Monday, August 21, 2006

culture and nation

This post from US-based arts management lecturer Andrew Taylor has some smart things to say about the "obsessive focus on 'nation states' as the appropriate scale of intervention and resolution", and the proper response of the cultural sector to the dilemmas raised by an increasingly polarised and nationalistic political rhetoric. The arts enable connection across fences and boundaries and they also enable interesting conversations to take place - in a sense, borrowing from Christopher Small, they can be pre-figurative of other potential societies - and creativity and participation provide people with the tools to imagine other kinds of futures. Whilst idly surfing this evening, we came up against a couple of interesting developments that point the way to more imaginative futures, against the grain of the paranoid and insular nationalism that seems so prevalent in political discourse at the moment - this exhibition at Pier 40 in New York, and our friends at LIFT's work with the New Parliament.

Thinking about Scotland and how it - might - be forging a different sort of nationalism, it'll be really important for the country not to retreat into conservative ways of understanding the idea of 'nation' but to adopt the more open and cosmpolitan stance that is somewhat evident in other small countries - perhaps Finland, perhaps New Zealand...Demos is running a set of discussions this autumn in Glasgow exploring what Scottish cities might learn from 'the Nordic model' of social policy - details to be found by emailing here. Anything that brings down the barriers to insularity, xenophobia and nationalist fundamentalism seems pretty important right now. Nowhere seems to be immune.

Just as a quick follow-up (as of Sept 12th) this blog entry suggests that global problems might be better solved at the city and region level - by cities and regions working together and bypassing the intransigent politics of the nation-state. Sounds convincing to me - Livingstone and Chavez's oil deal might be one eye-catching, if ultimately a bit pointless, example. Chavez is one world leader who seems to understand the emergent network society's politics better than some...