Politics: Independence is Inherently Democratising, All Devolution Is.

The belief that society ought to manifest democracy seems ubiquitous by default, yet the obvious opportunity to promote its enhancement, or at least, apply its principle, appears less inspiring.


Alas, the people of Scotland, yet to enter the polling booth, have already seen their referendum compromised by forces out-with their control. The ever popular and ever viable devo-max option was aborted in a political deal between the SNP and the Coalition Government (which Labour supported) – it was a deal remote from any meaningful democracy, but the parties involved were democratically elected, only you didn’t choose to now have less choice.


The forfeit of Devo-Max is old news, but its something worth contemplating as the referendum approaches. It was indeed a dramatic rejection of democracy, one worth remembering and reiterating. Significantly, the event illuminated how very shallow the commonplace conception of democracy is, if that conception translates to one of the current representative democracy employed, whereby the public elects which party to represent them. To have political choices dictated and prescribed from which the public may express a preference seems largely undemocratic, let alone awash in contempt for those it purports to serve. Is the public to be reared and tamed? Is it so void of creative and moral substance that their democracy can only be represented at safe distance?

For democracy to flourish in any serious capacity would require the aforementioned system to be substituted with some degree of direct democracy; whereby individuals are free to participate fully in what is produced and how it is distributed. People would be autonomous, and this ought to be what the statesmen should aspire to, if their affairs are indeed their concerns. It’s a simple and natural notion for people to determine the operations of the economic institutions they associate themselves with, and in turn their own lives.

The question of whether to devolve Britain’s London-dominated concentration of power to enable an Independent Scottish State is in principle, parallel to any question of regionalization or worker control. All such progressions emanate from the precept, that the further power is devolved in any given society, so too is the associated responsibilities of its wielders. The result of its application is the neutralization of power, an equilibrial authority, which rings true the fundamental criterion for any democracy.


It’s ironic that a referendum posing a question of self-determination has been so preemptively restrained and filtered. Is there not something in and of devo-max’s malicious absence that would inspire people to acquire more control of their own lives, possibility that the ‘yes’ vote invites?

Indeed the referendum provides yet another opportunity to devolve a concentration of power and promote such autonomy. If a ‘yes’ vote prevails, the populace of the British archipelago will be divided between two exclusive State governments, namely Westminster and Holyrood. Not only does this follow from the principle of direct democracy, at a more basic level, dividing any populacebetween multiple means of governance can only be democratizing. That is to say, when power is devolved the ambitions and aspirations of people are less subject to others elsewhere – after all, it was a majority in Scotland who didn’t vote for a Conservative government in the 2010 elections.


Of course, achieving independence does not necessarily invite further internal devolution. It is perfectly conceivable for the government of an Independent Scotland to resist the self-determination of smaller communities and prohibit further autonomy; worker control say. However, the opportunity to pursue the opposite is just as real, and the decision to do so will be for those whom it concerns.


Individuals have to decide how meaningful is the democracy they wish to live under. The premise of the referendum has been tainted for a while now, and if democracy is to be taken seriously, there should be no question of how to vote; for me only a ‘yes’ vote fulfills the principles we value in democracy, and shortens the deficit between you and your will. It will see an independent Scotland materialize direct democracy, but only in and of its own establishment. The Scottish State will be an awesome distance from any ideal, but a fairer and democratising development, nonetheless. The question posed, is whether democracy is a value we wish to preserve, or something all too dangerous.

Liam Doherty


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