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Opinion: The rise of nation states

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Scottish independence is not a thing of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, but a current reality.The BBC reports that a vote is set to happen next September on the matter of Scottish independence.The ‘yes or no’ question that will be asked is, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

There has been a union between England and Scotland for 300 years and independence has always been a Scottish dream. There are internal debates currently going underway, but what is interesting is the intervention of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the matter of Scotland becoming a member of the European Union.

Instead of an independent Scotland going through the regular channels of EU membership, it would just revise its current involvement that it has with the United Kingdom representation at the EU.

All it would have to do is, “comply with Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty—the legal basis for enlarging the union. The White Paper, published on Tuesday, said an Article 48 deal—which would see a revision of the UK’s treaties, with Scotland retaining membership—would suffice,” according to The Scotsman.

EU entry, for regular admission, requires the approval of all 28 members. If Scotland is required to go through the regular channels of approval, as Spain is asking, then it would not be approved.

This is because Spain does not want to approve an independent country that has seceded from another country.

The Guardian notes, “[Rajaoy’s] intervention confirms long-held suspicions that the Madrid government will resist the Scottish government’s plans because of its rejection of Catalonian independence, which has seen large marches in Barcelona in favour of secession.”

Spain has its own Scotland: Catalonia. The Catalan independence movement has being holding protests in Barcelona for quite a long time. Rajoy doesn’t want to approve Scotland because he would be seen as hypocritical to recognize Scotland while not recognizing Catalonia.

Catalan independence is based on the idea that the Catalans have a shared identity–their own distinct dialect, or language, their own culture—that is vastly different than Spain’s. The idea of nations, culture and language over states, political boundaries and government plays a heavy role in the Catalan independence.

The actions of the Spanish have revealed something more complex than just calling for Scotland to go through the regular channels of approval. It reveals the idea that power is at the center of everything. Spain wants to maintain its power over Catalonia and they cannot do that logically while approving the Scottish entry into the EU.

The idea of nations would be very interesting if applied to the United States. The individual states of the US are far more complicated than ‘red’ or ‘blue’. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says, “North American can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.”

If America became multiple countries based on those nation states, government would run far more smoothly. It would be a Rousseauian utopia where different governments would handle internal affairs far easier and would interact with each other much like the United Nations or the European Union. Decentralization would allow for more political freedom and opportunity for oppressive government because problems such as gay marriage, abortion and the role of government would be discussed among similar minded people rather than staunch opposites who can rarely comprise and leads our country into a gridlock on deciding issues.

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