What is the ultimate expression of European tribalism?

I continue to be simultaneously amused and befuddled by European tribalism – that strange notion, asserted in both extreme and subtle fashions, that each of the little countries in that part of the world is quintessentially different the other (yes, Germany is a little country too). People of the same ethnic group living in largely the same landscape are prepared to assert vigorously that they are fundamentally different from neighbours, of the same group and in the same landscape, who live a bicycle ride away.

Recently I was reminded of one of the clearest manifestations of that tribalism: the idea that those islands off the western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass are fundamentally different from the rest of Europe. This would have to be the oddest thing I have ever heard. No, let’s be polite about this: it’s complete crap.

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5 thoughts on “What is the ultimate expression of European tribalism?

  1. “the idea that those islands off the western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass are fundamentally different from the rest of Europe. ”

    It looks like you are going to have difficulty getting you head round the idea that Lewisham is an island off the coast of London that is very different from the mainland.

  2. In Europe it is not just a tribalism involving nations. From 1977-79 I lived in the tiny Suffolk village of Buxhall.

    The Crown was my local, where everyone knew everyone else. One day a person I did not know was talking to a couple of locals who like me had a customary few pints there every evening. I decided not to interrupt, but when the non-local left I moved bar stools to talk to the two locals as I did most evenings.

    ‘Not seen him here before’, I said, thinking someone new had moved to the village (a big event). ‘Well, he’s not from here’, was the reply. ‘Where’s he from?’, I asked, expecting ‘not here’ to mean he was from London or Birmingham or some similar place. ‘Oh he’s from Haughley’. Haughley was a similarly small village 3 miles away.

    1. Three miles! That’s an enormous distance. In the Black County distinctions between areas closer than that are marked by differences in accent.
      For example, locals can tell the difference between someone from Upper Gornal and someone from Lower Gornal as soon as they speak.

      Note: Lower Gornal is the place where they “put the pig on the wall to watch the band go by”.

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