I don’t know whether the following kind of parallel is at all significant or useful – probably not at all. But I’m often struck by the historical similarities between Britain, where I come from, and Scandinavia, my new home-region. (Part-time, that is.)

According to this comparison, Sweden is equivalent to England, with both of them being the dominant partners in what were essentially tri-national groupings. In Britain’s case the grouping was England, Scotland and Ireland. In the Nordic countries it was Sweden, Norway and Finland, with both of those two latter countries coming under the Swedish crown at different times. From an English point of view the parallels between Scotland and Norway look quite striking: mountains, rugged individualism, hydro-electricity, North Sea oil; and between Ireland and Finland too: English/Swedish colonisation, different cultures and languages, and the ways the dominant partners looked down (still do?) on Ireland’s and Finland’s ‘natives’.

But of course such comparisons are only superficial, as I’m aware from my familiarity with all these six nations; and in any case are not complete. For a start: where does Wales come into it? And Denmark? It would make the pattern tidier if they could be regarded as equivalents to each other; but I can’t see that. (Denmark doesn’t have hills, for a start.) Nor can I see how the sami ‘nation’ could fit in on the British side. So the thesis doesn’t really work. But it’s quite fun to play along with.

I’m sure we can all think of other similar parallels. Northern Ireland and the Donbas region of Ukraine, perhaps? But that hardly helps in the present situation. And anyhow, what do I know about Russia/Ukraine? That’s not my field of expertise.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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2 Responses to Parallels

  1. Phil says:

    The Sami could be analogised to the Highland(er)s. But Wales is a devolved region which has nationalist politics but has literally never existed as a nation; hard to find parallels elsewhere (Catalunya maybe?).


  2. And there’s the rub. The only long term answer is surely to tame nationalism by turning the conflicted and often dual nationalisms we have inherited into something that could be described as non-political nationalism, as observed in Switzerland, in Flanders, in the Languedoc and currently being tried in the six counties of Ulster. The EU can make it work.


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