Talk about Newsnight

Paul Mason's Idle Scrawl

Now that's what I call nationalism...Vol.1

  • Paul Mason
  • 14 Jun 06, 09:34 AM

The problem with nationalism is: it is a febrile emotion; even fragile. Like the stock market, it can go up and down in a volatile manner. You can see this from my anecdotal England flag count: it is down.

I have just wallked past a whole hundred yards of rush hour traffic jam, and not a flag in sight - even on the numerous white vans. The reason for this, I surmise, is the growing realisation that of the seeded teams England gave possibly the worst performance; that Trinidad and Tobago made the Swedes look ordinary; that England may have to face Ecuador, who made the Poles look ordinary - plus the fact that several other teams look like they are playing a totally different game to ours, in particular Argentina.

Maybe the white van driving community is simply reflecting the mood of the TV pundits, which has been hangdog since the 55th minute of the England-Paraguay match, when Sven revealed the full extent of his commitment to tactical surrealism. I would imagine Sven's televised interview last night, in which he saidhe had not told Michael Owen why he was taken off, has done its bit to reduce the flag count as well...

...Other nationalisms are more durable: most notably, Croatia's. Last night Croatia lost 1-0 to Brazil but the dogged performance of the team was as nothing compared to that of their fans: with five minutes to go, and clearly losing, they launched into a deafening, flare-accompanied song that brought plaudits from afar afield as the daily mouthpiece of the Chinese government - and, as one US blogger noted - made HD and surroundsound worth having. I have a sneaking suspicion I will be glad I didn't understand the words, however.

The ferocity of Croatian nationalism has obvious sources - namely the recent emergence of the country from Yugoslavia during a violent civil war involving ethnic cleansing on both sides. There is also the diaspora factor, as portrayed in this nice vignette in the Calgary Sun.

Meanwhile one world cup blogger on the ground in Germany claims England fans have the "potential" to be the best in the world, a potential he believes will be unrealised because of the different effect beer has on Swedes and Brits.

Another American blogger in Germany comments on the Croatian fans performance:

This is making the Oakland Raiders games look like a break on the Mr. Rogers show.

I don't know what that means but hopefully it will get more Americans interested in soccerball.

Incidentally, far be it from me to plug anybody else's blog but Alisatiar Campbell's is causing hilarity in the journalistic fraternity: in particular for the comments section, where surreptitious enemies of Labour's former spinmeister are sneaking snidey comments past the New Labour moderators. Such as:

Nice blog ali - saw your link to the Dave the Chameleon site on the right, I bloody love it! Especially the 12th June entry, what a nutter! I hate it when people disingenously use sport to advance a political agenda.

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