Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Scottish Independence and Some Lessons for Canada
With just 15 days to go before the Scottish referendum, a new poll has confirmed the trend that I wrote about yestarday. The YES side is surging, and Scotland could be soon heading for independence.
The poll by YouGov showed the unionist lead had shrunk to 6 percentage points from 22 a month ago as support for independence jumped to 47 percent in August, suggesting a major shift in opinion ahead of the September 18 referendum.
And although some may be surprised, I'm not. And neither is the English writer George Monbiot, who says voting NO would be an "astonishing act of self-harm."
For why would the Scottish people want to remain under the thumb of an increasingly brutish Westminster regime whose Con values they don't share?
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. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. 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 as non-negotiable.
When they want something different and better...
Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.
Because that's what this referendum is about, a rebellion against those bestial Cons and their savage neo-liberal agenda, that is causing almost unbelievable human suffering. And is only making the rich richer, while making the poor even poorer.
Now I understand that in a country like ours, where separatism is a bad word, and many are sentimentally attached to Britain, even some progressives are against the idea of Scotland becoming an independent country.
Or fear that those supporting independence are anti-English...
But the fact is Britain isn't going anywhere. It will always be the British Isles. And the independence movement is not a tribal thing, as these English people who live in Scotland make clear in this letter.
As English people involved in the independence movement, we feel we are confident in saying that sentiment against English people has been virtually non-existent in our movement. What people in Scotland want to escape is the Westminster regime, not the English people.
An independent Scotland would attempt to learn from people in England, welcome people from England, and extend our hand of friendship as equal nations.
Which I know to be true because my mum was born in the south of England, lives in the north of Scotland, still hangs on to her English accent AND the Royal Family, and has never had any problems. Ever.
So I don't really understand why more Canadian progressives aren't cheering on the YES side.
But I do think that there are some lessons we can learn from what is happening in Scotland...
For they have to do with hope and fear.
And we need to ask ourselves why so many Canadians seem to be suffering from system justification.
System justification is defined as the “process by which existing social arrangements are legitimised, even at the expense of personal and group interest". It consists of a desire to defend the status quo, regardless of its impacts.
A paralyzing fear of change which is preventing us from doing what we need to do to survive in a world that like it not will NEVER stop changing.
Even as economic inequality grows, government is slowly strangled, wages and pensions are threatened. And we live under the thumb of a brutish Con regime, that has been tolerated by far too many, for far too long.
Secondly, we might learn something from the way the YES side has managed to inspire so many, including so many young people...
By asking them to dream of the kind of country they want to live in.
Because in this country no leader so far has managed to inspire us with a stirring vision of a better country. Certainly not younger Canadians.
And when it comes to politics or the future of this country we seem to have stopped dreaming a long time ago.
Which is a tragedy, because if you don't dream of something better, you'll never get to that better place. And we'll always be less than what we might have been, and fodder for reactionary leaders.
Oh well. I'll have more to say about that in other posts, because I do want that kinder, gentler world. I want my Canada to be big and beautiful, not small and shabby, so I'll NEVER stop dreaming.
But I thought I'd leave you with another scene from Scotland's creative revolution. And another sign of the surging momentum of the YES side.
Whose supporters have managed to propel a song by the old Scottish duo The Proclaimers, to the top of the charts.
Which you can listen to here if you wish.
And includes these lyrics:
I can tell the difference between margarine and butter.
I can say Saskatchewan without starting to stutter.
But I can't understand why we let someone rule our land.
Cap in hand.
Which I enjoyed quite a bit eh? Because they show the long and close ties between Scotland and Canada.
And because I'm now sure that the Scots will not be going cap in hand for much longer, whatever the result of this referendum. For a dream like the one they now have will not be easily surrendered.
And what remains to be seen is when will the Canadian people start to dream again?
Are we really content to be a little people in a big land?
Or are we ready to throw off the yoke of our brutish Con regime?
And say YES to Canada...
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