The Ends of the British State

This essay was published in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist, 2015.

The Ends of the British State

James Luchte



The historical verdict of devolution is clear. The United Kingdom is a “union” of Nations.

And, even though this remains simply rhetoric, the United Kingdom is a “family of Nations.”

In this way, there is not a British nationality, but only English, Scottish and Welsh Nations.

Let us assume for the purposes of this essay that the destiny of Ireland is one of unity.

The British state is the “family structure” in the “family of Nations.”

Of course, the Scottish, Welsh and English nationalists (although we are still in need of a Left-leaning English civic nationalist party like the SNP and Plaid Cymru) still contest this “union”, pointing out that the relationships of the British state hardly resemble that of a family, at least one that is functional.

Indeed, the very notion of a “family of Nations” entails the possibility of rupture or transformation. It is certainly a precedent in the United Kingdom for the Constitution to periodically come under review. Such a time is now.

The explicit recognition of Nations in a “family of Nations” clearly implies the possibility of independence for each of the Nations, and to argue against independence is the tacit assertion of a British nationality, which, with respect to the notion of a “family of Nations”, clearly does not exist, except perhaps as words on a passport.

If, however, there is a British nationality, as the BNP asserts (together with the tacit British nationalism of all political parties which have not formally devolved), then to speak of a “family of Nations” is meaningless, nonsense.

If we are to take a close look at the trials and tribulations that is the historical formation of the United Kingdom, and if we keep in mind the explicit recognition of diverse Nations in “Union”, the arguments either in favour of independence (within a Non-Nato and Democratic Europe, as with Plaid Cymru) or, at the very least, a radical transformation of the existing “union”, appear to be thoroughly reasonable.

The act of placing the “Union” into question is not a theoretical exercise, nor could it be, given the thoroughly historical and irrational threads which went into the consolidation of the Leviathan that is the British state.

Indeed, the “Union” places itself into question in the practical realm as neither Westminster nor its parties have either adequately supported the sovereignty of the Nations or protected their material and cultural interests.

Any party that is not a party of one of the Nations of the “family of Nations” remains a colonialist party, and clearly the parties of Westminster have not brought themselves into line with the reality of an ever deepening devolutionary trajectory.
Indeed, devolution itself is neither an “experiment”, nor a theoretical exercise. Devolution is the response to generations of struggle by the Nations for self-determination and self-governance.

With the explicit recognition of Nations in the “family of Nations,” together with the clear historical negligence towards the myriad needs of the peoples, the deathknell of the British state has sounded. The near miss of the Scottish Referendum (Leanne Wood’s ‘Beginning of a Democratic Revolution’) merely underscores this inevitability.

For the most important question is “What is the end of the British state?” The end, in the sense of the Greek word telos, speaks of the purpose of the British state. Yet, what is the purpose, the telos, the end of a family? Is it not in the nurturing and care of the members of the family?

However, what happens when the end, the telos, the purpose of the British state, the so-called “family of Nations” is not fulfilled, when there is not only vast psychological dissatisfaction, but also, severe material disadvantage to millions of people in the lesser Nations of the family? This question also applies directly to the persistence of non-devolved Westminster political parties, which are meant to be the guardians and representatives of the members, Nations, of the family.

When the end, the telos, the purpose of the British state is not fulfilled, then it is reasonable to continue the discussion of the other end of the British state: the deconstruction of the current state which imprisons the Nations, which far from being a family, is an undemocratic regime which denies the sovereignty of the Nations and their aspirations for a better life for their respective peoples.

If the British state is not fit for purpose, if it is not fulfilling its end, then it must end. It must be dismantled so that the self-governance of the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England may cultivate an alternative way of life, the motivation of which is not power, exploitation and profit, but the fulfilment of the needs of the peoples and the well-being and active participation of citizens in our new democracies.

Publication on this site is at the discretion of the editor.

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