19 September 2014
Separatism without violence?
The people of Scotland voted yesterday by a 55% to 45% margin to remain in the United Kingdom, defeating a secessionist movement that was clearly popular and widespread. So when does the guerrilla warfare commence? Probably we shouldn't hold our breath. I haven't even heard anyone complain of fraud at the polls. Does this prove anything? If Scottish secessionism doesn't turn violent, does that prove that Scots care less about independence than, say, Russophone Ukrainians? It's probably safer to say the Scots care in a different way, or to a different degree. Obviously, many Scots believe that independence is a good idea, something worth trying. Far fewer, as obviously, feel that their lives or even their sense of identity depend on independence. We shouldn't conclude that some nationalities don't believe in independence as much as others if they don't believe in fighting for it. But it may be true that a place like Scotland will never be independent unless Scots are willing to fight for it, even to the point, probably, of fighting other Scots. That observation is not meant as a reproach against the Scots. The fact is, they don't have to be independent. If anything, by bucking a possible global trend toward separatism and tribalism, the Scots this week may have proven themselves among the world's most progressive people. If those who do deeply believe in independence don't believe in forcing it upon their more reluctant brethren at gunpoint, that would only be further proof. Personally, I was indifferent to whether Scotland seceded or not, and apart from the U.S. government I suspect most Americans felt the same way. The campaign for independence carried no ideological import, or was vested with none by our punditocracy. If only we could see similar conflicts around the world as clearly.