Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#indyref in Scotland

Simon is all over it. James Laxer gets it. The Westminster politicians of all stripes manifestly do not.  The Scottish independence referendum is not nationalist paranoia like Quebec, nor is it some reactionary anti-English 'decolonisation' movement rooted in Braveheart narratives of historical defeat, conquest, or exploitation (Canada, PLEASE take note!).  Instead, it is probably best viewed as a stark, inclusive, future-oriented challenge to the business-as-usual-usually-business approach parties take to contemporary parliamentary democracy that subordinates democracy and social and ecological justice to the whims and worries of economic fetishists and fascists. 

The fact that the Yes side is gaining much traction despite, or perhaps to spite, the dire predictions of economic luminaries like Mark Carney and Paul Krugman, to international financial institutions like Credit Suisse should worry these kinds of people, but for different reasons.  The power of economism is typically such that any progressive movement or policy initiative will fizzle to nothing the minute someone suggests that it could harm the economy. Scotland by and large has lost its fear of this threat. This is the first step in creating an environment where bold and progressive initiatives can be tried. It is without doubt supremely risky, but utterly necessary if the Scottish (and the rest of us) are really serious about creating a better future.

In this light, I agree with Will Hutton that the Yes votes potentially winning traction should be read as a failure of Britain's national government to ensure the well-being of all UK citizens, especially those most distant from London. #Indyref didn't happen by accident, and wouldn't be happening if the central government, beholden to US military adventurism and economism hadn't failed on such an epic level. 

Fascinating times.


Evil Brad said...

Awesome! You have found a way for Brit-hating Canadian federalists (I happen to be the latter without being the former, btw) to have their cake and eat it too!

Evil Brad said...

Perhaps the best possible outcome would be a razor-thin win for the no side: a shock to the system that leaves the UK intact.

Edstock said...

Hopefully, the Scots who are quarterbacking this have talked to the Icelandic government about re-structuring the banks.

harebell said...

This independence vote is part of a movement to the politics of nationalism that is being witnessed all over Europe right now. Along with it will come the racism and fascism that stealthily usurps the well-meaning but ultimately flawed initial movement.
As with all appeals to the nationalist/patriotic leanings within people it will all end in tears.
Sectarianism is still an issue in Scotland and this added factor will only add to the difficulties that any Scotland based on nationalistic lines will have to contend with.

Billy Connolly said it best,
"There's a thing I was always saying when I was asked about nationalism: I've never been a nationalist and I've never been a patriot."

"I've always remembered that I have a lot more in common with a welder from Liverpool than I do with someone with an agricultural background from the Highlands, although I do love them, I love Scotland and all its different faces."

Appeals to patriotism and nationalism have too much history behind them and we continually forget where they inevitably lead.

Boris said...

harebell, I live in the UK now and this referendum does not have hardline ethnocentric anti-EU nationalism or patriotism in it all. I mean it when I say the appeal is more of a challenge to Westminster to reform. SNP is not even in the same universe as a goonsquad like UKIP.

Alison said...

I get Billy Connelly's point, but with nation states having been co-opted by globalized corporatism, what avenue offers citizens a voice in the laws that govern them other than a more localized government?

Political democracy went for a shit when neoliberalism hived societal goals like justice and equality off the business of governing, and governments in turn relegated those goals to fringe culture wars. Then it turned out neoliberalism was crap at economics for the majority of us anyway but given most governments don't have the will or vision to turn to the people to help them dump it, the people will have to force them to choose.

harebell said...

I do indeed understand that modern corporate practices have made real representation for the majority a myth.
I'm just hugely uneasy with appealing to people to change on the basis of patriotism and nationalism. It never ends well as it is usually co-opted by someone not yet in the picture and taken to extremes.
I'm from Scotland. I remember all the right wingers heading towards the SNP when it was clear that Thatcher had shat the bed as far as Conservatives being elected in Scotland was concerned. The far right does exist in Scotland and they would love nothing more than to use a renewed call to patriotism to settle some very old scores indeed.
Sectarianism is alive and kicking and the hatred is never too far from the surface.
A lot of SNP policies are distinctly Tory-esque too and do not help the poorest members of society.

The only clear thing about the SNP's position and argument is that it is based on national identity, the rest of their position is blurry and vague. I cannot in all good conscience condone an argument whose only clear argument is an appeal to patriotism. It's too blood and honour for me.

Boris said...

harebell, the far right exists everywhere, but I really haven't seen them making a serious appearance in referendum (the arrival of that Flemish group was a bit weird) or and the issue does not feel sectarian in the sense that it seems to have appeal to all sorts of folks. There's been a few reports suggesting the most sectarian reaction is actually in NI, where the unionists are finding themselves in a bit of an identity crisis.

Moreover, the voting law gives UK, EU, and Commonwealth citizens living in Scotland a say, and there are a very large number of them who more than likely outnumber any sectarian extremists.

I'm much less afraid of sectarianism at this point that I am of the idea that SNP has not made the economic case, and that the actual terms of independence are far from certain and won't be for some time in the event of a clear Yes vote. There are certain forms of security that come from being a part of the UK, and perhaps a more a devo-max type of arrangement than full independence would work best. There are rumours that this is actually SNPs preferred outcome.

It's a hell of a thing.