My understanding of Luxembourg is picked up, mostly, from history books, and in particular “The Rise of Luxembourg, 1815–2015, A Historical Portrait” by Emile Haag, published by éditions Saint Paul.

If I’ve understood things correctly, which is improbable, the geographical area was given a recorded identity around the end of the dark ages, when a local warlord swapped some land with a nearby abbess. The region developed, as many regions in Europe of the did, slowly coalescing from fiefdoms into countries. This part of the world spent times as part of the Spanish, Austrian, Dutch and French empires, and probably others too.

image: damage

It had its own identity because it was extremely suitable for fortification, which is why it was a centre of jostling among military powers for centuries. Indeed, some Holy Roman emperors used Luxembourg as their family name, rather like the Hanoverian royal family uses the name Windsor, until they sold Luxembourg to the French (well, the Duke of Burgundy). At least the Windsors visit Windsor.

Following the Belgium revolution, the area remained part of, but was cut off from, the rest of the Netherlands. Then, rather to everyone’s surprise, it became a small, independent country. Imagine, as a Brit, you’ve living in Derbyshire, &, one day, following a revolution started at a football game, England splits up and Derbyshire is told by all its neighbours, “oh, by the way, you’re on your own now.” You can imagine that happening to Northern Ireland, but Derbyshire?! (PS The Belgian revolution actually started at an opera, but I just couldn’t imagine that happening in the UK.)

Anyway, then, as now, countries in Europe appear and disappear like ships on the horizon. The locals quickly realised the only way they would stay as an independent country would be to unite, so they did. Indeed, this has helped them survive some particularly harsh history, the occupations during the 20th century.

Luxembourg unity has held in very bad times, under the nazi occupation, although was the unity that arises out of adversity. But it has also held in controversial times, such as that following the great war occupation, when the country came close to jettisoning the royalty.

Luxembourg is going through good times at the moment, so the unity mindset is difficult to maintain. Perhaps that’s why the various governments are striving to do so. For example, this unity of identity has directly effected me. In the recent change of rules for taking Luxembourg nationality, the government of the time wanted to reduce the requirement for the language from B1 to A2, which would have made the exams much easier. Most political parties agreed, but the ADR (Alternative Democratic Reform Party), objected, or so I understand. They were not in power, they have never been in power. But this change was a change of national identity, and they represent a particular population, a particular slice of the national identity. The government wanted to maintain national unity, so those language requirements remained unchanged. It affected me because I’d bad at languages, but I had to learn more Luxembourgish, more than any other language that I speak, to be able to apply for the nationality, and my task remained rather difficult. (I have to point out that the Luxembourg requirements for language skills are on par with the equivalent requirements in many other European countries.)

I was born and bought up in a country that is deeply divided. It is deliberately divided, with powerful conmen and other kinds of powerful scum fooling naïve voters into voting against their interest, so the conmen and associated scum keep their power, and gain more. I think that fairly summarises most of the peoples’ views of those who hold different opinions. Right now, the UK is undergoing a nervous breakdown, has started the process of destroying itself, and in consequence it is in the process of divorcing me, and trying to steal my rights. That’s partially why I’m applying for Luxembourg nationality, and why I’m looking at the history.

This different attitude towards unity is rational in the historical context of Luxembourg, so far as I can see, but is going to be a little difficult for me to acquire, given my background. I can work with that, although it’ll not be so easy to overcome a lifetime’s habit.

As I’ve said, I picked all this up from a book. The problem with books is that they unavoidably reflect the concerns of the author. A history book, such as this one, tries to avoid that. But this is difficult, because it doesn’t avoid those biases of which the author is not aware. The presumptions of the culture of the time will rarely be managed because people aren’t really aware of them, they just breathe them in (witness the racism in Chandler). Having said that, my misunderstanding of the history and the unity is entirely my own, so there’s multiple reasons to take what I badly parrot with a shovel full of salt.