Disclaimer: Articles on this website are written from the perspectives of various Localists, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Local Matters. Our contributors come from a wide array of varying political backgrounds, and we believe that cooperation across the political spectrum is essential.
Every Western society lives in more or less the same way, regardless of its political structure. The Nation-state is still there formally, but at first glance, the differences are shrinking. This merging of lives can be seen to be growing through media, television, entertainment, and above all, global markets which bring the same consumer items to all of our doorsteps; as an example, the Englishman now wears the same apparel as the French, German and Hungarian – something unthinkable less than 100 years ago.
On top of this, the European Union attempts to represent itself as the ‘European community’ in and of itself, which shows us that the nation-state in Europe as we know it is having its role diminished by a more universalist administration from Brussels. The nation-state does retain much of its control, however, it is too big to focus on the little problems of the people and too small to fix the larger problems facing the future of Europe and her place in the world.
But what makes a nation? A people’s identity cannot just be retained on paper; a Japanese man born in England is as much English as an Englishman in Japan is Japanese. The distinction between citizenship and heritage is an important one, and as the political class pushes harder to blur the lines between these separate defining factors of humanity, we must keep in mind that the design of a nation, its principles and features, from its advantages to its flaws, are all directly downstream of the groups who shaped it over thousands of years. A nation is not granted its qualities by chance of its place in geography, but by the shared history of its people.
The unity of the English nation was forcefully carved through the destruction of many local traditions and languages; the diversity of our country was snubbed for the sake of efficient expansion into the global world.
With this has come an ever more materialistic attitude where we bond much more commonly over our favourite American superheroes instead of building a socially organic relationship with others around us with a shared experience of our home. There is however no better example of our shared experience than the English Village. Village dwelling is far from the halls of a centralised government, it flourishes from the community and culture within, offering Independence, collectivism, community life, real human expression. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a prime example of the English people thinking along community lines, we have seen people coming together to clap for healthcare workers, people have been helping their neighbours, chatting on the street, pooling resources and caring for those less fortunate.. This is an England that could very much be here to stay if we as a people foster it together. A break from buying material goods and being sold consumer items has brought out the best in us, cooperation between people in England is a strong binding factor we clearly have an aptitude for.
Larger systems such as the nation-state that aim for a “Global Village” are built on the ruins of the local regional cultures and villages that made them. Small state structures have always been an important part of community life. It is part of a current tragedy that the larger state operates against the needs of the communities within it. People have a need for the conservation of finite resources, respect for the environment, concern for their social lives in a community. These cannot even begin to be concerns for the large and highly centralised nation-state. It is because human beings are so charming as individuals or in small aggregations that they have created overconcentrated social units such as mobs, cartels, or indeed Nation-states.
“Wherever something is wrong, something is too big. If the stars in the sky or the atoms of uranium disintegrate in spontaneous explosion, it is not because their substance has lost its balance. It is because matter has attempted to expand beyond the impassable barriers set to every accumulation.”
― Kohr Leopold