The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Scotland, England and Hegemonic States

When you’re on your way up, everyone wants to join or be your friend.  When you’re on your way down, well, it’s the opposite.

Scotland, with free education and a belief in social welfare that England has lost, is on the edge of voting to leave in a referendum vote. It probably doesn’t hurt that they stand to gain a lot of money from North Sea oil, but the bottom line is “why stay with England?”

The reasons offered by England are essentially “on your own, you’ll be screwed”, with an ugly undertone of “we’ll make sure of it.”  There have been some efforts to offer more money and more independence within the UK framework so they can maintain social spending, but are those offers believable from Cameron, or from Millibrand, who has said that he won’t undo most of the austerity and destruction of social policies (including piecemeal NHS privatization) under the Conservate/Lib-Dem government.

Even if they are, it isn’t credible that some future PM, and by future we mean “less than a decade” will decide that Westminster needs the money more than Scotland.

We see in Spain, the Catalonians are trying to leave as well, with as many as 2 million on the streets.

This is simple enough: under an elite consensus of austerity, why stay?

The best argument for not breaking up the United Kingdom is that local elites won’t really be better: they still want to be part of the EU, they’ll still get on the austerity train, and if they don’t, the various threats by England and other elites will, in fact, materialize, and Scotland will be destroyed so it can’t afford to give benefits to its citizens.  After all, if Scotland leaves, who’s next?

The West, with a few exceptions like Norway and Finland (even Sweden is slipping) just doesn’t offer that bright shiny future to its residents any more. There is no real narrative of “this is just going to keep getting better”. To be sure, you may get a smartphone, but it’s used to tie you to your job 24/7 and spy on you, and your job is shittier than the one your parents had, which was shittier than the one your grandparents had, at least if you’re young.

There’s still a bit of narrative power left in Europe, as we can see by how some Ukrainians so desperately want to join, thinking they’re going to get the deal Poland got. (You’re not, you’re going to be destroyed by the IMF and Europe, with the full collusion of your own oligarchs, who are what you need to deal with first.)  But there isn’t much.  The WTO can’t get new rounds through, and the new, truly terrible bilateral deals which are going through are vastly unpopular, and designed to reduce the bargaining power of workers so that even more money flows to elites.

And so the decline in legitimacy of the West will continue: the narratives are broken because the reality is broken.  Not everyone has got the message yet, and there are still many countries even worse off, but the West, for over 90% of its population, is in decline.

Devolution will only work if the people who devolve don’t assume it’s a solution by itself and stay right on top of their local politicians. Otherwise those pols will turn around and betray them as well.  If those pols don’t betray, assume international elites will want any new counter-examples to the inevitability of austerity crushed, and will make sincere efforts to do so.

Scots who think they can devolve and stay on the British pound are, thus, making a mistake.  Likewise it is unclear to me that they should stay in the EU, after how the EU has treated the PIIGS.  There is no “us” in the EU, only elites with interests: if they perceive it is in their interest for Scotland to prosper (they might, if it can be sold as a poke in England’s eye), then they will. If not, they will have no hesitation in crushing Scotland’s economy.

Best of luck to the Scot… and to the Catalonians.  The West has failed, and must be reborn.  Let us hope independence for smaller states is part of that rebirth.

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Obama’s Speech on War with the Islamic State


Looks like Scottish Independence is a “No”


  1. Pelham

    In a lot of ways — not just sentimental — an independent Scotland makes sense. But if I were a Scot, I’m not sure how I’d vote due to the currency question.

    As I understand, the pro-independence side says Scotland can stay on the pound, but there are two problems with that: 1) it would be the U.K.’s decision and they’ve said they won’t allow it, and 2) if Scotland did stay on the pound, they would lose the little political influence over spending that they now have and might end up subject to the same horrid austerity regime imposed by the triumvirate on southern Europe under the euro.

    Alternatively, Scotland could adopt the euro, but that could be equally bad (see above). What Scotland needs is its own currency. If the vote is to stay in the U.K., the pro-independence forces may be well advised to regroup with a sharp focus on this for a future vote. If the euro and pound and, for that matter, the West continue on the same crap-strewn path they’re on now, being a small independent country with real sovereign authority through its own currency should hold much greater appeal.

  2. Chaz

    Admittedly I’ve not kept up with this debate and am not schooled on the pros and cons of staying and leaving. I am however hoping the Scots do vote for independence only because I’m really curious as to how it will turn out and with all the bumps in the road that it entails…

  3. jcapan

    George Monbiot on the media’s unsurprising opposition to independence:

    “There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion.”

  4. Syd

    The famous statement “they make a desert and call it peace” was spoken by a Scottish — or at that time, Caledonian – king around 80 AD. It’s good to know that in this world of baffling variety and confusion, some traditions endure.

  5. Tom

    ISA just took Zumar back from a joint YPG/PKK and KDP force despite airstrikes in Iraq. ISA also is begining to shell southern Kobane City indicating that it is within extreme range of their artillery. IS has a mixture 122mm, 130mm, 152mm, and 155mm artillery howitzers that can range Kobane City from the lodgement it has gained on the Eastern side of Kobane Canton.

    This means YPG defenses on the Eastern bank of Kobane Canton have collapse or are being shoved back given the taking of several more villages closer to Kobane and Turkey letting ISA elements stage from its border areas. ISA is bringing heavy firepower to bear and aims at nothing less than eliminating Kobane Canton as a thorn in its side.

    Also ISA took a string of villages near Tall Abyad after weeks of fighting.

    YPG is trying to relieve pressure by attacking Tall Hamis but its likely to fail.

  6. The problem is this: if the Scots run, who, is going to save the rest of Great Britain? There will be a conservative majority in the rest of the kingdom.

  7. Stirling Newberry:
    Someone pointed out that’s not so. Labour can still win elections. The margins, most times, will be a lot smarter. Assuming all else stays equal.

  8. Spinoza

    Secession is rarely a wise course of action. Often times power is devolved to the local elites who are usually shittier then their more powerful counterparts above.

    However, the English and Spanish monarchies deserve to have every last bit of power ripped from their wrinkled, liver spotted hands. The untold suffering of millions upon millions for the last five hundred years demand it.

  9. Since vote day is today, I thought I would plug my post on the matter at one of my Canadian bloggy gigs.

  10. Formerly T-Bear

    an Albanach abu

  11. Celsius 233

    @ T-Bear

    Some rare and unusual tartans, of more recent history, can be better documented. When one thinks of Scottish tartan, one does not immediately think of Malaysia, but around 1880 Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor paid a visit to Queen Victoria. He was presented at that time with a length of tartan, woven by Thomas Gordon & Sons of Glasgow. A regimental tartan for Johor (Johore) was woven at a later date by Andersons of Edinburgh (now Kinloch Anderson).

    Very interesting. Despite all of the difficulties(?), my innate sense of independence would require nothing less than complete autonomy…
    But, I’m not a Scot…

  12. Pelham

    On second thought, I believe I would vote for independence. The fact that not everything is well planned for the split — including the currency situation — is either beside the point or even a key part of the point.

    And the point is that this is a rare opportunity that in some ways mimics a revolution with the chaos that a revolution necessarily entails. It’s an appropriately bludgeon-like way for people to tell the prevailing neoliberal paradigm to bugger off.

    And it’s a superior platform for this compared with the right-leaning backwater parties gaining major ground across Europe — although, to their credit, they at least offer some alternative to neoliberalism in the deplorable vacuum created by the mainstream left-leaning parties.

  13. Have you read what Labor has promised?

  14. Talking Box

    Promises from Labor.

    That notion speaks for itself.

  15. rigged elections

    it will be rigged

  16. LorenzoStDuBois

    With 4 counties in, it’s looking terrible for yes. Amazing that they got this far, but it looks over. A damned shame. I think it’s a safe bet that it will never be allowed to get this close again. Too bad too, that such a thing could have happened in such a peaceful and orderly way, and will probably happen much later and with much more disorder.

  17. compton de castro

    Guess the yes voters must licking their wounds while doing their
    Post mortem…Nationalism in politricks is a done deal dead duck.
    Money wasted on this referendum that was better spent improving
    enviornment of Scottish towns and cities.
    Cameron says vote me in next election and ill let you vote UKPLC out
    of Europe…He may regret that statement ! We already have a strong
    currency the pound….we do NT need Europe …Europe needs us.
    Nationalistic Politricks is a dangerous practice… per UKIP
    opportunist Politricks….

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