Scottish Independence: Now Is the Time

We are all citizens of the world now.

Potentially, the internet interconnects everyone on the planet. International trade forms a network of interlinked states. Weapons are so powerful that local war could bring death anywhere on the globe. The fate of the planet is interlinked with the fate of each one of us.

All this renders the old concepts of nationalism meaningless: the view that we look after our own interests regardless of its effect on others.

None of this means that groups should not govern themselves if they have the capacity and will to do so. The closer to home decisions are made, the more likely they are to meet the needs and aspirations of the people. Autonomous states can co-exist in harmony with necessary overarching bodies whose function is to ensure peace and justice, such as a democratic, free from corruption, United Nations and World Trade Organization.

The existence of smaller autonomous units such as the 5.2 million citizens of Scotland promotes the opportunity to develop improved forms of democracy. The need to become autonomous becomes particularly urgent when the state is tied to a government run by a privileged millionaire elite who focus on self-aggrandizement rather than citizens’ wellbeing.

Scotland is currently tied to such a government. The Westminster elite is benighted by long outmoded fantasies of Empire. It enacts a chaotic and value-free foreign policy with grotesquely distorted priorities. After Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, Cameron wants to burden the British taxpayer with the guilt and cost of yet another war in the Middle East. “Britain gears up for war on Isis,” was the Daily Telegraph front page headline on 5th September. And while our government is “policing” the Middle East, at home our police forces are giving up, presumably from lack of funds, on solving high-volume crimes such as car crimes, criminal damage and non-residential burglaries. A Guardian newspaper headline (4.9.14) reads “Police tell victims to solve crimes themselves.” And while all this is going on, the UK government’s new “Minister for Civil Society” (!), Brooks Newmark, sneers at activist British citizens by telling them to stay out of politics and “stick to your knitting”[1]. It is not clear whether this phrase was used simply to show general contempt for the concerned public or whether it is a reference to the seven mile long scarf which was knitted by activists and stretched between Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire against the obscenity (as Desmond Tutu called it) of nuclear weapons.

The Westminster elite sells vast quantities of arms to the proselytizing dictators in Saudi Arabia. This is irresponsible in the extreme. Then there is our selling arms to, and support for, Israel in the teeth of behavior which sickens decent people round the world. This is explicable only in terms of a craven subservience to the wishes of White House neocons, themselves in thrall to the rich US Jewish lobby. The rise of the Islamic State and the brutal murder of James Foley point to a lesson which the militarists in Westminster and Washington never learn. The illegal use of aggressive force has uncontrollable consequences. The rise to prominence of fanatical jihadists and murderers is the consequence of our gratuitous attacks on the sovereign states of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Westminster village thought it could invade and kill in the Middle East with impunity. It can’t. Their actions have given birth to a monstrous response.

A free Scotland will not be morally or economically responsible for all this. It will be able to spend the wealth of its citizens on the wellbeing of its citizens, not on gratuitous wars and a grossly inflated Westminster military machine.

Moreover, a free Scotland will be in a position to curb the greed and excesses of the banking, big business, media and advertising conglomerates which relentlessly trivialize living and focus attention exclusively on acquisitiveness.

In this, as in so much else, they slavishly follow trends in the US. Of the US, Noam Chomsky writes:

“What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities. Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a ‘philosophy of futility’ and ‘lack of purpose in life’ to ‘concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption.’ Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry, and, in the political realm, to the self-described ‘intelligent minorities’ who administer power.”

Outstanding UK writer[2] and journalist who speaks truth to power George Monbiot in a September article in the Guardian headed “Scots voting no would be an astonishing act of self-harm,” writes that “To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation… It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor is non-negotiable.” He points out that the lack of a written constitution allows numberless abuses of power, that opinion is dominated by media owned by tax exiles and that the concerns of corporations outweigh everything.

The UK elites are allowing more and more control over our most precious assets by profit-maximizing corporations. Precious national assets are being eyed by corporations. Already parts of the National Health Service have been privatized. The Chinese could be building nuclear power stations in the UK! Proposals for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement between the EU and the US, are under consultation. This could empower foreign investors to challenge national authorities in international courts and before arbitrators in order to claim financial compensation if they deem that their investment potential (and related profits) are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes that have occur at the national level. The TTIP[3] could give multi-national corporations and unelected individuals power over government.

Arbitration processes can result in unelected individuals deciding between the wishes of corporations and government. To some extent this has already happened. An arbitrator from Spain writes,

“When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all […] Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.”[4]

George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian about “the remarkable ability it [the TTIP] would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.”

If free, Scotland would have a chance to fight this abuse of power.

Two televised debates between Alex Salmond for the YES vote and Alistair Darling for the no vote gave the game away. Darling spoke almost exclusively about finance and currency. It was clear he just didn’t get it. But then he was speaking for a political culture that exists in a world of things, acquisitiveness, eternal “growth.” Writing in the Guardian newspaper[5], the distinguished journalist, Simon Jenkins, referred to the incompetence of England’s rulers: “This incompetence reached its climax in the no campaign itself, the jeering, patronising, money-obsessed ‘project fear’ designed to warn the Scots to stay close to nurse.”

Alex Salmond, by contrast, made it clear that Scottish Independence is about freedom and being in control of Scotland’s own destiny.

As the drums of war beat yet again in the Westminster village and as the corporations make a bid for yet more control over government with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the need for Scottish Independence has never been more clear – Now is the time.

1. The Guardian, 4.9.14

2. George Monbiot’s books included Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (2000) and The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order.

3. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

4. http://foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_factsheet_isds_oct13.pdf

5.The Guardian, 5.9.14