Yesterday morning, as I sat down for my ritualistic dose of caffeine and began to write, I noticed that I had auspiciously planted myself in front of two older women from the UK. One was from Scotland, the other from somewhere else in the United Kingdom with an accent I couldn’t quite place. The non-Scottish woman asked her friend for thoughts on the independence referendum. The Scottish woman replied that she would have voted “YES,” but that her friends were all voting “NO.” She said that “they were afraid.”
Upon overhearing this, I felt a pit form in my stomach. Almost all of the enthusiasm that I had for the day was immediately drained. Not only was I excited to see a historically defiant and proud people vote for independence, but yesterday marked the launch of the Contributor section of Liberty Blitzkrieg. It was a big day for me, yet all of a sudden it was as if the atmosphere suddenly evaporated and despair filled the air. Although no results had yet been reported, I knew the result. It was going to be NO.
I’m pretty sure I have absolutely zero Scottish blood in me, but I felt a strong sense of pride and camaraderie with the rebellious northerners. They had a chance to really kickstart a peaceful process of political decentralization that would spread like brushfire across the world. From Caledonia to Catalonia. From Quebec to these United States. It would have been an unstoppable force. It would be humanity proudly waving a flag of liberty and saying we can be fully integrated within the world at large without being ruled from a centralized power far from where we live. This is my dream and vision for the future and I was hopeful the Scots could lead the way. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
In the wake of the results, I have witnessed a great deal of bitterness and anger about the vote. While I can relate to such sentiments, I try to take a much more constructive and optimistic approach to the future. First and foremost, we should all be proud that the vote happened at all. So many people within the so-called “liberty movement” are discouragingly extreme pessimists. While proclaiming to fight for liberty, many of them seem to think we are powerless in the face of the powerful. To them, the independence referendum is proof that nothing can ever be changed. I completely disagree with this perspective.
The vote did happen, and the people of Scotland were given a choice. They said NO. I have always maintained that my vision of the future is not a world homogeneously looking like the type of community I personally want to live in, but rather a planet consisting of an almost infinite variety of different, autonomous, interacting, and prosperous communities. There will be so many choices, and such freedom of movement, that pretty much anyone of any disposition can find a place they feel they fit in and can call home. Nobody is ever subject to a life sentence within a particular political structure they had no role in creating just because they happened to be born there.
So that’s my vision, but how are we supposed to get there? Well for one thing, via powerful political movements such as the ones the Scots just pulled off. As a result of this movement, the people of Scotland were given a very important choice. A choice that 99.9% of the humans who have ever lived on planet earth have never had. This in itself is an important achievement. If the Scots voted NO, who am I or anyone else to say they made the right or wrong decision? They were given a real choice, a vote that actually mattered for once, and for that we should be encouraged. As I noted on Twitter yesterday:
No matter the outcome, the vote in Scotland matters. A lot. We need more votes and referendums that actually matter in the U.S. as well.
Although I specifically mentioned the U.S., the above sentiment applies to the entire world. People everywhere should frequently hold direct referendums on specific issues that matter to them. The idea of representative democracy, in which we select some captured politician who will merely vote along the lines of special interests is outdated, immoral, childish and feudal. Recall the Princeton study that showed the U.S. is an oligarchy where the will of the people have zero effect on policy. So clearly we already know the status quo is not working for the vast majority of people.
So with that big picture vision out of the way, are there any positives those who favor decentralization can take from Scotland’s independence referendum other than the fact dedicated people actually made it happen? Yes, I believe there are many important takeaways, several of which are instructive going forward.
First, there’s the fact that fear was a driving force behind the NO voters. Fear is something I spent a lot of time addressing in posts several years ago. Fear is necessary in a very small number of scenarios we face as humans, but it is unfortunately applied in myriad situations where it makes our situations worse, not better. Fear is what allows despots to take and retain power. Fear is what keeps you from living life and achieving your goals. Fear is paralyzing. Fear makes a people reject their own independence.
Recall that the older lady yesterday (I would guess she was in her 70s) stated that her friends were all voting NO because they were “afraid.” This line took an increased level of significance for me later in the day as I was reading a lengthly article in the UK Telegraph and came across the following quote:
So with that in mind, it’s important to ask, who was fearful and why?
With the results now finalized, we have some definitive answers to this question. The post referendum polling done by Lord Ashcroft has been going around Twitter this morning, and the results are simply incredible. See below:
The NO vote was entirely secured by overwhelming support from those aged above 55. In fact, the “better together” camp failed to win any of the age groups below 55 years of age. For the 65+ crowd it was simply a blowout. 73% of them voted NO. So in a nutshell, old people filled with fear blocked independence. Similarly, fearful old people bailed out the banks in the U.S. several years ago, putting a nail in the coffin of the middle class and the youth generally. See what I am getting at here?
What we now know for certain is that old people in positions of wealth and power, and the ability to frighten others of their generation, is proving to be the most significant obstacle to global change. For those of us who wish to see paradigm shifting changes, this is a very positive realization. For starters, the older generation will gradually fade away, and the promises made to them via pensions will not be on the table for younger generations. Pensions were a huge issue for the 65+ crowd when it came down to their voting decisions. The BBC noted that:
A recent BBC poll found that pensions came second in a list of the 10 things that mattered most to voters – only the economy was deemed more important.
The economy and pensions. So basically old people on the way out felt like they had a reasonable handle on what to expect under the current regime, and didn’t want to rock the boat. It’s really as simple as that.
Going forward, the older generation problem will naturally resolve itself. So we know that the youth will be deciding the future. Thus, the real question becomes, what will influence the youth?
As a result of the horrific and self-interested choices of older generations, the youth will be left with a much more difficult and uncertain future. This is already happening, but it will worsen considerably following the next severe economic decline, likely to start in late 2015.
My biggest concern is that fear will be used to drive the passions of the youth, rather than constructive, positive influences. We know that fear is an extremely powerful driver, and it more often than not leads to disastrous decision making. There is no doubt that the youth will decide the future, but will their passions be driven by negative emotions like fear, or positive sentiments like creativity, compassion and community? Only time will tell, but its up to us to be aware of this dynamic, understand exactly what is at stake, and attempt influence the outcome as positively as possible.