So What’s a Nation?

“…A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the same people living in the same place.
— By God, then, says Ned, laughing, if that’s so I’m a nation for I’m living in the same place for the past five years…”
(Leopold Bloom and Ned Lambert of 1904 Dublin in James Joyce’s Ulysses)

Tony Blair former British Labour Prime Minister expresses a faith in a notion of globalism that marries economics and trade with religion and spirit. But enthusiasm for global connectedness ignores the basis of most civil institutions’ separateness: language, custom, law, and even national religion. For a nation‘s characteristics are manifest in the ways individuals are taught to behave and think in accord with their countries’ institutions. So despite global trade’s sometimes overruling such principles of national, civil behaviour, the struggle for nationhood continues. In Palestine of the Middle East, in African territories, in Canada’s Quebec and even in Texas of the USA, almost as an anachronism of modern Europe in this contemporary world where national tariff confines are bending and dissolving in a sea of international manufacturing, the desire to maintain a state identity persists. Ignoring prospects for gain made possible by global trade a strange preoccupation with where you’re from and what people make and do there still seems a greater concern for many than getting more than one’s neighbours have in the global market place.

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