Given all the things I have said about the Labour Party and Labour politicians, it is unsurprising that I have few amicable dialogues with the party. I am also a Labour apostate, which compounds the problem. But I have always tried to make a sharp distinction between the Labour Party and its politicians and the people they have so comprehensively betrayed. This distinction is especially vital in the case of Labour supporters in England, who, unlike the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, are faced with limited choices if they wish to shift their allegiance
It has been especially welcome for me therefore to have Twitter exchanges with a Labour supporter that I have unqualified respect for, including for the generous way he has responded to my regrettable tendency to shoot from the hip occasionally on Twitter – a kind of Ready, Fire, Aim approach.
Miljenko Williams tweets @eiohel and his online site is 21stcenturyfix.org
He recently was prompted to reflect on the nature of localism and nationalism, asking the question On sliding between localism and nationalism - when does one become the other?
After misunderstanding his initial tweet, and without following the link, I fired off in typical fashion, but then was politely directed back to source by Miljenko. I have his permission to repeat my comments on his fascinating article, but you really should read the original and what prompted it.
Getting over my shock at the real Extremadura intruding on my consciousness, (I wrote a book set in Extremadura - 'The Ancient Order of Moridura' - without ever having visited the region) let me offer a few thoughts -
The concept of a nation clearly is a much more complex one than that of a region, one bound up with geography, language, culture and identity built over centuries. It is not just a grouping of localities, and cannot be seen as just a series of economic and technological initiatives. Interdependence is the key factor that leads to communities, then localities, then nations, but national independence does not exclude localism nor does it deny cooperation across national boundaries.
But in organising itself to survive and achieve those eternal freedoms to to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, mankind has fallen repeatedly into the seductive trap of 'big is better', and the idea of economies of scale.
This has undoubtedly delivered benefits for some, but usually at the expense of others, and significantly at the expense of our common humanity. It has led to brutal oppressive empires, world religions, global banking, global companies, and most sinisterly of all, to the military/industrial complex – Eisenhower’s nightmare scenario, now a fact.
What we need now is democratic nationalism on a human scale, with maximum decentralisation of power to regions and localities, and free cooperation with other nations on economic, technological and scientific matters - and yes, on defence - but with the emphasis always being on serving the needs of the people, not the people serving the needs of a privileged and amoral minority.
If our 21st century society has only given us the iPad, the iPhone and mp3 players, it has failed. In fact, it is failing, right now, globally. Sophisticated communications systems alone will not deliver happiness, or even economic and social benefit. There is prima facie evidence that they can be inimical to it, dependent on who controls the systems and the information flow.
Spain is a nation, and short of trying to establish Iberia as a nation, it will always be a nation. Extremadura is a fascinating region, with a wonderful history and identity, one that must be preserved and celebrated, but it is not, and cannot be a nation.
But I know that this raises other issues of regional identity in Spain, ones beyond my knowledge and competence to comment on.