THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM: A COMMENT
"The idea of Scottish independence has moved from the implausible to the very possible. Whether or not it actually happens, the idea that the union of England and Scotland, which has existed for more than 300 years, could be dissolved has enormous implications in its own right, and significant implications for Europe and even for global stability. The United Kingdom was the center of gravity of the international system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War II. It crafted an imperial structure that shaped not only the international system but also the internal political order of countries as diverse as the United States and India. The United Kingdom devised and drove the Industrial Revolution. In many ways, this union was a pivot of world history. To realize it might be dissolved is startling and reveals important things about the direction of the world.... The possibility of Scottish independence must be understood in this context. Nationalism, the remembrance and love of history and culture, is not a trivial thing. It has driven Europe and even the world for more than two centuries in ever-increasing waves. The upcoming Scottish election, whichever way it goes, demonstrates the enormous power of the desire for national self-determination. If it can corrode the British union, it can corrode anything. There are those who argue that Scottish independence could lead to economic problems or complicate the management of national defense. These are not trivial questions, but they are not what is at stake here. From an economic point of view, it makes no sense for Scotland to undergo this sort of turmoil. At best, the economic benefits are uncertain. But this is why any theory of human behavior that assumes that the singular purpose of humans is to maximize economic benefits is wrong. Humans have other motivations that are incomprehensible to the economic model but can be empirically demonstrated to be powerful. If this referendum succeeds, it will still show that after more than 300 years, almost half of Scots prefer economic uncertainty to union with a foreign nation".George Friedman, "The Origins and Implications of the Scottish Referendum". Stratfor: Global Intelligence. 16 September 2014, in www.stratfor.com.
"To cut himself off from Europe, from enlightenment, from the revolution of which he had been frightened since the Fourteenth of December, 1825, Nicholas on his side raised the banner of Orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationalism, embellished after the fashion of the Prussian standard and supported by anything that came to hand--the barbaric novels of Zagoskin, barbaric ikon-painting, barbaric architecture."Alexander Herzen. My Past and Thoughts. Volume II. Translated by Constance Garnett. Revised by Humphrey Higgins. (1968). p. 515. There are two ways to evaluate the issue of the Scottish referendum on independence on the 18th: i) the logical pros and cons of the question, which for the most part would seem to indicate that Scotland and its people would be the losers in any such exercise. Just as Ireland was the loser for upwards of sixty years by virtue of its breaking away from the United Kingdom; ii) the historical perspective which would show how we arrived at the current situation of this absurdity: that Scotland would become independent of the United Kingdom as a whole. The first way of analyzing the question has been dealt with in any number of articles in the Financial Times and elsewhere and I do not mean to replicate those rather conclusive arguments herein 1. The historical perspective would argue that the chimera of Scottish nationalism and the concomitant independence movement, are part and parcel of (among other things): the decline of the British Empire; the decline of Scottish heavy industry and the Labour Party-voting working class who manned it; the secularization of Scottish society and in particular the decline of the influence of the Kirk; the collapse of the voting appeal of the Conservative and Unionist party in Scotland. These are it seems to me the main forces responsible for impelling Scottish nationalism. With a soupçon of incompetence by the current British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose maladroit negotiations over the referendum allowed for the current situation to rear its head in the first place. With all that being said, what is my prediction for the 18th? Without much by way of a crystal ball, I can only surmise that the idea of independence is au fond for the people of Scotland still a chimera and that at the very end of the day, the people of Scotland will follow the example of the people of Quebec back in 1980 and again in 1995, in narrowly rejecting the possibility of independence. Given the fact that the people of Scotland have much less a reason to vote for independence than that of Quebec, one can only assume that the former will follow the latter in rejecting the possibility. Something which is all to the good as far as I can see, as there is nothing good which can come out of Scottish independence for anyone other than the apparatchiks of Edinburgh and Scotland's parliament. Political parasites, who are quite content to employ the same dubious rationales that Herzen's examples from early 19th century Central and Eastern Europe show us. 1. Chris Giles, "Independent Scotland’s prosperity hinges on five challenges". The Financial Times. 14 September 2014, in www.ft.com ; Richard Whitman, "The Costs of Dis-Union for a UK Without Scotland". The Royal Institute of International Affairs. 12 September 2014, in www.chathamhouse.org.