Fugue State

Dissociative fugue, formerly fugue state or psychogenic fugue, is a dissociative disorder and a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state can last days, months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity.

Brexitland is a Fugue State, a country confused and delusional, and it is manifesting itself in extraordinary ways.

This weeks most entertaining Twitter spat (well, second) between Ross Greer and Piers Morgan over the question of Winston Churchill’s alleged racism, exposed a gulf in nations, ages and political cultures. Morgan, drawn to the social media controversy like a moth to the flame invited the Scottish Green Party MSP onto his tv show with a touching welcome:

“The thick ginger turd MSP who said Churchill is a ‘white supremacist mass murder’ will be appearing live on tomorrow.”

Morgan’s shrill incandescent jingoism was met with some calm and some history by Ross. But the exchange did seem to bring to attention the depth of England’s identity crisis, as it staggers into its self-imposed humiliation. Without an ounce of self-reflection, ignorant of its own history and confused about its own identity Brexitland is drowning in hysteria and self-deception.

Icons like Churchill are held up to be praised unquestioningly. History is to be venerated but not read or understood. The truth about Churchill is undeniable even if it is unpalatable. The more precarious the Brexit predicament becomes, the more ridiculous and toxic and unstable the whole situation develops to be, the more desperately Empire Loyalists like Morgan become, triggered by anything that challenges their fragile world-view. Last week it was Gillette, this week it was Greer. Next week, who knows?

The Indian MP Shashi Tharoor seemed to be on point:





The twin of India is, of course Ireland.

This week also saw the spectacle of John Humphry’s suggesting to Helen McEntee, Irish Minister of State for European Affairs that Ireland should leave the EU and “throw in their lot” with the UK. Listen here.

If Humphry’s is the curmudgeonly self-entitled radio star to Morgan’s tumescent spiv tv character, both share a deep ignorance of history.

But if the outpourings of these individuals from their powerful media pulpits leaves us incredulous, the behaviour of a government seemingly also bewildered and disoriented leaves the rest of Europe confused.

How are you supposed to interact with Theresa May, a women so consumed by opportunism and so bereft of integrity that she is like a walking advert for a dysfunctional broken politics?

Tonight, inevitably, Jean-Claude Junker confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated and then informed the European Parliament that he does not know what the House of Commons is for.

As May oscillates between European capitals like a cadaverous pinball, at once declaring and then un-declaring sacred positions, tearing up absolute red lines and renouncing deeply-held beliefs moment to moment, the rest of the world looks-on in astonishment.

European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness responded to Theresa May’s pledge to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal deal saying: “Reopening the Withdrawal Agreement is not on our table, and indeed was something that the Prime Minister, as I recall, ruled out herself.”

Perhaps this is all part of a script, a play in which in the final act the tragic heroine departs stage and the audience is left booing Brussels, or Ireland, or both. But I doubt it. It feels more just like abject chaos, a venal, useless political elite clinging to power and desperately seeking answers to questions of sovereignty they can barely comprehend. Brexit has unearthed some visceral hurt, some primal wound in the English psyche, and all they have to process it is the spectacle of this haunted woman shuttling about Europe nurturing failed deal after failed deal, her credibility withering before our eyes.

Defeats and humiliation is cherished like a victory as the UK descends into absurdism. The Daily Express crows that “our indomitable PM unites her party and receives the mandate to return to Brussels with Parliament’s full weight behind her.”

“She did it!” they scream, seemingly watching a series of events that no-one else can see.  But the tone is suitably Churchillian, a brave isolated Britannia overcomes adversity and socks it to them. Even the language around a No Deal is militaristic and nostalgic, conjuring visions of the Blitz Spirit and overcoming unseen foes.

As the toxicity of public life seems to further deteriorate, with racist attacks becoming an everyday occurrence and a willed-hunger emerges as an actual goal, the government turns to more bizarre and extreme solutions.

The idea of Martial Law is being discussed.

It’s not clear if this is legal.

I can’t remember the source for this (sorry) but someone has explained: “The Petition of Right which is reproduced in the preamble of each annual Army Act, asserts the illegality of martial law in time of peace in the following terms:—“No man shall be fore-judged or subjected in time of peace to any kind of punishment within this realm by martial law.”  C. M. Clode, in Military Forces of the Crown, argues that the words of the Petition of Right and of the Military Act since the reign of Anne are plain in this respect “that … the crown possesses the right of issuing commissions in war and rebellion.”

It’s difficult to either keep up or absorb the unfolding Brexit process. it is simultaneously exhausting and boring as well as mesmerising and intoxicating.

What literary metaphor can describe the experience? It has the darkness of a William Burroughs dystopia and the atmosphere of a Lewis Carroll tale but James Felton has it when he writes:

“At the end of Of Mice and Men Lenny is in big trouble. Rather than tell him that there’s no way out, his brother describes again how they’re going to live on a beautiful ranch & tend rabbits, before shooting Lenny in the back of the head. Anyway that’s where we are as a country.”

That’s a long way from the sunny uplands.


Comments (32)

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  1. Jan Hendry says:

    Helen McEntee is brilliant in that interview with John Humphreys – intelligent, patient, respectful, adticulate. He, on the other hand, is appalling. It’s like listening to a bully trying to blame their victim for all their problems.

    1. Jo says:

      I just listened to it. How did she stay so calm? He truly is an arrogant git at the best of times but this was unbelievable!

  2. MBC says:

    Brilliant piece.

    Isn’t Irish unification the simple answer to all of this?

    1. Jo says:

      There is nothing “simple” about that suggestion.

    2. Willie says:

      A united Ireland and an independent Scotland within the EU makes huge sense .

      Let England get on with its xenophobic Brexit ” hatred of foreigners” project.

  3. Jo says:

    I heard a good one today directed at May and her lot.

    “They may think Britannia rules the waves but she can’t waive the rules.”

  4. Alex says:

    George and Lenny are not brothers in “Of Mice and Men”. But somehow that makes the quote more apt.

  5. MBC says:

    The Good Friday agreement saw the UK relinquish its territorial claim to NI. This was a major step. It also allowed the future of Northern Ireland to be settled by a ‘border poll’ (or vote for Irish unification) anytime the population wished. NI voted by 56% to 44% to Remain. I gather that Remain position is increasing as is support for a Border poll. Stormont had been suspended. Why are we hearing zero about what is going on in the minds if the NI apart from reports of renewed violence? I genuinely want to know what their position now is on Brexit and reunification.

    1. BSA says:

      We don’t hear about Northern Ireland because the BBC is so Anglocentric that its network content is entirely English and there is no exchange of news, current affairs, history, drama or anything else between the four countries of the UK. The justification for that is apparently that England is not interested in the rest of us while we apparently are quite happy with a diet made in England for England. That is what breeds the ignorance and prejudice we see now openly expressed regarding Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is quite obvious that the BBC’s role has always been to promote the unity of the UK but instead of promoting the mutual understanding necessary for that they assumed that they could make us all English. As a unifying force they have been an abject failure and, as the last unifier following the demise of the Empire, the Welfare State and the nationalised industries, that is, thank God, not good for the Union.

  6. Peter says:

    An excellent piece – looks like we will crash out listening to Bach’s THE ART OF THE FUGUE OFF 😉

  7. Chris Connolly says:

    An interesting article that would be even better without the statutory anti-English comments. John Humphrys is certainly right wing and very likely an Empire loyalist. He is also Welsh. He was born and raised in Cardiff and lived in Wales till he was 23. Piers Morgan was born Piers O’Meara to an Irish father & only became Morgan when his mother remarried, to a Welshman.

    The English don’t have a monopoly on smug, right wing BBC presenters. See also Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg.

    1. MBC says:

      Fair point. But they bought an imperial narrative that was Made in England. They are shaped by that political culture. The Englishness complained of is not an Englishness of people but of the dominant English political culture. Dominant, because it is in the driving seat right now and has been with few exceptions since 1066. We in the Celtic fringes are aware than another England exists under this yoke, an England that is liberal and fair. We just despair of it ever rising up to displace the imperial masters it appears to adore.

      1. Chris Connolly says:

        Some fair points there too, MBC.

      2. Gashty McGonnard says:

        English culture dominant since 1066, MBC? I’d claim the opposite. Surely 1066 is when England as an organic demos with intrinsic laws and government came a cropper? Since then, all power there has been top-down, alien and remote.

        I’d agree with Mr Small that the wailing for sovereignty and control comes from a deep psychic wound. There’s a half-buried yearning for a political order on behalf of the people rather than against them, which hasn’t been seen since the day it dribbled out of Harold Godwinson’s eye socket.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by anti-English comments?

      1. Chris Connolly says:

        I was thinking of

        “But the exchange did seem to bring to attention the depth of England’s identity crisis, as it staggers into its self-imposed humiliation.”


        “Brexit has unearthed some visceral hurt, some primal wound in the English psyche, and all they have to process it is the spectacle of this haunted woman shuttling about Europe nurturing failed deal after failed deal, her credibility withering before our eyes.”

        In both cases the use of “England” and “English” seems unnecessary to me.

        Also the tags beneath the article BREXIT ENGLAND RACISM suggest that England is being accused of racism. Otherwise why would they be there?

        There is no such thing as “the English psyche” because England is a very cosmopolitan country. My English/Welsh friend in the USA has just watched Queen’s Park beating Berwick Rangers on YouTube and asked me why there were no black players on the pitch, the answer being that there aren’t as many people from ethnic minorities in Scotland as there are in England. Surely nobody would seriously suggest that all the different ethnic groups in England; black, Asian, Southern & Northern, all share the same psyche, would they?

        And if so, who typifies the Scottish psyche? Highland farmers? Fishermen from Fraserburgh? Middle class residents of Edinburgh? Glasgow hard men? Knitters on Fair Isle? To group them all together as one entity would be silly because they are as different as chalk and cheese.

        Visit a Rugby League match at Featherstone and then a Test match at Lord’s to observe the huge difference between people from different English backgrounds. They represent two different countries within the borders of England with very little in common except that they cheer for the same national sporting teams.

        1. It’s a very mainstream view that a revival of English nationalism is at the heart of the Brexit phenomenon. It’s not very controversial and articulated by a number of respected English commentators.

          Do you doubt that England is going through some identity crisis?

          Why is that difficult?

          1. Chris Connolly says:

            You haven’t answered any of the points I made, Bella. It’s pretty lazy to simply repeat what was said the first time as if it’s unreasonable of anyone to challenge it. If England has an identity crisis it’s because there are many different Englands, but this is nothing new; that “crisis” has been around for centuries. Blaming Brexit on “the English” without backing that up with anything other than cliché is simply casual Anglophobia.

            Consider this. If there was an Independence referendum here in Scotland right now then I would be desperate for Yes to win, but there is no guarantee that that would be the result even now. The last referendum took place 4 and a half years ago and the Scottish people rejected independence by a greater percentage than the English voted for Brexit 2 years later. According to your argument that means Scotland has an even bigger identity crisis than England and “the Scottish psyche” is one in which we are content to be (to quote Mark Renton) colonised by wankers.

          2. Thanks Chris – there are several ways in which “England” is an entity defined by cultural traits, borders, political and media institutions. Of course its diverse by region and demographics but it should be possible to talk about “England” and its cultural and political identity, is it not?

            Why is it that we can apply broad descriptors to other countries and places but not to England?

            I recently published Cormac Quinn’s wonderful essay ‘England, a Love Letter’: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/01/26/england-a-love-letter/ which i woudl recommend.

            It does seem extraordinary just to say that Brexit is NOT part of a problem of English identity. That just seems a basic simple statement. Of course it has major other drivers: austerity, regional inequalities etc etc But are you really saying that problems of English national identity aren’t at play here and aren’t to be spoken of? If so, does that apply just to me – or does that apply to the other dozens of English writers commenting on this? If so – I will send their details and you can chastise them all individually?

          3. I’ll start collecting examples of English writers making exactly the same arguments.

            Here’s the famous photographer Don McCullin:


            “Right now, England is in such an uncomfortable place, because of Brexit. I’ve found an England even more confused than ever … we’re in a mess, a God almighty mess.”

    3. Jack collatin says:

      Chris, I posted this on WGD 26th Jan re Humphreys, as an ‘Uncle Taff’, and compared him to our ‘Uncle Tams’.
      It is a Brit Nat disease, and there are plenty from the colonies who gladly sell their souls for The Iron Heel English Gold, i’e’, the English oligarchy which looks down on Humberside and Yorkshire with equal disdain.

      “…..that Humphreys was an ‘imperialist idiot’.
      He is nothing of the sort of course, and through the medium of this essential Scottish political organ, WGD, I apologise unreservedly to the wizened old BBC Thumper.

      You may recall that in the past, Many of us vile cybernats have levelled accusations against the ‘obedient retainers’, Down There who have made a healthy wealthy living out of being ‘Uncle Tams’, Brit Nat Sweaties based in London, working for the English Establishment via the MSM to defend the ‘precious Union’ against the Nasty Scots Nats, betraying their fellow countrymen and women for ‘English gold’?

      Check out Chris Cairns excellent take on ‘Uncle Tammery’ over on Wings over Scotland today.

      John Cleese’s ‘cultural not racist’ put-down was originally directed at Fraser Nelson, Nairn Born son of a Common Man, now editor of the Arch Right Wing ‘Spectator’ magazine (Boris Johnson was a former editor):-

      “Why do we let half-educated tenement Scots run our English press ? Because their craving for social status makes them obedient retainers ?”

      Cleese was demanding state control of the MSM, and Nelson led the backlash from the hacks.

      Andrew Neil is the chairman of the Spectator, a modern day Wogan, never off the telly, filling the screen with his generous well fed girth, 8 days a week . He never misses the opportunity to put down Scotland and attack our campaign for Self Determination from within the confines of his Westminster Bubble.
      Andrew Marr is another one.
      I’ve made the point of not tuning into his weekly hour of Brit Nat Propaganda today.

      Wales has its fair share of ‘obedient retainers’

      ‘Uncle Taffs’ if you like.

      A quick glance at John Humphrey’s bio on wiki would seem to suggest that the man who has sat hunched shoulders over the mic in the Radio 4 studio every morning for over thirty years now, fits the ‘poor lad dun good’ model which Fraser Nelson and others adopted when confronted by the racist elitist nonsense of Cleese and Co. (Many of Cleese’s 5 million Twitter followers agreed with him, apparently.)

      Humphreys is from Cardiff, of solid working class stock.

      Left school at 15, got a job on local rag, then worked his way up from there.

      He has been our Man in Washington and South Africa for the BBC, and lived through such outrages as the ‘Dodgy Dossier’, the ‘sexed up’ 45 Minutes lies that Iraq had the WMD capability to strike London in less than an hour.

      Indeed, he hosted the today programme that morning when Andrew Gilligan, who was later sacked for revealing Dr David Kelly as his source, but let the cat out of the bag, that Blair’s secret service lied to precipitate an attack on Iraq.

      Dr David Kelly subsequently committed suicide, hounded to death by the MSM and Blair’s hit men, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered on the say so of an Iraqi refugee taxi driver codenamed ‘Curveball’.

      There is no doubt that Humphreys is a giant in journalistic terms,

      He has made an extremely good living out of being a Brit Nat hack.
      All of it in the pay of the BBC, the English oligarchy’s Propaganda Wing.

      So much so that he greeted the prospect of his £600,000 a year salary being ‘cut by more than half’ following the recent Equal Pay scandal at the Beeb, with a light-hearted shrug, blaming the BBC’s budget for his pay cut, rather than the decades of injustice towards his female colleagues.

      I listened to the broadcast this morning.

      There is nothing ligh-thearted or jocular in his suggestion that Ireland quit the EU and become a colony of England once more.

      He really meant it.

      He even went as far of accusing Ireland of ‘arrogance’ for insisting on honouring the GFA.
      He is an ‘Uncle Taff’ indeed.

      He lied about Ireland’s trade with the UK, and had to be corrected on the actual figures.

      Like all his colleagues, including Marr, Neil, and Nelson, he blames Europe for England’s Far Right Tory Mess.

      We’ll see more of this hysterical nonsense from the Brit Nats over the coming weeks.
      It’s not England’s fault; it’s the Karauts, the Froggies, the Sweatie Socks, and the Thick Micks to blame.

      It is reported that the British Army is on the Border between Derry and Letterkenny now.

      The British Army is stockpiling ‘materiel’ in anticipation of civil unrest.

      And it will all be Johnny Foreigner’s fault with all their threats and bullying;
      It is about to get very nasty indeed.”
      I understand perfectly if this is edited out, BC.

      1. Chris Connolly says:

        I wouldn’t call Fraser Nelson and Andrew Neil Uncle Tams, Jack. An Uncle Tam would be a Scot who behaved in an exaggeratedly pseudo-Scottish manner in order to please his masters. When I lived in Yorkshire many of us considered Alan Titchmarsh, Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Parkinson to be Uncle Toms, for reasons that are obvious to everybody wherever you come from.

        Messrs Neil and Nelson are just a pair of right wing bullies who happen to be Scottish.

  8. scrandoonyeah says:

    I think John Humphreys makes a good point. Ireland should join the UK and then the UK should ask the other 26 countries to join as well. So the EU entity becomes the Federal United Kingdom.

    The European Union is now known as FUK………….and we are back to where we started.

  9. David McCann says:

    As Churchill once said.
    “WE have always found the Irish to be a bit odd. They refuse to be English!

  10. Chris Connolly says:

    Unfortunately Bella Editor’s responses to me don’t come with a Reply button so I’ll do it here instead.

    I am a fan of Don McCullin’s work and a fan of Bella too. The reason I like Bella is precisely because it is not a mainstream news and comment outlet, which is why I find the appeal to the mainstream argument surprising. (Sir) Don, for all his great work over the years, is a middle class Southerner and can consequently only speak for the middle class South of England, and I disagree with him, with Mike and with anyone else who thinks it’s acceptable or reasonable to sum up England as one entity when it’s a cosmopolitan rough alliance of many different and widely differing cultures and communities. I guess you have to have lived there for as long as I did to know this, but I’d say South Yorkshire, for example, has much more in common with Scotland than it does with, say, Surrey, or Somerset where Don McCullin lives.

    I’m still bothered by this “English psyche” thing, which Mike hasn’t dealt with or justified. For the reasons I have already given, no-one refers to the Scottish psyche. If Bella printed an article referring to the Jewish psyche there would be immediate, justified accusations of anti-Semitism, but English psyche seems to be acceptable for reasons unexplained. In my opinion, it’s not, and I have explained why I think not regardless of what the mainstream may or may not be saying just now.

    I enjoyed Cormac’s essay very much but I was less impressed by some of the comments beneath it, which smacked of bigotry. I’ve stopped reading the readers’ comments on The National for the same reason; many of them are simply and straightforwardly racist against English people and utterly fail to differentiate between the many different types of English people that exist.

    If many English commentators are themselves complaining of an English psyche that led so many people to vote for Brexit then that implies that they themselves don’t share it, in which case it doesn’t really exist. When comparing the Brexit result in England with the 2014 independence result in Scotland it could be argued that at least the English have the guts to take a leap into the unknown rather than just complaining about the status quo and then choosing to stick with it, as the Scots did. Please note that in my opinion this would be a stupid argument but if the “psyche” position were maintained it would be justifiable.

    Bella is a pro-independence site and so mostly preaches to the converted, like me. However, the major aim is to persuade people who have not yet made up their minds to agree with us. English people who live and vote in Scotland are not likely to be impressed or attracted to our side if we insult them. I’m sorry to repeat myself here but since I’m sure we agree that replacing “English” with “Jewish” would render any polemic unacceptable then we ought to bear in mind that when we deal in stereotypes we are treading dangerously near to the muddy waters where the so-called Alt-Right dwells.

    This opinion, as always, comes with my utmost love and respect. I’m still a Bella fan but would be even more so without what I continue to perceive as its occasional anti-English prejudice.

    1. Hi Chris – thanks for your comments.

      1. I’m not appealing to ‘mainstream’ outlets – I’m drawing your attention to the fact that many English commentators outline exactly the same argument as I am doing and asking you to explain that.
      Your response: “If many English commentators are themselves complaining of an English psyche that led so many people to vote for Brexit then that implies that they themselves don’t share it, in which case it doesn’t really exist” – I dont really comprehend what that sentence means, sorry. I’ll send other examples.

      2. You say “I enjoyed Cormac’s essay very much but I was less impressed by some of the comments beneath it” – well me to – but part of hosting a forum like this is to ‘allow’ views you yourself dont like or agree with.

      3. You say “Bella is a pro-independence site and so mostly preaches to the converted”. I think our remit is far wider than just independence and thereby our audience too.

      4. I dont accept your accusation of anti-Englishness and I dont accept your Jewish example because its not replacing like with like. Englishness is neither a race nor a religion.

      If we replaced “English psyche” with “French psyche” or “German psyche” or “Irish psyche” that would make sense, and wouldnt be objected to as a broad brush to talk of a national movement or moment or trend.
      This is quite usual. I think some people find talking about England rather than Britain unacceptable and difficult to deal with. There’s really no reason for this.

      1. Chris Connolly says:

        I’m sorry to bore everyone to death but I’ll answer all those points.

        1 What I was trying to say here (and making a right imperial mess of it) is that if there were an English psyche then those commentators would have it as well, but since they clearly object to what the so-called psyche has created, re Brexit, then that also implies that they don’t share it. So, if the English psyche causes xenophobia leading to Brexit, and yet also causes people to criticise the xenophobia that leads to Brexit, then the obvious conclusion is that there is no actual English psyche, or maybe there are 2 English psyches. I’d say there are a lot more than 2. If that still makes no sense then forgive me; it’s the best I an do.

        2 I agree, but some of those comments smacked very much of racism against the English. My definition of a racist comment is that it offends, intentionally, members of the group being discussed. In my case, although I now happily consider myself Scottish I am actually, by birth and education, English, AND I AM OFFENDED. I am very offended indeed, because I am being lumped in with people I don’t like or respect simply because of an accident of birth. That’s unfair to me. It makes me feel something like I did one day in Sheffield when a black Englishman called me a fucking white cunt; I was not only outraged but hurt to the very marrow of my bones. It was so unfair after a lifetime spent opposing racists!

        3 If Bella’s remit is not to support independence you could have fooled me! Having said that I’m sure it’s definitely not Bella’s remit to make independence less attractive which is what happens if Anglophobia is allowed to go unchecked. There is a stereotype that our unionist opponents like to chuck at us, which is that we are simply a bunch of England-haters. The last thing we need is to give them evidence which encourages that stereotype.

        4 Jewishness isn’t just about religion. Lots & lots of people are atheists but still consider themselves Jewish and still take it personally when they come across anti-Semitism. Anglophobia is no different. It’s basically tarring everyone with the same brush, whether they have transgressed your ethics and values or not, on the basis of their background. I call it bigotry.

        There is no such thing as a German psyche (on behalf of my German friends such a concept makes me shudder) or an Irish, French, Greek, American, Icelandic or any other national psyche. Substitute “stereotype” for “psyche” and you come across what mars the original otherwise well-argued polemic that led to this debate. I keep asking what the Scottish psyche is and not getting an answer, and I don’t expect to get one because there is no such thing as a Scottish psyche either.

        Maybe it’s time we agreed to disagree, but with respect to 2 above, please think about it seriously. Every time someone makes an Anglophobic remark it’s like being told that you can be our friend if you like but we’ll never let you become a full member of our gang, and that’s a painful thing to be told.

        1. Chris …

          1 & 2) I didn’t mean to suggest that there was an overwhelming homogeneous world view and call it the English “psyche”. Clearly that would be daft. I don’t ascribe racism to English people or to all Brexit voters. Clealry that would be both daft, and offensive. And I recognise that there are traits and elements from within our own culture that we dont feel comfortable with – god knows I feel this as a Scot. It sounds like you dont like the idea that there is something going on because it makes you feel uneasy.

          But are we really to suggest that there isn’t a revival of English nationalism and this isn’t playing a role in Brexit? Just read and consider that sentence, please.

          3) Bella’s remit is to support independence, but much more beyond that. That’s all I meant. Today we have looked at the concept of “growth” and the threat to nursery education in Edinburgh, neither directly anything to do with independence. What we’re looking at is the deeper meaning of independence, autonomy, self-determination and what that would look like.

          Is there a Scottish psyche?

          Not as a totalising thing no. But there are elements that build up over time of: history, psychology, religion, weather (!), and culture that make-up a character, yes. It could be described as beligerent, cynical, romantic, emotional, stoic, nihilstic, guilty, presbyterian, inventive and lots of other conflicting good and bad elements. But I wouldn’t suggest that to identify some of those traits or elements was somehow detrimental to Scots?

          1. Chris Connolly says:

            Fair enough, Mike. Keep up the good work.

          2. Thanks – feedback / exchange genuinely appreciated

  11. Redgauntlet says:

    Without getting into this debate too much, I personally do not believe that talking about “national psyches” is helpful at all, no matter who is doing it, including people I respect like Fintan O’Toole, or Mike Small here.

    It is basically one of those nationalist myths which were very popular 100 years ago. The national psyche, or the “soul” of a country, these terms, if used figuratively as opposed to literally as they once were used, may be useful ways of making a point but they run the risk of being misunderstood by people, and they are the thin edge of a wedge which can lead on to “a national destiny” or “historical mission” – for example, “civilizing the world” – and that is very dangerous.

    As Chris Connolly rightly says, to talk of a national “psyche” also suggests a “unity” comparable to an individual, when we know of course that all societies live in a state of constant conflict, and that what might look like unity and homogeneity invariably conceals a society full of differences, especially of class, race, gender, and economic interests. If you think of how totalitarian societies project themselves, it is always in a homogeneous way and to talk of a “national psyche” risks doing that.

    It is far more useful to talk about discourses which can be analyzed very clearly. If you read the English national discourse of the last few years – the press especially – it is deeply anti-European.

    And there would be my rebuttal to you Chris Connolly. If you want England to be perceived in a different way, then you have to create a counter discourse, Chris.

    Where is the English version of Bella Caledonia? Where is the English resistance to the monolithic empire obsessed, class obsessed, money centered discourse which is projected constantly by the English ruling class? There doesn’t seem to be a resistance to that narrative. So, of course, you will get people in Scotland – and elsewhere; Anglophobia is an international phenomenon – who simplify and just reject the England wholesale and, in the best of cases, are deeply suspicious of England as a country, and Britain by extension….

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      There is already lots of resistance, Red. It’s just that you never get to read about it in the Press, which is not only imperialistic, chauvinistic and dominated by the ruling class but likes to pretend that the resistance doesn’t exist. We used to run a left wing bookshop in Sheffield, a city which has thriving groups of gays, lesbians, feminists, socialists, anti-racists, anarchists etc., but to read the Press you would think the city comprises the guys from The Full Monty and no-one else. I once lived in Nottingham, which is a similarly edgy (for want of a better word) city with many a workers’ co-op and vegan/vegetarian café.

      My answer to you is that the alternative narrative already exists in a big way. It’s just that you never get to find out about it, just as English people generally don’t have a clue about why Scots should want independence because it’s a subject that is never discussed in the English media.

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