Humans want to be special. Humans wish to be important. Unfortunately neither are generally true. And plainly, except the odd aberration [the Newton’s, the Einstein’s], neither are ever true. ‘You are one in a million’… maybe, but even then you would still exist in a world with approximately seven-thousand doppelgangers.
Admittedly that is only an annoying axiom, but the sentiment holds. You are but a drop in the human sea. And on a cosmic level, all of us humans are insignificant.
But who cares? I don’t, not really. Everyone plays the lead role in their own movie until the day they die. Yet many humans loathe the nihilism of cosmic and social insignificance with such a passion it leads them to unfortunate conclusions.
A theistic God is one of them. But God bores me; of more interest is regionalism, sectarianism and ethnic joy.
Clearly these thoughts, these proclivities, more effectively combat social insignificance, but many simply ignore the cosmos and most believe in God anyway. Regionalism also often interplays with religious orientations, but nevertheless all are rooted in an irrational and counter-productive claim to importance.
I fear that statement needs further explanation.
It is an irrational claim to importance because it is a claim to importance through vicarious action. Most ‘groups’ of people, at some point, have done something that can be construed as ‘important’. If one views their own life as insignificant, this may seem less crushing if they hide behind the achievements of the group.
The irrationality of this claim is further borne out in the fact that it is terribly temporally arbitrary.
Even if one ignores the fact that knowledge and achievement are not passed through blood –they are learned and earned– and that no ‘group’ is immune to miscegenation and outside cultural influence, the idea that an ethnicity exists is thwarted by the question ‘well, what about the previous generation? Do they count?’ This line of questioning inevitably ends up in East Africa 100-200 thousand years ago, and the question changes to if those in question are human or hominid.
The entire idea of ‘ethnicity’ rests on the premise that it is appropriate to make an arbitrary line in the past. To say ‘us’ and ‘them’. To make yourself, your kind, separate from humanity. To make them important through making them special. But this is a lie. A lie the weak tell themselves because they are afraid.
It is also a divisive and limiting lie. Regionalism is tantamount to declaring you only care about what certain segments of humanity have created: limiting your cultural perspective. But since only the most extreme actually attempt to abstain from the globalized culture, and most simply pretend they are culturally ‘different’, the divisive nature of regionalism is much more damaging. This is not to suggest that there are not real cultural differences on a global level. But simply that they are often exaggerated and that emotional regionalism allows groups of people, that when viewed from the wider context are very similar, to view themselves as very different.
This brings me to Scotland, the SNP and Alex Salmond.
Being a monoglot, self-centred, First-Worlder, hypocrite, the problems of the Anglo-sphere dominate my thoughts. I vaguely know this diatribe could bring itself into the real world through looking at Kashmir, the Yoruba of Nigeria, or Catalonia. But that would require research I haven’t already done only to talk about a conflict almost no one in the UK or US knows exists.
I always knew Salmond was a liar when it came to the EU, but to my glee this was recently revealed as indisputably true. Salmond has long claimed the Scottish Government had sought independent legal advice confirming that an independent Scotland would obtain automatic EU entry, evading the possibility of having the Euro forced upon them and allowing Scotland to retain the Pound Sterling. After Salmond flushed twenty-thousand Pounds of taxpayer money in an attempt to fight an inquest by the Scottish Information Commission, we now know no such advice was ever sought.
I suspect this will make little impact on the debate and/or referendum because the little talked about currency question is absurd on all levels.
Emotional regionalism aside, the true grit of Scottish independence rests on Scottish hatred for the Tories and an inane English propensity to elect Tories. I am very sympathetic towards this complaint. But Scotland experiences a high degree of devolved independence within the UK already. Despite Tory grumbling, prescriptions are free in Scotland, University costs less than a quarter than it does in England, and over the last decade approximately one-thousand more government Pounds have been allocated to each Scot per-year as compared to their Southern neighbours.
It should also never be forgotten that much of Scotland’s current economic contribution to the UK tax fund comes from a dwindling North Sea oil supply. Depending on how the territorial waters are delineated Scotland is either a slightly more than self-subsisting section of the UK, or an under-contributing leech. Either way, that oil will be gone eventually. And the Scots should hold their tongues because they get more money spent per-person anyway. Plus, since when did we start dividing our countries by economic contribution per square kilometre? That sounds very Tory, and would lead all cities to immediately eject their surrounding ruralities in a spiteful move to stop anyone from getting more than they contribute. Of course, this might lead the inhabitants of major metropolitan centers to starve to death. But, no matter.
The true point is currency. If an independent Scotland retained the Pound Sterling as the lying Salmond has proclaimed as his goal, Scotland would still find itself tethered to the monetary policy of Westminster. A Westminster all the more likely to be Tory-controlled sans the several million Labour votes from Scotland. Sure, an independent Scotland would go from having partial control to having full control of its fiscal policy. But the lack of monetary control would both be a blatant violation of the concept of ‘sovereignty’, and would continue to partially place the Scottish at the behest of austere, anti-Keynesian, English bankers: mooting much of the anti-Tory rationale for the departure.
Salmond is a liar, but he is also a fool, or at the very least he thinks SNP voters are fools. His lies advocate for a future independence that undermines the one pragmatic reason to achieve independence.
But the foolishness runs even deeper. If you have Left-wing political leanings and fear the growing power of corporations and the rich, separatism is not the way forward. Governments are like Unions, or at least should be. They advocate for the poor in a Capitalist world otherwise dominated by the rich. The Tories may not feel this way, and this is a major problem, but frustration with Tory policy does not change the fact that a Government’s power to lobby for its population is proportional to the size of the market it speaks for when compared to the global market. This ‘market’ is the only leverage over multi-national corporations a government possesses. Unions that only represent a tiny fraction of an industry’s work force, essentially have no power. The same goes for small nations.
Scotland’s departure from the UK would remove it from the World’s sixth or seventh largest economy and place it somewhere around fortieth, with the likes of Nigeria, the Czech Republic and Pakistan. And like Nigeria, an independent Scotland’s GDP would be greatly and temporarily inflated by oil revenue. Countries that small cannot set policy, they simply drift with the winds determined by the global players. In addition to diminished international negotiating power all around, Scotland would no longer be represented in the G8, would lose representation in the UN Security Council and would have to renegotiate with NATO and the EU.
Fighting the power of the rich requires international efforts. Separatism is tantamount to hiding your head in the sand. It is pragmatically foolish from a Left-wing perspective, and the emotional regionalism behind any claim is poorly thought out and selfish. From an American perspective, to despair and think the British political system is inherently and irreparably rigged towards the Right-wing and the most powerful in society seems childish. Fix the power bloc you are a part of and don’t run from your problems. Existing British campaign finance restrictions make this more than a solvable issue.