Charlie Stross unintentionally explains why Scottish independence is a bad idea

Here is one of the end paragraphs of his “interesting throughout” but unsettling piece in favor of independence:

Which brings me to the punch-line: I’ll be voting “yes” for an independence Scotland in September. Not with great enthusiasm (as I noted earlier, if Devo Max was on the ballot I’d be voting for that) but because everything I see around me suggests that there is some very bad craziness in the near future of England, and I don’t want the little country I live in to be dragged down the rabbit hole by the same dark forces of reaction that are cropping up across Europe, from Hungary to Greece. The failure modes of democracy, it seems to me, are less damaging the smaller the democracy.

Stross is a smart guy and I am an admirer of his writing.  But my view remains pretty straightforward: when dislike of the policy choices of the electorate leads to a serious movement for secession, something has gone deeply wrong with the preconditions for democratic attachment.  The UK is hardly the Third Reich, it has a long tradition of honest elections, and for left-leaning individuals the share of British government in gdp is likely to stay well over 40% in all plausible futures and furthermore most of the conservatives are relatively liberal on social questions.  For those who favor independence for the Scots, what kind of general principle might you lay out for when other peoples also should seek secession?  Do they think that the strongly red states in America also should consider secession?  How about Vermont?  I understand the libertarian case for such secessions, but most supporters of Scottish independence are not arguing from libertarian premises.  How much secession do they think should be happening?  Or do they hold particularist views which do not admit of any generalization at all?  Either way, I consider this a true crisis of governance.

Addendum: Scottish wealth seems to be lower than they have been claiming: “More than 70% of Scotland’s total economic output – excluding banking and finance and the public sector – is controlled by non-Scottish-owned firms, according to Scottish government data.”


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