Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Nazi who saved over 200,000 Chinese lives

Nazism was undoubtedly the most evil political ideology to ever take over a whole country with its central aim being to murder whole races and nationalities out of existence.  Yet that doesn't mean that there weren't individual Nazi Party members who went out of their way to save lives.    

Perhaps the most well known example is Oskar Schindler, a party member who saved some 1,200 Jews by employing them in his factory, and whose story is portrayed in the award winning film Schindler's List.  

However one individual who is far less well known was John Rabe who saved as many as 200,000 Chinese citizens from murder by the Japanese during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. 

What was the Nanjing Massacre?
In July 1937, Imperial Japan started a war of expansionist aggression against China, and in November, after a battle that lasted three months, captured the city of Shanghai.  

The Japanese then proceeded inland to Nanjing, then capital of China, and after capturing the city in December 1937, brutally murdered up to 300,000 of the city's inhabitants - men, women and children - in the most disgusting ways imaginable.

The period just before and during the Japanese takeover of the city, with its bombings and arrival of the Japanese Army, saw most foreigners leave the city, along with the national and city government .  

It was in this context that between 20 and 30 foreigners chose to stay in Nanjing, despite the impending danger, to do what ever they could to help the locals.  One of these men was John Rabe.

Who was John Rabe?
Born in Hamburg in 1882, John Rabe (known in Chinese as Ai Labei) had lived in China for 29 years, and worked for Siemens for 27 of them.  He was the leading figure in the German community in the city, and was the head of the local branch of the Nazi Party.  

In late November 1937, as the Japanese were advancing, these foreigners who remained established the Nanjing Safety Zone, to protect as many citizens as possible, and it consisted of areas of the city north west of Xinjeikou and West of Golou.  Much of this area consisted of the University and foreign embassies, along with the private homes of many of the foreigners themselves.  

Due to John Rabe's Nazi connections, he was subsequently elected to lead the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, since Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had close relations, and so it was felt that he could use his position as a Nazi official to influence the Japanese to not commit such atrocities.  

The setting up of this safety zone is agreed by different sources to have potentially saved up to 250,000 lives, and in Rabe's own home and garden, he welcomed around 600 refugees.

Although the Japanese declared that they would not attack any area that was not occupied by Chinese soldiers, (which was true of the Safety Zone), the Japanese did violate this declaration from time to time by kidnapping and murdering refugees who had fled inside.   Nevertheless, the atrocities here were far less than in the rest of the city, and Rabe hung the flag of Nazi Germany over his house to warn the Japanese of his international connections.  

Rabe's diary entries, like those of other foreigners, provide horrific accounts of what happened and how the Japanese authorities from the Embassy tried to threaten him to lie about the situation in Nanjing.  It was in February of 1938 that Rabe left for Germany to try to inform the west of this monstrous crime.  

Thus, in Germany, he gave lectures, showed film footage and wrote a letter to Adolf Hitler convincing the latter to use his influence to convince the Japanese to stop their crimes against Chinese Civilians.   For the latter action, he was detained by the Gestapo and the letter never passed on.   It was only for the intervention of Siemens that he was released.  

With the victory of the Allies in the Second World War and their subsequent occupation of Germany, Rabe, as a former Nazi, was denied the right to work, and had to undergo a long and painful De-Nazification process whose legal fees depleted his savings and forced him and his family into poverty.  His family was thus forced to move into a one-room apartment, sell their Chinese Art Collection, and live off wild seeds to make soup just to stay alive.  

Hearing of his and his family's suffering, the people of Nanjing quickly razed the 2018 equivalent of $20,000 to help him, and the then Mayor of Nanjing personally travelled to Germany to buy food for him, and quickly a food package was sent each month, until the the city changed hands in the Chinese Civil War.  

Visiting his former home
John Rabe's Nanjing home and memorial given
to him by Nanjing University.  Taken two
weeks ago in November 2018.
His former family home, build in 1932 by the University, still stands on the west side of Zongshanlu next to Zhujianglu subway station.  It has since become a museum, and the university's own memorial hall.  

What I saw when I visited his house over a week ago confirmed how his image in mainland China has changed immensely in the last decades  - before the warming of relations between Mainland China and the West in the 1970s, the foreigners in Nanjing were, if anything, seen by the Communists as collaborators with the Japanese, due partly to the general western treatment of China over the previous century.  

Now that has changed entirely, and back in April when I visited the main Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, the role of American, Danish and German foreigners and particularly John Rabe, in saving so many lives, was greatly emphasised.  

And in Rabe's former home, the dramatic improvement in relations between China and the West was greatly evident.  Soon after I arrived, perhaps one hundred school children turned up with their teachers to be shown round the house by the Austrian guide who was in China as part of his National Service to bolster relations between his homeland and China.

German-Speaking visitors toured the home alongside Chinese visitors - a hero who had once been forgotten, if not snubbed, is now increasingly well remembered in the country whose citizens he had saved.  What was particularly noteworthy was that recent commemorations of him involved not just attendance by German and Chinese diplomats and politicians, but also representatives from the modern-day branch of Siemens in China.   

And so as his name is now more widely known in China itself, I also believe that it is high time that this hero be more widely known in the wider world too, just as Oskar Shindler is. 

Thursday, 15 November 2018

One Hundred Years since the Armistice

Last Sunday marked one hundred years since the Armistice was signed ending a war which ended the lives of perhaps 16 million people and further ruined the lives of millions more.  With little wonder was it subsequently called the 'Great War' - and with a great deal of unfulfilled hope it was referred to as 'The War to End All Wars.'

While the Second World War is rightly remembered for the horrors of the Holocaust, still not enough people are aware that the First World War too was a genocidal war.  In the Armenian genocide, the Ottoman Empire literally tried to murder the Armenian, Syriac and Anatolian Greek populations out of existence, and is the sole reason why Armenia is such a small and land-locked country today.

World War One is also seen differently from World War Two in other not so accurate ways too - whereas many people in Britain, particularly I think on the political left, see World War Two as our good war and World War One as our bad war, I personally think that the difference between the two was not so stark.  

In both cases, Britain was fighting a just and highly necessary cause against Imperialist Aggression on the Continent, and in both cases Britain was at the same time the Imperialist Oppressor in her own colonies.  Nevertheless, the latter in no way negates the fact that what Britain did in both world wars was highly necessary and also courageous.

It was in World War One that the Russian Empire, the French Empire and the British Empire bravely took up arms to defend Serbia and Belgium, respectively, from the Imperialist Aggression of the Central Powers, even though, I would argue, it was not in any of those three countries own interests to do so at that time.

Russia, for example, was at least two years away from completing the modernisation of her army  - they did not want to fight then, while Britain only had a small force that had to be urgently expanded from August 1914.  I therefore genuinely believe that what Russia and Britain were fighting for was a genuine sense of honour and obligation towards Serbia and Belgium, respectively, against the undeserved aggression by the Central powers.

The ultimate victory of the Western Allies in the war meant that what they were fighting for - the rights of small European Nations against the aggression of big Empires - was exactly the outcome the war; the big Empires broke up, and their subject nations gained their independence.  

And with the victory of the Western Allies came the modern progressive ideals that are the foundation stone of the world today - self-determination, as expressed in U.S. President Wilson's fourteen points, and international arbitration in the form of the League of Nations.  

For the first time ever, Europe was to be a continent of free and independent nation-states, and not one of arbitrarily expansionist autocratic Empires - and that is arguably the biggest political change that Europe has ever seen since the dawn of its history - and a change much for the better.  

Had the Central Powers won the war, the opposite would have happened - Serbia would have been unwillingly annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the subject peoples of the latter would not have gained their independence, and in the case of Poland, she would have been a rump puppet state, with plans discussed by some in Berlin to deport the Polish population of 'Prussian' Poland into the newly created smaller Poland.  Likewise, the three Baltic States would have been under German satellite control, and not the independent Republics that they were in the Interwar period. 

Not only did the allied victory bring to an end the old Imperialism that had dominated Europe itself, it also weakened colonial Imperialism on the other continents too - nationalists such as Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and other across the colonised World saw in President Wilson's ideals hope of their own liberation too, a decisive moment in the development of the anti-colonial struggles of many of these countries, even though independence was only gained after the Second World War.

Tragically, World War One was not the war to end all wars, but due to it being such a decisive turn towards Self-Determination, the Rights of Small Nations, Decolonisation and International Arbitration, the allied victory laid the foundation stone for the great peace that we have seen since 1945, even though Hitler's attempted undoing of all that required an even deadlier war to stop him from doing so.

For that reason, we owe a huge debt to those who sacrificed everything in both World Wars, and should remember that the liberties and justice that we enjoy in this century are down to the suffering and sacrifice that those generations had to endure.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Xi'an - Perhaps the greatest City in all of China

Cycling round the top of the City Walls
You can't get much better than Xi’an - the home of the Terricotta warriors and ancient capital of China from even before the Qin dynasty, and home to pagodas that still stand from the age of the Tang dynasty.

That, my readers, is why, during this national holiday, I chose Xi'an over Beijing and Shanghai, and to be honest, the only problem was that I didn't give myself enough time - two days when it's national holiday week and you're one in 1.4 billion potential tourists - really is, as they say,- not enough.

 A Pleasant Surprise on the Way There
Knowing before-hand that the population density of Xi'an's Shaanxi province was only 180/km2, compared to 780/km2 in back in Jiangsu, I was most definitely excited to see some genuine countryside out of the train window once I got down from my sleeping bunk.  

But what was visible from the south side of the train were the most spectacular mountains, and particularly on the journey back, what was also amazing was just how red and orange the soil was, and how whenever a stream or small river passed by, it would form an impressive orange 'gorge' in the landscape.  

Both the mountains and the yellow ground reminded me of Turkey, and certainly It gave me the feel of jetting out west into the Turkic lands of central and western Asia, which is ironic given that Xi'an is geographically still in the Eastern half of China.  

Due to the yellow and orange-ness of the landscape, the Yellow River, where Chinese civilisation started, is most definitely worth its name, and the local vernacular architecture, seen in countless country villages along the track, is a wonderful red brick and clay roof version of the traditional Chinese style which I had never seen before. 

Spectacular mountains - unfortunately behind a 
power station in this shot, as the train was moving
so quickly.
The very yellow banks of the Yellow River to our north.

Xi'an's 'Westerly-ness' and its Cosmopolitanism
The city's westerly-ness is literally in its very name - Xi means west and an means peace - so 'Westerly peace.'  Xi'an is indeed westerly in the sense that it is well to the west of China's present-day core on the eastern seaboard - Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Shanghai.
The entrance to Xi'an's Muslim quarter with both
native Chinese and foreign Arabic influences.

However, what gives Xi'an a particularly westerly theme is its famed Muslim quarter which is one of the city's leading tourist attractions in its own right, and its famed Islamic street-food is most definitely worth its good name.

Indeed, Xi'an's Muslim heritage is arguably a central part of the city's image to outsiders from across China, despite the fact that Muslims (mainly ethnic Hui but also some Uyghurs) are less than 1% of the city's population, and certainly the restaurants at the eateries at the terracotta warriors also capitalised on the city’s Muslim image.

Xi'an, being the oldest of China's four great ancient capitals, and the starting point of the silk road, has for millennia been known for its cosmopolitanism with a multitude of different ethnic minorities over its history- Hui Muslims simply being the largest, and indeed another great site which I unfortunately did not have enough time to see was their Great Mosque, the largest in China, which is perhaps the finest example of Chinese Muslim architecture and its mix of Chinese and Arabic influences.

One dark moment in Xi'an's history of race-relations, however, was during the 1911 Xinhai revolution, when its ethnic Manchu community of some 20,000 was wiped out overnight by revolutionary forces, motivated, of course, by the fact that Manchu was the ethnicity of the ruling Qing dynasty.

The Terracotta Army Itself
But of course, one cannot talk about Xi'an without paying such an enormous tribute to what has made it so famous for four decades - the Bīng mǎ yǒng - the Terracotta Warriors. 

Imagine, that you are a group of farmers, and one day you happen to discover a collection of what is believed to be well over 8,000 different terracotta sculptures, of whom each soldier's face is believed to be unique, and which all belongs to the first Emperor of a unified Chinese state, Qin Shi Huang.

Well, one thing that hasn't changed throughout China's history is its ability to stun the world with its ability to make and build - be it in the 3rd century BC or the 21st Century AD.  I have to admit my own previous ignorance -  I did not even know that the figures were life size until I read the guide book before heading there, or just how unique each individual figure was.

What was equally mind-boggling was just how huge the crowds were, it being a national holiday week and all, but even that could not put me off, and as a result I was there from morning to evening.  

This particular chariot was part of a smaller set that 
was about a third as big as life size but hardly less

A City with a Fine Centre
Having a fully intact or restored city wall is not something that most European cities can claim, yet that is exactly what is true about Xi'an, with the 14 squared kilometres of the old city being continuously enclosed by it, so much so, that I took the option of hiring a bike to cycle round it - the second time that I had had the pleasure of being atop one of the 14th century masterpieces of Emperor Hongwu.

Sure, Xi'an city centre is not quite like that of Tallinn or Carcassonne in that most of the remaining buildings are not centuries old, however at least a lot of the new buildings, particularly those going up now, are in traditional Chinese style - and newly built 'historic quarters' can be seen on adjacent to the walls, in fact much like back in Nanjing . 
Xi'an's Drum Tower by Day

The two most famous attractions in within the walls however, are of course, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, both of which were also built during the reign of Emperor Hongwu and are located on a close axis in the very centre, with the bells of the Bell Tower once being struck to mark dawn, and the drums to mark dusk.  

Unfortunately, I only had time to visit one, and the Drum Tower was the least lengthy to get into and unlike the Bell Tower, did not have a roundabout built around it, so it was no contest.  The artwork was truly magnificent - both on the building itself and on the drums - I remember my primary school art club leader telling me just how diverse the colour green could be, and that certainly seemed true to me then.  
And by night

The interior hall
This particular drum was my personal favourite
Not only that, but the highest floor of the Drum Tower also served as a collection of Qing dynasty art - mostly vertical landscape paintings, often featuring spectacular cliff faces and waterfalls with pagodas in the background, but also pieces of close-up colourful bird and plant life.  

One other tourist, himself a Chinese expat living in Japan, explained to me, as far as my Chinese could permit me to understand, how landscape paintings from the Tang to the Qing dynasties became progressively lighter in tone as the centuries went by, and I noticed that 'whiteness' in such paintings, be it clouds, mist, or water, was often shown by very carefully crafted absences of paint, rather than the use of white coloured paint as in the west. 

One particular screen of very pleasant vertical
landscape paintings.
And speaking of the Tang dynasty (618-907), Xi'an was of course, the capital during said golden age, and two structures dating from that time are the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, however once again, the problem was, you guessed it, lack of time.  

This is of course I strongly hope that I will head back to Xi'an one day, preferably for another three days, and it's why I believe that Xi'an should easily be a higher priority for visitors to China than either Beijing or Shanghai, although to be fair, I haven't given any of them a visit yet.  

See you next time,

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Who are the Xibe people of Northern Xinjiang?

The Autonomous Region of Xinjiang is of course, widely known across the world for being the home of one of China's most well known minority groups - the Uyghurs.  Xinjiang's official name is, of course, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with the Uyghurs themselves making up around 46% of the population while the Han Chinese make up around 39%, with ethnic Kazakhs make up 6%. 
Xibe's vertical writing system,
whereby individual words are
written vertically with joined up

But it's the region's 8th largest ethnic group - the Xibe - that I want to talk about today.  For unlike the Uyghurs or the Kazakhs, the Xibe are not Turkic, and nor are they related to the Han Chinese.  

Yet their history and presence in Xinjiang is closely linked to that of China's last Imperial Dynasty, and perhaps soon the Xibe will be the last surviving native speakers of a language family that once dominated much of north-east Asia.

So who are the Xibe and what is their story?  Well to answer that question, we have to travel to the other side of China, and back four centuries.  The land we are talking about is called Manchuria.

A land called Manchuria

Centuries ago, what we now think of as North-eastern China wasn’t part of China at all, but a separate land sparsely by a partially nomadic people called the Jurchens. 

However, it was in the early 17th Century that the majority of Jurchens united under a single ruler, adopted a vertical writing system based on the Mongol script, and renamed themselves as the Manchus, and thus the land of Manchuria was named as such.

It was soon after this that they invaded and conquered China during the collapse of the Ming dynasty, and set up their own dynasty, the Qing, which would rule the country from 1644 to 1912.  This was easily one of history's most impressive conquests, given how few Manchus there were compared to Han Chinese, but the conquerors were also aided by civil war within the Ming Empire.  

Thus, almost overnight, the Manchu culture and language went from being a tribal one beyond the frontiers of oriental civilization to being that of the ruling class of one of the world's largest and most advanced Empires, much as Anglo-Norman was the aristocratic language of Norman and Angevin England.

However, by conquering China, the Manchus arguably 'signed their own death warrant' as a distinct nation capable of creating their own nation-state since their conquest of China is why there is no independent country called Manchuria today.  

You see, not only did China's Manchu elite eventually become Sinicized and adopt Mandarin, but Manchuria itself, until then sparsely populated, became majority Han Chinese due to a mass migration of ethnic Han, eventually encouraged by the Manchu rulers themselves, during the 18th and 19th centuries.  

At first, in the early 18th century, the Manchus banned Han Chinese migration to Manchuria and built the Willow Palisade to precisely that effect, however by 1800 there had been a change in policy, partly to create a bulwark against potential Korean and Russian expansion into the area.  The Manchus can therefore be described as having 'won China but lost their own country.'

In the three provinces that make up Manchuria today, only 7 million of the 104 million inhabitants were ethnic Manchus in the year 2000, 94 million being Han Chinese.  Furthermore, of the 7 million, it's estimated that the number of native speakers of Manchu could be around 10 individuals, all octogenarian.  And unlike the Uyghurs, the Manchus are the largest ethnic minority in China to not have their own Autonomous Region.

Back to Xinjiang

So, where do the Xibe of Xinjiang come into this?  The Xibe, both those of Xinjiang and those back in Manchuria itself, are a sub-division of the Manchus, with those living in Xinjiang perhaps being best described as an offshoot.   

It was the year 1764 when 18,000 Xibe were relocated to Xinjiang under Emperor Qianlong - perhaps because they had rebelled, or perhaps to help strengthen central control over Xinjian in a Manchu equivalent of the Ulster Plantations.

But what ever the actual motive was, that decision by Emperor Qianlong would later turn out to have saved a whole language from extinction.   For while a majority of ethnic Xibe still live in Manchuria itself, it's the Xinjiang branch that has kept the language alive, with all those back in Manchuria now speaking Mandarin.  

And it's also in Xinjiang that the Xibe people have their only official ethnic homeland in the whole of China - the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, which is itself within the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, which is in turn within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - the QXAC is therefore a designated homeland for one ethnic group, instead another, inside yet another.  

I haven't quite managed to find out how many Xibe there are living in Qapqal or what percentage of the overall population they constitute, but on the one hand, it appears that in 2015 there were 42,790 in Xinjiang as a whole, with 30,000 speaking the language in 2000.  This would make the Xibe around one quarter of the population of their own designated homeland of Qapqal, however it also seems that out of the 8 subdivisions of Qapqal, the Xibe ranged from 32.9% of the population to 73.2% , in the year 2000.  

Thus, it is quite difficult to make sense of these two contradicting sources, however, what is certain is that Qapqal has become more diverse in recent decades, with Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Han Chinese moving in, and that the Lingua Franca between all four groups is not Xibe, but Mandarin.   

Sure, Xibe may be the language of the playground if all kids are Xibe mother-tongue, but in a diverse playground, it will inevitably be Mandarin.   However, in 1998, there were eight primary schools in the county where Xibe lessons were compulsory, but where the general medium of instruction was Chinese, and the language is taught at degree level in a nearby University.

Xibe's current situation is of course, infinitely better than that of Manchu back in Manchuria, and as a result, Manchu language revivalists, who now number in the thousands, often travel to Qapqal to see their sister language being spoken natively and the two languages are still mutually intelligible.  

Xibe and Manchu are members of the Tungusic Language Family, whose other languages include those spoken by ethnicities indigenous to the Russian Far East, and the Evenk people of northern Siberia.  Overall, these languages have around 75,000 native speakers, meaning that Xibe makes up some 40% of them, and could easily be the least endangered.

Perhaps one of the striking features of Xibe is it's alphabet, derived from, but not identical to, that created by their Manchu ancestors four hundred years ago.  In Xibe, while sentences are written left to write, individual words are written vertically with joined up letters - it was an alphabet similar to this that Mongolian used before the forced adoption of Cyrillic under Communist Rule, and that Mongols living in China still use to this day.

The Xibe are thus one of fifty-six officially registered ethnic groups within the People's Republic of China.  Readers of this blog can expect me to write about other such ethnicities in the future.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The World’s Most Important Ghost Station?

This Monday, I set out on a mission to find an almost forgotten landmark dating back over a century – a relic of early Republican China in a corner of Nanjing that is now almost forgotten by most city residents, and the planning authorities.

What I was looking for was an abandoned train station built in 1914 that was once the bustling terminus for trains heading to Beijing and the north of the country.  The station is called ‘Nanjing North’, or in Chinese, 南京北站, and was built on the north side of the Yangtze so that rail passengers would alight their trains to cross the river by boat – there was no bridge until 1968.

However, the opening of said bridge half a century ago made this terminal redundant and it was subsequently closed to passenger service. 

Being once a central hub on the Shanghai-Nanjing-Beijing rail corridor in the world’s most populous country, you could easily argue that it is the world’s most important ghost station.  Due to this, and due to it being a clear example of early 20th century Chinese architecture, I chose to set out to find it.

Getting there.
The north side of the Yangtze, known as Nanjing’s ‘suburban’ Pukou district, is to a great degree, considered the sticks by ‘mainland’ Nanjingers and this was particularly true of the area around the old Nanjing North Station, which my Chinese friends had mostly not even heard of. 

Although the Nanjing subway does extend to Pukou, the nearest stop was perhaps an hour long walk away from the old station, mostly along the Yangtze itself.  

As I walked it, the dense and glitzy high rises within a radius of the subway stop in time abruptly turned into vegetable patches and open fields with chickens – I was entering a completely different China.

Sign on the bottom left informing us that harbor was strictly
off limits to livestock.
And then, when rooftops started appearing again, it was evident that the settlement I was entering was itself nothing short of a time capsule - a China without skyscrapers, a China with the old sense of community - where the street is everyone's summer living room and your neighours are you're extended house mates:

And there were certainly streets that looked like this - it's best days were most definitely behind it.
Here was a community that had once been a railway hub, Nanjing's Swindon if you like, but now with its raison d'etre gone, and today well beyond the normal reach of the nearest subway stop, the settlement really has become part ghost town.

And there it was, Nanjing North Station:
And then as soon as I arrived, I came across the locality's very own tour-guide offering to show me around all the sites, and better still, she was driving around in one of these, which allowed us to drive up stony footpaths to our decaying destinations:

 Such as the old port, where the train-ferries would once dock up:
Me being so childish.
To the rail sidings, where some running locomotives still stood:
This picture we took without disturbing the driver - her idea.  A wee naughty but who cares. 

And then into the old station itself:
When you're so desperate for a holiday...
Sure, most people in Nanjing today may not have heard of Nanjing North station across the river but my tour guide and her colleague were certainly making a living out of this, and they clearly enjoyed doing it.

In fact, that day there was a local couple being taken round by her colleague, and I was shown pictures of previous customers posing amongst the old locomotives - one was a bride posing in her wedding dress, and another was a tourist from India.

My hopes for this community, are of course mixed.  On the one hand, it's nice that it has remained such a time-capsule and a snap shot of 'old China'.  But on the other hand, it is sad that this community is not what it once was - having once been a mega-important railway town and port, it is now part ghost-town.  

It would certainly be great if the metro could be extended, and who knows, use the old station as it's station, bringing it back into modern use.  But then, not only would tower-blocks follow, but my two tour guides would no longer have this decaying venue on their doorstep to show tourists around.   

Thus, when I saw this community, I definitely did not know quite what to hope for.  But then, next to the old station, I saw this - new houses being built in the old industrial style of this area.  Clearly, it's not just the two tour guides and their customers who value the heritage of this area, but the planners too.
And that is clearly a cause for optimism.  

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Why is UKIP Wales so Anti-Welsh?

Something very bizarre and frightening has just happened in Welsh Politics.  UKIP Wales, that is the Welsh branch of UKIP, Britain’s right wing nationalist party, has just elected a leader who has promised to a) Seek to Abolish the Welsh Assembly and thus scrap Wales’s limited sovereignty, and b) stop promoting the Welsh Language.

Just think about how bizarre and unusual that is.  In any other country country, England, France or Sweden, you name it, the nationalist right’s self-declared Raison D’être is to defend the country’s traditional culture, identity and sovereignty.

·       In France, the Front National’s self-declared aim is to protect Frenchness, French Identity and French Sovereignty.

·       In Sweden, the Swedish Democrats’ aim is likewise to defend Swedish Identity and Swedish Sovereignty.

·       Likewise, in England, UKIP’s aim is precisely to protect England’s Englishness, the indigenous culture and the nation’s sovereignty.

Yet in Wales, UKIP Wales’s central aim now is to attack Welshness, Wales’s Culture and scrap what limited sovereignty Wales currently has. 

Why on earth is UKIP Wales not beating the drum in support of Welsh Culture and Welsh Sovereignty like UKIP in England is doing for England?

To answer that we should maybe look across the oceans.  The only countries where you’ll find nationalist right-wingers being anti-indigenous are those like Australia and New Zealand. 

And why are Australia and New Zealand, along with the Americas, in such a bizarre, and paradoxical situation?  Precisely because they are colonial societies. 

And so readers, I put it to you, that Wales itself has become a colonial society and that the very fact that Wales’s own nationalist right wing is anti-Welsh, rather than fiercely pro-Welsh and pro-indigenous, is certain proof of that.

Wales and Colonial Nationalism
Like in Australia and New Zealand, the history of Wales over the past two centuries has been the history of an indigenous culture and society being progressively eroded and destroyed by an non-indigenous one. 

When Right-Wing nationalists in Australia and New Zealand are anti-indigenous, it is precisely because their nationalism is the ‘White and Anglo’ nationalism of the settler nation and one that is diametrically opposed to the interests of, or any potential nationalism by, the indigenous people.

Likewise, UKIP Wales has just proven that they are certainly not a Welsh party, but instead an Anglo-nationalist party that happens to exist in Wales, and which hates indigenous Welsh culture and Welsh sovereignty just as White Nationalists in Australia are anti-Aborigine. 

Complete and Utter Hypocrisy
So in England UKIP is in favour of national sovereignty and taking back control, while for Wales UKIP thinks that having any sovereignty and self-control at all is positively bad.

In 2016, UKIP was adamant that a strong central government = bad news but now it seems to think that a stronger Central government is just what Wales needs.

In England, UKIP is pro-indigenous culture and indigenous language, and in Wales, UKIP is anti-the indigenous culture and language. 

All that I can say is, “Hey UKIP, good luck trying to sell that two-faced con-trick to the Welsh people.”

What to do about it
Among Welsh Nationalists it seems to have been popular to refer to anti-Welsh behaviour, whether it be anti-Welsh racism in the street, or comments by politicians, as ‘xenophobic.’ 

But given that the word ‘xenophobic’ means hating foreigners, that to me sounds like you are conceding that the Welsh are somehow foreigners in their own country, Wales.  And to that, I say NO.

Come on, the Welsh are the Indigenous inhabitants, and the Titular Nationality, in Wales, – and they are also are the descendants of the Ancient Britons. 

So when you encounter British Nationalists and British Unionists being anti-Welsh, whether it’s racism in the street or policies by a political party, you should hit them where it hurts and accuse them of being anti-British.