Wednesday, 2 December 2009

An independent Scotland: a stupid dream or a chance for better? [O Scoţie independentă: un vis stupid sau o şansă de mai bine?]

On Scotland’s Day, the Scottish National Party (SNP) probably thought of making a ‘pleasant surprise’ to the people of this country. The Scottish Executive anounced that, by next November 30, a referendum for independence will be held.

The two politicians in charge of the devolved Scottish Government – both with rather ‘fishy’ names: Alex Salmond (First Minister), and Nicola Sturgeon (Deputy First Minister) – seemed delighted to give the news to the country.

These two leaders – whose biographies show they are decent ‘provincial politicians’, with a ‘big plus’ for Salmond, who seems to be a staunch anti-abortionist (part of the ever shrinking group of pro-life political leaders in Britain) – appear so satisfied with their decision…

…as if all problems of the people living in Scotland could be miraculosuly solved in an independent country!

…as if the ‘chains’ which keep Scotland ‘enslaved’ by the Westminster Parliament and Government is the first and foremost concern of the Scots!

…as if the last obstacle staying in front of this dream coming true was merely the cost of the referendum – £ 9 million!

Unworthy of trust as polls can be, there’s a recent one claiming that only 20% of the Scots want to live in an independent country, while 32% want it to remain part of the UK.

Interestingly, 46% want increased powers for the Scottish Executive, therefore, given a well-ochestrated campaign, the Scots could (hypotetically) say YES to independence.

Although I met at least two people (with an age difference of some 55 years between them !) who would agree with independence, for most other Scots whom I talked to such a decision wouldn’t make sense.

In my view, only if a Tory Government would push the UK out of the EU or I-don’t-know-what kind of economic catastrophe struck England (but Scotland couldn’t be immune to that, could it?), would the Scots vote for independence.

One of the pro-independence lobby's arguments states that if Scotland received its geographical share of Norh Sea oil revenues, it would have a budget surplus of £ 800 million, unlike the budget deficit it has to deal with these days.

More money at one’s disposal often brings only bigger problems, and no genuine solutions. Does Scotland have better politicians than those whom the entire Britain sent to the Westminster Parliament?

[For all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

An interesting post, I always thought SNP support was a lot higher.

However, i think it will increase, especially if the Conservatives win the next election (which seems probable, though not certain).

Personally, I do not have a utopian view of this. I suspect within a century Europe will be a militant atheist dictatorship. Whether states are in the Eurozone, the EU or not will be beside the point.

However, there might be time to turn the tide (by a strange irony, the most 'reassuring' argument for this is that Europe's population is set to plummet, and we might not have a youthful population to keep everyone under control especially in Germany and France which will probably be semi-Muslim in a few decades).

As I've pointed out before, it is far from Utopian or 'loonertarian' ;-) to see Britain as a de facto totalitarian state from which secession would be an improvement:[347]=x-347-559597

If Scotland seceded, there is a chance that the dictatorship in London (and possibly Brussels) would be shaken. I am not being sentimental Scottish (don't have a kilt, don't like bagpipes) and would also support Northumbrian/ Cornish/ Welsh/ Yorkshire independence.

As for oil, this is an interesting one. The discovery of North Sea Oil in the early 80s has been written out of British history/ political discussion. This is why we have a creepy personality cult around Margaret Thatcher.

This is in itself tied to the point in question. For the British establishment, the 1980s are a recipe for improving the nation. It is difficult to describe the extreme intellectual stagnation in this country.

Privatisation and fawning support of America are seen as catch all cures, laughably forgetting that this WAS NOT actually Thatcherism. I think Thatcher was very wise to form cordial relations with Reagan, though there was nothing notably different about this and Heath/ Nixon or Wilson/ Johnson. She did not lie to the country to gather support for American military ventures.

Maybe (though I don't know the details) Thatcher was right to privatise some industries. But even then, from a modern perspective, the privatisations she OPPOSED were even more notable (she strongly supported the NHS and British Rail in the 80s).

Now Mrs Thatcher suffers from dementia, which is not something I would wish on anyone. But for me the sickest thing is how her 'disciples' hold up her every comment as representative of her wisdom. To me this actually seems even sicker than the leftists who say they want to desecrate her grave.

It may seem that I have drifted off topic, but this historical interlude is merely to demonstrate why I think that the Tories will do badly if they win the next election. I don't want this to sound cruel, but they don't want Thatcherism (a political ideal I don't share, but understand): they want senile Thatcherism.

If, as seems likely, America insists on causing trouble in the Middle East and Eastern Europe (funding courtesy of Communist China) the Tories wouldn't hesitate to pour non-existent money into the venture. This could help the SNP.

If they go to the IMF for a loan and this results in asset-stripping and capital flight this could help the SNP.

If they continue to destroy civil liberties (which they have given no objective offers to protect), this could help the SNP.

Maybe I am being overly pessimistic, but these are my views.

MunteanUK said...

Hello Gregor,

It's good to hear from you on my blog anytime, but since I am so busy these day, I'll try to make my reply as sinthetic as I can.

Actually, I have some questions regarding what you sad:

1) Apart from the economical problems, why do you think that a Conservative Government will increase the popularity of the SNP in Scotland?


2) Why do you envisage France or Germany as 'semi-Muslim', and not the UK, where you have so many Muslims from SE Asia, and the Middle East?


3) A Scottish independent state is highly unlikely (in my view), but I don't find that absurd. But could you explain why anyone would be in favour of 'Northumbrian/ Cornish/ Welsh/ Yorkshire independence'?

That would be only an insane 'atomization' of England... What 'good' (be it merely theoretical) could the secession of those parts of Britain bring to the people living there?


4) I believe that Mrs Thatcher was a very intelligent lady, and a great leader. Like all human being, she also had shortcomings, but these are uncomparable to how many faults her 'fans' have.

How would you explain that turning personalities into a cult seems such a British feature?

Karl Marx, Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher... They were all key characters in British history, but thre's some kind of typically British hysteria developed around these personalities. Don't you think so?


5) I don't think you are 'overly pessimistic'. In my view, you're 'overly optimistic' to believe that the Scots are more eager to defend their civil liberties than the English.

I didn't get that impression... but I wish you were right!

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

To reply to your questions.

1) I think that if the conservatives took power they would give a lot of powers to the IMF, which has been proven a disaster. In turn this would make our position within the EU even more feeble and dependent. If a strong central government is substantially weakened, nationalism can fill the power space. Look at the USSR which was an 'enlightenment' project with all nationalities living in harmony. As soon as the government weakened, nationalism sprang up everywhere and led to horrific violence in Chechnya.

The Conservatives are obsessed with the big government v big business theory, which I find laughable. Look at George Bush and Tony Blair who both supported corporations as well as destroying civil liberties.

Lastly, I think America will probably become engaged in further conflicts even more savage (well, for us) than the current ones, and whilst New Labour MIGHT manage to stay out, the Tories wouldn't. If Scots were sent to die in their hundreds for a war they didn't understand, they may seek independence.

2) Britain still has a comparatively young population. Germany is a demographic basket case. Britain only has 2/3% Muslim population, and whilst their birthrate is over twice the national average, France is estimated to have a 10% Muslim population which also has a high fertility rate. Traditionally, France and Germany were reliant on Central/ Southern European migration, but now Poland, Greece and Italy have their own severe problems. (Alternatively I also think it is entirely likely that a one child policy will be imposed by environmentalists. Pets will probably also be outlawed due to their carbon pawprints… The New Scientist was outraged to discover how much energy they consume)

3) I don’t know if anyone is in favour of independence of English regions, but it was just a hypothetical point that my support for independence is because I think London has too much control over Britain rather than any sentimental nationalism. Especially because the London media is so intellectually stagnant.

4) This is very true. I think atheist societies depend upon their idols.

5) You are probably right, but it seems the only chance we could get.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor

1) A 'dependent' country is bad enough; dependent on Brussel's help and 'regulations' - even worse!

Actually, if you noticed the latest row between Paris (Sarko) and London (Darling), the French are keen on keeping the Brit financial system on a tight leash.

Apparently there are lots of good, 'generous' ideas about putiing in order the 'savage' capitalism. In reality, I guess it's all about putting the Perfidious Albion on its knees.

Let's not fool ourselves: ALL political leaders and parties are on the payroll of big corporations, as well as the Brussels establishment. I'm afraid that even mavericks and anti-system politicians (like those from the BNP, for instance) could be mere 'tools' of big corporations and NWO artisans.


2) In this case I agree with your optimistic outlook. Britain appears to have a younger population than France, and especially Germany.

On the other hand, I wonder who will 'oppose' more the Muslim invasion: the Brits or the French?

Britons are 'drugged' with political correctness, while the French (hopefully, I can't be sure) have a stronger 'we-take-no-shit' attitude. Don't you believe the same?

Gregor said...

Hi Bogdan

I don't have any real illusions re the EU. But I do think Britain is worse than average, and that the EU might flounder in its 'utopian' (meaning nightmarish?) pretensions.

Having said that, I'm not opposed to the general concept of a 'European Community'. Who knows? If they become pragmatic they might help create a wealthy and advanced continent (for what these things are worth).

As for political correctness, it is certainly a strong force in British media and politics. But there is also more assertive racism. I don't buy the idea that the BNP will take power, but I do think liberalism is turning into a parody of itself.

You are probably right about the French, and politically speaking there is a lot that we Brits could learn from them.

But I sometimes wonder, what is the aim of the EU? You've probably been following Bernard Kouchner's horror at the Swiss actually making a democratic decision. I wrote a little about it on one of Leos's posts:

We'll have to see how the EU goes.

As for the Germans, I remember being told that a ROmanian mystic said that the Germans would come to lead Orthodoxy. Whilst I cannot generalise about 80 million people, overall it seems as a country they have a cultural heresy of valuing craftsmanship over love and 'rationality' over faith. But who knows? Maybe in the hard times ahead of them, they might overlook their pride and manage to open their hearts and minds to the truth?

MunteanUK said...

Hi again Gregor,

And please excuse my 'sinthetic' way of answering to you; I'm trying to refer to as many points as I can, in the shortest amount of time possible.

That's why I may often skip letters, double others or make other mistakes :-(


1) Whether the British or the EU one, each of these Utopias will eventually turn out to be Dystopias. I have no doubts that contemporary societies couldn't get better & better (as political leaders promise us), while human beings are getting weaker & weaker spiritually.

There's a devastating distintegration of millennial moral values, a breakdown of the God-given (I don't find the word 'traditional' relevant here) family, a catastrophic increase in the number of abortions, a 'pornification' of the world around us, along a constant attack on every sacred religious feeling...

...and I don't think it's necessary to go on. What 'good' can grow from these satanic seeds that we are planting these days?


2) A bureaucratic machinery like the one in Brussels able to ever become 'pragmatic'?! You're far too optimistic, in my view.


3) Nor could I imagine how a 'wealthy and advanced' continent would look like. I'm afraid that our greatest wealth and best chance of advancement went down the sewer... in the form of countless millions of unborn but dimsmembered children :-(


4) I like your idea: "liberalism is turning into a parody of itself".

As for racism, my opinion is that it is being bred by this absurd political correctness. The Brits seem very decent, nice, patient, and one of the most tolerant nations of the world... maybe this is because they are too sure of their 'superiority' - but that's another story.

What I want to say is that there are some crazy ideas favouring (weird) minorities, promoting the 'respect' of everything worth of little respect, so that the Brits would be right to become racists.

I don't find it normal to forbid the word 'Christmas', not to 'offend' Muslims, Indians or humanists...

It's hard to imagine anyone forcing this political correctness down the throats of the French, Germans, Italians... maybe not even the tolerant Dutch would stand it. The Brits seem to be the perfect 'lab rats' :-(


5) "What is the aim of the EU?" - that is the question, I'd say... As 'something rotten' (in my view) is taking place in Denmark these days, we may begin figuring this out...


6) Your admired Sarko (+ Kouchner & the whole clique) are not as democratic as they claim to be. They were threatening the Czech president Vaclav Klaus as he was delaying the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, they threatened the Swiss, they also threatened the bankers from the City (as I mentioned in a comment before).

That's a typically totalitarian attitude, and they can't fool me, not other millions of people.


7) I am not familiar with the mentioned 'prophecy'. Maybe you could give me some details in an e-mail, and then I could try to find out more about it.

Anyway, there's no way I could find it 'impossible' for the Germans to come to Christ & His Church.

As long as, close to the end of times, some Jews are expected to recognize that He was the only Messiah (and they will reject the Antichrist), why couldn't (some, many, all?!) Germans turn to Ortodoxy?

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan

I agree with a lot of your criticisms about the EU, but we have to put this in perspective.

Whilst it is sad that it is a secular society, we have to see what other societies have achieved. Look at the Ancient Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome. Whilst they had a horrific pagan cult, they also produced so much of beauty and had some good ethics (and I do think to some extent their pagan nature has been exaggerated).

My view is that humanity has God's 'spark' as it were. Maybe the EU will surprise us. I say this because I know in the Orthodox faith, there is a large margin of opinion about non-Orthodox societies from Fr Seraphim Rose who said everything outside the Church is of the devil, to Fr Alexander Men, who acknowledged that there were sparks of truth in all faiths and cultures. My own view is much closer to Fr Men's. My study of Ancient Greece (and to a lesser extent Rome) has led me to this view. Despite the horrible official Pantheon, many of their philosophers and playwrights obviously perceived a greater light lying beyond these things.

I wouldn't say that I 'admire' Sarko. I'm just envious that the French have an intelligent leader who (for all his faults) isn't a slave of the USA and the banking sector. As for Kouchner, I think he comes from a different party. Perhaps it is difficult to explain to someone living outside Britain just how awful our politicians are.

The French left, from which Kouchner comes, is itself of some interest. I've heard that a large number of French leftists have gone directly to the far right. Maybe it is because Western liberalism is strangely 'chauvinistic' in its own way, in that it assumes that all cultures except Western ones consider themselves as 'equal'.

So it was I was reading that a few weeks ago some North Africans destroyed hundreds of cars and injured several French policemen after a football game (if I remember correctly the news headlines that day were about 'the X -factor'). Surely this must have upset a lot of the 'Sartreists' who thought it was the Christian Bourgeoise who were to blame for all the violence in the world.

Who knows, maybe these lapsed leftists will even return to Christianity.

As for Britain, I don't think that 'political correctness' contributes to bigotry as such, it is more that bigots are one of the few sectors of the population to know what they believe in.

As someone who would regard themselves as social democratic, I feel that this position has morphed into the 'liberal left': a weird cult where the Swiss are Nazis for democratically deciding to ban minarets, but the EU court of human rights is admirably secularist for ignoring 80%-plus of Italians and saying there should be no crucifixes in the classrooms.

This is one reason why I would vote SNP; I don't think there is really anywhere else to go, and as you say, at least Salmond supports the rights of the unborn.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor

Thanks for sharing a lot of ideas this time as well, and let me try answer to at least some of them!


1) To a certain extent, your remark about the 'benefits' we all inherit from ancient civilisations is correct, but I really don't see the EU as a 'spring of civilisation' as ancient Rome, the Greek city-states, Babylon or China were.

I certainly don't believe that pagan nature of those cultures was 'exaggerated'. Without those 'exaggerations', there would have been no Christian martyrs!

It was a gigantic clash between the Light of Christ and the darkness of those pagan civilisations. Let us remember that early Christianity was extremely peaceful, and wasn't spread with the sword like Islam... nor with carrots & sticks (bombs + international aid) as the religion of democracy is being spread today.


2) Talking about 'a large margin of opinion' is a bit dangerous, as the Orthodox Church is no political institution, like the Church of Rome, where everything can be arguable, debatable, settled with 'compromises'.

Fr Seraphim Rose is a Saint, while this Fr Alexander Men - please excuse my ignorance about him! - is just a man like all others...

I haven't read anything from this Men, but no one could deny that Fr Seraphim Rose was one of the greatest enciclopedical minds of humanity. He had been familiarized with all major religions & cultures before finding the Orthodox Church.

There may be 'sparks' of truth outside the Church, because all human beings have the same Creator, but it's dangerous to believe - like fanatical ecumenists believe - that we could recreate the Truth out of all the 'sparks' gathered together.

The Truth is only One, irrespective of these 'sparks', and the fact that all human beings deserve our respect.

I couldn't doubt Men's honest intentions (at least as long as I don't know anything of him), but I doubt that he could have had such a wide culture like Fr Seraphim - this kind of people appear only on in a billion...

...and the chance for them to become Orthodox is one in ten billions, I'd say.


3) Indeed, I also think that the EU could still 'surprise' us; there's a great deal of nasty surprises we could expect from Brussels, you'll see :-(


4) Although his morals are as dubious as the morals of any political leader, I admit that Sarko is wiser that T. Bliar, G. Clown and D. Chameleon.


5) Theoretically, anyone - 'liberal leftists', all forms of anarchists, 'Sartreists' etc - could turn to Christ.

It's very sad that, in Western Europe, it's very hard to find him, as long as the Vatican and the counless Protestant factions are so far away from Him.

Anyway, there's hope for every human being - let's hope that the Lord will save (and only He knows 'how exactly' this can be done) many people from outside His Church!

Gregor said...

Dearest Bogdan

May you have a blessed feast of St Spiridion.

Just a short message on my friends' computer.

I think that my point was a bit clumsy and hurried. All I'm saying is that we have to have faith that the light of God will reach even the darkest areas.

Perhaps my point is that Christianity has, I think, been to Occidenta-centric to coin a term. Even though we can say that the devil has infleuenced a lot of foreign religions, that is not to say we cannot admire aspects of these cultures.

Perhaps for some background, one of my longterm ambitions is to help teach English in an Orthodox mission in East Asia, possibly South Korea. For me the irony is that I think we have to see that there is a lot of beauty in Taosist and Buddhist cultures to communicate with the people there and hopefully draw them to the One True Faith. I think if we go there and say 'these indigeous faiths are satanic' would be very unhelpful. I think we should be respectful to the good manners and often sound ethos of these cultures whilst also teaching them the shortcomings and especially of their idols.

I do think we Orthodox are are risk of developing a 'ghetto mentality' and idealising a certain time of our history which will probably never come back or thinking that Balkan and Slav peoples are somehow 'chosen'.

As for Ancient Meditteranean cultures, I think that idolatry was a veneer over a deeply civilised people. Certainly I'd find it difficult to say that Aristotle and Aeschylos had an ethos that was completely alien to Christianity (and in some ways was more enlightened than Judaism).

As for the EU, I accept that it is developing in a sinister way, but think of how many times the ancient Jews disobeyed God and how often he accepted them back. I suspect the same will be true of Europe. The collapse of Protestantism may be a good thing. With Roman Catholicism, I personally think it is more complex, and they will have another schism, with many returning to the One True Church. I have myself heard that some entire French parishes have converted to Orthodox Christianity. Though these are just my feelings, and I may be wrong.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part one)

My dear friend,

Thanks for the time you give to our online conversation!


1) I agree with the fact that 'we have to have faith'. No human being (nor whole nations) are predestined to 'damnation'.

As the end of times is drawing nearer - will it be in our lifetime, will it come after some more centuries? we don't know - there are a lot of nasty surprises around us. We witness an overall 'deterioration' of anything human, and this is why I may sound pessimistic sometimes.

But I agree with you that good surprises could also appear. Against all odds, people do find the Light of Christ even in our times!


2) Is Christianity really that 'Occidenta-centric' as you say? I'm not very sure...

Orthodoxy is rather open to the world, and there are believers in Alaska (even since Russian times), in Japan, in Uganda & Tazania, in the Scottish Highlands, in South Korea & China, in South America... everywhere.

The Truth found a way to the hearts of people from all cultures, all walks of life! But this is no reason for believing that the Word of God has already reached all corners of the world.

Maybe Jehova Witnesses, Pentecostals, Mormons etc really spread everywhere, but it wasn't Christ the One Whom they claimed to preach. Orthodoxy still has a long way to go.

But it will be God's work, not a human effort. Somehow, He will have a plan of spreading the (true) Gospel even by the time of the Antichrist. When Enoch and Elijah are due to come back to earth, I believe that their message about Christ will reach every little place on the planet.

Some will believe these Prophets, some won't, but I assume everyone will somehow have 'access' to their message.


3) I also agree that you can't tell people 'your culture is satanic' if you want to win their hearts, and St Silouan the Athonite advises us to praise the heretics for what's still true in their faith, yet without giving credit to their errors.


4) However, I tend to believe that we have an 'idealized' image of 'great cultures' like that of India, China & Islam.

Only first-hand experiences could help us get a clearer view. Beyond the beauty of Taoist and Buddhist cultures, there's plenty of day to day misery essentiually rooted in the same 'beautiful' conceptions.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part two)

5) You've got a fascinating ideal; if God finds it useful for your salvation, He will help you!

It's very good to learn English from someone like you, with a native Scottish accent, and not from that phony 'BBC standard' which less than 3% of the Brits speak.

During high school, we had two native speakers teching us (one from Newcastle, the other from Liverpool), and understanding them was a real challenge.


6) It's not 'polite' to comment on our Orthodox brothers of 'Slavic stock', but I guess you are right about them :-(

There's a risk of 'ghettoization' for some sister Churches (the Serbian one maybe), whilst there's also a risk of being 'too open' to the Catholics (in Romania, Russia under the new Patriach, the Antiochian Church). There are all kinds of 'risks', as the devil enver ceases to bring trouble into our lives!


7) There's no doubt that Aristotle, Aeschylos & other Greek thinkers/writers were closer to the Truth than the ancient Jews who rejected the Messiah.

It's not a coincidence that the Greeks embraced the Orthodox faith, and their culture helped spread it.

Centuries later, a similar phenomenon took place, when the English languange (and British culture in general) spread to America. Too bad that what was spread was no longer the Truth, but a concoction of heresies.


7) I'll keep in mind your optimistic perspective that the 'irreligious' EU could turn back to Christ, as the Jews returned to God over & over again.

I'll also try to see that the collapse of Protestantism & Catholicism (thousands of Catholic church buildings are also empty in Europe!) may not necessarily be a disaster, but a prerequisite for some people to turn back to Orthodoxy.

Certainly, the example you gave & of which I also heard (entire Catholic parishes becoming Orthodox) is a good sign.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor & anyone who may be interested in this topic

I don't think it's worth writing another entire new post, in order to acknowlege the temporary (or final?!) defeat of the more or less 'secessionist' SNP.

A referendum on Scotland's independence was delayed sine die...

...that is after the next Scottish parliamentary elections, which are very likely to be lost by the SNP.

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor & anyone who may be interested in this topic

An interesting article trying to explain how the current coalition Government of Britain cannot give up central control.

Thus, any chance for Scotland to fully reap the benefits of devolution appears to be wasted: