Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Semantics and the politics of Welsh Nationalism

I do like  Nation Cymru it provides more than one viewpoint though sometimes  seems seems bent on carry such openness to a ridiculous leve.

 Take the recent article 

How does Plaid Cymru appeal to an incomer like me?

by  Nathan Abrams who writes 


I have made Arfon my home. I have lived in Wales for 11 years. I have researched into and written about its history.
I am raising two kids here both of whom will be fully bilingual. My wife and I are endeavouring to learn Welsh. I have no objection to Welsh independence.
So I’m a natural Plaid Cymru voter, right?
I’m not sure. I have flirted on and off with them for years, at a local, national and Westminster level but I’m far from committing. Why?
Firstly, I don’t like its name. It shouldn’t the ‘Party of Wales’ but the ‘Party for Wales’. This is a crucial difference and one which I will outline below.
The Party of Wales implies an ethnic or cultural nationalism. Such nationalisms are never simply benign, no matter how oppressed those nationalists might feel and be.
At some point, as recent history testifies, this kind of nationalism will turn on those who somehow don’t belong.
Secondly, such nationalisms tend to be – and here Wales is no exception – backward looking. They look to a mythic pre-industrial, pre-modern idyll, uncorrupted by the forces of modernisation which itself is just a code word for immigration.

I don't want to be bogged down in semantics but you can argue the reverse for Wales being insular  and of Wales seeing  Plaid as being prepared to look at what is happening beyond our boarder.

The reality of course is the main reason Plaid registered the Party of Wales is to prevent others (Labour in particular) from claiming that title.

Nathan then goes on 


Look at Jerusalem – ironically a reference to a city full of the sort of people that most Little Englanders would loathe having in their own country – with its references to ‘England’s green and pleasant land’ tainted by those ‘dark satanic mills’.
Wales’ national anthem is also illustrative on this front. ‘The Ancient Land of My Fathers’ looks backwards to a past of bards, singers, fighters and famous men.
Gender politics aside, it mourns a time when Wales was not crushed by the foreign foe, one in which the Welsh language survives and thrives.

Firstly Blake's poem  which many would like to be England's National anthem is a socialist hymn stressing the importance of people taking responsibility for change and building a better society 'in Englands green and pleasant land.

Nathan continues,

Wales’ national anthem is also illustrative on this front. ‘The Ancient Land of My Fathers’ looks backwards to a past of bards, singers, fighters and famous men.
Gender politics aside, it mourns a time when Wales was not crushed by the foreign foe, one in which the Welsh language survives and thrives.
I certainly support the latter points but how does that anthem speak to an incomer like me? Where am I, as a Jew from north London, to fit into this picture, one which probably doesn’t include me anyway? (Historical note: we were excluded from Wales before the expulsion from England in 1290.)
 Well Yes  Canada has changed the second line of its national anthem from “in all thy sons” to “in all of us” to be gender-neutral. but it may be easier to no this for hen wlad fy nahadau when it comes to scanning.



While we are at it
The official text of the national anthem of Isarel runs as followsand English translation are listed below.
Hebrew Transliteration English translation Poetic English translation
כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה Kol ‘od baleivav penimah As long as in the heart, within, O while within a Jewish breast,
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה Nefesh Yehudi homiyah, A Jewish soul still yearns, Beats true a Jewish heart,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה, Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah, And onward, towards the ends of the east, And Jewish glances turning East,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה, ‘Ayin leTziyon tzofiyah; an eye still gazes toward Zion; To Zion fondly dart;
עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ, ‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu, Our hope is not yet lost, O then our Hope—it is not dead,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם Hatikvah bat sh(e)not ’alpayim, The hope two thousand years old, Our ancient Hope and true,
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ, Lihyot ‘am chofshi b(e)’artzeinu, To be a free nation in our land, To be a nation free forevermore
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם. ’Eretz-Tziyon virushalayim. The land of Zion and Jerusalem. Zion and Jerusalem at our core.

 I don't know how Nathan feels about it, or if it is really relevant, but it arguably  fails his test .

 (Historical note it was Edward 1 who expelled the Jews from Wales (ironically probably because he owed them money for the building of Castles ) after the conquest).

Though Wales cannot escape the shame of anti-Semitism  and has had its share of such vile attitudes.

Many Nations especially ones that one their freedom from others  take the Republic of Ireland 's Amhrán na bhFiann" (Irish pronunciation: [ˈəuɾˠaːn̪ˠ n̪ˠə ˈvʲiːən̪ˠ]), called "The Soldier's Song" and maybe Flower of Scotland  will not be the National Anthem of an Independent Scotland.

But the main problem in Nathan's argument is  that  you can argue that loads of parties names do not match their current philosophy. Socialist ,Labour  and Liberal parties Parties who are conservative and even despotic and Democratic parties who are elitist and dictatorships.

Nathan should judge Plaid not on semantics but what it fights form and what it does he would be mare than welcome to contribute to this within the party.

No comments:

Post a Comment