When you examine things carefully, most nations turn out to be nothing but artificial constructs aimed principally at consolidating the rule of a governing elite. Britain is a classic example, consisting as it does of successive waves of Celtic, Roman, Viking and Germanic invasions and subsequently augmented by wave after wave of immigrants from just about every corner of the globe. Prior to the bloody Norman invasion a thousand years ago, Britain was in effect three separate nations, Saxons in the south, Danish in the English north and east, and Celtic at the northern and western fringes. The ancient Britons, whoever they might have been, were either wiped out by the Romans or assimilated into the new realities.

But whoever was in power, Romans, Celts, Saxons, Normans or Tudors, rest assured, for the majority of the population life went on much as it always had; grinding poverty, oppressive taxation, arbitrary justice and stultifying routine. Along comes the 21st century with its corporatist globalised culture and hey presto, more of the same. The rich elite are getting obscenely richer and the rest of us are being, step by step, pauperised into one giant underclass. The further away you are from the metropolitan centre the greater the feeling of pauperisation. Little wonder a good number of those living north of the English border are clamouring for some greater measure of independence.

Of course, Independence is a fine sounding concept but attaining any real measure of independence from globalised capital is a near impossibility. Fintan O'Toole, editor of the Irish Times, put the matter succinctly;

'Power lies only in part with elected governments, whether in London, Edinburgh, or even Washington. It also lies with global corporations, with media monopolies, with unaccountable oligarchies, with mighty financial industries immune even to their own reckless follies. Hence the real question that scots have to decide: will independence shift the balance of power waway from oligarchy and towards democracy.' (Guardian 13/9/14)

'With the collapse of the Soviet Union, capital now reigns supreme. Even in China, capital seems to be assuming a life of its own, despite the outward trappings of state regulation. And when the showdown comes between unfettered capital and Chinese state control, don't put too many bets on the state coming out on top. Capital has a nasty habit of outsmarting even the most determined of regulatory regimes. So if Russia and China have succumbed to the internal logic of capital, what hope for brave little Scotland. Well, Cuba has held out for half a century but at great material cost to their standard of living.' 

It is not all doom and gloom though. Omniscient as capital may seem, it too faces its own debilitating contradictions, not least its propensity for endless cycles of boom and bust. Over production, under consumption and international capitalist rivalries perpetually undermine the stability of capital. And on top of this there is the ever present but unseen tendency for the rate of capitalist profit to fall, leading to an ever desperate search by capital for cheap labour and cheap resources. It is within these turbulent eddies endlessly created by international capital that small nations and regions seek greater autonomy and independence. The Tibetans want it, the Kashmiris crave it, the Quebecois nearly got it, the two halves of Belgium are toying with it, the Basques and Catalans pine for it, the Irish have partly achieved it and now the Scots dare to claim it. And the trailblazing path that many Scots are now travelling, will surely be attempted by many others.

The Scottish demand for independence is both legitimate and rational. As the world becomes more integrated, more unified, more homogeneous and more impersonal and atomised, it is entirely predictable that nations, regions and ancient communities should demand more local autonomy, more local identity and more local democracy. It is the inevitable other half of the dialectic. Globalisation will inevitably sow the seeds of localism. Even under a more rational socialist internationalism, localist demands will not only continue but will likely proliferate. Humans, with their ancient tribal DNA cannot contentedly live in a mindless, ten billion strong hive. They will need local identity and local democracy. The ideal formulation is a rational and humanistic global economic plan that allows for both global cooperation and local decision making. It might be too late for the old United Kingdom to learn this lesson, but the European Union might still just have time to build local democracy into the continent wide dream of greater European integration.

End JPK Copyright 11/9/14



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 May 2018 07:41 )