Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Look before you leap... but leap if you want.
On the drive in this morning I heard Scottish author Denise Mina, reading her essay on why she supports the NO vote in the imminent Scottish referendum – or as it will come to be known in history as ‘The day Scotland got independence whichever way it voted’. There is long and established precedence of asking those who will not be materially affected by an outcome to judge on its sagacity and at least the Today programme was asking people who can string a sentence together, rather than, say, David Beckham.
The United Kingdom has for 300 years had a national identity known as Britishness in which we have had an abundance of that most treasured of New Socialist goals, diversity. It’s possible there is no other unified nation on earth with the breadth of differentness exhibited here, with separate histories, customs, gripes, grievances and petty feuds, yet living together without strife for three centuries. And why? Because above all else we had nationhood, a shared island coastline… one nation under a groovy flag.
So here’s the odd thing about Denise Mina’s plea for unity; she contended that the nation state is a failed paradigm, an inward-looking, insular and excluded method of interacting (or rather not interacting) with the world; that ‘better together’ is an example of how opening borders and down-playing national identity is the key to prosperity in the modern global economy… and therefore Scotland should remain a part of the world-renowned, globe-conquering, yet spectacularly distinct nation called the United Kingdom.
Our own nationhood is the product of centuries of shared endeavour and as much as the federalists would plead otherwise it works – or has worked - because we do have that shared idea of Britishness. In fact the utter failure of and the misery brought about by enforced multiculturalism is at the root of much of what ails us. The breakdown of national boundaries is not, whatever anybody tells you, an unremittingly good thing. In fact, all over Europe, much of the unrest is as a direct result of the inability of countries to maintain their own borders; geographically, economically and most of all, culturally.
Nationhood works; it just does. Whether that entity is a small island or a huge continent it is a very human instinct to cleave to one’s own and borders will be erected one way or another. If you don’t believe in nationhood, how long before you start to believe you should also break up the family unit, as the communists have advocated for a century and a half and as socialists have tried to pretend they haven’t? They are not your children they are the state’s children; is that where we end up?
Either way, you'll still be a country.
I don’t know which way is the best way for you, Scotland; you’re obviously unhappy in this increasingly loveless marriage. But if it is self-determination and the ability to manage your own aspirations without interference from those who don’t have your interests at heart you still have two choices. You are already a country in your own right, so you can opt to become a smaller nation better able to exercise democracy, or you can remain a part of a larger nation which has its own question to answer about independence. Either way, yes or no, the nation state is still the only valid option for a free people.