Tomorrow (or, maybe, today? Its kinda late as I write this on Wednesday in the USA), the Scots will vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom. Lots of worrying articles have been written about the horror of horrors which will happen if the Scots for “yes” on secession, but I can’t think of a more splendid thing for the Scots to do. Keep in mind that those most opposed are part of the United Kingdom’s Ruling Class – it would reduce their power if Scotland and England weren’t together.
As readers here know, I’ve long advocated secession as the answer for many ills in the United States – not in the sense of States leaving the Union, but in the sense of States leaving the States. Setting up 60-65 States in place of the 50 States we have today, many of which are just too large or two different in their constituent parts to make a rational whole. But, still, everyone stays in the good, old US of A: so, why am I ok with the Scots bailing on the United Kingdom? Because it is probably the only way to eventually get to a Europe which is basically united. The United States is, so far, essentially united – we have a general sense in our broad majority what it means to be American and what America is supposed to be about…we just have a problem in taming the Big Government beast we’ve allowed to grow up among us. Breaking up the States and other reforms will restore the situation. Europe doesn’t have that – it has a lot of States which already dictate minutely the lives of the people and in the European Union you just get one more layer of micro-managing bureaucrats thrown into the mix to ensure that there are no local differences, at all.
A lot of places in Europe which are part of larger nations today really don’t have much business being part of their nations. Northern and southern Italy, for instance, are very different and were cobbled together in the 19th century by a set of ambitious adventurers who really didn’t ask so much as a “by your leave” of the Italian people if they wanted to be united in a nation called “Italy” (yeah, they cooked up some plebiscites which allegedly gave the will of the people – but when the army of the group wanting you “in” is already there, kind of a foregone conclusion how the vote will go…). The end result of this is two very different places being artificially fused together – and for south Italy to live a relatively impoverished and parasitic life attached to the wealthy and dynamic north. Same thing goes in Spain where the Catalans are starting to revive their age-old dream of independence – and if you can find me a reason that Bavaria is in the same Germany as Pomerania, then I’m all ears. Other than ethnic affinity, there is no reason for Scotland to be in Britain, Naples and Milan to be in Italy, Bavaria to be in Germany or Catalonia to be in Spain. To be sure, all of these places are (or, at least were until recently) European (which means, further, Christian), but that is really where the unity ends. For the rest of it, these are different places with different people and different ideas of what is needed – they can be in one nation, but only if there is a limited central government and maximum power at the local level.
The Scots leaving the United Kingdom is, then, to me a healthy development. To be sure, the Scottish nationalist leadership seems to be largely made up of socialist pinheads who are apparently promising more welfare without anyone having to work harder. That illusion will quickly be dashed after independence, if won – but it was just as swiftly dashed in Slovakia when it broke off from the Czech Republic and now once-socialist Slovakia is one of the more dynamic nations of Europe; they no longer could live off the richer part of the nation; they no longer could blame others for their own troubles; they could only look to themselves. And that is pretty much what they did – and that is what all of the peoples of Europe, once freed from the dead hand of the results of 19th century nationalism and 20th century multiculturalism, will do as well.
Don’t get me wrong, patriotism is a grand thing – but the welding together of things like “Germany” and “Italy” in the 19th century (and “Great Britain” in the 18th) weren’t acts of patriots – they were the acts of ambitious people, some of whom were scoundrels, who didn’t care about the people involved but only about the expansion of their own power (prime examples of this were Bismarck in Germany and Cavour in Italy). It’d be better, in the long run, if the genuine constituent parts of Europe separated and then found a mechanism of unity – some modern revival of the ideal behind the Holy Roman Empire. Some form of government which will keep the peace between the parts and defend the whole against outside enemies: but which will leave the parts pretty much alone to do as they wish (the European Union is the negation of this ideal – it is senseless and remote bureaucrats trying to micro-manage every aspect of European life and no locality having the power to opt out).
The Scots may take the first step – or they may decide that cutting lose from London and the money therein is too risky. We’ll see. But I think that the concept is growing in the public mind both in Europe and the United States that remote, central governments simply cannot answer for the needs of the people and that while a central government is necessary for a few, limited functions, most power had better be in the hands of the people and their local governments.