By Nicholas Riebel, Contributing Writer ||
During the time that this was being written, it appeared that the Scottish people had chosen to remain part of the United Kingdom. The referendum, despite a surge in the polls towards the “Yes” (for independence) movement, could not overcome the strong advantage the “No” movement. Nevertheless, those who support Scottish independence should not be disheartened or discouraged: even if not in our lifetime, Scotland will one day become independent again.
The British government seems to have arrogantly assumed that the Scots would never dare take the potentially risky chance of leaving the United Kingdom. But the momentum eventually shifted towards independence, with London being concerned enough to send the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to Scotland to personally lobby against them leaving their Union.
The British had to offer some major concessions to keep Scotland, which mostly amounts to more autonomy. But, someday, Scotland will take the plunge and become independent. Wales, Northern Ireland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and other British possessions will likely be independent one day, as well, in the fullness of time.
At a time when politics are still decided by “might makes right” rather than international law, it is important to draw an important distinction between legitimate secessionist movements and illegitimate ones. Over one hundred and fifty years ago, the Southern United States, desperately afraid that the liberal Republican president Abraham Lincoln would give in to the radical abolitionists’ demands to eliminate the institution of slavery, chose secession and treason. Some quibble that it was about other factors, most commonly economic and states rights, but, at the end of the day, the reason the Confederacy was formed was to perpetuate the existence of slave labor to power the Southern economy and fill the wallets of the plantation owners.
In Ukraine, the pro-Russian, murderous, deeply corrupt, and fairly unpopular president was forced out when it became apparent that he would prefer to turn back towards the days of the Soviet Union, Russian Empire, Warsaw Pact, and Cold War as opposed to turning towards the European Union. Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin, seeing Western Ukraine as a lost cause (short of a full-scale invasion and occupation of everything west of and including Kiev), decided to seize Crimea and is currently trying to take as much of Eastern and Southern Ukraine as possible with separatist proxies, and with very implausible deniability.
Perhaps Crimea and Eastern Ukraine had and have legitimate reasons for independence. But they would not have been allowed to vote no. Everyone in Scotland was free to vote their conscience, without fear of persecution. And the results were accepted and would have been accepted even if the other outcome had been chosen.
The only thing keeping the world from returning to the days of the Pharaohs is the fact that there is freedom in this world, at least some freedom that the richest and most powerful cannot completely take away from us. The Scottish people used their freedom to, for the moment, stay with the British nation. The East Ukrainians have no freedom to decide their future. But the “might makes right” philosophy is still there, in place of the rule of law. A friend of mine recently reminded me that no empire lasts forever and that they all collapse. But they usually endure, at least in some form, until they can rise again, perhaps with a more lenient and generous attitude towards those whom they have been given the explicit or implicit authority of governing.
In the meantime, let us work towards freedom for the world, so that, despite the violence and madness of the world, the people who have historically been oppressed by their governments may work towards making their politicians their servants. Let us work to stop war by mandating peace on the conquerors who take what they can out of greed and inflated egos and fanning out the flames of fundamentalist hatred towards those who are “other” and who must destroy enlightened thought so that they themselves may not be destroyed by it.
There will come a day when the United Kingdom, which has risen and is in decline, whether it realizes it or not, will collapse once more and dissolve into separate nations, as all nations do. But for now, let Scotland recover from its great democratic debate as we move on towards the next one and as we strive for world peace and harmony.
Remember this: the enemies of world peace are the enemies of humanity, whether they rule a skeleton of a kingdom, which will crack when it has once again been worn out from the weight of its own hubris and inflexibility, or whether they rebuild an ancient empire upon the shifting sands of hatred, which will fall with the slightest breeze of discontentment and conspiracy. All rise and fall, like the rise and fall of the waves off the shore.
It doesn’t matter too much that Scotland’s quest for independence has fallen short. As long as we keep making social and economic progress (which are one and the same), the old nations will die, but their people will live in freedom, no matter which nation they are part of.
It is merely up to us to keep ourselves and our descendants free, and push for ever more justice, as our ancestors would ask us to do.
I supported Scottish independence, but I understood both the “pros” and “cons” of it. Until next time, they will have to settle for being a highly influential part of a still-Great nation.