A generation ago, English journalist and columnist Simon Heffer wrote a splendid book titled “Nor Shall My Sword,” about the resurgence of English nationalism that likely would follow in the wake of Scottish and Welsh nationalism.
Granted, English identity is arguably a kind of default or quid pro quo nationalism – a natural response to the eroding sense of British identity and the rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalism. Yet, the remarkable fact remains that an identity that slumbered for centuries is reasserting itself.
I’ve asserted several times within this forum that I consider myself a post-Confederate, post-racial Southern nationalist. And if the events unfolding in Britain drive home one truth, it’s that national identities are fully capable of reasserting themselves, even after a passage of centuries and despite their being derided as retrograde by elites.
And that is precisely why I don’t buy into the notion that Southern identity has gone the way of the dodo bird, as some left-leaning pundits steadfastly contend. As more states and regions throughout the United States begin reasserting their sovereignty, the South, which historically has embodied the most significant alternative to prevailing American national identity, will begin to rethink and to reassert its own place within the American cultural and federal matrix.
That is why I consider a recent piece by Richard Wood, a young Scottish columnist, as so valuable and relevant. It cites the enormous benefits of genuine federalism – how the four autonomous British nations, empowered with most of the attributes of genuine nationhood, will be capable of immense innovation and progress, demonstrating to other nations that 20th century cookie-cutter notions of centralized governance are no longer tenable within a flattened, digitized information economy.
Polls have shown as much as 59 percent support for a devolved English Parliament. And the United Kingdom appears to be drawing ever closer to a federal union, one that would operate under a written constitution, which would delineate the powers to which each of the four British nations – England, Scotland, Ulster and Wales – would be entitled as autonomous states.
The United States would have much to learn from a union that viewed federalism as seriously as it once did – excuse me, as THEY once did.