Nationalism – Scotch Mystification


The First Minister of the Scottish Parliament announces a second referendum on independence. The justification cited being the prior vote to leave the EU and the frustration of Scotland’s majority desire to retain membership.

As EU membership and referendum refers to Britain as a whole the outcome of the ballot must also be determined in that context. Such a vote was always going to produce regional variations, but that cannot then justify those areas in the overall minority camp seceding.

The problem lies with the binary nature of plebiscites. Complex political and economic matters are reduced to a simplistic “YES” or “NO”. Such can be employed on single issue questions, like the one presently facing many teachers.

Two teachers’ unions, the ATL and NUT, are balloting there members as to whether or not they should amalgamate. They either will or they won’t and so teachers can vote either “YES” or “NO”, there being a single question.

The relationship between member states of an economic, and increasingly political, union has a multiplicity of facets. So many that most were simply not addressed during the EU referendum campaign.

Instead, both sides simplified to the point where the electorate was provided with little, if any, useful information on which a rational choice could be made. The result was that many voted according to their own pet prejudices.

Those favouring immigration were countered by others who against it. Some saw the EU as a guarantor of their rights, many thought their rights were regularly infringed. Did the EU fund valuable local projects or drain money from the economy?

There was also a significant element of apparently voting against a political establishment seen as self-serving rather than meeting popular needs. What was actually taking place was a settling of scores between contending capitalist camps expressed through that political establishment.

There can surely be no doubt that the triumphant “Brexiteers” in the Theresa May administration are as viciously Tory as the previous Cameron one. The Labour Party remains supine, failing in the primary role of an opposition, to oppose.

Then there’s the socialist and communist parties and groups who also campaigned to leave and so played their part, however insignificant, in strengthening popular ideological adherence to capitalist political norms, while effectively aligning themselves with the Tory government.

This has now been exacerbated by the SNP seizing its opportunistic moment to try and bolster its waning support now it no longer commands an overall majority in the Scottish parliament. To do so it is more than willing to promote the dangerous mystification of a “Braveheart” nationalism.

For as long as people consciously or unconsciously continue to subscribe to a political system evolved to maintain capitalism, they must bear the consequences. Their interests are not being served because capitalism by its very nature cannot meet popular needs.

How an outcome from a referendum is deployed to give credence to a particular policy is demonstrated by what’s followed from the EU vote. It is a commonplace now for “Brexiteers” to declare the “LEAVE” vote is the will of the people.

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. Although there was a small majority who voted for “LEAVE”, there were in fact two minorities. The one voting “STAY” and the other that did not cast a vote. Together they form a rather larger majority that did not vote to leave the EU.

The non-voters cannot be dismissed as apathetic or non-participants because not voting was actually the only rational choice open to the electorate. Deprived of useful information, with no way of knowing what the outcome might be of leaving or staying, a snub to both sides made perfect sense.

The same applies to a Scottish independence vote. Love of the Union? Hatred of the English? Prospering in the EU? A minor region on the fringes of the EU, if allowed to join? No one can know. These and many other pertinent issues will not be adequately addressed, so people can only cast a partial vote at best.

Whichever way such plebiscites go capitalism will retain its dominance and the vast majority will have to deal with consequences of that. There will certainly not be a referendum on seceding capitalism.

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