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Considerations on the Scottish Referendum and a discourse on the British conundrum: Mill, Price and the question of nationalism

By Huw Williams


The recent referendum on Scottish independence was characterised by a fail­ing on behalf of the Better Together campaign to articulate a positive vision and concep­tion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In particular, any per­suasive notion of Britishness was notable by its absence. This paper attempts to shed light on the question of nationalism, in the British context in particular, by turning to the history of political thought, and the philosophical reflections of two British liberals, Rich­ard Price and John Stuart mill. Their ideas are set out with reference to the civic/ethnic distinction and two main claims are presented. The first is that despite Price’s emphasis on a civic patriotism and mill’s embracing of many elements of ethnic nationalism, both their accounts ultimately cohere around the centrality of a “national history”. empirical doubts about the sustainability of the civic/ethnic divide are here reflected in philosophi­cal discussions of nationalism. The second claim is that Price and mill’s account draw at­tention to the historical difficulty of constructing a persuasive British nationality whilst simultaneously suggesting the only obvious prospect for its succesful reconfiguration, namely the articulation of a genuinely British national history

Topics: JN101, JN1187
Publisher: Scientific Journals of Croatia
Year: 2015
OAI identifier: oai:
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