THE comments by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa ("'Nationalism has produced the most brutal and cruel wars in history'", Herald Arts, June 9) have riled a few of The Herald's Nationalist readers (Letters, June 11).
However, sometimes it's those who are a little removed from the field of play who can see things as they are, and Vargas Llosa is right to say that "the basic idea of nationalism is wrong".
Your correspondents appear to be arguing that there's nothing nationalist about the SNP's campaign to break away from the rest of the UK, but the clue's in the name. If it's not a Nationalist party after all, perhaps the SNP should rename itself.
Shared identity is a complex thing and a line on a map is neither the only nor the best consideration. There's probably more sharing of identity between the inhabitants of the Scottish Borders and of Cumbria than there is for either group with the inhabitants of Shetland or London. National boundaries are artificial and often illogical constructs, and we need more partnerships across them, not fewer.
Vargas Llosa is also right when he warns of the danger that separation could produce a "provincial vision" of the world. It was Alex Salmond who described military action to stop genocide in the Balkans as "unpardonable folly"; he revealed a lot about his view of Scotland's place in the world at that time.
Ruth Marr is upset by "the idea that a political party could govern Scotland with only one- representative from Scotland in the UK Parliament". If we take that argument to its logical conclusion, why should anyone in a constituency that didn't return a Tory or Liberal Democrat MP accept any law made by the Coalition? In any event, most of the areas of public policy that directly affect people's lives are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The debate is about what that Parliament could do with more powers, especially full control of the economy. The SNP's claim that it can cut taxes and improve public services, while at the same time building a reserve from oil revenue, is fantasy economics. The debate deserves better.
52 Menteith View,
SO, a Noble laureate fiction writer has seen fit to criticise Scotland's ambition to become a true sovereign nation again after a break of 300 years. The Peruvian/Spanish writer warns our First Minister and his Government that nationalism is "always very negative, very pernicious". He goes on to say that "nationalism has produced the most brutal and cruel wars in history". He is equally damning about colonialism and with that many would agree.
However, he clearly has not studied the history of Scotland as a democratic nation or he would quickly discover that to regain her independent status will be achieved without a single shot fired in anger. What Scotland is doing now is seeking to renegotiate a 300-year-old treaty that has reached the end of its life and give the people of Scotland a much-deserved opportunity to become a sovereign nation once more rather than a depressed dependency.
The Treaty of 1707 was not the settled will of the Scottish people at that time. Today it is rightfully the people who decide whether or not a country should become independent. Scotland today is ambitious to become outward-looking and develop its own resources and talents, governed at all times by its own people, who know best what is needed for their country. Vargas Llosa should stick to fiction writing, stay out of politics and leave us with our peaceful aspirations.
Nigel Dewar Gibb,
15 Kirklee Road,
IT was interesting to read Jackie McGlone's interview with Mario Vargas Llosa and the contributions attacking his view from a separatist perspective.
Vargas Llosa's argument is accurate, powerful and borne out by the lessons of history. The opening quote is particularly telling: "When nationalism becomes power it is always very negative, very pernicious. It produces a provincial vision of social and political problems".
When he draws attention to the narrowness and divisiveness of the political nationalist, or separatist, outlook, his view chimes with that of the majority of the people of Scotland who refuse to have their positive UK citizenship tampered with by separatist politicians and their roused supporters.
He advocates greater co-operation among peoples, and the removal of barriers between them. This is not an attack on civic, cultural or national pride, but a just recognition of the value of an international collaboration which he rightly says has helped to prevent world war for more than 60 years.
In contrast, the contributions published on your Letters Pages start from a flawed premise: that there is some intrinsic value in the break-up of the UK. Not so, in the consistent view of the majority of Scotland's voters.
These contributions in their content do a good deal to underscore the points that Vargas Llosa is making. As ever with contributions like these, the question to be asked is not "what are they saying?" but "why are they telling us these things?"
Scotland has no need to "rediscover her nationhood", but instead to continue to celebrate nationhood as part of the UK, Europe and beyond.
24 Clelland Avenue,
MARIO Vargas Llosa appears to have touched a very raw nerve with some nationalist readers of The Herald. I found his comments wise and quite uplifting. Any international observer with the best interests of Scotland at heart would see the logic in us remaining in the Union. Any idea that there is an untapped motherlode of wealth in Scotland is a myth. When the SNP was formed in the 1930s Scotland was enduring the hungry years of the Depression. Understandably, people were sometimes desperate for any way out.
Today the SNP supporters always seem to be in denial that we subsequently became a highly developed nation integral with the UK and the anachronistic hankering of "if only" fools nobody. Hard-line adherents of a return to an independent Scotland are often so rigid they remind me of the last line in The Great Gatsby": "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past".
46 Breadie Drive,
MARIO Vargas Llosa seems to have struck a nerve with his mild observations on the futility and parochialism of the Nationalist mindset prompting a flood of indignant contributions to your letters page. Perhaps if Mr Vargas Llosa lived in the Bahamas, New York or Los Angeles he would get a more welcoming reception from our Nationalist brethren.
12 Phillips Avenue,
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