by Sam Knight published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
Knight reviews both the rise of Nicola Sturgeon an...Show description
Posted 659 days ago
As somebody who lived in Catalonia for a while, I found Knight's labelling of "left-ofcenter nationalist" as an "oxymoron" as a little ridiculous. It's true that it's not the norm today with the rise of right-wing nationalism, but to call it an "oxymoron" is a little over the top. It would better be labeled "uncommon" in the current day. But other than that, I thought the article was a very good review of Sturgeon and the independence movement more broadly.
In 2014, there was not majority supprot for Scottish independence. Then, 62% of Scottish voters voted against Brexit, Borris Johnson mishandled the pandemic, and then support for independence reached 58%. This indicates that people who may have been on the fence saw existing within the United Kingdon as being more harmful than beneficial, and leaned in support of independence. What this fact overlooks, however, is there is clearly a huge amount of people whose identity is tied to Scotland as an independent and self-governing state. The arguments that 51% of people have to vote for independence for it to happen, to me, is pretty crazy.
By saying that you have to have a "majority," you are basically subjugating the freedom and self-governence of an independent culture and ethnicity to the rule of the other, that doesn't necessarily look out for their cultural well-being, but more the good of the greater state. I don't know what other option there would be here, but to say that the majority of the population has to vote yes overlooks the will of millions of people. We have to come up with better solutions to state-building than we currently have, I believe, to hold on to history and culture.
But critics always point to economics as the end-all-be-all. They says that:
[The Party's] obsession with independence is a distraction from running the country. Scotland is still marked by deprivation; one in four children lives in poverty. Under the S.N.P., the country’s education system, which was once considered the best in the U.K., has continued a long decline.
Although important, these arguments overlook a crucial morale and cultural argument for independence by boiling down the numbers into neoliberal statistics that don't tell the full picture. For example, saying the educational system "has continued a long decline" may be true, but it seems awfully subjective to put it that way.
Continuing his reporting on the critique of independence, Knight writes:
If Scotland becomes independent, it will have to choose between borderless trade with the rest of the U.K., to which it exports around sixty billion pounds’ worth of goods a year, and joining the E.U.’s single market, to which it exports a quarter of that amount. In February, the London School of Economics calculated that, in trade terms, leaving the U.K. would be two or three times as damaging to Scotland’s economy as Brexit has been.
These assumptions, although very good to take into consideration, always bother me a little bit. They assume that Scotland would continue its same trajectory, and that its new, indepedent government would not make different economic decisions. They seem like a weak critique, almost like the British arguing that the American continent could not be indpendent because of its reliance on Britain. The real outcome will be much more complex and have many more factors that could be estimated by a couple economists looking at the existing system.