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5.12.09

Liberty all round!

"It is impossible to want the liberation of of one nation without wanting the liberty of others"

Such is the principle I was reminded of on reading an article on the website of the newly formed Breizhistance - Socialist Party of Brittany. Of course they go much further and add that national self-determination is nothing without a democratic control of the national economy by the people for the people, but lets just rest on the first principle for the moment.

The sentiment expressed in this sentence is, to my mind, one of the fundamental qualifiers for all progressive movements for self-determination. How could one want recognition and home-rule for ones own nation and not that of another? How can Cornish autonomists not be moved by the struggles in Brittany, Tibet or the Basque Country.

Self-determination does not equal independence.

Lets not forget that when talking of Cornwall only a minority want independence from the UK, and those that do, more often then not, want some form of European (me) or Celtic federal arrangement. Many more simply want recognition as not being part of England.

It's still startling to hear people equate Cornish separation from England as being the same as full independence from the UK (and EU?). It seems for many recognising that Cornwall is not England is tantamount to dynamiting the small stretch of land that attaches Kernow to the rest of Britain leaving Cornwall sail of in some form of Celtic autarky. Ironic when you consider in the 19th century it was the Duchy of Cornwall that actually proved that Cornwall was not, in a constitutional sense, part of England. Recognising that Cornwall is not part of England would not suddenly mean an end to all commerce and exchange with England, the rest of the UK or Europe, that needs to be hammered home!

Finally, many more in the wider Cornish movement are content to campaign for a greater degree of decision making ability to be given to Kernow inside or outside of England. Self-determination does not always equal independence but rather a more adapted political settlement to any one national question.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation offers this definition:

Essentially, the right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its own destiny. In particular, the principle allows a people to choose its own political status and to determine its own form of economic, cultural and social development. Exercise of this right can result in a variety of different outcomes ranging from political independence through to full integration within a state. The importance lies in the right of choice, so that the outcome of a people's choice should not affect the existence of the right to make a choice. In practice, however, the possible outcome of an exercise of self-determination will often determine the attitude of governments towards the actual claim by a people or nation. Thus, while claims to cultural autonomy may be more readily recognized by states, claims to independence are more likely to be rejected by them. Nevertheless, the right to self-determination is recognized in international law as a right of process (not of outcome) belonging to peoples and not to states or governments.

What of England

Does England have the same right to self-determination? It should be noted that the a large majority of English nationalists fall short of the qualifier described above due to their stance on the Cornish question. Interrogate many of them and equally you'll soon notice that they don't give a pigs ear about the plight of any other stateless nations either. A nationalist movement that truly is insular, xenophobic and turned in on itself, English nationalism, as manifested by the EDP, EFP and others, is far from internationalist.

There are some notable exceptions to this English nationalist refusal of the Cornish question. One such individual offers us this in his blog article: The national dimension to constitutional reform

1. Formal recognition of the fundamental human right of national communities to determine their own form of government (popular sovereignty), and to decide whether they wish to constitute a national community or not


2. On this basis, a formal process to determine which actually are the national communities of the United Kingdom, including, for instance, a referendum in Cornwall to decide whether Cornwall should be considered as a nation or not; and an even more contentious process for the Northern Irish to decide whether they regard the Province as a nation in its own right. If the people of Ulster chose not to become a nation, the Province could probably be considered as a self-governing British region, which would not be very different in practical terms from being a self-governing British nation

Anyway the Cornish Democrat would like to wish the very best of luck to PSB-Breizhistance and here is hoping to see them making links in Kernow.

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