Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Scottish Question

I have returned from a holiday spent idling about the Isle of Wight and sightseeing in sunny St Malo to find a nation (almost) divided. With independent polls putting the "yes" and "no" camps evenly matched the referendum on Scottish independence could not be more exciting for us news junkies.

Last time I talked about politics, I gave you my twopenceworth on the Gaza conflict. The number of hits I got from Israel went from zero to double figures over night. I imagine some poor Mossad agent having to wade through my musings on the ontology of numbers or cross referencing my sausage roll bakery preferences to get a handle on where I live and work.

With Scotland though, I think I am on safer ground (for now - don't forget Bannockburn) for, as my ginger hair and pale freckled skin denote, I have Scottish ancestry. And therefore appreciate an argument as much as the next bekilted Celt (provided everyone agrees not to unsheath their sgian-dubh)

As long as there have been highlanders in the highlands the Scots have been a nation. The question on the ballot-paper asks whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom and become a nation-state. I've been giving this quite a lot of thought this week and have even changed my mind a few times.

Obviously, I don't think there should be any states at all (or any unjustifiable power structures or hierarchies) and the sooner we can all agree to just get on the better. It may seem prima facie that adding an extra state gets me one step further away from the anarcho-syndicalist goal of a stateless society. But we anarcho-syndicalists are cleverer than that. This won't happen overnight. You have to pick your battles and your weapons. The biggest obstacles to human freedom at the moment are the corporations and financial institutions that are storing up all our wealth and using it to generate more wealth. The only weapon powerful enough to fight them with is the state and we shouldn't be afraid to use it. What I mean by this is we have some control over the state - we elect them - and the state can curtail some of the excesses of corporations - impose taxes, choose not to sell them important parts of our justice system etc.

Now, what do you do when the state won't listen to you and they start handing over the profitable chunks of your health and education systems to people whose only interest is money? In a functioning democracy, the people get together talk about what is in their best interests and demand it from those in power. If those in power won't listen to your demands, you throw them out and get someone who will. This is what we are seeing in Scotland. This is what democracy looks like when it is working. Politicians in both camps bending over backwards to give the people what they want. Some want a nation state and some don't - but they all want a say in their future and when 80% of a population turn out next week to vote, politicians have to listen, because otherwise the people will throw them out and elect someone who will.

A lesson we should all take note of.

In other news: Spike is well despite going two weeks without water (did I mention I'd been on holiday?) and the owner of the coffee shop next door to work continues to try to persuade the under-caffeinated residents of the Golden Triangle to hurl themselves off the bridge.

1 comment:

  1. A considered piece, sir, with nail-heads squarely hit. Your vision of democracy in action, however, is optimistic. During a four-year term, those elected run the state according to their own design and do massive damage. A new lot comes along and acts in the same way. Our democracy is very limited. Scotland has a real opportunity to reinvent itself along other lines but I dread to consider what Little England will begin to feel like if they depart the UK.