The Breakdown of Nations

Leopold Kohr, friend of E.F. Schumacher, wrote an insightful book in the 1960's setting out a vision for the benefit of small, compact, homogeneous nations. His Chapter 11 (if I recall correctly) responded to the likelihood of his vision coming to pass with a singe word: No!

With the news that the Yes campaign in Scotland finds itself in the lead (though within the bounds of statistical error) and the natives of Catalonia restless, one wonders what Kohr would have made of this if he were still alive.

Reading a few excerpts of the relentless commentary, one thing is certain, not only does no one know the outcome, no one knows the outcome of the outcome. However, whatever the result on the 18th is, nothing ought to be the same again.

For it is clear that one of the attractions of independence is one (as Kohr rightly noted) of voice, of the felt opportunity it affords of participating again in a real conversation about one's future and the runaway world that we have created of globalisation, relentless economics and political nattering does not provide this (and Kohr would argue could not).

Real conversation requires a meaningful sense of experienced community within shared rules and freedom from alienation. It needs 'face time' - the opportunity to interact with one's representatives and create and witness to shared bonds. None of which is of course guaranteed by a small state but the prospect is moved nearer. It is this prospect that makes it so attractive.

So whatever the outcome only genuine subsidiarity will do. Decisions made as close as possible to those affected. A subsidiarity that is only made possible with a solidarity that seeks the common good. Otherwise the forces disrupting scale will only become more agitated not less with all the sad possibilities of real disintegration that entails.

Revolution is always a deceitful form of democratic renewal.


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