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31 August 2014


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Our farm had a German Catholic neighbor to the east and a German Lutheran to the west. They somehow viewed us, Norwegian skeptics though nominally Lutheran, as a neutral party. Almost 400 years after the wars of the reformation these two 'Christian' families hated each other to the extent they wouldn't speak to each other. I well remember old man Schaefer coming up to me while I was mowing hay and tell me to tell old man Knobblesdorf if he didn't get his cow out of Schaefer's corn Knobblesdorfs would be eating fresh beef tomorrow, and he said it with such real venom the hate was palpable. Which is my long-winded way of saying I appreciate the animosity of Scots... it amazes me they get on as well as they seem to do.


All, Two further thoughts crossed my mind in regard to the metaphor of “the toolshed.” This is up today: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html
One quote from it is this brief bit:
“Saudi Arabia's internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom's doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.
“One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader -- amongst many -- of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)
“The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz's subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse -- and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export -- by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world. “

My second thought comes from closer to home: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballot_or_the_Bullet
"’The Ballot or the Bullet’" is the name of a public speech by human rights activist Malcolm X. In the speech, which was delivered on April 3, 1964, at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, Malcolm advised African Americans to judiciously exercise their right to vote, but he cautioned that if the government continued to prevent African Americans from attaining full equality, it might be necessary for them to take up arms. It was ranked 7th in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by 137 leading scholars of American public address….

“On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X announced his separation from the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist religious organization for which he had been the spokesman for nearly a decade. The Nation of Islam, which advocated on behalf of African Americans, had significant disagreements with the Civil Rights Movement. Whereas the Civil Rights Movement advocated on behalf of integration and against segregation, the Nation of Islam favored separatism. One of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement was to end disfranchisement of African Americans, but the Nation of Islam forbade its members from participating in the political process.”

Abu Sinan

I am hoping and praying for a yes vote. I have spent a lot of time in Scotland and hope my next stay is in an independent Scotland. The next step is a 32 couny Ireland, God willing.

Margaret Steinfels

Strikes me that the quote from Christine Helms in 'Memory is the Collective Toolshed," applies to Ukraine as well as the various pieces of GB.

I am finally getting into Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin." Maybe descendents of the Russian immigrants from Stalin's time should be grandfathered into Ukraine but they have a lot of chutzpah labeling the Ukrainians as descendents of the Nazis when many of the separatists, in Snyder's telling, must be descendents of the Stalinists.


Informal poll taken on trip this past week on British Airways and through London(twice)- in favor of independence.


Actually, as my English nephew explained to me, the Union Flag (jack is for ships) also included St Patricks cross in addition to St George's and St Andrews. Also, the niece pointed out to me that i had been flying the British flag upside down. Yes, you can, it is not symmetrical.



Colonel: An independent Scotland might well be a very good thing - and for the English quite as much as the Scots. Or maybe not so good for the English as it might well lead to the Torys being permanently ensconced in Westminster. Then again if the English persist in voting for what has become a party of spivs they deserve what they get.

Personally I hope the Scots vote for independence.

The Welsh I just don't see it. They seem more than happy with what they've got - a form of home rule.

As for Ulster - The Good Friday Agreement is in force, once there's a majority in the Six Counties favour of British withdrawal the British has promised to withdraw. If they fail to keep that promise there'll be another IRA campaign and this time the IRA would be swimming in a demographic sea in which the nationalist community are a majority.

By all accounts the Good Friday Agreement is working very well. I would sincerely hope that when it comes to it that the British (??? Just English by then ???) government won't engage in its usual habit when it comes to Ireland of stabbing the Irish in the back. It's not worked well for the last few generations and there's no reason to believe it will ever work again.

As a wider point - A break up of the current British state might be very good for the rest of Europe. At present they've got way too much influence and have done serious damage to European integration. A Europe in which the British could no longer act as a Trojan horse for the seemingly increasingly deranged American neocon regime would be a Europe that might be forced to actually develop and pay for its own defense. At present that's not going to happen an Anglo-Saxon withdrawal might be a very good thing indeed for all concerned.



"IMO Scotlamd will not vote in the majority for independence."

Col Lang, I agree completely with your reasoning, but nevertheless come to the opposite conclusion. I think the people of Scotland will vote for independence exactly because they seek to maintain the status quo, and because their collective memory prods them to do so.

Over the last 200 years, Scottish nationalism was historically always confined to a small minority of ethno-geographic revolutionaries who campaigned on a platform of increasingly distant abstractions like William Wallace, the Clearances, and the Stone of Destiny. Nationalism was more about independence of spirit and culture rather than any realistic vision of political separation. Scotland was a proud part of the Empire and Great Britain, as evidenced especially in Scotland’s martial s accomplishments under the Union Jack.

This all changed however in the 1980s with Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was a true revolutionary radical – she systematically broke down and dismantled post-war socialist (small “s”) British society and did so to the extreme in Scotland. Whatever one thinks of Thatcher and her policies in an academic sense, it is hard to underestimate the trauma Scots feel was done to them by her, a fact that is certainly born out in the outcomes. Scottish nationalism was nothing until Thatcher, but when she closed the mines, broke the unions, and centralized power away from local councils to Westminster, she kickstarted the nationalist movement in Scotland.

This is the irony, which is why I think Scots will vote Yes on Sept 18. Scottish nationalism today is not about Braveheart or ethnic chauvinism, it’s actually about maintaining the status quo. Scots – like many in the UK outside of London – would like to return to ‘old’ post-war Britain, where civic pride and collective, community-based welfare was a higher priority than profit making or ladder climbing. This is the collective memory the nationalist are appealing to, and if they are successful in doing so they will win.

This is why I think so much of the debate has been about practicalities – because almost everyone is agreed on the fact that Scotland and most Scots are quite sick of being led down a road to perdition by Tories and their New Labour look-a-likes. The only question in most people’s mind is whether an independent Scotland could actually work. This has to do with Scots inherent conservatism, especially the Presbyterians among them. This also probably explains why Catholics and those of Irish descent poll much more to the nationalist side – they are a bit more willing to throw caution to the wind in this respect.

Finally, just on one note of practicalities – Scotland already has and always has had a separate Health Service (the Scottish NHS), although the issue of policing and other such services is a concern. The issue of shared martial history is important, but London did piss on this when they got rid of the Black Watch and unified all Scottish forces into one regiment and so is probably less of an issue than it might have been.

Bottom line is that had David Cameron let Scotland vote for greater autonomy (“Devolution-Max” as it was called), the Scots would have stayed in the Union. But the No campaign has done a good job of reminding Scots of all the reasons why they hate Thatcher and the Tories and thus rule from faraway London, and so I think they will vote Yes. Good on them if they do.



I literally have a foot in both the Hieland and Sassenach camps so I have mixed feelings. pl


And America refuses to sanction Scotland style self determination in Eastern Ukraine?



And to add further to your point, I would argue a good portion of the UK north of the "City" actually sympathise with Scotland for precisely the reasons you highlight: just read the comments online in UK newspapers from northerners(English) who half-jokingly ask if they can join the Scots in breaking away from London. There is a reason UKIP made noise in the recent elections: The rest of the country is fed up with London and its policies. I imagine it's the same animosity many regions in "flyover" USA feel towards Washington D.C.

The Twisted Genius


I pity those who don't immerse themselves in history. It could be the history of your ancestors, the place where you grew up or the place where you live now. You are so much richer if you study all three.

A note from my personal history. My partner, a native German, and I were developing a Pole and his native Russian wife for recruitment in 1990. Our conversations would often center on our varying heritages. We were fairly well along in the development phase when the four of us were standing on the S-Bahnhof platform in Berlin. I nudged "Jerzy" and pointed to the Bahnhof sign: Berlin-Grunewald. He smiled in immediate acknowledgment. His wife looked at us and asked what we were smiling about. Jerzy replied,"This is our history. You wouldn't understand." We were, of course, referring to the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 where the combined Lithuanian-Polish armies broke the back of the Teutonic Knights. I knew the deal was sealed and I recruited him at the next meeting.


The ECONOMIST said it best:
A "yes" (for independence) is a vote from the heart.
A "no" is a vote from the head.
Give the Scots back their welfare state - without the pound sterling, no Euro zone membership, without the money from England, diminishing North Sea oil revenue.
See how long it lasts.
Thatcher tried to drag them into the global economy and they're still kicking and screaming.



My sympathy is with the Scottish nationalists. I don't believe they will get another opportunity for several generations if the majority of Scots vote to remain in the union.

Pat makes an important observation "Most people in every country favor the status quo whatever it is." Charles Hugh Smith has a few thoughts on the Status Quo.



In reply to tv 31 August 2014 at 10:04 PM

In case you haven't noticed. The economies that went down the neocon route such as the USA and England/Wales, were raped and robbed, in fact they're still being raped and robbed. The Scots still have an industrial base - not much of one but it's still there. Far more importantly they've got a GOOD educational system one that produces secondary school graduates who can do things like read, and write, and do simple mental arithmetic, in fact they can do equations without needing a calculator to do them. Unlike their English coaevals who say things to me like (I've actually had this said to me!!!!) "I can't read joined-up writing". English kids can't do joined up thinking either shameful waste of good human beings.

The Scots will be way better off without what is rapidly becoming a 5th rate economy and a 6th rate educational system to say nothing of the 7th rate entrenched politicians dragging them down. And no I'm not Scots.

cville reader

Unlike their English coaevals who say things to me like (I've actually had this said to me!!!!) "I can't read joined-up writing".

Are you refering to cursive writing? The public schools where I reside have stopped teaching this skill to young people. That means, quite literally, some children don't know how to sign their names.

David Habakkuk

dubaltach, civille reader,

For what it is worth, comparative analysis of educational achievements shows negligible differences between Scotland and other parts of the U.K. It also suggests that devolution has made next to no difference to Scottish educational performance, one way or the other.

(See http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/education-in-scotland-performance-in-a-devolved-policy-area/ .)

It is also perhaps worth mentioning that the figure who has been attempting to restore traditional disciplines in British education is the recently displaced Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gove – a unionist Scot. I can't stand the man, but if you talk to people who have to cope with problems of schools in London, you tend to find very ambivalent attitudes.

One salient difference between the Scots and English education systems does however need stressing. In England, tuition fees for university education are a major financial burden for many middle class families, as well as a reason why many families without means cannot afford to have their children go to university.

By contrast, in Scotland tuition fees are still paid by the state. Moreover, any citizen of any EU country enjoys free tuition – apart from the English, and I think other inhabitants of the U.K.

So an old Viennese friend of ours can have his son educated free at Stirling University – while the children of anyone in London would have to pay.

This is why rather a lot of people on this side of the border are inclined to think – let the Scots cling to their socialist traditions, if they want to: but if they want to, let them pay for it.

And to be blunt, there are quite a lot of people who are in no way Thatcherites -- who cordially loathe the spivs now running the Tory Party -- who would be eminently happy to see the Scots disappear.


In reply to cville reader 01 September 2014 at 12:30 PM

Yup. Handwriting or script or cursive writing or any of the various names used for it. I don't know where you live (and it's none of my business) but assuming that you're from the USA. Hmmmmmmmmmm cville Charlotteville, Charlottes ville? As I say none of my business I'd be furious about that. If they can't even sign their name it's no exaggeration to say that the current educational system in wherever is equipping those children to be serfs.

Not artisans, not skilled labourers, unskilled serfs.



pl, I have no ancestry in this game. I'm a kraut-wop bastard, to paraphrase the Godfather movie. But I did get married in a small village on the West Coast and my son was born in Glasgow, so I like to keep up.


Yes, well put. Scotland, Wales, and England outside of London and the Home Counties are very much like "fly over country" in the US.


David Habakkuk,
Yes, I think there are greater percentages supporting independence in England than in Scotland.

But this begs the question, what is the argument from the English side for wanting Scotland to stay in the Union? It seems like the NO campaign has only put forth negative positions (e.g. it won't work, it's too costly, it will break up the union, et al). I have yet to hear an affirmative argument. And if there is none, why contest separation? It certainly seems from my outsiders view (having lived in both England and Scotland) that it's not too harsh to see this as very much about maintaining (ever diminishing) English pride and in particular London elites getting upset about those troublesome Scots not knowing their place.


In reply to David Habakkuk 01 September 2014 at 01:43 PM

very interesting anent the international surveys many thanks - I'd be very interested to see how the median groups compare rather than the top and bottom.

I do note this:

"Nevertheless, Scotland performs well relative to the rest of the UK at age 16 (see Table 1 and Figure 1). While this suggests that Scottish children are reaching school leaving age with a good grounding in English and maths, it is important to know what happens next."

Which would imply to me that the "average" Scots school leaver (and yes I know that "average" as I'm using it here is close to being a weasel word) is better served than their English or Welsh counterpart. Certainly that's been my experience. They have actually been taught something they can use but the poor kids south of the border haven't.

Noted too about university but again and I'm a statistical sample of one so .... Nevertheless my impression is that the Scottish universities are universally of high standard whereas the polys turned unis south of the border aren't. Lots of exceptions such as Newcastle but when dealing with British opposite numbers if they're Scots I tend not to worry too much about the quality of their training. Even if they don't know the answer they've been taught how to find it. My experience is I can't assume that with English engineering graduates. Many of whom would have been better served to be put through a really rigorous apprenticeship system - and I mean that as a high compliment.

I didn't know Gove was Scots.

Sorry no sympathy anent fees. Any EU citizen can come here to Denmark and get it free too. When I investigated going to university in England even with a VERY good scholarship which I had it would have ruined me financially for decades.

I take your point about people who'd be happy to be shot of the Scots. Then again it was the revenues from North Sea oil that Thatcher and her crew squandered to finance her "restructuring" (in reality many of the ideas were from Sir Keith Joseph rather than Thatcher) so for many Scots the feeling is more than mutual and with rather better cause.


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