More years ago than I care to remember, I studied a module on Logic. (And you thought that blogging was the act of a saddo.) Anyway, the point about syllogisms in particular is that the conclusion is always, and inevitably, true so long as it is wholly contained within the premisses.
Enough theory; the point is that it’s usually not the logic, but the premisses which need to be challenged and tested, but that doesn't always seem to happen. Part of the logic expressed by some nationalists, for instance, runs along the following lines:
Premiss 1: All nations have the right to self-government
Premiss 2: Wales is a nation
Conclusion: Wales has a right to self government.
The logic is absolutely impeccable, but I wonder about the premisses. The first is fairly straightforward, although it really does require a lot more definition of the words ‘right’, ‘nation’, and ‘self-government’. And even without that extra definition, it is surely clear that any ‘right’ to self government also includes the ‘right’ to not seek self-government as well, so that any meaningful debate should be about the pros and cons rather than simply about the 'rights' of the matter, a point on which Glyn Davies, Keir Hardly and Welsh Ramblings seem to be in agreement.
But it is the idea of ‘nationality’ which has always troubled me more.
This little piece from Independence Cymru manages to crystalise an issue which has been bothering me for some time, although not in the way that I suspect its author would have wished.
Wales, the author suggests, is hopelessly split, geographically and linguistically, as well as by class and by culture, to the extent that it needs to be reunited to become a proper nation. If that is the case, then by what definition exactly is it a single nation in the first place? (And surely, it is ‘the Welsh’ rather than ‘Wales’ which is the nation – Wales is just a geographical entity. Two small peninsulars on the western edge of an offshore European island.)
It can't be ethnicity. There is no real ethnic difference between most Europeans, never mind between ‘the Welsh’ and ‘the English’, so that cannot be the basis of defining a nation.
It cannot be language, obviously. When 75% of the population speak only English, the same language as our next-door neighbours, we cannot use language as the basis for a definition of nationality. It could be argued that Welsh is the ‘historic’ language of Wales, and therefore has a special place as our ‘national’ language. True, but that involves choosing a particular point in history when Welsh was current across the whole of Wales, but almost extinct elsewhere, since in earlier times, the same language (more or less) was spoken widely through England and the south of Scotland,making it as much a ‘historic’ language for them as it is for us.
It cannot be hard geographic or economic reasons. Much of North Wales looks naturally towards Liverpool, and much of the south has a great deal in common with the rest of Severnside, and, in strictly economic/ geographical terms, one could make a strong argument for a regionalisation of the UK which completely ignores the ‘national’ question.
Despite that, most of use here in Wales do actually think of Wales in terms of a nation - so why?