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Scottish Referendum Gives Reasons to be Hopeful
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Even though it ultimately failed at the ballot box, the recent campaign for Scottish independence should cheer supporters of the numerous secession movements springing up around the globe.

In the weeks leading up to the referendum, it appeared that the people of Scotland were poised to vote to secede from the United Kingdom. Defeating the referendum required British political elites to co-opt secession forces by promising greater self-rule for Scotland, as well as launching a massive campaign to convince the Scots that secession would plunge them into economic depression.

The people of Scotland were even warned that secession would damage the international market for one of Scotland’s main exports, whiskey. Considering the lengths to which opponents went to discredit secession, it is amazing that almost 45 percent of the Scottish people still voted in favor of it.

The Scottish referendum result has done little to discourage other secessionist movements spreading across Europe, in countries ranging from Norway to Italy. Just days after the Scottish referendum, the people of Catalonia voted to hold their own referendum measuring popular support for secession from Spain.

Support for secession is also growing in America. According to a recent poll, one in four Americans would support their state seceding from the federal government. Movements and organizations advocating that state governments secede from the federal government, that local governments secede from state governments, or that local governments secede from both the federal and state governments, are springing up around the country. This year, over one million Californians signed a ballot access petition in support of splitting California into six states. While the proposal did not meet the requirements necessary to appear on the ballot, the effort to split California continues to gain support.

Americans who embrace secession are acting in a grand American tradition. The Declaration of Independence was written to justify secession from Britain. Supporters of liberty should cheer the growth in support for secession, as it is the ultimate rejection of centralized government and the ideologies of Keynesianism, welfarism, and militarism.

Widespread acceptance of the principle of peaceful secession and self-determination could resolve many ongoing conflicts. For instance, allowing the people of eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine to decide for themselves whether to spilt into two separate nations may be the only way to resolve their differences.

The possibility that people will break away from an oppressive government is one of the most effective checks on the growth of government. It is no coincidence that the transformation of America from a limited republic to a monolithic welfare-warfare state coincided with the discrediting of secession as an appropriate response to excessive government.

Devolving government into smaller units promotes economic growth. The smaller the size of government, the less power it has to hobble free enterprise with taxes and regulations.

Just because people do not wish to live under the same government does not mean they are unwilling or unable to engage in mutually beneficial trade. By eliminating political conflicts, secession could actually make people more interested in trading with each other. Decentralizing government power would thus promote true free trade as opposed to “managed trade” controlled by bureaucrats, politicians, and special interests.

Devolution of power to smaller levels of government should also make it easier for individuals to use a currency of their choice, instead of a currency favored by central bankers and politicians.

The growth of support for secession should cheer all supporters of freedom, as devolving power to smaller units of government is one of the best ways to guarantee peace, property, liberty — and even cheap whiskey!

(Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Scotland, Secession 
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  1. IBC says:

    Americans who embrace secession are acting in a grand American tradition.

    This column makes me wonder about Rep. Paul’s opinion on Southern secession in the Civil War. I’m not implying anything about his beliefs, but I’m sure his son Rand will find it necessary to make some explicit statements of condemnation if this article gets any attention.

    I think there can be good reasons for secession but those reasons are very specific to each case and the argument presented here sounds doctrinaire. The points about free trade and small government are apt because those are two of the most popular policy cure-alls that political idealogues have been peddling since the 1970s (though I’m not necessarily calling Ron Paul an ideologue).

    Again, secession can work (e.g. Czechoslovakia or Norway and Sweden), but where are the final boundaries drawn if ever? Isn’t secessionism vulnerable to something like gerrymandering? For example, if the population of the province of Quebec as a whole, votes to secede from Canada, does northern Quebec then have the right to secede from the rest of the province if a majority there disagrees? What about Montreal? What about one neighborhood in Montreal? Who gets to decide? Do voting districts always have to be historically defined even if they marginalize the political desires of a significant percentage of the people who live there?

    Just because people do not wish to live under the same government does not mean they are unwilling or unable to engage in mutually beneficial trade.

    That’s true, but is it then more likely that they’ll still choose free trade? And while splitting up larger countries into smaller countries would surely reduce the powerbase of certain politicians, does the overall numbers of politicians and bureacrats actually shrink when a country secedes? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but unfortunately, based on this column, Ron Paul doesn’t seem to either.

    Also, it’s a small point but doesn’t “whiskey” with an “e” come from Ireland?

  2. Gypsy says:

    Are you seriously implying that Dr. Paul condones slavery by insinuating his supposed support for the Southern secession leading to the U.S. Civil War? (Because it wasn’t just about “states’ rights”, of course, it was about states’ right to maintain legal slavery.) At any rate, I think you are waaaaaaaaay off base. You are basically putting words in his mouth where no such words existed, or were even implied.
    I’m not of Scottish descent, but for some reason I was devastated that Scotland didn’t muster the votes it needed to secede from the UK. (I guess I just like the thought of the Scots metaphorically flipping off the English.) Then Wales could have followed…making Charlie the Prince of Nothing…who knows, perhaps even Northern Ireland could have been returned to its rightful “owners”. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue, one on par with Palestine/Israel.
    I’ve long thought that here in Amerika, we are too large, and with too diverse a population in regards to political bent, to be governed successfully as one nation. I’d like to see, for instance, my state, The Mitten, along with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio become the Great Lakes States. (We don’t want Illinois and New York.) With the exception of Michelle Bachman, most of us are fairly reasonable people. The Fauxgressives can have the New England States; the neocons the Deep South States; one gets my drift. California would be its own country.
    Anyways, IBC, go have yourself another shot of whiskey. Or whisky. Your call.

  3. roulade says:

    Spot on, Ron, except Scotland produces “whisky”. Viva Catalonia!

  4. Travis says:

    The leaders of the Scottish secession movement were leftists who wished to remain under the yolk of the EU , hoping for handouts from Germany to remain solvent while they continued using the British pound.

    Would make more sense if the English kicked Scotland out of the UK and left the EU, I am still not sure why the English wanted the Scots to remain part of the UK.

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