21st Century Wire
Pandora’s Box was not entirely closed and will stay half-open.
The future can be a scary thing. Ditto with change, just ask The Royal Family. Despite the excitement and the bells of freedom ringing loud, in the end, Scottish voters opted for, “No: it’s not worth the risk.”
Had it been a ‘YES’ vote, these columns would be filled with stacks of other writings, but it happened to be a ‘NO’ vote which brings us to a different conversation. The independence and autonomy movement is a global wave and it’s gaining size and speed. The Scottish vote was a demonstration to London, and to the rest of the world. Watch out, as there will be more such referendums sprouting up in Europe and further afield.
A Close Run Thing
Glasgow, by far Scotland’s biggest city, voted ‘Yes’ to independence by a large majority, including 71% of under-20’s who voted Yes.
For UK premier David Cameron and especially for English Labour Party politicians who depend on their “Scottish safe seats” to maintain the party’s physical shape – it was a close run thing.
Talk about “political road maps” which do not exist for Scotland but supposedly exist for solving puzzles like the Israel-Palestine conflict. Their are hidden roles in these road maps, which in Scotland’s case includes “more devolution” is their proven ability to do nothing, waste time, and delay the future – but they can never avoid it.
Agents of Change
Let’s put aside for a moment the debate over whether or not an independent Scotland would be sucked into the Eurozone in order to survive and pay off the national debt, some £120 billion of junk it inherited from London. Debt and finance are important, but they are only part of the picture.
Now that the vote is over, all focus is now on Devolution, or ‘Devo Max’. Westminster Mandarins are scrambling as we speak. Rationally speaking, all this heroic time-wasting procedure is nothing more than pent-up and frustrated change. This only lasts a certain amount of time before there is the predictable “break in series”. Here’s on analogy: stack up enough agents of frustrated change and throw them down on the floor like broken glass or a flask of mercury – and don’t be surprised when the change which happens is what we call “inchoate”, meaning unpredictable and uncertain, not fully developed, and often a bad surprise.
Changing from a known future to the exact opposite – which is an unknown and undefined future – is part and parcel of the general retreat from rationality in our western society, and increasingly worldwide. This is future avoidance, to be sure, but not future prevention. The root cause is simple – fear of the future.
Already more than 20 years ago, US historian Francis Fukuyama enjoyed massive book sales and huge media exposure for his theory that “history is dead”. Later he denied it, or in theocratic terms he “recanted”, but the elite and media support he got was a telltale sign that western fear of the future is very real. If history is dead, there is No Future.
No Future was a key one-liner of Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, in the early 1980s when she fervently promoted the abstract concept of a ‘New Economy’. From that moment on, her English Tory party was dead in Scotland. Today it has almost zero Scottish seats. The English Labour Party aren’t doing too much better, holding on for dear life in Scotland, for a while.
The Scottish vote may only have been a test balloon for the Establishment, but something else is definitely afoot in Britain. Successive Labour and Tory governments have been slowly dismantling the British Constitution and replacing it with something unrecognizable. Add to the an absentee monarch drunk on Dubonnet and Gin, and you have a major crisis brewing for the Constitutional Monarchy.
Why are English Tories so unpopular in Scotland? Ask Scottish people.
Next, you can ask them why they have to suffer rule by a Westminster government dominated by Tories – who almost totally do not exist in the Scottish political landscape. Their race and species is extinct! English voters may be sufficiently bemused (or stupid) to go on electing the hand-me-downs of the Thatcher era, but that music stopped playing in Scotland – at least 20 years ago. This is a fact.
Ten years after Mrs Thatcher quivered with passion announcing there is No Future especially if you are Scottish, Francis Fukuyama published his theory which gave a major role to the New Economy as an agent in his claimed process of “historicide” or the death of history. His theory was a useful intellectual prop for the already-waning “economic revolution” started by “neolib” politicians such as Margaret
Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (photo, above). What a power couple. Old things like “dirty industries” except of course Scottish North Sea oil, were ‘haram’ in the newspeak of Thatcher. Redundant Scottish workers could crawl away and die.
Obviously if we have no past and no future, and inhabit the Eternal Present, then there will be plenty of time for semi-hysterical politicians like Mrs Thatcher “to work miracles”, and will remove any need for historical justification of their New Economy.
In the UK as in the USA, the defenders and promoters of “new liberalism” or neoliberalism claimed they were operating a strict “economic agenda”. This was completely false. They certainly included a social, moral and ideological agenda, of ‘Get Rich Quick’ at the same time. Charles Ponzi, and later on Bernie Madoff were there to show them the way!
From the start the New Economy was totally rejected by Scottish voters, and had a “metaphysical domain” involving complicated things like ontology and epistemology. But this very simply meant dumping millions of persons in the gutter. There was “No Alternative”! It was “normal”.
In this Utopia of The New, old metrics of the economy, like national budgets and trade accounts, are consider “old stuff”. They are not wanted on board – like the human victims of the New Economy scam.
Keep Scamming – Never Stop!
It was soon impossible for political animals like Thatcher to explain and communicate their “moral agenda” using mass politics and mass communication, and in Scotland she threw in the towel as fast as her Tory party. As with England, where it was easier to get votes due to the gullibility and self-satisfaction of the English, the same problem was explaining why the metaphysical and ideological domain, called “values”, and the empirical fact-based domain, called “knowledge” were fantastically different. Why Scotland should produce oil to prop up England’s New Economy, and then have its own industries, jobs and lives destroyed to do it – was “rather hard to justify”.
With a very high voter turnout and a very solid 45% of Yes votes in Scotland, the cat is now out of the bag. The English can keep their New Economy and their “multicultural” ghettos, and leave the bankers, brokers and trader parasites to suck the lifeblood out of the economy. Scotland doesn’t want it, or need it.
The votes prove that a defective and degenerate “great new trick for the economy and society” will not work for Scotland. The overlay of rigged markets “creating value” and the underlay of rigged social and metaphysical values never worked in Scotland. The split personality of western society and its culture has deepened and widened and the Scottish referendum vote proves it.
Until well into the 18th century in Europe, social philosophy and moral values and the pursuit of meaning were treated as part and parcel of what were later called the ’empirical sciences’. They were lumped together as “natural philosophy”. Fact-based science and the central concerns of metaphysics including ontology and cosmology, were then recognized as different and separate. Moral problems, for example, could at best only be partly-resolved by fact-based empirical science.
As we know, western society simultaneously purports to be “knowledge based”, while its political systems and social philosophy are claimed to be “value based”. This is a dangerous mix-and-mingle when a defective ideology like Thatcher’s Tory doctrines take hold. The “value based goals”, such as ‘creating wealth’ mutated into pumping up equity indexes (as a surrogate), and replaced the main or exclusive “knowledge based” parameter of economic performance, measured by economic data.
In other words, lazy politicians saw an opportunity to ditch common sense and due diligence, and replace it with an infantile version of reality. In this sense, British PM David Cameron is definitely a chip off the old block.
This data was declared by the “Neolibs” to be unimportant and unrelated and invalid for their broken backed post-1980s New Economic Revolution!
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
By 2008 and the supposed “Lehman Bros moment” – in fact a global financial crisis – we mutated from the Neoliberal ‘End of History’ to the new and improved ‘No Economic Future’. The real neoliberal end of times religion.
The 1980’s political and ideological fantasy called No Future, by Mrs Thatcher herself and following the post-2008 crisis – is now the reality of No Economic Future.
Scottish political economists surmise the damage may only have been due to English politicians desperately trying to avoid the future, a kamikaze act only in self-defence, a call to arms after pushing hard on the panic button to save their own dirty skins – but the result was a very bad surprise.
Whatever the upstream causes, we have to return to Goethe’s parable of 1797, of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, to understand what happened. Goethe’s parable draws on myths as ancient as those of the Sisyphus Complex. Like its ancient forbears it says “Don’t mess around with what you don’t know”. In other words, bad surprises tend to be recurrent – not good surprises.
Originally, perhaps only an attempt to avoid or delay the future and “protect the pyramid of power”, the process multiplied itself and ran away out of control. Scotland was collateral damage for the failed English attempt to defeat the future – by preventing it from happening.
Accelerated by the later Internet revolution, the process became ever more like the Goethe fable. The urgency, for the western elites of the 1980’s and 1990’s was to smother and douse the fires of troubling empirical knowledge proving that their New Economy was a total flop from the moment it started.
It was a disaster for society. To be sure, we had bloodbath epic showpiece battles like the 1991 Liberation of Kuwait – with more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, but this was all for oil and free flowing market principles – exactly the same reasons that condemned Scotland to mass unemployment. Unlike in Iraq, there will be resistance, and it is coming.
American writer Charles Johnson in his 1986 short-story collection, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Tales and Conjurations’, used the image of a bag of broken glass or mercury deliberately thrown down on the floor, causing a chaotic mix in which liberationist as well as reactionary and random violence strands multiply simultaneously in a context of social confusion, and out of control. Not “seemingly out of control”. No, out of control.
So we we have a Sorcerer’s Apprentice fable for our times. What started out with the early 1980’s elite quest to steamroll a new economy and ramrod a new pseudo-society into place – where childish belief supplants knowledge and credulity replaces conviction – broke out to spheres as widespread as morals, international relations and geopolitical change.
Politicians like Mrs Thatcher flirted with chaos on a daily basis – now her inheritors will have it.
Whether you agree with the break-up of the United Kingdom or not, Scotland has begun to test an old imperial system.
The trick now is how much will the people be allowed to shape their future, as opposed to the elite, self-appointed, rightful rulers of the planet?
READ MORE SCOTLAND NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Scotland Files