One small, hokey, probably stupid thought on the Scotland vote.
They settled it by a very peaceful, orderly, legitimate referendum. Hooray.
Historically, there’s been a fair amount of bloodshed between the English and the Scots, although not for many centuries (and not all of it was over Scottish independence; some of it was over whether the Scottish royal family, the Stuarts, should rule England instead of the Tudors). Anyway, if you’ve ever spent the night at a pub in Scotland, the talk often drifts around to the Scottish grudges against the way they’ve been treated by the English, and there’s long been a substantial sentiment in favor of independence, at least after a bit of ale.
So, for the first time ever, a British prime minister decided to let the Scots decide, non-violently, at the ballot box. And they did. After a fairly edifying campaign that balanced the ancient grudges and loyalties with a fairly (but just fairly) clear-eyed discussion of some of the more earthly pros and cons, they settled it, with a big healthy turnout, no funny business about the counting, and a solid margin of victory for the “No” side.
The sentiment for independence will not disappear, but reasonable men and women on that side of the argument will have to at least concede that they had a fair shot to peacefully accomplish the secession for which they wished, and they lost.
Elsewhere in the world, a great deal of fighting and killing continues, some of it over borders, some over religion, some over who should rule within a particular set of (perhaps disputed) borders, and perhaps some over a set of grudges too crazy to summarize but not too crazy to shed blood over.
Compared to bloodshed, the ways the Brits and the Scots settled it looks pretty good.
Here’s a well-known Churchill quote, from a 1947 speech to Parliament:
Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.