Revolution. It is time the Scottish independence movement begun thinking in terms of revolution, that is in terms of revolutionary thinking and practice (praxis) working towards the goal of an actualised revolution. The process of developing a common revolutionary paradigm is indeed already underway. In fact, the first two elements of this paradigm – a clearly defined common interest and a clear vision of what the movement is working towards – are sufficiently well understood across the movement. Whether or not people think of this as revolutionary thinking is immaterial, this is what it amounts to. All that is lacking at this point is a clearly understood plan of action.
Notwithstanding the spread of political opinion within the independence movement, every independentista is committed to the idea of independence; ending Scotland’s union with England and regaining for it state sovereignty. In this the common interest is clear – Scotland. What we are working towards is equally clear – national self-determination and statehood.
What is missing, as noted above, is a comprehensive vision of how exactly the movement can bring that about; both in its execution and in what shape the state will take after independence. These two elements are inseparable. Achieving independence through revolutionary means without knowing what form the newly independent state will take will inevitably lead to disaster, possibly even civil conflict. Thus, the next stage in the evolution of Scotland’s revolutionary paradigm must of necessity take these two components of the plan of action into account.
It is essential then to think through the end first. Only once the movement agrees on what Scotland should become can it begin the process of formulating the means by which it will achieve this goal. Most will agree that an independent Scotland should be an open society, a free and peaceful democracy. Problems begin to arise, however, when we attempt to define these terms. Discounting the extremes; that this must neither be a repressive police state nor an anarchy, the objective of building an open society leaves tremendous scope for disagreement. There will be disagreement.
In considering the peace of Scotland, we must answer the questions of foreign policy. Will a Scottish republic be constitutionally neutral like Ireland and Switzerland, or will it be a member of a defensive alliance like NATO as is the United Kingdom at present? Likewise, we must answer the more pressing constitutional question of governance – what sort of democracy will we be? Will we retain the democracy – or something similar to it – which we have at present, with its preferential treatment of the privileged in society, or will we construct a more representative system that will more equitably care for the needs of all the people of Scotland? Here is not the place to answer these questions, but it would be advisable that we have at least a provisional constitution before we begin the process of gaining independence.
Having accomplished this, the next and final stage is gaining independence. The single greatest obstacle to this is, of course, is the state we must break apart – the British state. It is unimaginable that the British government will grant permission for another independence referendum knowing the chances that we will vote for independence are now far greater than they were in 2012. Refusal will more likely than not escalate to the use of violence to suppress the independence movement. Britain has always employed force against independence and anti-imperial-colonial movements. It is difficult to see why this would be any different in the case of Scotland.
So, we must consider whether or not we are willing to meet force with violent resistance; a course of action that would draw us into a bloody and possibly protracted armed struggle. Do we have the capability and indeed the will to wage a war against the British state? Armed resistance and an armed independence struggle are options that must remain open to us, but, and given the imbalance of power, violence must be a last resort. Bearing in mind that states founded through the force of arms tend to become states blighted by violence, we must do all we can to ensure the transition to independence and statehood is peaceful.
This would tend to suggest that our road to independence will mirror closely that being taken by Catalunya, where the independentistas are resisting the Spanish state with passive non-violent resistance and disobedience. Certainly, this route is to be preferred.
Now that the leader of the British unionists in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, has indicated the British government will refuse to permit another democratic referendum on independence until at least 2027, we must take this as a sign that no permission will be granted – period. This means we must now articulate this to the wider movement; that is that the ordinary democratic road has been blocked, forcing us to think of an alternative. That alternative is the more militant, revolutionary road – as described briefly hereinabove. The time has come for the independence movement to start thinking in terms of revolutionary action.