Saturday, November 30, 2013

Low cost Independence

The Scottish nationalists have announced the details of their project for an independent Scotland, which includes keeping the Queen of England and the pound, and membership of the European Union, although officials from Brussels have repeatedly announced that once independent, Scotland would start its new life out of the EU and would have to apply for membership like any other external country. Two things seem to me quite extraordinary from this announcement. First, that it has taken several years for the Scottish nationalists from their commitment to independence to unveiling the details of what they exactly mean by independence. Second, what they mean by independence does not seem very independent, which seems fine to me, because I do not exactly understand the meaning of independence (or sovereignty) in the European Union and in a globalized and interconnected world. There are some differences between the Scottish nationalists’ campaign for independence and the Catalan nationalists’ campaign for independence. For example, Catalonia is relatively richer than Scotland compared to Spain or the United Kingdom respectively. Or in Catalonia the identity is based more on a native language that is spoken by a larger fraction (although not as the first language of a majority) of the population, although almost everybody speaks two languages, because since they both belong to the same language family, it is easy to speak both. One similarity between both campaigns, though, is that both reveal a preference for a sort of low cost independence. Catalan nationalists have given even fewer details of what would “independence” look like, and are also thinking hard on how to keep EU membership in any event, but when one of them threatened with a one-week general strike as part of the campaign for a referendum, the others immediately said that not even a one-day strike was on the agenda.

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