In Los Angeles making a telephone call on the 4th of July, Independence Day created to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I got an African-American operator on the line. I asked, “How come you’re on duty? Should you not be celebrating Independence Day?” There was a long pause before the dry southern response arrived:
“Not all of us celebrate independence, sir.”
Afterwards I thought hard about his remark. Native Indians must feel the same way.
A dictator’s day
Were I a dictator I’d slice the United States three ways, top to bottom. The West coast, California, I’d hand back to Mexicans whose land it once was, and that run it now, from cleaners, to agricultural workers, to mayors. (They owned Texas too but I need that for the next carve up.) The central section I would hand back to the native Indian tribes, so callously and cruelly near exterminated, dissipated and cheated. And the east coast I would gift to African-Americans as a heartfelt apology for slavery and segregation. That leaves us, the White guys to figure where we go. Well, partner … tough!
As for Scotland, there’s quite a debate doing the current rounds of instant opinion on the internet and Twitter. (For some reason we say ‘on’ and not ‘in’.) Some think the SNP should have a Referendum on its election manifesto every election, there as a matter of honour until independence is regained once and for all.
Others think tactically, that we should test the water first and then decide if a second referendum has the backing of the people. The SNP itself say they will act if they feel a groundswell of demand exists.
And yet another group advise being a feardie is safest; if we have a second referendum and lose, independence will be lost for another 100 years. ‘Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous, beastie, O what a panic’s in thy breastie.’
A second Referendum will occur when we demand one in sufficient numbers. Waiting for our elected representatives to make a move is too passive. It is up to us, and was always up to us, the electorate, to say when.
Democracy means agitating, and then testing our elected leaders to do the job they were elected to do, keeping them accountable, not allowing them freedom to implement the private agenda some had in their back pocket.
Shut up and shuffle along
We reject the spurious assertion that, having lost the first referendum, by a small enough margin to be significant, and a continuing threat to Unionists, Scotland should accept its own inflicted fate, shut up, and get on with paying its taxes to the UK Treasury.
That loss of sovereignty should be final is wholly unacceptable. It doesn’t square with the principles of democracy. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” No one expects Labour to announce a withdrawal from the next general election because they lost the last decisively and comprehensively. They are free to regroup and try again, but in this instance with fresh policies that are opposed to Tories policies. For Scotland’s second referendum the governing party, the SNP, there is a hurdle to overcome. It must produce an alternative to the Bank of England as lender of last resort.
England’s political parties are certain to repeat their savagery and deny us the bank’s support, the same UK bank Scotland helped to great wealth over three hundred years. That said, we can still use the pound but we must bolster it by another method.
Students of capitalist economies can look to South American countries once held fast locked into the US dollar, and how they have shaken off that tyranny in order to develop their economies, and re-establish democratic rights.
In 1997 Bolivian President Evo Morales helped form what we now know as the Cochabamba Declaration, in which the presidents and envoys of 12 countries agreed to study the idea of forming a continent-wide community similar to the European Union. Over the years greater co-operation than in the past has taken place issuing from that ideal. They have come a long way to achieve integration in South America, 500 years after the European conquests. Their new relationship has caused the USA to adjust its position and attitude. President Obama’s relaxation of aggression on Cuba is one indication change for the better can happen.
The subcontinent, from Venezuela to Argentina, is surely an example to the world on how to create an alternative future from a legacy of empire and terror. And their example is one reason I still support the European Union, despite the European Commission’s brutal handling of Greece’s financial woes. (Note: EU is different from EC.) And that is also why it is healthy for Scotland to team up with the Scandinavian countries, the Republic of Ireland, and damn it, Iceland too. They jail bankers in Iceland!
Those South American countries got together to help throw off the United States domination of the region by two major methods: planned military violence by support of internal or external insurgents, and economic suppression. Being half-Sicilian, I confirm the USA’s grip was like the mafia – they don’t like it when a ‘supplier’ steps out of line.
A lesson for Scotland.
You can achieve independence not by standing alone but by integration – hence my view we stay with the EU, and we negotiate a better trading treaty with England. Integration can not happen with a dominant nation that demands subservience, only when the two countries are equals and respect each other’s sovereignty.
And so to the core of this essay, frivolous as it might sound.
Personally, I want to see an annual Referendum day, a celebration of Scotland’s awakened confidence in itself, and its ability to govern itself once more. We keep it uppermost in everybody’s mind – a good ‘existential’ ploy, a word now very fashionable.
We should organise street parties, bunting, raffles, dancing, open discussions, lots of hugging and kissing, more dancing, concerts, pop and classic, jazz parades, even more dancing, acrobats, clowns, carnivals with extravagant floats, military men marching because they are alive and not for the dead, fireworks – happiness should abound. And when the day comes and we win back our rights, and that day will come, Referendum Day will be ‘Independence Day’, a national holiday. We might as well enjoy it now.
It should be as my wee grandson said, ‘a flag party.”
What have we to lose? We have everything to gain.