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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/20/14

"Think Locally, Act Globally": 6 Takeaways From The Scotland Vote

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The Scots who voted for independence were expressing both pride in their heritage and a desire for self-determination. Older leftists were and are naturally sympathetic to the impulse, since it drove most of the major anti-colonial movements of the 20th Century.

Reich also wrote this about Scotland:

"We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world -- in which language, religion, blood, and belief take prominence over nation states, which have grown less relevant as technology connects everyone and everything. America's new tribalism is seen most distinctly in politics, with one tribe (liberals, progressives, and Democrats) holding sharply different views and values than the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans) ... If Scotland can separate from England, will blue and red America eventually separate from each other?"

Some people may find this idea attractive, but the result could be chaos, oppression of minorities, and even crueler forms of economic injustice.

But, while "tribalism" is bad, the desire to control one's own destiny is not. Tribalism is the perversion of this impulse, and its domination by dark and negative influences. It's true that we must learn to address key issues on broader national and global scales. But the search for individual and collective identity is a basic human instinct, and it contains much that is positive and affirming.

Takeaway #3: We need to reconcile the natural human desire for autonomy with the need to think and act on a large scale. Which gets us to the next point ...

4. The Scottish independence movement appears to have achieved a major victory.

In order to stave off a secession vote, the leaders of all three British parties pledge to do more for Scotland. As a result, we will hear much about "devolution" in the weeks and months to come. That's the model in which regions are granted additional autonomy in return for remaining part of a larger nation-state as an economic and political entity.

It's possible that these leaders will renege on their promises, of course. But, assuming they don't, Great Britain may soon lead the globe in finding new ways to reconcile local autonomy with national unity. Developments there should be followed closely, as they will have a large impact on the future of the "think locally, act globally" movement.

5. Global elites have failed -- and they're worried.

Neil Irwin makes this observation in the New York Times:

"Scotland's push for independence is driven by a conviction -- one not ungrounded in reality -- that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the Eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time."

It's an excellent point. We've a rapidly increasing globalization of the economy, together with an increasing economic and political dominance of individual nation-states by plutocratic elites. As a result, discontent with the status quo is rising.

This discontent has not cohered into a broader trend the way that resentment of colonialism did in the 19th and 20th centuries -- at least not yet. The end result is therefore still unknown. It could lead to a balanced, positive outcome, as may prove to the case in Scotland. It could also lead to extended periods of instability, xenophobia, and demagogic political movement.

The Western political consensus which has served global elites so well is breaking down. The question is, What will replace it? Powerful people are clearly concerned. Otherwise we wouldn't have seen all three British political parties responding in unison. But what comes next?

6. People vote when they feel they have a say in their own destiny.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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