Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: scotland

Fearless Femme

I was 24 when I decided I wanted to do a Ph.D. on how secessionist regions treat immigrants. At the time I was a census coordinator for my municipality by day and a restless student writing my master’s thesis by night. I remember one excruciating session in the library, when I wrote an email message to this Scottish professor who had published some remarkable articles on the topic I was interested in.

Eve answered after a couple of days with a long message. She invited me to a conference in Edinburgh where I met many of people who would have gone on to become my colleagues and friends – Jean Thomas, Dejan, Daniel. Since that day, she become my passionate and rigorous mentor. After helping me to secure a scholarship from the University of Edinburgh, she encouraged me to make a move to the European University Institute. We then spent my first year working together, as she was a Jean Monnet fellow there and tirelessly read all my drafts. I owe her so much.

Eve quit the academia two years ago and now she goes on with the the project Fearless Femme to challenge sexism and reduce mental health stigma. Wish her the best of luck!

Murrayfield and Croke Park

After a thrilling finale Italy today beat Scotland 22-19 to return to the victory in the Six Nations after a streak of seven match – last win was March 16 2013 against Ireland, 22-15. It was an exceptional ending with Italy pushing hard for the try and getting it done a few seconds to the end. There are quite a few things I will remember: the stubborn attacks by the Italian side when everything seemed lost, our captain crying on the grass after the try, the colorful play-by-play of the duo Munari – Raimondi (thank you Dmax for showing the matches free to air), and the gentlemanly behavior of the Scottish captain Greig Laidlaw.

 

This is our second victory in Murrayfield against Scotland. The other time was 2007 and I still remember that match: it ended 17-37 and Italy scored three tries in the first six minutes in what might well go down as the most devastating start of a match the tournament ever recorded. It was delightful. And it was also the first away victory ever for the Italian crew since they were admitted in the Six Nations – previously Five Nations – in 2000. It was February 25, 2007.

The same day another match was played in Dublin. Ireland-England was a historically important game because it was the first time rugby was played in Dublin’s biggest stadium since 1920. Croke Park had become worldwide famous in November 21 1920 when the Black and Tans of the Royal Irish Constabulary, supported by members of the British Auxiliary Division, opened fire on the crowd at a Gaelic football, killing fourteen civilians. Football and rugby were henceforth banished from Croke Park, as well as English flags and symbols. The ban was finally lifted in 2007 and the authorities bravely allowed the match against England to be played. So on February 25 a hugely emotionally charged match was played. There were legitimate fears of violence and riots on the bleachers. But the Irish supporters surprised many by respectfully observing the British national anthem, God Save The Queen. That day, the Irish team surprised even more by beating bookmarks-favorite England 43-13 in what was a record number of points taken in a single match in the history of English rugby.

Omosessuali e Catalogna

Nelle ultime settimane ho pubblicato due articoli su Unimondo. Il primo ha a che fare con i diritti delle coppie omosessuali in Italia in riferimento al dibattito riaperto dall’attivismo dei sindaci e del Papa. Per scrivere l’articolo mi sono dilettato a fare alcune ricerche sui diritti degli omosessuali nel mondo, scoprendo che in sette stati, Danimarca, Francia, Islanda, Norvegia, Paesi Bassi, Svezia e Stati Uniti l’omofobia è punita come reato con sanzioni pecuniarie e in alcuni casi carcerarie. In oltre trenta stati al mondo i matrimoni gay o le unioni civili sono legalmente riconosciute e il sesso tra omosessuali è legale in almeno 113 stati. Si tratta di un cambiamento piuttosto rapido: fino al 1950 il sesso tra gay era illegale ovunque. Trovate altri dati nell’articolo originale.

diritti omosessuali

Il secondo articolo riprende e sviluppa il contributo personale di Dani Cetrà pubblicato su questo blog qualche giorno fa. Nell’articolo provo a chiarire cosa é successo, cosa sta succedendo e cosa potrebbe succedere, oltre a elencare le differenze – enormi – tra il processo referendario in Scozia e in Catalogna. E’ un contributo relativamente lungo, ma che spero di aver scritto in maniera chiara e lineare. Lo trovate qui.

Very European indeed

These last few weeks were, as I believe you people say, a bust. I had some exciting times around the referendum on independence, I wrote a few things, I walked a lot, I ran, and I definitely made good use of Scotland’s driest September in over fifty years. Quite importantly, also, I met very fine people from different parts of Europe. Most notably among these, I would like to mention two promising academics who belong to the powerful EUI connection: Dejan, who finished his PhD in 2012 and worked as a postdoc here in Edinburgh for two years before becoming my mentor, wing-man, and flatmate; and Pedro, who finished his PhD in 2013 and worked as a postdoc in the UK’s fourth biggest city for one year before meeting me in a shady bar and offering me a gentleman’s hospitality in Glasgow over the weekend.

Speaking about Glasgow, I am must state right away that my writing at the moment is influenced by the 2014 Ryder Cup that is taking place a few miles from here on the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel near Auchterarder, Scotland. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States.  The current holder is Europe, who won at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois in 2012 by a score of 14½ points to 13½, having overturned a four-point deficit going into the final day’s play, as it was duly though only incidentally noticed on this blog. The Ryder Cup is the biggest golf event in the world and to my knowledge it is also the only sport event where Europe plays united as a continent.

ryder cup 2014

So this is supposed to be about the how, and why, and what it takes to be European. The reason why I bring this up is because while spending time with Dejan and Pedro and all the other good people I met here I realized that there is one defining feature of my character and this is really about relying on the others. Put it simply, if I have been able to pursue the things I like in my life is because somebody else gave me a great help along the way. I suppose this is a very European ideal.

In fact, the idea that you owe your success to others does not go down well with other political cultures. In the US, for instance, during the run-up to the 2012 election President Obama was criticized for his remarks about the role of government. “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive,” the President said. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” President Obama was widely attacked for stifling the idea of individual success at the core of the American dream. This is not to say that everybody in the US believes in rampant individual self-reliance: I have many friends in North America who would distance themselves from this statement.

One of them is certainly Derek. Derek is a doctor I met in Brussels in 2012. We have been in touch on and off ever since. Now that he’s back in the US he sends me some reflections about the differences between the old and the new continent. In the last letter he asked me to  “watch this American car commercial so you can understand our insane culture“. The celebration of individual pursuit is indeed a core part of the American culture. There is plenty of academic evidence showing that European values differ significantly from those of the US in being less individualistic. It is no accident that one of the most magnificent works in political science explains that the success of democracy in American is primarily  due to the fact that Americans are radical, unencumbered individualists.

American cowbody VS relaxed Frenchman

I love the contrast of this picture: Team USA Zach ‘Robocop’ Johnson VS Team Europe Victor ‘Obelix’ Duboisson

What is it about Europeans that makes reliance on the others more appealing than it is in the US? As a nerdy social scholar, I am tempted to say it is because while in the US people begin identifying with America’s customs and its celebration of individual pursuit at a young age, Europeans are shaped by millennia-old disputes over territory and sovereignty, tribalism, and the EU, not to mention the Champions League. Dealing with diversity and learn how to live with it is part of what we do – and here is the connection with my experience with Dejan and Pedro. In this Ryder Cup, Europe’s 12 players were drawn from eight different countries – with six different languages. Bringing these cultures together to form a cohesive unit is a real challenge. Europe’s captain recently gave a very practical example: one of the players, Sweden’s Peter Hanson, likes to eat dinner at 6:30 p.m. Then we had Miguel Ángel Jiménez, one of the Vice-Captains, who’s quite the opposite. He likes to eat at 11:00 p.m., because that’s the Spanish culture. So, to bridge this gap, the European Team always has a running buffet from 6:00 p.m. till midnight. That’s one way we have of incorporating everybody, whatever their culture or personal preference.

Better than other cultures

Academic surveys about differences between European and other values show other differences too. One of these is that the majority of European do not believe their culture to be superior to others. In fact, I do not think that European values are any better than others. There are plenty of lessons Europe should learn from other cultures. And indeed there are many things that make it complicated to speak of a cohesive European sense of being. But on one important respect, the conviction that my personal realization fundamentally depends on the collaboration and help from the others, I feel happily and convincingly European.

Scotland and the erosion of national citizenship

The referendum on the independence of Scotland has a historical significance for citizenship. The net result has been a degree of convergence between the two campaigns, Yes Scotland and Better Together: while independence has morphed into independence-lite, the case for the Union has developed into a case for a somehow different kind of Union. In his admirable reflection on the matter, Mark Elliott wrote that the devil is in the detail: and detail, particularly about how Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom would be calibrated, is notable by its absence.

In spite of the lack of details, it is now clear that a defining challenge to the dominant paradigm of existing nation-states has emerged from both sides, as they exhibited competing visions of how a plurinational democracy can work. The Better Together campaign pleaded to deliver more powers to Scotland, following the idea that citizens living in Scotland can be better served by stronger Scottish institutions interacting with the central British government. This is not too dissimilar from the claims made by the pro-independence coalition, which had advocated an independence-light keeping five of the six unions Scotland is part of: the EU, the queen, the pound, society, and defense. The future developments in the UK are likely to weaken the link between citizenship and the nation-state in the United Kingdom at a time when the interaction between the EU and nation-states already produces a multilevel architecture of citizenship. This is not an isolated development.

Nation-states are increasingly torn between internal demands from regional institutions and the external pushes coming from international migration and supranational institutions. As a result of these parallel processes, the nation-state is slowly but steadily betraying its absolutist original nature. Historically, nation-states were created through repeated wars between the 17th and the 19th century and eventually came into being as the supreme form of political authority in modern Europe. During the last century, national citizenship has become the absolute form of membership exercised by the direct relationship between the individual and the institutions of the nation-state. This idea of citizenship exercised a powerful function; but today, as a greater number of political actors struggle for power and recognition, things are bound to get more complicated. The idea of a single, all-powerful political authority for each national community is increasingly under pressure. Nowhere is this clearer than in Europe. Over the last few decades many European nation-states have been hollowed-out by the emergence of the European Union in many crucial domains of public policy, from economic regulation to monetary policy and control over immigration. At the same time, many European regions are demanding greater institutional recognition: not only Scotland, but also Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia, Veneto, South Tyrol, Sardinia, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Corsica, Flanders, just to mention the most vocal ones. Interestingly, even if all these movements are going against one nation-state, most of them still want a state of their own. Apparently, it remains very hard to think beyond the nation-state. However, the parallel processes of supranationalism and regionalism are in fact creating novel forms of multilevel citizenship in Europe.

Forms of strengthened autonomy within a greater multilevel ‘whole’ are somehow akin to the kind of architecture that characterized many sub-state political communities that existed before the rise of the nation-state. In these polities one’s political status resulted from the combined effect of different levels of government. Examples include self-governing cities (eg. the Bishopric of Trent, established as a self-standing political community with its own customary laws and royal privileges, but whose inhabitants remained subjects of the larger Holy Roman Empirestate), Ottoman eyalets (eg. Bosnia, a constituent province of the Ottoman caliphate that was autonomously governed by a vizier as part of the larger kingdom of Ottoman sultans), constituent parts of Empires (eg. the Archiregnum Hungaricum, a complex confection of states and local autonomies that were part of the Habsburg Empire but could retain their own sovereignty to legislate in the areas of justice, education and religious matters, and interior affairs) and, more recently, free cities (eg. the Free City of Danzig, the semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939 under League of Nations protection and put into a binding customs union with Poland). These are all examples of how individual rights and duties can result from the interaction between different layers of government.

The outcome of the Scottish referendum goes in this direction. The campaign showed that “Independence” and “Union” are not binary concepts: each instead represents a very wide spectrum of constitutional possibilities. The Better Together side won under a promise of delivering more powers to the four nations that are part of the Kingdom. The question that now faces this country is not concerned only with the amount of authority that will be devolved, but also with its nature, purpose, and constitutional security. The most obvious alternative to the present system is federalism, but here, too, we must be careful. Like devolution and independence, federalism can be declined in many different ways and it would unthinkable to transfer the kind of German federalism to the UK. Importantly, however, the Scottish referendum has prompted fundamental rethinking about the distribution of power within the United Kingdom and which layers of government should be responsible for individual rights. Outside Europe, Quebec has shifted focus from “independence” to “special partnership” with the rest of Canada. In the contemporary world, it is becoming more and more common that individual citizenship rights result from a nested structure composed of smaller communities that are contained within larger ones. It is within this institutional setting that plurinational forms of democracy emerge as workable alternatives to the traditional paradigm of absolute national citizenship.

Down the wire

There is a famous scene from the Italian movie Fantozzi when the main character shuts himself in a dark room on the weeks leading to election day to follow all the TV debates and read every newspaper, in the opinion that his vote will make a crucial difference in the final outcome. Though I won’t vote in the Scottish referendum on independence, this was pretty much how I spent my morning in Edinburgh today.

IMG_0367-0

I cannot possibly link all the good articles I have read. But there are two that deserve a special mention for reasons you will easily understand: Dear Scotland: here are 76 things we’d like to apologise for, love England and Ten handy phrases for bluffing your way through the Constitutional Crisis.

Now. The polls will close in a few hours. Tonight after 10PM I will be at the referendum night event organized by the Future of the UK and Scotland, bringing together academics and international journalists. The first results will come from the islands at around 2AM, but the most important polling stations – those from Edinburgh and Glasgow – will only report at 5AM. Stay tuned for a long night.

The referendum in Scotland

It was 2011 when I read a letter by Alex Salmond published on the Economist. The letter was about his vision for Scotland and his promise to deliver a referendum on the independence of the country by 2014. I was struck, and deeply fascinated by the arguments in favor and against independence. Since then I started studying citizenship in Scotland, a place I would have visited four times in the following three years.

Now here I am again, just one day to go before the long-awaited referendum. I arrived in Edinburgh on September 2nd to follow the campaign and the post-electoral debate. With less than 24 hours to the vote, here are some of my preliminary reflections. (Note: I have already published one article on the matter. You can find it in Italian on Unimondo following the link here).

1. Who will win. When the campaign started, the objective of the Better Together was to make sure that the victory was as big as possible and the only thing to do was to “bayonet the wounded”. For months to the referendum the polls showed a solid lead of the No with over 20 points of advantage over Yes Scotland. Unionist parties were confident their side would win comfortably. Yet, on Sunday 7 September, only five days after my arrival, the YouGov poll came out showing that the Yes side had taken the lead. It was a major shock for the Better Together and the three British parties defending the Union.

scotland referendum polls

How did the Yes campaign achieve so much in so little time? I think here there are two crucial lessons to be learn. First and foremost, Yes Scotland is a movement, not a campaign: it is broad and imaginative and richly textured, it involves artists, intellectuals, students, veterans, not just politicians. Second, Yes Scotland is about uplifting progressive ideas: it proclaims a fairer, more equal, younger multicultural society as opposed to the individualistic neoliberal policies pursued by Westminster. Put these two features together and you have passion.

Passion, in politics, is a powerful tool. The Yes volunteers are, in fact, enthusiastic volunteers, as opposed to the Better Together volunteers who are, err, paid activists. This tells a lot about the two sides of the campaign, a campaign the Yes Scotland has already won on virtually every front: it has given out more leaflets, put up more posters, knocked on more doors, dominated on twitter. It takes very little to understand how much of a difference this makes. Take my personal experience. In the neighborhood where I live there is one Better Together office and one Yes Scotland. I visited both. The latter was crowded and I was offered plenty of leaflets with facts, pictures, and texts explaining why Scotland should be independent. One could even buy a mug, a poster, a t-shirt, or a comic book. (I did buy the mug and the poster). The Better Together office, by contrast, was deserted and the only thing I could get was a ‘No, thanks’ poster. The girl who was working there asked me if I wanted to volunteer too; I said ‘no, thanks’.

Will the Yes eventually win over the voters on referendum day? I honestly do not know. The two sides are neck to neck and the outcome is too close to call. But there is little doubt that one of the two sides has won already. Think back to how the No entered in the campaign and now consider that when Gordon Brown – backed by the three Westminster party leaders – last week promised Scotland “nothing less than a modern form of home rule” if the vote is no, it signalled that the constitutional make-up of these islands is about to change irrevocably. This will be a historical referendum, regardless of the final outcome, and much of the credit goes to the Yes side.

2. It has been a big debate. There is one more reason why this is a historical referendum: the campaign has been hugely engaging, energizing people everywhere in the country, reaching disaffected voters, and ultimately making people think about the kind of community they want to live in. I was walking around Edinburgh the last week and I have witnessed an extraordinary flowering of local-level discussion in the streets, the university, community halls. These were not political rallies: they were meetings well beyond the slogans of the official party politics. They were challenging discussions about the currency, Europe, the kind of democracy and institutions that would best serve the people who live in Scotland. There were extremely few incidents and the two sides remained respectful of each other: I can’t tell of any personal attack, insult, or threat. As a result, around 97% of the population have registered to vote and turnout will almost certainly be far higher than the 63.8% who voted in Scotland at the 2010 general election. The process leading to the referendum has been an admirable democratic exercise.

3. It has not been about economy (primarily) or the identity (at all). My friends who do political economy, study finance, or work in business are all convinced that this referendum boils down to economic assets and the rest is cheap talk. I think they are profoundly mistaken. As it should be clear from the explanation I have provided thus far, the campaign has been mainly about the kind of institutions that can do a better service to Scottish democracy. It has not been about the economy only. Of course, the pound, the tax revenues, the oil: all of these are important issues at stake. But they are not the only ones.

A similar point needs to be made with respect to identity. Nationalism, history, Scottishness and blood: none of these features have been present in the Yes campaign. This is a remarkable feature and the Yes side deserves credit for that. Quite paradoxically, the only time I have been thinking about ethnic nationalism was when I listened to David Cameron appealing to Britishness as a “magical identity”. What is important to emphasise is that there has not been a nationalist call to arms from the Yes campaign.

In the end, the reason why the Yes is winning over many voters has been explained very clearly by of the best professors I have had in the last few years: because it appeared more concerned with the democratic deficit in current UK political structures, the gradual erosion of the welfare state, and the need to create a fairer, more just society. If it’s a Yes on Thursday, voters must have felt that these social and political goals would be more easily achievable in an independent Scottish state than in current UK structures. Yes Scotland’s campaign has won over Scots’ desire for a country that is stronger and fairer. Short of winning independence, that will be the Yes campaign’s enduring achievement.

4. A look to the future. So much for the good news. I believe most of the problems lie ahead.

The No campaign  has lost a precious opportunity to strengthen the union. It could have emphasized the collective achievements of the Union (the industrial revolution, the victory in World War II, the welfare system, Andy Murray…) to project a different future together.  It has not done any of that, conducting a campaign based on scaremongering and marginal concessions. Should the No win, the main parties have already committed to a great devolution for Scotland. But there are huge problems coming with it. First, the legislative timetable set out is barely credible, as it intends to carry out in four months what normally takes several years of consultation. Second, the plan provides no scope to consult the wider public and lack of public engagement will make it difficult to secure popular legitimacy for the new devolution proposals. For these reasons, it is unlikely that a No vote will bring about the kind of change that the Union needs, as it has been dramatically showed by the direction and the arguments of this campaign.

On the other hand, the Yes campaign has offered a vision for an independent Scotland. And what a vision! Universal childcare, free prescriptions, no fees at university, free social care, higher pensions, an end to nuclear weapons, a challenge to the bedroom tax and a securely non-privatised welfare state. At the same time, it has advocated “a light touch” on business, cutting public expenditure, opposing 50% as the top rate of tax, promoting deregulation, and competing with the Treasury to slash corporation tax. It is very, very difficult to see how these things can come together without generating profound tensions and unsatisfactory compromises.

In short, if the No campaign has been dire, punitive, and disengaged, the Yes campaign has promised much more than what it can realistically achieve. Of course, it remains tempting to hear the siren call of a young, independent state making its way in the world; but as it has been recently reminded to me, Antonio Gramsci, the Italian philosopher and politician, famously advocated pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will: the Yes campaign, understandably, has emphasised the latter but effectively ignored the former.

Can happiness be haggis, neeps, and tatties?

My ride took a bit longer than expected. What was initially supposed to be a short stroll with the bike away from my laptop turned into a two-month journey across four countries and very different feelings. I have, in fact, been thinking a lot about myself, for reasons both professional and personal—but then who hasn’t? It is just that there are people who tend to think about themselves it more than anybody else: generally, it is either those who have a lot of spare time, or those who tend to be egocentric. I am a bit of both.

Matter of fact, I am about to speak about myself and stuff I have done – once again.

First I have ridden my bike. Quite remarkably, I rode with my dad the whole way between Trento and Tuscany. Although we did not make it to Florence because of sheer lack of time, it was a good ride. We had lot of water, huge meals, and approximately 400 km down the way. My dad is still stronger than I am when it comes to long-distance ride, which is not surprising as he does not waste too much energy thinking about himself.

Bike Ride
I have also written. My articles have been published on Unimondo: some of them in Italian (Università, il dilemma dei finanziamenti privati; Mondiali in Brasile, l’importante è partecipare;Regno Unito: una lunga serie di sfortunati eventi; Mondiali in Brasile: dove è la festa?), some others in English (How Eurosceptic is the new European Parliament?; A new deal between the EU and Turkey on immigration rules). But I have gone international too: Iris, Jasper and all the other Orange fella will be proud as my articles have been translated in Dutch (Voor het eerst vuurwerk in Europees Parlement; EU en Turkije sluiten nieuwe overeenkomst over immigratieafspraken).

I have been to the Balkans. First I went to Serbia for a volunteering program. After last year’s experience in Slovakia this year I landed in a town only 33km away from Belgrande. Lying between the rivers Sava and Kolubara, Obrenovac has been badly hit by the floods of the last Spring. I spent two weeks working with a group of international volunteers in the houses that had been damaged by the water and the mud. I then traveled south to Sarajevo, for an immersive three-day in one of Europe’s most inspiring places on the occasion of its international Film Festival. Much more should be said about this experience, but I won’t – not here, anyway.

I have hiked, keeping up with the good tradition started with Manuel and Mindo. This year, after the 2012 and 2013 editions, we managed to put together the whole crew, adding Dani and Giallu, and sleeping in a comfortable refugee, Dolomiti del Brenta. In spite of what Jonas thought before we left, we never got lost, as the pictures of us looking desperately hopeless in the fog can confirm.

Finally, I have read some books. While I am still trying to nail down War and Peace, I have been disappointed by Canada entertained by New Europe, and intrigued by the Consolations of the Forest. The latter is probably one of the richest, deepest, and most honest books I have ever read. Those of you who are into nature, philosophy, and vodka should probably go for it.

And that’s about it. I am in Edinburgh now and will be here for a month experiencing the joy of the local cuisine, the excitement of the upcoming referendum, and the company of some old and new friends. I am planning to make a better use of the blog than the recent past. But if the days keep being as beautiful as today it won’t be easy to keep up.

Questa foto non l’ho fatta con il mio telefonino. Non l’ho fatta oggi. Non l’ho fatta io. Ma rende l’idea.

A few things I have published

It’s publishing time. After a long period focusing on my PhD project, I am now working hard on to revise and get published some old and some new stuff. Today openDemocracy was so kind to put online a short piece I have written on why regional and provincial governments might invent a progressive tradition in order to justify claims to self-government. This is how the article looks like

Civil rights: playing the territorial card
May 8th, 2014
Sub-state institutions may claim that they need self-government in order to maintain their distinct progressive tradition while, in reality, the distinct progressive tradition is often created in order to justify claims to self-government.

If the article is not too bad, that’s mainly due to my friend Iris, who helped me making the contents a bit more clear also for those who are not into politics.

For Italian speakers, in the last few months I did not advertise the articles I have published on Unimondo. But now it’s time to do that again. Some are not too bad, I have tried to be funny and a bit original. Here’s a small selection.

Russi di tutto il mondo unitevi!
30 Aprile 2014
La dottrina del Presidente Putin sull’ingerenza russa oltre confine “per proteggere i cittadini e i compatrioti” è molto pericolosa e spaventa le ex Repubbliche sovietiche

Fine vita, tra diritti individuali e voglia di indipendenza

20 Marzo 2014

A sostegno delle rivendicazioni di indipendenza di varie regioni nel mondo non arrivano i carri armati come in Crimea, bensì le leggi a sostegno dei diritti, dall’immigrazione all’eutanasia.

Scozia libera! Il referendum entra nel vivo
20 Febbraio 2014
18 settembre 2014, la Scozia sceglierà l’indipendenza? Batterà così moneta, avrà un suo esercito, chiederà di aderire all’UE? Tutte le questioni di un passaggio storico.

Cina, il calcio è l’ultima frontiera
04 Febbraio 2014
Nelle Olimpiadi del 2008 la Cina era in cima al medagliere. Oggi è stabilmente la seconda economia del mondo. Ma nel calcio è surclassata dai vicini /nemici del Giappone. Adesso si corre ai ripari.

Territorial distinctiveness

I am very much in favour of territorial distinctiveness. I found a surprising essay where John Stuart Mill forcefully attacks it.

Experience proves that it is possible for one nationality to merge and be absorbed in another: and when it was originally an inferior and more backward portion of the human race, the absorption is greatly to its advantage. Nobody can suppose that it is not more beneficial to a Breton, or a Basque of French Navarre, to be brought into the current of the ideas and feelings of a highly civilised and cultivated people — to be a member of the French nationality, admitted on equal terms to all the privileges of French citizenship, sharing the advantages of French protection and the dignity and prestige of French power — than to sulk on his own rocks, the half-savage relic of past times, revolving in his own little mental orbit, without participation or interest in the general movement of the world. The same remark applies to the Welshman or the Scottish Highlander, as members of the British nation.” (Mill 1861: 294-5).

We have come a long way since 1861. Let us do not fall in the same evolutionist trap when thinking about Scotland and other small nations today.