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Scottish Independence more than Economics

Published: September 18, 2014, Author: dinagw

The New York Times published this article today, in which the author Neil Erwin characterizes Scotland’s bid for independence as a problem created by Britain’s elites. Britain’s current conservative government, he seems to be saying, doesn’t comport well with Scotland’s tendency toward more of a social welfare state. He blames the near collapse of England’s banking system in 2008, which led to its current conservative government, as though Scotland’s move toward independence can be explained purely by economics.

He also makes an absurd comparison of Scotland’s potential secession to Texas seceding from the United States. Texas was never a pre-existing nation; Texas would never exist were it not for the formation of the United States. A more accurate comparison would’ve been using the Navajo nation as an example because the Navajo nation is politically more comparable to Scotland than Texas ever would be. The idea of an indigenous nation seceding from the state is precisely one of the worries states like the United States was concerned about during the drafting of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights. It’s one of the reasons why the US voted against it initially.

Such explanations dehistoricizes the relationship between Scotland and England. He seems to forget that centuries of English imperialism have led to the current moment, a moment which is contextualized by a nation with a history far older than the “United Kingdom.” The desire for the ability to be self-determining is framed by that history, far more than simplistic explanations of economic displeasure toward a dominating government.

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