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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Importance Of Having An Alternative To One's Own Government

    Dan Hannan did a post on English nationalism and how it need not be a problem for the union. Also pointing out that , depending on date and poll chosen, there can be a larger proportion of English than Scots who would like separation.
    I put up this comment which I would like to keep available:
I think that true federation (now usually called confederation) between equal states who have the right to leave and thus stay together voluntarily is the most stable and happy system. It also means that different areas can try different policies & see what works (this is known elsewhere as the scientific method).

Britain currently falls short of this because we don't have legislative equality between the parties - Scots/Welsh/Irish MPs can legislate over England but not vice versa and on the other hand because England is so overwhelming. By acknowledging Scotland's right to secede the UK is recognising confederal rights, as Spain for example does not, which is a very good thing.
The ideal would be a fully confederal constitution in which England was the original 7 kingdoms or something similar but it is clear the English don't want that much devolution and as a Scot I have no right to demand it even though I think it would be a better union. However I do think I have the right to ask that any devolved England would include a constitutional right for any region to become a devolved state in its own right if the people ever wanted it. With that included I think we would have one of the most perfect unions the world has ever seen.
      Incidentally this means that the UK would already count as a confederation, since the right of secession has been conceded. Canada too.  The US is not because, since the civil war, that right has been denied. It also classifies the Commonwealth as, possibly, a very loose confederation though it also classifies as no sort of union at all.
       I have previously written, favourably, of the US splitting into its constituent states. Certainly the fact that the central government has the power to enforce rules across the country has accelerated the growth of government power.
       I believe that the most progressive eras of humanity have been when political power had a more limited jurisdiction than the common culture - thus in Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy and Europe from about 1500 to 1945, people dissatisfied with their liberty (or sometimes the reverse as in the Puritans who went to America because the religious laws were not sufficiently restrictive for them) could move elsewhere. If, even a few states split off from the US and succeeded in attracting both industry and "politically incorrect" intellectual discussion, it would be a useful lesson for the rest, which is why the right of secession is important even when, perhaps particularly when, it is not used.
       And not off the topic I would like to mention the difficulties Mr Snowden is having getting some country to piss off the USA by giving him asylum, simply because he revealed the now scarcely denied amount of Big Brother control the USA has over its citizens (and those of other countries).
       Compare and contrast with the freedom even America's allies acted with over Paul Robeson a few decades ago, in an analogous situation, the main difference being in the level of state power demonstrated. That this power is to being exercisable all over the world, in the interest of protecting hidden state power, shows how very close the entire world is to a unitary government from which, unlike even the Roman, Chinese and Nazi empires, there would be no "elsewhere" to escape to.  

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