One other thought on Kosovo’s independence

PARNELL came down the road,
he said to a cheering man:

“Ireland shall get her freedom
and you still break stone.”

— W.B. Yeats

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Culture and tagged , by Douglas Muir. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Muir

American with an Irish passport. Does development work for a big international donor. Has been living in Eastern Europe for the last six years -- first Serbia, then Romania, and now Armenia. Calls himself a Burkean conservative, which would be a liberal in Germany but an unhappy ex-Republican turned Democrat in the US. Husband of Claudia. Parent of Alan, David, Jacob and Leah. Likes birds. Writes Halfway Down The Danube. Writes Halfway Down The Danube.

9 thoughts on “One other thought on Kosovo’s independence

  1. This is a little tendentious, and it ignores the fact that no one is really “breaking stone” in Ireland any more. Yes, the economic and cultural situation in Ireland after independence was bleak, but they avoided World War II, didn’t participate in mass killings in the British Empire, and are now quite wealthy and non-aligned. If anything, they have fared much better than Scotland has, and much of that comes from their greater freedom of action due to their independence.

  2. Well, no — nobody is breaking stone /today/. But Yeats was writing almost a century ago.

    The economic and cultural situation was indeed bleak. Ireland spent the fifty years after independence in a dead heat with Portugal for the title “poorest country in Western Europe”. Young people with brains and ambition mostly left, and the country was very much a poor relation.

    That’s the /good/ scenario for Kosovo for the next decade or two. I’m saying nothing about how things will be in 2085, but for the next little while? Kosovo’s going to be a poor backwater.

    Doug M.

  3. Yes, but Kosovo is already a poor backwater. The question is whether as part of Serbia it has the potential to be anything but a poor backwater. Previous history suggests the answer to be no. You’ll notice that Scotland is still part of the UK and remains a poor backwater.

  4. The same statement could be made for a number of regions of the UK ex London. So poor backwaters with a distinct national identity should declare independence, and those without one should … ?

  5. Well, Cyrus, one would hope that politicians in these countries that have poor backwaters with distinct national identity that keep splitting off will start to do something about the problem.

    The option itself provides additional incentive for politicians to spread the largess around. That’s part of the reason there is devolution in the UK, though it doesn’t appear to be enough for Scotland.

    In the end, a national identity can always be constructed – how many Middle Age prinicpalities were there in Britain, after all?

  6. “Yes, but Kosovo is already a poor backwater.”

    Um… right. That’s the point of the poem.

    Doug M.

  7. Yes, but you could easily change the poem to say

    “Ireland shall remain under Britain
    and you and your descendants shall break stone.”

    Ultimately, Yeats was wrong – the struggle for independence did improve the life of people in Ireland.

  8. I don’t think that Yeats was claiming that the independence struggle wasn’t worth pursuing, only that independence wasn’t going to be a quick fix for Ireland’s problems – which it wasn’t. Hence the relevance for Kosovo.

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