Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: nationalism

No easy game to play

My article on small nations, nationalism and the Olympics has been published today on The International Political Forum.

Nationalism still plays a fundamental role in several fields of international relations, from war to politics – it is not by chance that “war made the state and the state made war”[1]; and then, war was substituted by politics, which were merely “its continuation by other means”[2]. Looking back at the last 50 years, however, I would dare to add a third field where the essence of nationalist feelings have tended to emerge quite clearly: sport. In 1945 already, George Orwell (certainly not the kind of academic one would expect to join Charles Tilly and Carl Von Clausewitz in their debates) put it very simply: sport is “war minus the shooting: […] At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare”[3].

Leaving Edinburgh

One final note from Edinburgh before leaving. Scottish nationalism is really strong. I do not want to say it is necessarily something bad, probably it isn’t. But the thing is that Scottish flags and symbols (kilts, bagpipes…) are just everywhere. Also, in the National Museum there is a section about ‘the changing nation’ that is really powerful and inspiring and, well, worth seeing – at least for all those who are interested in how you construct and imagine a nation. It is worth remembering that politically Scotland is still part of the UK: it is not an independent nation.

Scottish nationalism also means annoying the English as much as possible. When I asked to the people which team they supported in the European Championship (Scotland did not make it to the final phase) the general answer was: “every team that plays England”. Such an attitude is also reflected in the continuous attempt to differentiate your actions from those of your neighbour. This, obviously, reminds me a little bit of the relationship between Canada and the US.