Thursday, 28 August 2008

Countries, nations, and a swamp of flagrant wank

Okay, I'm not defending hypocrisy, but I do think it's better to say if you think something's wrong (even if you do nothing about it), rather than just do nothing.

Take this stuff about Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The UK and US are saying Russia shouldn't recognise the two breakaway parts of Georgia without international approval - Russia is of course responding with "well what the hell were you doing with Kosovo and Serbia?"

This is the standard foreign policy bitching you get when something big like the Georgia invasion kicks off. But a quick look on that swamp of flagrant wank, the BBC Have Your Say message boards, reminded me that there's a strong attitude in Britain against apparent "hypocrisy" regardless of what's right or wrong.

There seems to be a hundred posts criticising David Miliband (UK Foreign Secretary) because UK, US, EU etc. (basically everyone except Russia) recognised Kosovo's independence without asking Serbia what it thought, and now he's rushing off to Ukraine etc. to raise opposition Russia apparently doing the same thing. But amongst all these idiots barking their opinions as scientific fact, there's no agreement - or even opinion - about whether granting independence to smaller regions is a good idea or a bad idea. When it's fashionable to oppose the government, as in this situation, the tide of wank opinion says "free these poor occupied territories that I know very little about and will never visit!". But ask the same people about whether Scotland should become independent, and they'd almost certainly whip out the British flag and start singing the national anthem (possibly one of the reasons the Scots want rid of the English. Understandable if you ask me).

It's certainly not an issue about proper process and procedure, seeing as these people usually have the same contempt for the UN as they do for the EU (on the BBC Have Your Say boards, anyway).

It's the same thing as you might find with the environment, or vegetarianism. If someone who owns a car says "ride bikes, cut carbon emissions" he/she gets laughed at and ignored because they are a "hypocrit". Take David Cameron (leader of the Conservative Party) - I fucking hate the Tory party, and I think David Cameron is an even more conservative version of Tony Blair. But while people find it very easy to call his bike-riding hypocritical because his bodyguards drive a car behind him (and people like me think it's a shallow publicity stunt), it's more as an excuse to ignore the issue of carbon emissions rather than having to face up to the issue ourselves.

My opinion on countries' independence? Nationalism is overrated. I don't know what's so great about being British that's not just good in general - public services (when they work), democracy (ish), civil liberties (for now...). I'd be quite happy for Scotland if they declared independence and broke up the United Kingdom, if they felt that strongly about it; likewise if South Ossetia and Abkhazia want to go their own way. Then again I don't know what's so much better about being Scottish, South Ossetian or Abkhazian than British or Georgian. Plus it gets pretty complicated at the fine detail - what about rich regions of countries going their own way, and taking the tax with them? (e.g. Bolivia, quick example among many.)

The main thing across the world is the importance of finding ways of expressing people's different levels of allegiance. I'm Essex, English, British, European, and a person of the world. While I like some of those regions and descriptions more than others, I can't deny any of them.

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