Scottish Nationalism and the Idea of Europe

Scottish Nationalism and the Idea of Europe

Scottish Nationalism and the Idea of Europe

Scottish Nationalism and the Idea of Europe


Is the notion of being an independent state within Europe a contradiction in terms when applied to Scotland? Atsuko Ichijo offers fresh insights into the pro-European dimension of contemporary Scottish nationalism and its implication for the rest of the UK.


In 1882, Ernest Renan, after pointing out that nations are not eternal, predicted: 'A European confederation will very probably replace them. But such is not the law of the century in which we are living' (1992:41). Nor, in fact, of the next century. the question posed by the present study is whether the time is now ripe for Renan's prediction to be realised; or whether the nation, in his words, remains the primary guarantee of liberty. This is the fundamental issue addressed by Atsuko Ichijo's rich, in-depth study of one such European nation's changing sense of collective identity.

Many scholars have pointed to the intertwining of the global and the local, of how vast globalising trends make for an interdependent world, on which new localisms flourish and small-scale communities thrive. a similar paradox can be observed in the case of nationalism. the world is full of jostling, contentious nations, and the bitter sounds of ethnic wars; yet, in one corner of the world, in 'old Europe', there is a conscious drive to put aside past national hatreds and construct something novel, a pooled supranational sovereignty that will draw to itself the loyalties and affections of Europe's peoples, which had previously been almost wholly devoted to the national state.

Almost wholly, because there have always been multiple, overlapping identities - of class, region, gender, religion and the like - which could become salient in crises; hence, nations and nationalism never succeeded in becoming the monolith that their most fanatical devotees desired. This is one of the points that come over very clearly in the Scottish case, as Dr Ichijo's striking findings confirm. Nevertheless, in political terms, the nation still represents the largest and most potent of the various identities and communities prevalent in the modern world; and nowhere is this more so than in an 'old' nation like Scotland.

Why Scotland? the Scottish case is vital, argues Dr Ichijo, for three reasons. the first is its European stance. From being cool towards Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, the Scots have opened themselves up to

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