Last year (the article should soon be online at http://www.duo.uio.no ) I pointed out that the various changes in border perception both at the Mexican/US and Danish/German border all have their economic underpinnings. National identity and ideology on either side are changing closely related to economic factors — even though national ideologies usually hold that their particular national ideology has not changed (or currently resembles a state that it was at before it somehow was changed towards the worse). Also, it is usually held that national allegiance lies above any economic factors.
I ended my article with predicting…
[…] importantly […] is to recognize that as the importance of private capital and state power has shifted back and forth up until now, it will most likely continue to do so during the rest of the life time of world capitalism. And with it will the understanding of what is the “normal” state of affairs. Although capitalism can no longer expand geographically, it certainly can change in state of nature and while it at one point of time might look as if all governments cooperate, this might change very fast. In a competitive situation, border people might become important again — not as a frontier for capitalism itself, but rather as agents that can be used by one capitalist state to undermine another capitalist regime.
I therefore find it quite interesting that the Danish minister of education held a speech titled “Center rather than periphery” (Danish: “Centrum i stedet for periferi”) at this years annual gathering of the Danish minority. In it he holds amongst other things:
Blooming and growth
Many thought that the minority would die out. First because of suppression and discrimination, and later because of tolerance and carelessness. And what are we now seeing? Instead we see blooming and growth. Over a long period a growth in the quantity of votes. Now two high schools. Churches, schools and kindergartens are a constant part of the cultural landscape. And the Danish economy is so strong, that it also has an impact on the borderland.
Let us think expansively rather than defensive. The only sad thing is that Denmark is not participating in the World [soccer] Cup. Germany should be happy about that, because else it could go like in 1992 [when Denmark beat Germany 2-0 at the European Cup]!
From Danish side we would like to see that the German authorities pay just as much to the Danish schools as we in Denmark pay for the German schools. We are far from that situation as of today. But we do understand that the economic situation of the area means that equal funding takes time.
Earlier it was the German economy that went ahead. Now the Danish economy is in best shape i Europe with a giant surplus and lack of labor.
Lack of labor north of the border and lots of unemployment south of the border. we should be able to get something out of that.
Let us get more German apprentices to Denmark. Let us get more Danish investments south of the border. Let us turn the borderland from periphery to center. Let us think expansively.
In our days a cultural border does not need to be an economical and administrative barrier. “What is good for Europe, is good for Germany.” that’s how the latest generation of German leaders thought — including Kohl and now Angela Merkel. That is something we can learn from in Denmark and in the borderland. What is good for the borderland, is good for both the majority and the minority. That is the recipe for success.
Let the borderland Slesvig-Sønderjylland develop itself. The only mistake is, that it was not allowed to be called the Borderland Slesvig, the good old name for the area.
We have nothing to fear. The borderland shall think expansively, turn itself into a center rather than periphery. Turn bilingualism into an advantage, an active in a globalized world.
How close I was…. 🙂