Thursday, May 7, 2009

Scottish Nationalism as a Moral Issue

My friends often ask me why I waste my energies on something so divisive, so exclusive as Scottish nationalism when I could do so much more for human rights, environmental issues, or on matters more international, moral or intellectual.

I try to explain that I don’t see these things as mutually exclusive with Scottish nationalism.

Why? Because the independence of Scotland is first and foremost a moral issue.

When I look at the complexity of the problems that face Scotland today – low life expectancy, high unemployment, excessive drinking, violence, neds, environmental degradation, hard drug use, Scotland’s failing social fabric, religious bigotry, her poor roads, her awful train system, her old people dying of cold every winter, her sons and daughters emigrating every year, her young men fighting England's illegal foreign wars, her beautiful lochs used as nuclear bases for England, the incessant lies told to her people about their self-worth and potential by Scotland’s foreign-owned media – I see a complex array of causes, all with one contributing factor, one common denominator that is the root cause of so many of these problems, consistently holding us back from sorting any of them out: the dead hand of London.

So yes, I care about these other issues. They’re why I’m a Scottish nationalist in the first place.

And I've yet to hear a moral reason for remaining IN the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Aye We Can ! said...

I'm pro independence, but I dont like this morally superior tone

we could win our independence and fix next to none of these problems you list

And I dont think Unionists are per say less moral folk than nats - though nulab is pushing it!

Your funamental outlook I share though - independence is the best means of making progress on a whole range of fronts - from world dissarmament, to better schools. But it ain't the only way, nor does independence alone guarantee anything

My outlook? we should talk more about liberation rather than independence: Liberation from structures, organisations and economic and culural ciurcumstances that hold people back, Scotland back. And of these, the biggest single obstacle is the Union and the elitist and secretive state that underpins it.

But let's amke sure that, come the gloroius day we dont just replace the Union Jack with a saltire over Edinburgh Castle.

I am beginning here to subconcously paraphrase James Connolly - but Connolly was bang on. The Brits holding on to the six counties and some posrts did not help , but just do look at what happened in post independence ireland to see exactly what I fear. We've moved on, the Irish have moved on, but Connolly's obsevation in 1916 is as relevant to Scotland in 2009 as it was to Ireland at the time

And here is the full quote, thw "socialaist" bit I am less coomitted to in this day and age but the fundamentals - new ways of organising society - remain sound:

"If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole army of commercial and individual institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. (...) Nationalism without Socialism - without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin - is only national recreancy."

James Connolly, Socialism and Nationalism.
Born The Cowgate Edinburgh, 1868. Died Dublin Castle, 1916. Lives forever

scunnert said...

"A nationalist for moral reasons." Me anaw. AWC says independence doesn't guarantee a moral approach to any of the issues you mention and in this he's correct. However, being a part of the union ensures that we will never have the power to make the changes in our society that are required. So if Scots as a nation are concerned about nuclear arms, illegal wars, social inequality, etc ..., change is predicated upon independence.

OutLander said...

Aye We Can,

I didn’t mean to infer that independence is the panacea for all these problems, only that the removal of the Union is a ‘necessary but insufficient condition for their solution’, as the mathematicians might say. Once the Union is gone, we’ll still have to fix these issues – but the Union will no longer be preventing us from doing so.

And I don’t think the Scottish Unionists are morally inferior to Scottish nationalists, either - I wasn’t talking about personal moral conduct. It’s just that many Scottish Unionists simply haven’t seen independence as a moral issue yet, and can’t get past the idea that Scottish independence is small-minded or anti-English, both of which are nonsense.

Or they’ve realised the moral dimensions of Scottish independence, but then glanced at their paycheck and persuaded themselves otherwise.

The danger with this line of argument is, of course, that we alienate those who think the SNP believe themselves to be morally superior. Or that the SNP start to think of themselves as such. If they do, they will surely end up like Brown’s New Labour.

With this attitude, you can justify anything - the smearing of political opponents, rigging elections, even bombing women and children.

And I agree with the James Connelly sentiment. I’ve always loved that quote.

OutLander said...


How did I forget the illegal wars?

Add it to the list.

آدم إبن كُنِّل said...