Psychologists tell us the mental process called rationalisation is a term which actually does not mean ‘being rational’.
We seek to justify our irrational beliefs or attitudes with high-minded motives. This leads to the No voter principle that somehow self-governance will only result in chaos because protest does more harm than good. All revolutions overturn the status quo. I can’t imagine Trotsky in the pub with Lenin saying, “This revolution idea, the Royal family are going to be ever so upset. Is there not another way we can get out of abject poverty without storming the Winter Palace?”
Psychologists suggest the real reason people voted No may be cowardice. They believed what they wanted to believe because it made them feel comfortable and safe. We rationalise the discreditable motive by inventing a creditable reason.
A profound difference.
Scotland wants to re-join the international community as a mature nation state, no longer given growth retarding injections to keep it ever needful of a nanny, whereas England looks inwards preferring isolationism: east, west, England’s best.
That said, we had better be able to define what we mean by ‘better in Europe.’ To me it means cosmopolitanism, disappearing borders, common institutions, harmony, and shared prosperity.
Semanticists can always make it clear to you that black is white.
- Fanatical unionists are guaranteed to show,
- That ‘Yes’ is but a nearer form of ‘No.’
Scotland the fascist state
Defining is imperative when throwing abuse around. Take the ubiquitous use of ‘fascist’ thrown around Twitter every day. It can cover brutal repressive regimes, the authoritarian, the anti-socialistic, militaristic nationalism, various types of communism, or the democratically elected government of Scotland. Those who bandy it about like sweeties actually mean fascism as practised by Germany, and probably Italy during the Second World War. They forget Franco’s Spain where half a million ex-pat Brits reside without paying their taxes.
To define Scotland ‘enjoys the greatest powers of any devolved nation’ actually means fewer rights than the people of Quebec, Gibraltar, and in many regards Northern Ireland which is almost an autonomous state by itself. According to extreme unionists, Scotland is not a nation but a subsumed province. That’s their definition of 1,000 years of history.
Exactly what do you mean by, ‘what do you mean?’
I recall the BBC political interviewer Gordon Brewer asking an SNP panellist to define what he meant by a ‘fairer and more just society.’ As the SNP politician stumbled over what he thought was obvious to everybody, it was obvious to me he had not thought it through beyond that slogan.
A common lack of definition heard often is over ‘values’ – our beliefs. Those values, we are told, are ‘values’ shared by people in the North of England, ‘so what’s so special about Scotland?’ – as if those living in Newcastle and Leeds are a nation state unto themselves, one with lochs and mountains.
It is true we share a common humanity – put crudely, the leveller ‘we all use the toilet’, but that is not the same as political ambitions, or definitions of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
We’re told we have full democracy. What is the definition of full democracy? It seems to mean one thing to a unionist, another to an independence supporter. The former tells us genuine self-governance is impossible if Scotland retains the pound sterling. But what is his definition of self-governance? Sharing the pound sterling does not compromise basic freedom of choice. We choose which currency we wish to use. And we choose how to spend that money and our taxes. Interest rates fixed by the bank of England still leaves an independent Scotland with options as to how to mitigate anti-social constraints.
The democracy we are supposed to be delirious about doesn’t include keeping all we earn, vetoing wars Westminster instigates end-to-end, or having the right to administrate welfare. We are suppose to be sanguine about England exercising those powers because we are incapable of making grown-up decisions.
I know my mind!
The point of this stroll around definitions is, we ought to know what we’re discussing before we discuss it. The philistine attitude to art, “If I think it’s nice, it’s nice” is a denial of understanding, a surface, bombastic, go by the looks, assessment of things.
When a political opponent dives in with the blunt dismissal of an absolutist, acting like a frog leaping from a safe lily pad into the beak of a waiting heron, he has forgotten to ask for, and acknowledge he understands, our meaning.
When we use abstractions, words like democracy, freedom, capitalism, socialism, or communism, be sure our meaning and theirs is clear. If it isn’t, don’t argue, move on.
It was French philosopher Voltaire who said, “Before I will discuss anything with you, you must define your terms.” And so should we.