FEBRUARY 15, 2012:
States and territories: The British state is a composite state while the French state is
a unitary state.
The second distinction is between political accommodation in the British case and
political assimilation in the French case.
The difference between Britain’s multi-national structure (Scotland and Wales are
sub state nations) contrasts with France because it more closely approximates the
ideal type of “nation-state” because regional differences aren’t as powerful or
Territorial cleavages in Britain have played such more important role than they
have in France, because they persist in the British state and are never very
important in French politics.
In 1997-1998 the British government recognized the creation of legislatures in
Scotland and Wales, which is a form of political devolution. The creation of their
legislature does not amount to a transition from a composite to a unitary state,
because the new legislature exists with the prerogative of the British state. The
British government has the ability to dissolve these parliaments if they so wish
(which would be political suicide). These legislatures were put in place as a
political recognition of the importance of Welsh and Scottish identity in local politics
and British politics more generally.
Scotland is now at the point of holding a referendum on independence. This is
evidence of how the territorial dimension has proceeded in British politics. The
granting of legislatures has further politicized the issues of territory and political
integration. Scotland has a large part of the population organized around
independence. Wales has change from cultural nationalism to a political
nationalism. All of this is the legacy of the multinational structure of the British
In France, the contrast is that there is no political devolution in France and it
continues to be very centralized. France has “the de-concentration of administrative
power,” not devolution. It is transferring power with regards to administrative
authority from central bureaucracy to local bureaucracy. Political sovereignty rests
in central institutions.
Political sovereignty in France is being divided.
The English Revolutions were more complete than the French Revolution. There
were 2 dimensions both the British and the French Revolution. The British
revolution implied a kind of religious settlement. In effect, from the civil wars
onwards the self-identity of Britain was of a protestant nation. This was a kind of
glue that bound together Wales and Scotland. The sense of Britain as a Protestant
nation was formed in response to Catholic Europe (France, and to some extent,
There was also a political settlement in both cases. In the British case, the political
settlement was the constitutional monarchy. It was never seriously challenged after
the civil wars of the 16 century (in general). It settled the religious question and
the question of political regimes.
Exception: Ireland. Ireland was never integrated in the same way as Scotland and
Wales because it was Catholic. It is an exception because it is a challenge to the
religious settlement, a challenge to the liberal constitutional monarchy, and it is a
challenge to the territorial structure of the British state. By the mid-19 century a movement for home rule emerged and by the turn of the century it is not just an
interest in home rule and recreating an Irish legislature, it is an interest in full blown
independence. The Irish question is deeply politicized by WWI. It is a challenge to
regime because it becomes organized in a Republican political movement. It is a
challenge to the territorial structure because it is a movement for independence,
where the goal is political life within a republic.
The wining of dominion status in 1921-1922. Independence in complete in 1942
when they declare themselves a Republic.
The Revolution in France is incomplete because it does not settle the regime
question, nor does it provide a religious settlement. The revolution divides France.
How will all of France be governed?” is not a question about the politicization of
territory, it is how the centre should be organized and what the governing principles
should be. France is still a catholic society but the important political option that
emerges is very much an anti-Catholic kind of politics. The division is between a
catholic society which is suspicious of Republicanism or a Republic. Without a
political settlement, there is political instability until the post 1945 period.
British Territorial History is very significant: 1997: New Constitutions; 1921: The
Irish Free State; 1914: Referendum in Scotland
The same key dates in France would be the regime changes. France is not
punctuated by territory; it is punctuated by regime option.
There is a conflict with a disagreement about how education should be supplied in
French society. Private schools organized and run by the church and public schools
run by the state to introduce a standardized curriculum.
Italy and Germany: