An Independent Scotland: YES or NO?
I WILL VOTE NO – READ ON IF YOU WANT TO HEAR WHY I MAKE THIS CHOICE
For those who read this post, but whose geographic knowledge or predilection says “What? *&^%$ ?? ” basic info below (for better detail read here):
In September 2014 there will be a referendum held in Scotland which asks the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. Answer YES and the three century union with the rest of England Wales and Northern Ireland (the UK) would be dissolved. Answer NO and things go on as they are, more or less. Various legal agreements have already been reached within UK to allow this, and also to define who is eligible to vote – basically anyone with resident voting rights in Scotland (like me who is actually Irish by birth and upbringing) and anyone not a voting resident in Scotland cannot vote in the referendum (like lots of people who consider themselves Scots but no longer live in the geographic area). This last decision apparently was made because it would be possible to question the legitimacy of a referendum if the franchise is not territorial.
NB that word “territorial”. Remember it. Do not get bogged down in all the details and queries. There are lots of smart people who can sort them out, and are presently doing all they can to clarify, explain and answer questions.
The campaign for supporters of YES have created a Declaration (which eligible individuals may sign) which begins:
“ I believe it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland…
It sounds right – sounds fair – sounds to be about so much I believe in – for the people, the people, each person in the people will matter at last… But I have always felt uneasy, why me, I don’t actually worry much about being Irish, but I am not Scottish, etc etc.
Yesterday I suddenly realised what I felt was wrong.
It is a little word… “THE” people, not just PEOPLE.
And then I thought, suppose I take out another word in there, take out “SCOTLAND”
Substitute: Glasgow, or Edinburgh or Crieff, or Orkney, or Timbuctoo or Kabul or Anywhere.
Do I believe it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Orkney’s’s future are taken by the people who care most about Orkney, that is, by the people of Orkney… ? [But there are in fact 8 islands in Orkney, suppose those people on Sanday get independent minded... don't like what mainland and Bursay have decided... ]
This YES campaign is a territorial statement, asking for government by reason of Territory.
[It implies we do not like government from
England London Eton somewhere not like us – well some of us certainly do not like the present UK government – nuff said – lots of stuff about that elsewhere. ]
During a time when the entire world is changing, recognizing (however slowly) that an ECOLOGICAL perspective is an underlying principle in all systems including governments, The Scottish National Party (and even also the Green Party) suggest a move to government by reason of a defined TERRITORY. I know that is what I do not want.
I believe we need to start with where we are, whatever the current barriers and boundaries, and try to work with all those who will work with us, towards ONE WORLD.
Why should there not be an interim, rather nice Scotland, showing others how decisions can be taken by the people, for the people, real participation?
Because it identifies US and THEM. [Which is where Orkney or Crieff might come in as "independents" if the new Scotland sort of forgot their needs were different from those of Edinburgh/ Glasgow/ Central belt.]
In other words, the problem lies with THE people, not ALL people. I care just as much about what happens to people in Carlisle, Berwick and Newcastle and London, and Killarney and Timbuctoo and Kabul, as I do about those in Scotland. And to be honest, I have just as much influence in those places.
By creating US and THEM it seems to me that it will follow that however good or innocent initial intentions might be, government by territory will revert to competition for resources, and to hierarchical ways of allocating them, to Ownerships, and struggle to own, more. [familiar history anyone?] We would of course enter into outside agreements, say about defence, or trade, or whatever, arguing and negotiating what seems good for ‘our’ territory. [more familiar history anyone?] Oops – we might change the definition of a particular territory – why not? Have we not always done that? Is Berwick in Scotland or not in Scotland? (Pick your century before you answer.)
For long enough the world has been dogged by the HEGEMONY of territory, which fits with classical economics, classical physics, classical energy dependence on the fossil fuels found only in particular territories. Belief that we (or US) have right has gone with might, and ethnically cleansed THEM. Look what happened to non-territorial nomadic communities such as Australia’s aboriginals or North America’s indigenous peoples, or Scottish traveler people. (The Highland Scots were themselves cleansed a few hundred years ago, helped out by the Lowland Scots as well as the English – read here in a short account or a longer one.)
The notion that people can live well in co-operative and collaborative communities by interaction with others and the land they are on, and the resources around them, without claiming ownership, is hard for us to grasp, and no way are we there at the moment, maybe we never will be, but if we could entertain the possibility, we might reach a new place.
We, worldwide we, are just now at a fulcrum where it is just possible to glimpse the hegemony we have been in, and see that there could be different possibilities. We have a distributed communication network (internet, you know that www thingy – world wide web). See how it has already created havoc with some sorts of ownership, like music copyright and ownership, now we subscribe rather than buy (and there are some who take for free).
We have some legitimate and ethical free distribution – the Encyclopedia owners of the world did not see Wikipedia coming, but it is here already and well used by PEOPLE, not any one territorial set of people. Etc.
We have realised that renewable energies (sun, wind, water, geothermal, biomass) are distributed and accessible throughout the territories of the world, not in specific locations in the way that fossil fuels are found. That created ownership and riches by accident of place.
There is even a claim that we have already entered a Third Industrial Revolution (read here or get the book of this title by Jeremy Rifkin). See e.g. “The struggle over centralised versus distributed generation of rewewable energy is intensifying around the world” [p.174].
“US”, a territorial group, creates hierarchy and centralized forms of ownership. The system stays static until someone – with enough power – makes a change. Those without enough power have to clamour for attention. Do you want to live within a hierarchy? We already do, the system is top-down, in spite of capacity to vote. A YES to an independent Scotland does not change the basic process within its society: Scotland will still be a hierarchy.
Or, does government by people really mean a genuinely ecological kind of system, a different process? In an ecological system, territorial barriers grow less and less important and genuine co-operation and collaboration begin from the bottom up. This could be a system in which the need of a group and how it can be met, becomes more important than the name of its “owner”. It would be an organic system in which the dynamics of synergy and symbiosis created change as and when it was needed.
US/THEM leads to competition (however many good attempts to co-operate and work together exist)
ALL PEOPLE/ONE WORLD leads to collaboration and co-operation.
So, vote YES to Scotland is a NoNo for the world I would like to see flourishing.
I would like to begin from where we are now, whatever the current governing group, or current territory governed, to grow the collaborative world I want. It may be a lot harder to convince some of the ideological conservatives of the UK government to grasp these changes which are coming, but I still want to be working that way, not backing into an apparently safer scottish enclave, a territory defined as Scotland.
I think YES is a step backwards, maintaining the hegemony of territory and competition, however attractive it looks.