Fantasy sells we suppose, because among other reasons, reality kind of sucks; it’s not famously a lot of fun. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” is a bit short of the appeal in: “Vote for me and I’ll take care of you.” And today, we even have Pope Francis reminding that our governors owe us care. He hasn’t yet troubled himself over where the governments will find the wherewithal to fulfill his orders, though. That must be the government’s problem, not the Pope’s.
Similarly, we see Scotland voting upon its own independence from Great Britain. Well, Liechtenstein and Singapore are managing — so far — so why not Scotland? The Romans beat the Scots (then called Picts, etc.) in 84, but being Scots, losing didn’t stop the fighting. The Romans had to keep beating them until they gave up and just walled them off from Britain in 122 under Emperor Hadrian. The Scots naturally, refused to stay behind the wall.
The fighting went on and in a bad year, England had to formally recognize Scottish independence, in 1328. By 1654, Oliver Cromwell claimed dominion over Scotland, Ireland and England but true union only arrived in 1707 with the Scottish and English Parliaments accepting it. And now the Scots are restive once more. They’re not raiding England this time, though … yet, anyway. We note that they have produced a lot of British military, as have the southern states in the U.S.
In a world of power politics, tiny and modestly blessed with resources does not seem an attractive position on the international scene. Scotland’s voting seems to contain a romantic rather than realistic element, not that such ever restrained a Celt. We see from our perch in the American southwest, a degree of fantasy in this voting. Looking to the North, we see in Ukraine, writhing under a mildly disguised Russian invasion, a reality. That Tibet is part of China is another such reality. We can understand those, whether or not we approve of them. We are bemused by the Scots.
If the Scots depart, they will light fires elsewhere: The Basques, Catalans and others in Spain, Quebec in Canada and numerous other places will be tempted. Should we suppose that Northern Ireland will lay passive? A California movement to split into six states will take heart and Texas was once independent and has not forgotten. Pandora has moved her box to Scotland?
These fantasies are all weakening democratic countries; no one seriously expects Hong Kong to separate, much as its inhabitants might prefer that. And the Ukrainians had already separated for all the good it has done them. The world of reality is the world of power politics. Scotland seems to us, to be indulging a fantasy and likely a destructive one at that.