29 April 2014

#VIEWPOINT: '#Scotland’s future is independence': @hjbentham


Sitting on the fence has become too difficult.

At this point, it is evident that the people in Scotland who perceive correctly are going to vote ‘yes’ to independence from London’s rule.

Previously, I had considered this topic too controversial and close to home, and had avoided it. However, it has become clear that the campaign of fear and threats being directed against the Scottish people by London makes it harder and harder to stay neutral in the debate.

As public opinion grows in favor of independence, it is apparent that the government in London is standing on the wrong side of history. By this I mean that, regardless of the outcome of the referendum itself, the opinion that London should no longer govern Scotland is a strengthening tide and it cannot be held back forever.

Changing my view on Scottish independence has not been easy. My understandings of politics are usually derived from forecasts about the best possible social future, and this means I do not care much for flags or nationalistic tales. Originally, I saw Scottish independence as exactly such a nationalistic project. It even seemed like a medieval regression, taking Britain back to the times of Robert the Bruce and attempting to kindle long-forgotten resentment between the people of Scotland and England.

Scottish independence, I thought, had to be a flawed direction to take Britain, because it appealed to a medieval identity and seemed to defy the currents of integration and harmony that have gradually carried Europe towards peace and stability. Such a view is echoed by some theorists who, not as political pundits but as scholars, choose to categorize Scottish independence as a current of micro-nationalism that is inimical to modernity.

However, such dismissive views of independence movements are not always valid. Sometimes, independence movements are in line with modernity, and can be necessary vehicles of liberation or progress. Because the objectives of Scottish independence have a lot to do with marginalized people taking control of their own future, it is more and more apparent that this movement does deserve to be placed in the categories of progressive and liberating.

This is not an endorsement of the Scottish National Party (SNP), whose program and ideas are indeed nationalistic, but an acknowledgment of the injustice that is driving Scots increasingly into the camp of independence. It is now a prudent choice for Scots to vote for independence as a means of taking control of their own destiny, thus making the most of their talents and contributions to the world.

Patronizing and hurtful arguments from London against independence, such as declaring that the independent country will not be welcome to share the currency, fail to take the aspirations of the Scottish people into account. By making such counterproductive statements and taking such a hostile stance, the government in London is handling the prospect of losing Scotland very poorly and does not deserve any results.

Now, there can be no doubt that London is viewing itself as a master, because it has resorted to using propaganda and making claims that Scotland will be economically isolated by pursuing independence. This is tantamount to a campaign of blackmail and threats. Such threats betray the fact that the masters in London know independence is overwhelmingly in the interests of the Scottish people, and it is with such knowledge that the Scots should go to cast their vote.

It is not reasonable to have confidence in authorities who have to resort to blackmail and threats to assert their sovereignty. Sovereignty must be defined by the will of the people, and a negative campaign only stifles such will. The growing numbers in Scotland who support the vision of becoming an independent state must convince the people still undecided to consider the popular and compelling case for Scotland to have a separate future from the United Kingdom.

Any region where the people assert aspirations for independence and sovereign statehood of their own has the right to hold a referendum on this matter. Such a referendum is not a nationalistic device, but a reaffirmation of the still-prevalent and accepted concept of popular sovereignty which serves is the basis of the legitimacy of states in their present form. To reject this is not compatible with the way the present international system works.

In the referendum in September, the Scottish people should be considering only one set of interests: their own. What happens to the United Kingdom itself should be of no concern. If they find that staying in the United Kingdom is harmful to their interests as Scots, they have no reason to remain part of it. One other point that must be added is that the government in London (particularly under Tory rule) has always behaved in a conceited way, marginalizing and not taking into account the interests of less well-off parts of the country. Scotland is such an area, as is the de-industrialized and deprived North of England itself.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published on March 29 2014 in Press TV

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