant something like T.Roosevelt's "The Strenuous Life", even that is a sort of reaction against a preceived effeteness of some of Roosevelt's contemporaries, and that's the late 19th century.

What 'hearty west' do you mean?

The 'hearty west' of the 1957 Suez crisis?

The 'hearty west' of the Munich agreement in 1938?

The 'hearty west' of 1914?

And mind you, its that last 'hearty west' that pretty much created the problem in its present form by chopping up the Ottoman Empire.

Pastorius said...

I see what you mean. I was thinking you meant Danes, and British, and French, and Germans, as tribal nationalities. You know, ethnic.

Americans have no tribal/ethnic nationality.

Here's another thing which defines American nationalism; South Park.

Anyway, you are correct, we are nationalistic. Even today, when there are, as you say, half of us fighting against our tradition, still, children are taught pride in our Constitution, and our Declaration of Independence. Still we love Lincoln and Washington.

Still people hang flags everywhere and go to fireworks shows on the 4th of July and raise their kids in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which are very nationalistic.

And then, of course there is church. Most churches are not nationalistic (contrary to what Europeans may think of us), but the things they teach sure do go well with the Constitution.

truepeers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter UK said...

Sorry to jump you thread,bu there is more killing in Russia.
It would seem that cozying up to Hamas grants no immunity.

truepeers said...


The distinction I'm working with (from Eric Voegelin) is something like this: and empire (or ecumene) is an object of order (controlled by a dominating reason), while a nation is a self-ruling subject of order (which ultimately appeals beyond its foundational reason, e.g. its Constitution, to a faith shared by its people in the future of its specific and evolving historical tradition).

An empire can try to be all things to all people, with nice cuddly imagery of inclusiveness, with Yoko (see today's Olympic opening ceremonnies) and John calling on us to imagine a world without countries or conflicts. But you and I will recognize that this is something of fraud, because conflict is a human reality that must be recognized and duly mediated, and if it is denied it is simply because someone has the power to dogmatically dictate the terms of order, to keep the lid on the cooker until one day it explodes thanks to the frustrations of people who may be all equals, in some formal sense, but who have little say in shaping their collective future.

That's what "multiculturalism" has become in our times.

Maybe some people, living in worlds where old orders have been destroyed and new forms of order are imperial and tyrannical, cannot rule themselves at a given point in time. Maybe for some people the best that can be hoped for is something like the Ottoman empire with its many little massacres to keep all the peoples in line. But in time, all of us are capable of more. FOr those who have been exposed to the Judeo-Christian tradition, alternative visions of self-rule modelled on Jewish nationhood and Christian personhood emerge (to mix in turn with other traditions like the Greek).

In order to be democratic and self-ruling, a nation must accept some constitutional boundaries. It must have a sense of coming from somewhere, having emerged at a specific historical moment, and of growing through time as a transcendent form that mixes reason and faith in productive ways (productive because it gets people to defer their consuming passions and work together in rationally-defined causes and faith). But an empire that tries to be all things to all its peopld can't do this. It has no specific logic or reason for being, beyond the need to define the terms of our differences. And in response to the spiritual confusion that results from imperial or ecumenical attempts to build syncretic orders where all faiths and symbols are represented, people are either reduced to lonely individualism or they must find themselves anew by dedicating to some more specific, historically-defined, people.

In order for people to put their faith in some common historical project they must be able to forego the desire to dominate the world (Imagine Global Peace!), and commit to something that both accepts and transcends the reality of our worldly conflicts as a specific, self-revealing, self-ruling object of both a people's self-interested reverence and reason.

We include people best when we unite with them in common projects and these require boundaries, historical specificity.

truepeers said...


yes, indeed; cozying up to Hamas grants no immunity. The various Muslim terrorist organizations might believe in a united Umma and a restored Caliphate where everyone can be clearly defined as brother, temporary infidel ally, or enemy, but the reality is that any unity can never be more than a temporary agreement to defer conflicts within the group, and Muslims are never very good at that sort of thing precisely because they believe in the fantasy of the Umma and Caliphate and see poorly the reality of their confused, poorly-focussed conflicts.

Buddy Larsen said...

You make a pretty convincing case, Eric. I'd been thinking in terms of the way we were just before the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome" set into cultural concrete.

You know, the now rapidly-extincting Disco Man whose habitual eye-rolling at the barest mention of the old virtues (which 'get us into wars'), and who has now disco-ducked and eye-rolled us into war.

Buddy Larsen said...

Here's one for all you crazy zen-heads, sign-watchers, smoke-signal readers, magic-haters, and shape-shifting transcendental/realists:

Eric Blair said...

Pastorius, you're not serious about Americans not having 'ethnic' or 'tribal' identities are you?

Yankee. Southerner. New Yorker. African-American. Italian-American. Mexican-American. Korean-American. Puerto Rican. Texan. Iriquois, Ojibwa, Cherokee. Baptist. Jew. Catholic. Liberal. Conservative. Democrat. Republican.

It just doesn't stop.

And True Peers, you say that "An empire can try to be all things to all people" well, isn't that essentially what the USA is?

The US isn't a nation of the 'ein blut, ein volk, ein land' sort, the way that European nations are--infact, that's their problem, since they can't seem assimilate immigrants. The UK (and perhaps Australia and Canada) are the possible exceptions to this.

A Pakistani moves to France, he cleans toilets or something similar. A Pakistani moves to the USA and he's an Oracle DBA or running a convience store, one of the two.

I submit infact that the USA is an Empire, and has been for quite a while. Perhaps always was.

truepeers said...


I don't agree with you but i don't think we will get far by trying more diligently to define nations and empires because no reality will match neatly our idealized categories. No doubt there is both something national and imperial in American culture. For example, i find the left-liberal mindset that tries to rip down every icon and story of national identity to be highly imperialistic.

But if the United States is defined by its political system, the culture of its military, the culture of its civil society, its pre-1960s high and popular culture, it is most certainly in good part a nation.

In any case, we agree on some level because we both see the difference between America and Europe on the question of assimilating immigrants as key. What i wanted to suggest was that the empire that tries to be all things to all people does not assimilate people well; it is much more the nation that assimilates. The empire may destroy some peoples, leaving survivors deracinated, but more generally it aims to keep most people in their proper place; it ghettoizes (and not just the poor), and it takes from the many peoples subordinated by the empire, some of their gods and arts and myths (because it has none of its own) and tries to use these in some pantheon to symbolize the empire as a transcendent form. BUt the lie is always revealed, the emperor has no clothes: the empire is just about worldly domination.

The nation, on the other hand, can assimilate people precisely because there is a project to build a people into which one can be assimilated. The transcendent form the nation evokes is real and survives the generations. Which is why if you were to take the immigrants and children of immigrants who have been educated in the US and, say, have served in the US military, and then compared them culturally to Americans of the past and also to their non-American forebears, you would conclude, i think, that these new Americans tend to have more in common with past Americans than with the former people of their old homelands.

There is of course the great racial divide in the US. But African-American culture is in so many (not all) respects American, developed from the same past as white American culture, a point i won't go into now. The Hispanic culture in the US looks more to me like a people stuck in an empire, but how many generations does it last in most places? There are many Americans with Spanish names who come across as not very HIspanic when they start talking.

Eric Blair said...

TP, you can't just sit there and define the USA by what it was 50 years ago, because it isn't that anymore. In fact, I think you might have a difficult time defining what 'high culture' was in the 1950's or even 'popular' culture. That had changed from only 10 years before. It is always in flux. Some earlier things endure, others do not.

Societies and cultures do not exist in a vacuum, nor do they exist in stasis, (although it seems that many want the latter).

This why a universal empire, where the political system encompasses all, with a mutable culture, can assimiliate new groups of people more easily, where homogenous ethnic states get indigestion, because the newcomers are never seen as 'native' enough. There is no 'platform' to integrate new comers into a nation where its history is defined by a specific, 'normal', ethnicity.

This was why I made allowances for Canada and Austrailia and the UK. the first two are immigrant cultures, like the USA, the latter has sort of transformed itself into one, by integrating people from its former empire into it, and then heavy handedly forcing everyone to accept that. (Some don't obviously, but I think you get the point).

As you said, empires and nations have overlap with each other, and you seem to see syncretism as bad, but it is not necessarily so. However, I note that syncretism really really bothers some people. Things aren't 'pure' enough for them anymore. But I ask was it ever that 'pure' in the first place?

You say that empire is just about worldly domination. Well, it can be, but it isn't always so, and does not have to be so. Yes, Empires can dictate from above, but so do nations.

The EU's mistake is trying to make an Empire out of ethnicities that don't want to.

truepeers said...

This why a universal empire, where the political system encompasses all, with a mutable culture, can assimiliate new groups of people more easily, where homogenous ethnic states get indigestion, because the newcomers are never seen as 'native' enough. There is no 'platform' to integrate new comers into a nation where its history is defined by a specific, 'normal', ethnicity.

-Eric, you say this giving little thought to the process of assimilation. No one has ever assimilated to a universal empire, whatever that might be. That which is original or universal to humanity is only ever approached and known through a specific religious or national high culture, through concrete historial experience. Just because many nations have racial barriers does not mean that empires are ideal vehicles of assimilation. You can’t assimilate to something that is simply a power structure, that has no concrete historical specificity but is rather just an uprooted amalgam of disparate modes of order (syncretism). You can only assimilate into a particular historical project. There has never been a Jewish empire or a Christian empire (whatever the pretense of some), only, e.g., a Roman empire, an ecumene of many peoples most of whom were not Roman citiziens. The French tried to make their empire into a universal nationhood, but it didn’t really work, as is still evidence in the banlieues.

The British empire is more interesting. Have you ever wondered how we can speak English without ever thinking of England? Somehow the language has become neutralized and available as a vehicle for people to build new civil societies and nations from America to India. I think this was in good part achieved through the develop of a syncretic system that neutralized, that took away the concreteness and specificity of an English tradition, and that then served people with building blocks for building new national syntheses in new lands. But these syntheses are in turn new concrete forms. Canada is not the U.S., though they share many of the same building blocks.

Starting in England in the late seventeenth century, moving on to Scotland, America, etc., British imperial culture became invested in a syncretic system, whose epitome is Freemasonry, a system that attempted to draw on symbols and myths from all over the world and to find - never with spiritual clarity - higher forms. While potentially spiritually confusing for those who pursued it, this syncretic system was largely the object of individual speculation. A divide existed between the private lodge and club rooms of Maosns, Oddfellows, Foresters, elite men’s clubs, and the larger sphere of civil society and church religion. That larger civil society was built up by drawing on the knowledge of symbols, myths, and constitutionalism that came out of the syncretic speculation, but new public institutions did not become syncretic in spirit themselves. Rather, the concrete, historical, institutions of our civil society were syntheses that give a specific shape to our historical or national experience. This is why the institutions of civil society in places like, say, New York State, and British Columbia look in many ways similar, but have their notable differences. IN both cases, the civil societies of the two places emerged out of the British empire and syncretic spiritual speculation. But in both places, institutions emerged as part of specific historical experiences that differentiated one place from the other, and still do today. One assimilates into that specific, concrete historial experience, or one does not assimilate well. It is still possible to get lost in the confusion of some syncretic system, i.e. the rhetorics and ideologies of multiculturalism. But no one can be spiritually redeemed therein.

As you said, empires and nations have overlap with each other, and you seem to see syncretism as bad, but it is not necessarily so. However, I note that syncretism really really bothers some people. Things aren't 'pure' enough for them anymore. But I ask was it ever that 'pure' in the first place?

I am not interested in racial purity, but in historically concrete syntheses in cultural and institutional life. Concrete syntheses are good; syncretism is just spiritual confusion and if taken into politics becomes deadly, as with the Gnostic heresies of the Nazis and Communists.

The English nation, on which the US is largely modeled, is a very old nation that was formed as a synthesis of several tribes, not on the model of blood marriage, but on the basis of a common allegiance to law, crown and church. The world needs more such models.

Eric Blair said...

First of all, you need to review the history of the Roman Empire. Rome most certainly did assimilate other peoples, and they did become citizens. After AD 213, the Emperor Caracalla made every free born man in the Empire a citizen. Granted, that was a tax grab, but it was also recogniton of a state of affairs that pretty much had existed since probably the middle of the first century AD.

Second, 'power structures' themselves, having been thought up by some culture, do have historic specificity.

The French tried to forcibly export their revolution, which in someways worked, and in others failed miserably. The baneliues simply underscore my point about the failure to assimilate 'others' into a specific ethnic culture. And even then that's not the whole story either. Part of the issue too are specific government policies, which helped create those ghettos. It could have been done differently.

You're losing me on the Freemason stuff. In as much as I follow you, I do think you overstate it greatly.

I no more think of England when I speak English than I think of Rome when I type these letters or I think of Arabs when I type 123456789 or think of India when I use the concept of zero.

It could possibly have happened with a different language. Or perhaps not, since the specific start point of the USA was wrapped up in its English roots, not Spanish or Dutch or French roots.

I note that Spain and France are just as old, are also formed out of different tribes, with allegiance to law, crown and church. But they didn't go the same route that the British did.

truepeers said...

Rome most certainly did assimilate other peoples, and they did become citizens. After AD 213, the Emperor Caracalla made every free born man in the Empire a citizen. Granted, that was a tax grab

-Again, you say this without giving an account of what you think is the nature of assimilation. Having a certain legal status in an empire is not assimilation into anything of great substance, like a language, distinctive religion, or self-ruling demos. Yes, there are always some people in empires who get close to the courts of power and who mimic the metropoligtan culture there. But that is hardly to assimilate into anything like a self-ruling nation, an assimilation which must go on at many levels.

Being included, whether willingly or by force, as an equal part of a self-ruling people is real assimilation. Sharing a faith in one god is assimilation to a degree (though moreso in Judaism than Christianity or Islam). If the provinces of the Roman empire were part of a federation in which power and sovereignty had been shared between the center and the provinces and if people from the provinces had an equal chance to share in administering not only the provinces but the center, then we could talk about assimilation....

Second, 'power structures' themselves, having been thought up by some culture, do have historic specificity.

-dominating or victimizing people, which is what empires do, need not entail much thought or leave much a mark on history; it is a process the reverse of sharing with others as formal (if not pragmatic) equals in a self-creating and self-ruling institution, as opposed to an institution ruled from above. E.g. it is one thing to go to school with the varied children of one's empire; it's quite another for all the parents to agree on the terms of schooling, to rule the school through their own forms of government, and not simply to defer to power from above.

Put it this way, does historical memory have much to do with the endless violence and victimization of human experience? In small part yes, since the desire to reverse injustice, to revenge, keeps some memories alive. BUt the far greater part of our historical memory has to do with shared revelations (revealing and sharing in a process of recognizing a first among equals) and their institutionalization in ways that defer violence and redeem our destructive passions in productive work. Empires can either take control of productive institutions in specific locales, or impose productive models that have emerged elsewhere, but to the extent that they don't allow full creativity or authority over institutions to hte people that work them, empires are much more reliant on countless forgettable processes of victimization than on truly transcendent and memorable experiences of common purpose.

Empires are parasitic; nations and other smaller localisms are ongoing projects that can be delayed for years when under imperial thumbs, and yet still get going again. That is why the Jews have survived thousands of years as a distinctive people, while the empires of that vintage are long gone. Other old nations - Ethiopia, Armenia, England - also suggest that nations (while relatively late to emerge in human history) will have more staying power than any worldy empire.

You're losing me on the Freemason stuff. In as much as I follow you, I do think you overstate it greatly.

-it's a very complex story and probably can't be readily summarized by me. Suffice to say that the early American republic was deeply indebted to the institutional forms and ideas of Freemasonry, though this is a story not well known (recommended books: Steven Bullock, REvolutionary Brotherhood; and Alexander Piatigorsky's Freemaosnry).

But the AMerican nation is not particularly Masonic. Masonry, which is a syncretic religion, provided one (among other) important means to neutralize English culture, to use the political and religious knowledge inherent in the English culture, while removing from it specifically English associations. A new nation was then constructed in America by English-speaking people. While many of the founding fathers - founders of the Consstitution, as well as the scenes of national and local government - were Masons they did not make a nation entirely in the image of Freemasonry, which would not have been possible. Masonry was more a kind of framing device for concrete content. America in the 19thC. was a land shaped by many thousands of fraterities built out of the Masonic (and a few other associated English) traditions. That's where American civil society, beyond the churches, comes from. Those fraternities would have had many formal similarities, from place to place. But slowly their content, including new civic insittutions that they gave birth to, defined specific locations in somewhat unique ways.

America's founders used syncretic Masonry (among other tools) as the abstracting, scientizing, machine that it is, and then stepped out of their private speculations and back into the real world to build anew something concrete and specific. They could not become concrete in a new American way until they had first become abstract, syncretic, speculative beings looking for ways to replace their Englishness. A new nation does not just emerge from the woods according to some natural logic. It needs a founding constitution and that requires an understanding of humanity that must mix the universal and concrete. The universal in America comes from various sources, e.g. New England Puritanism. Masonry is just i think one of the more important attempts at gaining universal knowledge, but there is little concrete or worldy about the experience of Masonry, unlike the experience of Puritanism. That's the paradox, and why it's a big piece of American history not widely known.

no more think of England when I speak English than I think of Rome when I type these letters or I think of Arabs when I type 123456789 or think of India when I use the concept of zero.

-come now, a language is much more than a script or numerical system. Whatever language you speak, it gives you clues to the history from which the language emerged. It is full of references that a learned student can make to specific times and places. Modern French reeks of the French Enlightenment. Spanish in the AMericas reeks of the Catholic church and and Spanish imperial culture. Modern English reeks of many things back to the Greeks, but the fact that it need not reek of much specifically English in matters secular or relgious, is an important datum. It is more neutral than other modern languages because of the ways it passed through an imperial culture that strove so heartily to make of itself a syncretic system, in the name not of ENgland (or France, Spain), but of Britain, crown, and empire. A neutralized English can be found in many imperialistic institutions like universities or the UN, but if you go to, say, India and watch them speak English, it is clear that they have moved back out of an abstracting and neutralizing syncretism to make anew an English that is quite their own. That's what self-ruling people do. The Indians have assimilated themselves, to some degree, to a historically novel entity: Indianness. That is something they could not have done much of when the British were still ruling there, though the ball started during the British occupation via imperial processes of syncretism.

I note that Spain and France are just as old, are also formed out of different tribes, with allegiance to law, crown and church.

-this is a common misunderstanding. English nationhood must be dated at well over a thousand years, when a common loyalty linking vernacular and high culture emerges. A Spanish nation dates from the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims and the slow process of uniting the vernacular and high cultures through the process of making Spanish the language not only of the new imperial state but of local religion and civic life. There was not a Spanish language Bible until the 16th century, and then not even first in Spain.

A French nation, united through a common national language, is largely the product of the REvolution, before which very few in France spoke French or htought of themselves in terms beyond their faith and regional identity.

There are many bad books on nationhood written by people with an essentially imperial mindset who want to make all nations into something modern and reflections of supposedly modern (i.e. Marxisant)_ social or economic logics. THis is not true, as Israel, Ethiopia, England, show that nationhood need have nothing to do with industrial modernity. On this subjet i would recommend Adrian Hastings' book, THe Construction of Nationhood.

If you want to keep this discussion going, i can probably get back to it tomorrow.

Eric Blair said...

If the provinces of the Roman empire were part of a federation in which power and sovereignty had been shared between the center and the provinces and if people from the provinces had an equal chance to share in administering not only the provinces but the center, then we could talk about assimilation....

You are demonstrating no real understanding of the history of the Roman Empire, particularly the Imperial period. When I say assimilation, I do mean that, in the sense that Rome ended up conquering various peoples around
the Mediterranean and incorporating them into it's body politic, culture, military, etc... Rome was changed by this as much as it changed those who it conquered. Some groups were not successfully assimilated, the Jews being the most obvious and famous example.

Modern English was essentially there by the time of Shakespeare, (as opposed to say, Chaucer) and Elizabethan England was not an "Empire" in the way I think you mean. You overstate the case.

Your understanding of the formation of the French state is very curious, and simply wrong. The French by the middle of the 17th century knew that they were a nation, despite regional differences. Proably by the time of Jeanne d'Arc.

Dating the Spanish nation from the time of the expulsion of the Moors marks a convienent point, but you miss the meaning. Spain (or the Spanish monarchy) went from being only concerned with the Iberian peninsula to wider, ultimately imperial interests.

But your obsession with the British is curious. The British always had regional tensions the same way that the French and Spanish always did, whether its the Scots, the Welsh or the Irish (the Irish being largely successful in getting away from the British), or Brittany or Langue d'Oc or Catalonia.

I confess to not being that interested in continuing this, because I think you are mistaken, perhaps badly mistaken in many things, (you probably feel the same about me), so I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.

truepeers said...

Fair enough (though i hope one day you will explain your attraction to Orwell, such an Englishman, if it is not your parents who have blessed you with this name:). I'll read up on the Roman Empire, if you'll read Hastings' book. REflecting on what you say, I think you're right about French nationhood; i exaggerated its modernity even if French nationalism, lacking a common tongue, was not as strong as ENglish before the REvolution. Elizabethan England was a nation (you write Empire?). England was first an eccesiastical and legal construction (predating the Normans) before it was home of modern English.

But in any case, whatever our interpretation of Rome or England, i would hope that perhaps we can reflect on the most general question behind any arguments we have over details about what is what. I would state it thus: is it true that howevermuch inter-faith and inter-national dialogue we have, we cannot ever expect all of humanity to be united in a common polity or faith? I would say yes, it's true, because while all humanity comes from a common origin and our ultimate destiny may be the same, no one can found a solid religious or political faith in such minimal generalizations, however true. You have to put your faith in something that more concretely represents and models for you and others a particular, historically-specific, rendering of hte human. You have to put your faith in something somewhat arbitrary and absurd.

And just to clarify my obsession: it is the question of how the tribal world more easily became national (something more old than new Testament in nature) on the island fringe of the European-Christian world, while the allegiances of princes, popes and people in the European heartland was generally less focussed or unified, i believe, that interests me.

So i am more obsessed with the English than the British. It is the English who have had imperial problems because they have often not been committed to "their" Empire, but understandably have alwys put their nation first in times of crisis (one fights for king and country, not for king and empire). And when Irish, Americans, Indians, etc., learned nationalism (not tribalism) from the English, it was then that they created the greatest problem for the empire and the concept of Britishness, since the English were not about to share their insular nationality by bringing Americans, Irish, Indians, etc. to London or Canterbury as their equal partners in rule. (They did create and share Freemasonry, and all other manner of club and society, however...)

Curiously, it is only when the Empire is finished that "the British" experiment with bringing in large numbers of immigrants and believing that they can be equals in a shared nationhood. Is this a residual imperial desire in the UK, or is it part of an evolution in English, Scottish, nationhood etc.? Does the average WEst Indian immigrant become English or British? Perhaps today British, but tomorrow English?

Here in British Columbia we are arguably more British than the English, more abstract than compact in our shared allegiances. It is a small curiosity that today we call ourselves Canadian, wherever we come from, while the English still commonly call themselves British. :)