Sunday, July 20, 2014

Responses to Responses

It is very interesting and slightly bewildering that this particular polemic has taken ethernet wing…and has elicited some really interesting Unionist responses of a much higher quality than one gets from the papers, for example, most of the time.  They are worth checking out.
The argument is all, of course predicated on whether or not one accepts “Scotland” and its electorate as a political entity or not. And it is a perfectly coherent logical position that it isn't and they aren't - which is what the roughly 20% of true British Unionists in this country can and should assert - that Scotland is not suited to running all its own affairs.
 (The same logic applies to all nation/states of any size, by the way – to Britain in Europe, for example. A “nation ” is something in which people identify an agency for themselves within the larger unit. Which is what is I think definitely is happening in Scotland…and may or may not happen in Shetland…or my house…If my bathroom declared itself independent of my house I wouldn't have a logical leg to stand on. But it isn't.)
Turns out Tam Dalyell was right all those years ago when he identified devolution as a slippery slope. Once there was an established democratic mechanism for mandating the government of Scotland …once individual agency and collective democracy are invested in THIS polity…then hang the “recovery” of Auld Scotia…you’re on your way to inventing a nation from the ground up – and what could be better and more empowering than that?
The simple rhetorical trope being that if you accept that a) Scotland IS a polity and b) democracy is the best way to run a polity, then you have to vote Yes.
To vote No from CONVICTION, I'd have thought you have to be convinced  either that Scotland is not a polity or that democracy is somehow inappropriate for it. 
I haven't yet heard an argument from the No camp that doesn't proceed from one or other or both of those presumptions, though only a few, (the best) will admit it.
I think the people with a genuine attachment to the British State have been shockingly ill served by the No campaign, which is so unconvinced of the virtues of the pessimistic, exhausted UK elite…that they have come up only with arguments about our unique incapacity for self rule…or to vaguely threaten that the rest of the world would be so ticked off with us that no realistic negotiations about anything would be possible.
The particular point of my piece was that, even for the most convinced believer in the Union,  we are well past the possibility of a return to status quo ante…that a No vote will also precipitate and cement changes already under way. . I really believe that a Yes vote will begin the disintegration of the power of that elite over everyone in these islands. I really believe they will use a No vote to entrench what English radicals used to call “Old Corruption”
Can, I at this point say a qualified "sorry" to any No voters who've taken offense at my tone., I' m sorry if you feel insulted or patronised.
 (Welcome to Our world!).
And I apologise if I’m sometimes intemperate. 
But I’m not saying that you’re scared. (Some of you said I said that you were scared) I’m saying that I’m scared and that I can’t see why you’re NOT scared. Just a little.
It may be that there was anger in the piece…I was rather angry when I wrote it. I had just been patronised, I felt. And , I was a little splenetic. But my point was very serious. I genuinely believe that if Yes voters are to be constantly leaned on for answers to questions about the results of negotiations that haven’t happened yet and which are being ruled out as impossible before they start, then No voters have to take on a little moral hazard about what happens when we take our single strongest negotiating card ( “we” being an assumed Scottish polity) off the table.
I also genuinely feel that as Gerry Hassan argues so well in Caledonia Dreaming, there has been an unjustified moral superiority at large in our political culture…an assumed left liberal consensus that shelters behind the irresponsibility of NOT being able to influence elections, a comfortable, self serving pre-democratic moral superiority.
And I am saying that this vote, this referendum, one way or another, blows that complacency out of the water.
We ARE going to be sovereign for those 15 hours. We will be responsible Yes or No, for what happens next.
I am unsure about lots of things about an independent Scotland. The future is like that. 
Are you certain about the consequences of a No vote? Do you really think we’ll be able to sit in the Caledonian smugness of it not being our fault anymore.
I really think we won’t. If it goes “Yes” we will have tough, grown up decisions to make about tough grown up stuff. I’m a little scared of that.,
But if we vote No, we will hand all the decisions about the difficult stuff to someone else…actually, positively, as a sovereign people (for 15 hours) choose to hand sovereignty BACK. Aren’t you even a LITTLE worried about that? 
Me, I'm terrified.
In the meantime, if you can offer me a coherent case for the Union that demonstrates the concrete advantages of the new situation that will obtain after September the 18th, then I really do want to hear it
And if you do win, I really hope you’re right…that we will be able to make social progress within the Union….because I will still be living here.
Self rule is a project for everyone everywhere. The Yes campaign is part of what is happening globally. I’ve seen it. In the States, in the Arab world, in Turkey. Self -rule in the 21st Century begins with the individual, then we pool that autonomy in associations like trade unions and neighbourhood clear up schemes…or countries…nation states…or associations of nation states…as we, as sovereign individuals deem moist most effective and most democratically accountable. For me, right now, the United Kingdom of Great Britain scores very badly on these counts. I am hopeful that we can be better and do better…all of us…if we first decide to rule ourselves
Finally, I had hoped it didn't need saying any more, but it clearly does: an independent Scotland for me, for many of us, is a means to an end. And genuine equity and genuine living “better together” on all these islands is the name of that aim.  By the way, the “they” I refer to all the time is not the English…it is the British elite, who batten on all of our necks. And the British elite are, as has been pointed out in many places, disproportionately Scottish. 

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