Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Why the Scottish Referendum Is NOT the Quebec Referendum
I've been seeing a lot of stories in the Canadian and British media, comparing the Scottish independence referendum campaign to the one in Quebec in 1995.
And I've resigned myself to seeing a lot more of them after this latest development.
Because it is so familiar.
But here's the thing eh? I've seen the Scottish referendum campaign up close and in the flesh this summer, in this quiet northern place where my family lives...
I lived through the Quebec one in Montreal, in the crucible of the clash between the YES and the NO.
And I can tell you that while the campaigns may be superficially similar, they are at their core radically different.
And the main reason is because the times are so different.
Back in 1995, 911 and the Great War on Terror hadn't happened, and neither had the latest Great Recession.
Back then Con regimes everywhere were not using fear and brute force to impose their savage ideology on their own people, dismantle the welfare state, and turn most of their citizens into low paid wage slaves, while the rich get richer and more powerful.
Now they are. In Britain and in Canada.
And while the main driving force in the Quebec referendum was about the best way to assert the existence of the Québécois nation, and protect its French language and distinct culture....
The main driving force in Scotland is the desire of many of its people to protect themselves from the bestial policies of David Cameron's Con regime in faraway Westminister.
And protect their distinct POLITICAL culture, as an American who lived in Scotland for years explains in this James Fallows' column.
I think it is fair to say that, regardless of the outcome of the independence referendum, the results of the the 2010 general election and the 2011 Scottish election show that the majority of Scots want something different from the majority of English. This has been a trend that began in the 1970s and opened wider and wider over the subsequent decades. A majority of Scots want to live in a center-left society, while a majority of English want to live in a center-right society.
It's about asserting the right of the people to decide what kind of a society they want to live in. A kinder, gentler left-wing one where people come before profits.
Or a right-wing one that would grind those people and their values into the dust. As they would grind us all.
And that has, under the banner of the NO campaign, used fear as a weapon to try to scare the Scottish people into submission, and bludgeon their hopes and dreams of living in a better Con-free country.
That campaign has been relentless, it has been brutal, it has been outrageous, it has been absolutely shameless.
And it has now descended into the realm of the ridiculous...
With the hapless leader of the NO side Alistair Darling trying to threaten Scots and bribe them at the same time. The former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown being sent in to try to get the restless natives under control. And David Cameron looking more crazy and desperate by the minute.
And as anyone who knows the history of Scotland could have predicted, all of this insanity appears to have backfired.
For the Scots may be a quiet people in normal times, more reserved than most. But you can't bully them without expecting them to fight back. And as that American who lived in Scotland says emotion is strength.
Scots are proud people and desire to control their own affairs, which they can't under a unitary state with parliamentary sovereignty. Such pride and desire for self-sufficiency is admirable. The combination of emotional and rational thinking gives Scottish nationalism strength and durability.
For what greater and more noble emotion could there be, than the dream of building a kinder, gentler, more just society?
Oh well. One day I hope my dream of living in that kind of Con-free society will come true here in Canada. When we defeat the foul Harper regime and consign their brutish values to the garbage can of history.
But right now my hopes for a better world are riding with the YES side in Scotland. And my message to them would be this:
Don't let them scare you, don't let them diminish you and your proud history.
Dare to dream.
Dare to be a NATION...
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