May. 17th, 2017

mtbc: maze L (green-white)
When I am in the US I have a strong sense of the state and national identity of my location: I look around and, in terms of what goes on and what applies, local custom and jurisdiction feature strongly in my thinking. I do not have this sense when I am in Britain and I am puzzling over why not.

Scottish law is interestingly different to English law, just as my children now experience the Scottish education system which is unlike anything I knew. I had not been to Scotland before interviewing for my current job. There is no shortage of mention of Scotland on various signs and documents. Both the Scottish and UK independence referenda demonstrate that native residents retain a strong sense of local identity. There are various local customs and foods. It is not as if I am much less familiar with the US: I have spent most of my adult life there and my impressions of it even before first living there were generally confirmed over time.

Still, when I live in, say, Ohio, I am very aware of that it is where I am, as if it brings a welcome sense of extra meaning into my existence. Maybe the difference is that more of one's rights in the US are codified explicitly in a way that conservatives may even regard as being sacred. Or, perhaps Scotland is quite like England and that I spent my childhood in England makes me less conscious of my locality when I am in Britain. It doesn't make sense to me, anyway: I do not see what, say, Scotland lacks that would from day to day make me take for granted that I am here.

I have wondered if civil liberties could provide a clue. The EU has a strong sense of personal privacy from the point of view of confidentiality. The US has a strong sense of personal freedom from tyrannical or even needlessly prescriptive authority. I do not especially notice the UK culturally exhibiting much of either, except perhaps when inventing complaints about the EU, so is that an aspect of what I am missing here? To what extent does it generalize to other social issues? Or maybe it is just about how patriotic people are: after all, for Americans July 4th is a major holiday but in England they do not even get St George's Day off work.

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Mark T. B. Carroll

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