I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a fan of ‘Star Trek’. In my defence, I only like ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ and ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ though, so I think I narrowly miss being called a ‘Trekkie’. I hope…
Anyway, as other fans of the show will know, ‘Star Trek’ is set in a future in which Earth, having gone through millennia of conflicts, both local and worldwide, has come together in one unified voice and discarded the failed experiments of ‘countries’, capitalism and religion (that was Roddenberry’s wish at least. The studio did away with atheism against his specific instruction, creating spiritual and religion-based stories in the later series). What a lovely vision of the future he had – once we get past WW3 anyway!
But why is any of this relevant to the independence debate? Let me elucidate…
I’ve noticed several anti-independence/pro-union commentators stating that their main reason for opposing Scotland’s independence is that they want to see fewer borders and artificial divides between the peoples of the world – a very noble and worthy ideal to have, in my opinion. In fact, I too would like to see that, and not just because I want a ‘tricorder’!
There’s just one teeny tiny problem with such a grandiose, benevolent vision though. It is simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Not within any of our lifetimes anyway. We still can’t even get the Israelis to talk to the Palestinians as human beings, and this is AFTER the Jewish people of Europe were subjected to the holocaust.
Of course, I’m not saying that we should pack up and leave things the way they are. Disagreements around the world require speedy but sustainable solutions, and I’m not claiming to know how to achieve that.
Scotland’s place within the union cannot be compared to the Israel/Palestine conflict of course, and I wouldn’t for a second dare to insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting otherwise. I could just as easily have used any number of international ‘disagreements’ – Syria, North/South Korea, Somalia, Sudan/South Sudan, Chechnya, etc, etc. Compared to the vast majority of world citizens, we have a freedom that others can only dream of, and the ‘luxury’ of being able to live our lives without fear of a missile coming through our window. For that, I will always consider myself exceptionally lucky.
So why on Earth do I want to put up this seemingly unnecessary, artificial barrier between the people of Scotland and those in the rest of the UK? I don’t hate the English, Welsh or Northern Irish. I don’t have some overwhelming primitive urge to live with those who superficially resemble my appearance. So what is it?
It comes down one thing: democracy.
The ‘Star Trek’ Utopia doesn’t account for democracy. More importantly, it doesn’t account for differences, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, between different locales. A rule covering water conservation in the Atacama Desert makes no sense at all in Drumnadrochit, (aka ‘Damn-near-drookit’). Different areas/land-masses/countries NEED different governments – it’s a fact of life.
If we had one all-encompassing world government now, my voice, and yours, would be 1-in-7billion, give or take. As it is, in the UK my voice is 1-in-63million. An independent Scotland will see that cut to 1-in-5million. I’m somewhat of a lefty-anarchist at heart, and I see this as a natural branch of that – the greater my proportion of the representation on offer, the better.
So, we can watch ‘Star Trek’ (or not – I’m not forcing you!) and ooh and ah at the possibility of a perfect, Utopian future all we want, but it’s an unrealistic and, frankly, faulty system. In terms of world peace and the global removal of materialism, it’s a worthy goal, which will hopefully be achieved… one day. But in terms of real-life democracy in the here and now, it’s nothing more than naive fantasy.
Re-visiting WW2 for a moment – something unionists seem to think is strictly their territory, for some bizarre reason – we’re reminded why it was that the Allied forces fought the Nazi’s: to protect our freedoms and democracy (as well as free the countries and peoples persecuted – just a wee thing that’s often omitted!).
But what good is that democracy if people aren’t even willing to fight to improve it when given the chance? We are LOSING democracy in the UK at the moment: there are more peers in the House of Lords now than at any time in our past! UK politicians occasionally pledge to reform this antiquated system, yet when it comes down to it, they do nothing. Anyway, that’s a whole different topic in itself.
I want to feel like I have more of a say in what goes on, and voting Yes next September is the first step in doing that. I urge you to do the same. Take this opportunity to have more of a say in how things are done. Don’t just sit on the sidelines moaning about the UK Government making the poor poorer and the rich richer. Refuse to believe that poverty is just an unfortunate side effect of the modern world, or evidence of a ‘something for nothing’ society. Don’t accept that we have to have the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal sitting just outside Glasgow – who does that actually defend us from anyway??? Realise that we can live, work and play in a nation that is powered by clean, renewable sources, without relying on coal, gas or nuclear power. And learn that the people of Scotland – your neighbours, family, friends and YOU – are every bit as capable as anyone else in the world to make these decisions. We’re one of the richest countries on the planet – richer even than the mighty UK. That’s an independently verifiable fact, not Yes Scotland spin. There’s no need for poverty here, except to keep Labour politicians in votes.
Do it. Make it so.