Showing posts with label borders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label borders. Show all posts

Friday 15 December 2017

Borders and Maps

Old Map of Europe with far fewer countries

The UN states – ‘peoples have the right to self-determination. There is no reason for a majority in a country to subjugate an unwilling minority. ‘The UN had 51 seats in 1945 and in 2017 now has 193. Change has been towards the smaller nation states.

The Kurds were divided up by Britain and France – as spoils of the Ottoman empire and the Provinces after WW1. This year both the Kurds and Catalonians were recently voting for their independence. Shockingly the Spanish government used brute force to try to prevent the Catalan vote. The BBC was not reporting on this either. The difference between a "made-up country" and an "authentic nation state" is that the real nation is like a centuries old tree with deep roots and many branches.  

A century ago a map of Europe in 1914 before WW1, there were far fewer countries in Europe – when three huge empires were shrunk in size - Germany, Austria-Hungary and RussiaGermany had then included parts of Poland, France, Denmark, Belgium and Lithuania. 

Dutch tycoon Freddy Heineken in 1990 wrote of a ‘Eurotopia’ of small countries of between 10m and 5m.
In todays Internet world of fast media and connections and improved communications (radio, tv) and fast travel – and we don’t need centralized control anymore.

Do we need empires anymore? The direction of travel today is towards the smaller nation states in a bigger trading block and away from `empire building. 
Europe today with far more nation states
Excellent letter in the National - saying the difference in Catalonia is that they have control of their media, a truly devolved region unlike Scotland. Compared to the problem here in the '2014 Scottish Referendum' - when Westminster controlled all the media, all th print  press here and all the unionist parties too. What hope had we? I remember my son saying, how could we have self determination without any media? I met a Norwegian film maker in Edinburgh, and I was explaining to him that Scotland, unlike Norway, has no oil fund. He asked where did the money go - he may well ask!? I told him Shetland has an oil fund though...
Is 'take back control' really about - take back control to Westminster from the devolved governments

Saturday 23 September 2017

Edinburgh Book festival (EIBF) 2017 and Building Bridges

Richard Ford
EIBF 2017 Building Bridges and Tearing them Down:
Divisions and Collaborations and Borders

The sun is shining the first days at EIBF and Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong, is being interviewed by stv on the lawn. The Scotsman is being sold along with freebies at the entrance (although the Scotsman is now the Scottish Daily Mail and not the paper it was back in the 70s) and we are ready to hear, meet and greet the famous and new emerging writing talent.

Another year to celebrate the written and spoken word in the perfect setting of Charlotte square Edinburgh. EIBF is a celebration of books, written words ideas, spaces to collaborate and exchange views, inspiring stories. retrieving and renewing. There were debates this year on how to build on the nature of “civic” nationalism, with collaboration and with looking outward to common interests, shared values, an informed country, and to renew Scottish arts.
Chris Patten
Caroline Brothers

Simon Callow
Laura Albert
**EIBF 2017! I want to praise the many open-minded cultured, lateral thinking, travelling journey men and women – the writers in Scotland today – who value the journey; try to comprehend the new; the young as well as the past; the historic streets as well as the complex internet. They are looking for ‘open spaces’ to discuss new worlds, adaptability, progress, to build bridges and for accountability.

There are many great Scottish thinkers, writers, doers, of the past to follow on from - George Buchanan, Thomas Muir, David Hume, Allan Ramsay, Robert Burns, James Clark Maxwell, Carnegie, Walter Scott. As well as the Edinburgh enlightenment figures of David Hume, Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith and Adam Fergusson. For centuries Scotland had kept close and political links to Europe part of the community of European scholars – Diderot, Goethe, Montesquieu and Voltaire. In Scotland the most literate nation in Europe in 1750 - in the 18th century Edinburgh was a leading light in the Enlightenment. Change can be good or bad, but always necessary. 
Writers of 'Nasty Women'

We live in such strange times”
The first article I read was Andrew O’Hagan on his journey to Yes. Wonderful piece.
O’Hagan gave an inspired talk “on his journey from no to yes, of his being at the count and driving home after to Ayrshire and his feeling that the future Scotland had changed that day. He had been to sit in on the court rulings over May’s attempt to use the 'Royal prerogative' to railroad in the Article 50 for the UK to leave Europe, without any consultation with Westminster. He was horrified at the slamming of Scotland’s interests.
Paul Muldoon

Irish Day!  Thursday was Irish day and how polite they were too! I dashed up after too to see the performers on the high street and attended a few shows
I always enjoy a couple of nights at the free Unbound shows – and this proved a quality, fun night. 
**Unbound “Paul Muldoon’s Picnic.” Irish Evening. ‘A Gathering of poetry, prose and music’ – that included Mercury nominated Lisa Hannigans, who writes songs of love, loss and longing.
Sandy Moffat, Alan Riach, John Purser
(1)  *Framing the Arts’ - statesmen of Scottish Arts - Professor of Scottish literature Alan Riach, painter Sandy Moffat, and musician and composer, John Purser
How we might build a more positive future for Scotland and of the general ignorance of Scots of their arts and heritage. They discussed Arts at the heart of life in Scotland and the cultural history of literature, painting, and music. Raich had a 2 page spread in the National newspaper, that day on the artist Margaret Hunter that day. They spoke of the cultural divisions and battlegrounds and they spoke of knowing what was in their own house, as well as looking outwards. Book, ‘Arts and the Nation,
 (2) *Gerry Hassan and Michael Keating (professor of Politics Aberdeen) Hassan mentioned that London’s’ shadow was only similar to Moscow in Russia and the dysfunctionality of the UK. Books ‘Scotland the Bold, A Nation Changed?

(3) Visions for a Future Scotland’ - with singer songwriter Karine Polwart, Thomas McEachan, from the Youth Parliament), Chris Van Der Kuyh of the Dundee Games industry. They discussed Voltaire’s quote “We look to Scotland” –and whether Scotland still has this clout today? They all spoke of what we value most about people – respect, compassion, warmth. Also that Adam Smith did not only write of economics, he also wrote, Theory of Moral Statements of Human Empathy’. Smith also fought against slavery. 

Hera Lindsay Bird
John Niven
Katie Manhood
***Maybe there is no right or wrong, yes or no, and as the song claims ‘About building Bridges' or 'Fifty Tones of Grey', (my son’s successful a Capella group!). How do we build those bridges? 
A little shot of stardust perhaps – My first thought is it’s not the politicians who have all the answers and their positions are too entrenched. We need bridges, conversations and more diverse voices, more than ever. A theme running though the EIBF this year was the need to bring different voices together and for physical platforms through the Arts. 

Its been 250 years since Burns wrote his epic ‘A Mans a Man’. He wrote of equality – which he learnt from ministers and great philosophical writers in the Declaration of Arbroath Scotland and its charter for democratic principles, taken on by American and French struggles late 18th century. The great thinkers saw the hoped for ‘that all men and women are equal’ – perhaps it’s the journey that is harder to understand. How do we get there?

I worry, even hundreds of years after these great thinkers (and all the great thinkers today) – nothing much has changed. Scotland may believe in equality, freedom, education and fairness for all citizens, but we are still a land of great divisions.
Evelyn Glennie
Nicholas Hytner 
Colm Toibín
Marcus Sedgwick
Paul Astor
*At EIBF there were questions over the concept of "Nationalism". Scottish nationalism is not about race, or religion, its about all who live here. At EIBF politician Chris Patten and Turkish writer Elif Shafak, questioned that N can ever be a force for good – the opposite is that globalization is not always the right answer either. Edinburgh is very much an international and European city. In the Arts it is crucial to understand your own heritage and also to look outwards. Scotland’s self-rule is firstly about democracy and secondly the importance of being both national and international and modelled on small countries in a bigger trading block, such as Norway. They misunderstand, SN is the opposite - and not a narrow or nasty 'blood and soil' nationalism - SN has always been inclusive, open, diverse, outward looking and welcoming and about how do we build bridges.

(All photos are copyright of the author, for any Licence for use online or in print media, please contact on my Facebook, thanks)

AC Grayling – ‘Democracy and its Crisis’
Alan Riach – ‘The Winter book’, poetry
‘Outriders’ – a special project of both Scottish and American writers travelling across America to express the state of play in this highly diverse country today.
Alan Riach, John Purseer, Sandy Moffat – ‘Arts and the Nation’
Gerry Hassan – ‘Scotland the Bold’, ‘A Nation Changed’
Michael Keating - ‘A Wealthier, Fairer Scotland’


Thursday 29 June 2017

Our European past

‘If you prick us, we’ll bleed Europe, the world.”

Excellent article by Scottish writer AL Kennedy who writes in the Bella Caledonia magazine June 2017.
 ‘after Brexit we will rely on Europe for moral and intellectual support. And be eager for the new, travel and different voices.

With Holywood movies it may appear in recent times that there is a big American influence here, but when we dig deeper we find our connections and heritage to Europe – Scotland has a long centuries old history of trade, travel and connections to Europe – France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Poland Germany and more.

She writes, “First we are human, Brexit will leave us trapped on a apparently increasingly racist island with faltering press freedom and crumbling press reliability, adrift in a shrinking culture enthusiastically rejecting real-world knowledge of all kinds.”
She claims that "Europe is already viewing us as a failing state and as somewhere whose writers need support. They are supporting dissident voices in the UK. It is so important to protect our acceptance of diversity."

‘The post-war efforts to unify Europe were aimed at reversing any drive towards violent ignorance, silence and fear. We have evidence from all of nowhere that this drive always begins in the suppression of diverse voices, words, creativity, books, vitality. We must protect our diversity.”

She quotes, Homers Odyssey – “Muse sing the man of long experience tried
Who, fertile in resources, wandered wide.” 
The Odyssey is a book of polices, war, bloodshed, foolishness, wisdom, mercy, love – and at long last  - home.

“And that speaking of these things allows us to stay morally, imaginatively and literally alive."
The opposite of a free, open society is what once threatened Europe’s peace.
We’ve had a rise of populism – that one voice might speak for all -

“In the end, only one voice is permitted and that voice will only speak of entitlement, threat and hate.’

And so we really have to welcome divergence and diversity.

For anyone following RR Martin’s Game of Thrones – it’s a story of betrayals, ignorance, loyalty, faith, diversity, travel, dictatorship, magic, hope, violence, war, hatred, love, companionship, intellect, strength, morality, weakness – and the game of politics. Who wins?
It’s certainly not the one who is unable to learn….

There are often no right or wrongs, only shades of grey.