Archive for March, 2010

The formation of Nations

Thought this was an interesting article which highlights what we were talking about last week that globalization is something old and has intensified over centuries as opposed to being a product of neo-liberalism of the past 30 years. Even though Nations were processes which drew boundaries, they were very much formed by people who were relativley free to travel without such bounded restrictions.


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This week we will be discussing how Climate Change can affect National Policy and shape the political landscape of particular countries. Because Climate Change is a truly global phenomenon which transcends national boundaries, good relationships between countries is essential for the successful implementation of environmental management. As a result, the politics of climate change is ingrained with national sentiment.

Even though the dangers of Climate Change are increasingly publicised, often national interests outweigh the importance of this global concern. Industrializing countries such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Ecuador have often sacrificed environmental preservation in order to catch up economically with more developed countries such as the U.S and the U.K

Brazil has for decades relied on its extensive policies of deforestation and has been at the receiving end of much protest from international non-governmental organizations. Its increasing competitiveness on the world agricultural market has been a political priority meaning it has prevailed over implementing ecological concerns. In a country where 80% of recent deforestation of the Amazon has taken place, Brazils challenge is to balance national and international pressure with economic demand needed to sustain its own citizens.


Equally, other big Nations such as Russia is continuing to put the Russian people first.Recently Russian prime-minister Vladimir Putin controversially decided to re-open the Baikalsk Paper Mill near the UNESCO heritage Baikal Lake. The rationale behind this decision was to re-energise the local economy which heavily depends on the work of the paper mill. Despite the protests, economic growth has been prioritised over ecological preservation of the lake.


The worry of climate change has also merged smaller nations together creating alliances which have attempted to ease the burden on individual countries for making their voices heard. The Pacific Island Forum is an example which has allowed islands such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu among others to mobilise at a much larger scale.

In Copenhagen December 2009 this alliance showed resilience through insisting that smaller nations will not be bullied by bigger ones as the below video indicates.

Therefore the challenge for nations is to decide between purusing domestic goals against that of greater global security. However, with increasing international pressures, the question remains how long will it be until failure to cooperate internationally will result in conflict?

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Celebrated French sociologist of social movements, Alain Touraine, comments on the current economic crisis, and the absence of the notion of society in our responses to it. In French:

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Too left-wing to be German

I came across two cases in February when German citizenship was rejected on grounds of socialist ideology. The first case I heard of occurred in the city of Hanover. A 20-years-old Syrian from the Socialist German Labour-youth (SDAJ) was denied citizenship because of his political engagement; apart from that he is regarded as “well integrated”.

The second case is more prominent as it concerns a young spokeswoman of “Die Linke”, who left the youth organisation of the SPD in 2007. Social-Democrats have moved to the right under Schroeder, which is one of the reasons why the Left Party has been on the rise ever since. This party is now well established in the federal and several regional parliaments. As the successor of the governing party in the GDR, it remains however under observation by the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution. Membership of this party has been stated as the only reason to deny citizenship: anything left of the SPD seems not good enough to gain German nationality.

The latter decision has drawn much attention in Scotland: Jannine Menger-Hamilton is the daughter of a former Scots soldier. There is an article in English in the Scotsman about this case: http://news.scotsman.com/world/No-you-can39t-be-a.6102347.jp

The former case has been described in Hanover’s local newspaper (in German): http://beta.haz.de/Hannover/Aus-der-Stadt/Uebersicht/Hannover-verweigert-Einbuergerung-wegen-politischen-Engagements

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This week we consider the link between nationalism and the economy, with special focus on the economic crisis. Our group thought it was interesting to focus on nationalist elements in consumerism.

The consumer is central to the success of an economy and can, when organized, use it to fulfill nationalist goals. In this blog we will present two examples that show two initiatives that link the nation with the economy. First, we have an example of ‘positive’ consumerism: ‘help Britain, buy British’. Our second case focuses on  ‘negative’ consumerism, namely the ‘boycott Israel’ movement.

‘Help Britain, buy British’

Last week we asked you to pay attention to nationalist connotations in your local supermarket. As you might have noticed, there are numerous examples where the nation is linked to products, for example British chicken, British potatoes, Scottish mushrooms etc. What you might not now is that there is a major movement behind this phenomenon. The ‘buy British’ movement was started by the green movement to promote more environmental ways of delivering food to supermarkets. Over time, many reasons for buying British have been added. Examples are that buying British is safer because Britain has safer food laws, ethical production, fair wages and decent working conditions, security of supply, pride of ownership and pride of British capabilities and helping local farmers. The current economic crisis has linked buying British with helping the British economy recover.  The article from the mirror, which actively campaigns for buying British, sketches an interesting link between buying British and helping Britain.


Jamie Oliver, Britain’s most famous chef is one of the leading figures of the movement. In the article below you read his views on buying British and the economic crisis.


On the websites of the ‘buy British’ movement, buying British products is clearly linked to British identity, British self-preservation and helping the British economy. Below  you can find a couple of websites that give you an idea of how the movement works and what rhetoric it uses.



‘Boycot Israel’

A year ago, the police arrested a few campaigners in Swansea (Wales) after they stole some goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank (Palestine) from Tesco. These people were members of the UK campaign for the Boycott of the Israeli goods. The movement staged a protest outside of Tesco to let people know of the existence of the campaign.

However, the idea of boycotting goods from one country is not new. An example of a previous campaign is the anti- apartheid campaign in South Africa. The focus of the boycott Israel campaign is to make people stop buying goods related to Israel. Campaigners see this as a political and economic action against a nation that, according to them, is constantly violating the Human Rights and the rights of the Palestinian people. Besides street rallies, the campaign has been enormously internet based as you can see in the youtube link posted below. In the video, you can see several brands that supposedly have activities in Israel and according to the activists, in some extend, are collaborating with this nation.

The idea behind the campaign is easy to understand: if we damage the Israeli economy by not buying Israeli goods, the Israel Government will change its policies and Palestinian rights will be guaranteed. This campaign is a clear example of what kind of political message a consumer can send out by not buying a certain product.

Interesting website of the boycott Israel campaign: http://www.mylinkspage.com/israel.html

Below another youtube video on the movement

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