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, in the concertina below.
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, and an informal analysis of social media by Barn Cymro finds 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.’
’Brexit will become a reality, with all its negative consequences, in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends. We on the continent haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.’
22nd March: Yesterday, members of the Senedd in Cardiff and the Parliament of Scotland vote to assume unilateral control of devolved powers currently wielded in Brussels after Brexit, to ensure that Westminster does not attempt to undermine Welsh or Scottish democracy.
‘There was a terrible smell of rotting fish, which it turns out was the smell of Nigel Farage’s ideology.’ Shaun Keaveney, 6Music.
‘This Williamson... this — how do you say — Gavin Williamson. He is not strong man. He is like man who sleep with other man, because afraid vagina will eat him, or like woman who sing in feminist punk band, because she has not found man. He is from England, no? Very small, very damp, again like vagina... So, this Williamson, I not say we kill him soon. But if some day he die in crucifixion accident, or during night-time visit to abandoned sausage factory, send condolences to widow. See to it, Dmitri.’
‘Look at the Irish situation with the British. The humiliation of Native Americans, how their language was denigrated. In Africa, of course, we were forbidden to speak our mother tongues. Japan imposed its language on the Koreans. So wherever you look at modern colonialism, the acquisition of the language of the coloniser was based on the death of the languages of the colonised. So [language] is a war zone.’
The Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, on colonialism, on writing in one’s national tongue, and how repressive regimes seek to crush the imagination that says there is a better world than the world they rule, in interview with The Nation.
An Englishwoman in Wales claims to be keeping the Welsh language ‘at bay’, and compares Wales with South Africa. This is an instance of the constant racism against the Welsh, for which the only solution is decolonisation. Needless to say, her tweets show pro-Brexit sympathies.
A friend of mine, an anti-Brexit campaigner and socialist in England, remarked on Facebook that it is inconsistent with Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism that he opppose freedom of movement for European workers, and oppose laws designed for their joint protection. I agreed, and added that even though he accedes to the 52% who wish Britain to leave the EU, he ignores the majority in Scotland and Wales who seek greater autonomy within the UK. Within an hour, my English friend had blocked me, apparently for agreeing with her comment. As a Welshman.
I am sensible of the loss. I value my English friends. They give me opportunities to practise my patient sighing.
‘When the British were members of the EU, they wanted opt-outs. Now they are leaving, and they are demanding opt-ins.’ Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, on Brexit.
In a recent report described in Nature, scientists reduced the speed of light to 38mph in a cloud of ultra-cold sodium atoms. But nothing will slow down Brexit, says Theresa.
In my small single room in a cheap hotel in Chester, the single-serving sachet of instant coffee bears the toothmarks of a previous guest.
‘The Mafia make offers you can’t refuse. The British make offers you can’t understand.’ A quip allegedly heard in Brussels.
A study conducted in 2016 into the psychology of the Brexit referendum contains good and bad news for Brexit supporters. The good news is that on average they rated higher on conscientiousness and lower on neuroticism in the Five-Factor Model than those who voted Leave, while the bad news is that they were less swayed by evidence and logic than Remainers, and more driven by emotion and instinct. Members of both camps showed a tendency to over-estimate their good judgement, though older people, who mostly voted for Brexit, were more likely to do so than the young, who mostly did not.
The kinder Brexit supporters with whom I engage insist that there will be no economic damage, that social divisions will not increase, that the closure of Maplin, Toys R Us, Prezzo, East and Mothercare is unrelated to Brexit, and that business leaders who say otherwise don’t understand their own affairs. They insist that at best the fears of voters like me are unfounded and unnecessary, or at worst that they are seditious, and that all academic, commercial and governmental forecasts, whether conducted before or after the referendum, in the UK, in Europe, or further afield, are wrong. I see no way to bridge this gulf. They are doomed never to understand what they have done, I never to understand why they have done it.
There is a theory that the quantum vacuum is unstable, allowing the nucleation of a bubble of space that would expand at the speed of light, in which the fundamental laws of physics would be different.
If such a vacuum engulfed the earth, then atomic matter would break down, and the entire planet dissolve in a fizz of subatomic particles. But even this would not stop Brexit, says Theresa.
In the UK, the government withdraws funding from Cornish-language projects, and fails even to mention the existence of Irish in its report on protected dialects to the Council of Europe. In Wales, the announcement of Cymraeg 2050 is met with a torrent of cross-border racism, as bilingual policy is held up as a cause of everything from road accidents to child abuse.
In Spain, the government seeks to undermine the official status of the Catalan language in a seeming act of collective punishment, which effectively admits that the Catalan people desires independence. For ultimately, nationalism is not vilified because it is violent, or because it is authoritarian, or even because it threatens a delicate international peace. It is abused because it defends the right of someone else’s culture to exist.
Image manipulation by a friend. Theresa May brings her qualities of determination, vision and delicacy of touch to the difficult task of EU negotiation.
Click to read: ‘Wreckage’ — a sailor brought ashore by chance becomes a respected mariner and a mainstay of the local smuggling industry, in my translation of the short story by Thomas Owen Jones, published in Straeon Gwynfor (1931).
It seems that one of the barriers to the restoration of normal governance in Northern Ireland is the DUP’s bitter opposition to any possible Irish Language Act.
Perhaps on this occasion, the Irish Language Act should come from the British government. It would be both a way out of the deadlock, a fulfilment of the obligation to provide such an act as part of the St. Andrew’s Agreement of 2006, and a small yet welcome act of contrition for beating children who dared speak their national language in school.
Boris Johnson describes the EU as a teleological project of which John Stuart Mill would have disapproved. I suppose Boris has been rifling through his undergraduate lecture notes again. I got rid of mine, to make room for books.
The original series of Flash Gordon, starring Buster Keaton in the title role, is touchingly reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. Flash Gordon needs a brain, Dale Arden needs a spine, and Dr Zarkov needs a pair of trousers.
So hard Brexiteers, and indeed hard Remainers, fear ending up in an emasculated vassal state to a more powerful, more prosperous eastern neighbour.
Welcome to Wales.
#BrexitMeansRacism: And here, Prof Tanja Bueltmann, an historian working at Northumbria University, shows us the hate mail she has received in the wake of Brexit.
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.
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.
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.