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News from Rob Mimpriss (2018)

Pinned post updated 3rd January

Some facts about Welsh independence, posted by Yantorbo Rob on Youtube; a clip from current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar, demonstrating the pressure, in this case deliberate, to which English incomers subject Wales’s national language and culture; and a brief video by Robin Williams reminding us of the Welsh Not and the cane, the two weapons that were used to Anglicise schoolchildren in Victorian and Edwardian Wales.

These articles also make the economic case for Welsh independence. One, by former Member of Parliament, Adam Price, in Huffington Post, explores the greater flexibility that smaller economies have over large, and a second, by Adam Price in Wales Online, suggests how an independent Wales can address its budget deficit; the third, by Gwynfor Evans, and recently republished by Bella Gwalia, argues that an independent Wales would adapt its economy to serve the needs of its people, and studies the objections that prevent that case from being made. Mike Hedges A.M. argues that Welsh independence would be less risky than Brexit, since its terms could be negotiated prior to a referendum, a series of articles on State of Wales explore Wales’s currency options as an independent state, and Dr John Ball of Swansea University, writing for the Institute of Welsh Affairs, reflects more generally on the economic structures that a Welsh state would need. Research by YouGov found that 26% of the Welsh population supports independence, and that 28% supports independence to preserve Welsh membership of the EU.

An article by John Dixon politely destroys the false dichotomy set by Carwyn Jones between the head and the heart, while warning us that Welsh democracy cannot be safeguarded within the British state; Adam Price reminds us of Wales’s status as an English colony; the poet and novelist Patrick McGuiness reflects on his own conversion to Welsh citizenship and Welsh nationalism; and an article on Politics by Rebuttal asks whether an independent Wales would be willing to give up its language, its natural resources, and its democracy, as conditions of accession to the United Kingdom. And Hannah Arendt, Amos Oz and Ernest Gellner offer thoughts on nationhood of relevance to Wales, after the jump.

Meanwhile, the Welsh government’s strategy to increase the number of Welsh-speakers to one million by the middle of the century, Cymraeg 2050, leads to accusations of child abuse in The Guardian and The Times which Ifan Morgan Jones describes as akin to racial prejudice; while research conducted by Roger Scully finds widespread support in Wales for policies to protect and preserve the Welsh language, while an informal analysis of social media by Barn Cymro found the vast majority of Anti-Welsh language activists to be English, and living in England.

The last few chapters of Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, yield ideas of value to us in Wales. First, Arendt emphasises the relationship between civil liberty and the nation state, such that the emergent Republic of France proclaimed the Rights of Man and gave equal status to its Jewish population, because the nation state bases its authority on its right to treat all citizens as equals, regardless of ethnicity or creed. Hence, nationalism is by nature civic nationalism, and to apply the term ‘nationalism’ to the racist and imperialist movements of the last century is either to misunderstand the phenomenon, or to abuse the word.

But while the nation state, says Arendt, treats all its citizens alike, it also seeks the uniformity of a single national language and culture, and cannot tolerate indigenous minorities within its borders: it seeks to destroy the Slovenes in Hungary, the Germans in Romania, either through assimilation, or through genocide. Unconsciously, Arendt echoes the language of Matthew Arnold, supporting the decision of the UK parliament deliberately and utterly to annihilate Welsh culture as a means of destroying the will of the Welsh people to rule themselves, and to better themselves — the unhappy effects of which we still suffer in our impoverished and divided country. Hence, to speak, as Rhodri Morgan spoke, of Wales as a nation and of Britain as a nation, of being both Welsh and British with disadvantage to neither, to imagine a future for Wales in Britain which is more than a cultural, social and economic slow suicide, would be, in Arendt’s view, a terrible political mistake: Wales’s act of national stupidity — Wales’s Brexit.

Those for whom the word ‘Welsh nationalist’ automatically carries connotations of militarism, racism, and the hysterical love of the nation state might consider the following passage by Amos Oz (In the Land of Israel. 1983. Trans. by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura):

This is the place to make my first shocking confession — others will follow. I think that the nation state is a tool, an instrument, that is necessary for a return to Zion, but I am not enamoured of this instrument. The idea of the nation state is, in my eyes, “goyim naches” -- a gentiles’ delight. I would be more than happy to live in a world composed of dozens of civilisations, each developing in accordance with its own internal rhythm, all cross-pollinating one another, without any one emerging as a nation state: no flag, no emblem, no passport, no anthem. No nothing. Only spiritual civilisations tied somehow to their lands, without the tools of statehood, and without the instruments of war.

But the Jewish people has already staged a long-running one-man show of that sort. The international audience sometimes applauded, sometimes threw stones, and occasionally slaughtered the actor. No one joined us; no one copied the model the Jews were forced to sustain for two thousand years, the model of a civilisation without “the tools of statehood.” For me this drama ended with the murder of Europe’s Jews by Hitler. And I am forced to take it upon myself to play the “game of nations,” with all the tools of statehood, even though it causes me to feel (as George Steiner put it) like an old man in a kindergarten.

Finally, the philosopher Ernest Gellner in his book, Nations and Nationalism, explores the history of separatist nationalism as a response to the centralising and assimilationist policies that emerged in the historic nation states as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. His thinking is summarised in the brief quote below:

The roots of nationalism in the distinctive structural requirements of of industrial society are very deep indeed. This movement is the fruit neither of ideological aberration, nor of emotional excess.... [It is] the external manifestation of a deep adjustment in the relationship between polity and culture which is quite unavoidable.’.

Pinned post

Click to read a short story for January: ‘A Wedding at Nant Gwrtheyrn,’ filled with mystery, romance, and gothic horror, taken from my translation of the work of the Victorian writer, Owen Wynne Jones.

15th January — Breaking News: Party leader Henry Bolton resigns from his girlfriend to spend more time with his UKIP.

Rally in support of Brexit outside Welsh parliament.

14th January: The rally outside the Senedd in support of Brexit yesterday, organised by the People’s Charter with speakers from UKIP, was less than spectacular. A dozen or so people turned up.

This was the rally whose participants were specifically asked to leave their swastikas at home.

Cry, and the world cries with you. Laugh, and you laugh alone.

Cover of The National, 13th January 2018

The National reports that a customer who complained to M&S about the lack of Scottish branding on their Scottish whisky was told, ‘You’ve had your referendum. You’re part of England now.’

Personally, I quite like having English friends. It gives me opportunities to practise my patient sighing.

I have never been invited to attend the London Conference on Intelligence.

There are no extrinsic rewards in short fiction. I should learn to express myself through the medium of interpretive cat videos.

It’s not that my friends don’t want to be cultured, and improve themselves. And they know that my work is of an improving nature. But the more immediate gratification comes from all-female naked rugby games, and Japanese seaweed pornography.

3rd January: Since implementing direct rule, the government of Madrid has imposed Spanish as the language of government in Barcelona, in place of Catalan, reports El Nacional.

Ayn Rand was an ambitious writer of big ideas. Regrettably, they were not good ones.

This year
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013

I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.