When it comes to my view on Scotland’s independence, I posted a short teaser in the matter a few days ago (http://wp.me/p4hxzk-3r). I would like to share with you more of my thoughts in the subject.
Separatist movements are not new in Europe and the issue as such should not surprise anybody. What I find very interesting is how people of different nationalities within Britain perceive Scotland’s attempt to win back its independence.
Well, even the terms I am using here might prove unacceptable for many: is Scotland not free now?; is Scotland not sovereign already?; what is it that Scottish people would gain after splitting from the Great Britain?
The vast majority of voices in the discussion focus on economic matters. Both sides – the YES and the NO campaigners try to prove one another wrong and incompetent in maths. For me, the focal point of this discussion is not where it should be in a first place.
Everybody with at least basic knowledge of economic theories should know that there is no smart way to see into the future. We can predict, we can run scenarios, we can do our best, but nobody can give any guarantees on how the future will look like for sure. This is because all these predictions are based on certain human behavior pattern that is expected to occur but due to its human aspect it is in fact totally unpredictable.
Economy is a social science and as such is moving and changing constantly. In democratic societies, the parliaments take responsibility of managing the national economy, which in short is: firstly, reacting to nation’s behaviour and moods and, secondly, trying to mould this behaviour and mood. Countries’ parliaments are more or less successful in these efforts of understanding their own people and rule in the way that serves these people the best.
Back to the Great Britain, there are quite a few questions to be asked:
- Is the current system of shared responsibilities in some aspects of national economy and politics and split responsibilities in other aspects the best possible way to serve the whole country and each of four British nations that form the Union?
- Could we say that the areas in which national parliaments have a decision-making autonomy are overall less “important” that those which are managed by Westminster?
- Do all the nations within the Great Britain have truly equal opportunities and are the voices of Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh heard as clearly as those coming from London?
- Last but by no means least – is current political union actually a legitimate union providing the signatories were bribed and blackmailed by the most powerful party?
The pro-unionists might oppose here, saying that it does not matter what are the answers to above questions and that there is no one universal truth anyway. The Great Britain is one country now, acts as an old marriage and as such is allowed to have better and worse days and is allowed to make mistakes. The Union has been working for centuries well and it is this union who gave birth to “the most extraordinary country in the world”.
The union treaty was signed in 1707 and it is true, it has been around for a while now. Since then, the Great Britain has been really great and powerful, conquered quite a few new lands and “tamed otherwise uncivilized people”. As a matter of fact, until today, some strongly believe that colonization was the best thing that could have happened to those colonized.
Well, I am Polish and my country had quite a complicated past. My personal opinion is that that was mainly due to our interesting but unfortunate geographical location, exactly on the crossing between the West and the East and the North and the South. As soon as business pioneers started trading internationally, no matter which trail they followed they must have crossed Polish soil. Those, who controlled Polish land, controlled the flow of goods and had a right to collect transfer fees and taxes. Easy money! Poland was attacked many times by foreign powers and in 1794 as a consequence of a political partition performed on Poland by three empires – Austria, Russia and Prussia, our existence as a sovereign country ceased completely. For 123 years, until 1918 we were a part of other countries, we were dependent. Generations came and passed in an occupied Poland; generations were denied the right to learn their own language and to cultivate their own culture. But we persisted, we fought to win our freedom back. We have never lost our identity, we maintained our Polishness. We stayed proud, unique and strong in our hearts and minds. Who knows where Polish people would be now if the turbulent 20th century with its two world wars did not happen. Again, we persisted, we fought, we negotiated, we stood for our right to sovereignty and we won. It took a lot of lives and a lot of tears but we were at last independent.
Maybe, if the partitions of Poland continued for another long 183 years, maybe then, we would not be so sure anymore what nationality we belong to. Maybe, we would think of ourselves as of a part of a bigger Austro-Prussian-Russian family. Maybe we would not mind if major decisions regarding our lives were taken not in Warsaw but instead in Moscow or Berlin. Maybe we would accept if our natural resources were treated as “common and shared” and maybe we would be fine to see how the income from these resources was distributed. Finally, maybe we would not see anything awkward in the fact that we speak German or Russian and not Polish.
Maybe. 183 years might have made a difference.
Someone may wonder, what is my point actually.
In the beginning of this post I said that the whole discussion about Scotland’s independence is being approached, in my opinion, from the wrong perspective. This perspective is a bit too narrow, a bit too “here and now”. It should be more about principles.
Scotland was an independent country for centuries and has proved that is perfectly capable of managing its own matters. The fact that Scotland has been in the Union for more than 300 years has little to do with Scotland’s ability to stand on its own feet. Poland’s case proves that being occupied and dependent does not necessary erase nation’s identity and culture that has been grown and cherished for centuries before.
The Scottish people have now this amazing opportunity to get back what is theirs and they can do it in the most peaceful of ways.
If this indeed happens, if the Scots would believe that they can truly have their own country back; if the English stop their cheeky heart-breaking divorce propaganda and leave the Scots to decide on their own future – yes – then I will happily agree with Mr Cameron – the Great Britain will prove to be really extraordinary.