2014 September 14 Sunday
Suppose Scotland Secedes From UK, UK Leaves EU

The ball could start rolling to create many states. Exit of Scotland from the UK will make the British Labor Party a seriously minority party in the British Parliament. The UK Independence Party might be able to win a plurality leaving the Tories, Liberals, and Labour bargaining to form a coalition. The UKIP could demand a referendum on EU membership as their price to form a coalition government. Then the English, Welsh and northern Irish could vote to leave the EU. Or the Tories could run on EU exit when Scottish members of parliament leave London in March 2016.

An exit of the English from the EU would put the Scottish in a very interesting position. Still in the EU? Brussels would probably require that the Scottish apply. What would that do to Scottish trade? Their economy will go into a deep recession.

With the English, Scots, and Welsh out of the EU the Catalonians will feel emboldened (along with the Basques) to seek secession from Spain. What will that do to the EU? Will they grant each newly independent state membership? Or at least let trade flow unhindered?

What other secessionist movements are waiting to come out of the woodwork? How about the Northern League in Italy? They do not want to be in the EU or supporting the southern Italians.

Oh, and there is Belgium. How about a Flemish-Walloon split? Before we get that far expect a deep recession and financial crisis in Europe and the rest of the world economy pulled down by it. 2016 and 2017 could be bad years for the economy. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says "the borders are breaking. The liberal order is crumbling."

This trend goes beyond Europe. Quebec could take European splits as inspiration and leave Canada.

We might be on the edge of major political fragmentation. The wild card: If Bitcoin takes off then currency could cease to serve as a common glue keeping a nation together.

How about North America? Want you part of the USA to break off? What do you want to be a part off? How about a merger of the US northwest with British Columbia?

The Middle East is becoming more fragmented. Libya is in pieces. In Syria and Iraq (or parts of the former Syria and Iraq) ISIS is trying to break the Sykes-Picot agreement. Ditto Kurdistan. Will they be allowed to succeed? Or will the Empire strike back and crush the new states?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 September 14 09:09 PM 

amac78 said at September 15, 2014 5:38 AM:

In that linked (and well-worth-reading) Telegraph article, Ambrose-Pritchard writes,

> While America spends $76,000 per soldier each year, EU states are down to $18,000, largely earmarked for pay and pensions, according to the Institute for Statecraft. Almost nothing is being spent on new equipment.

$18,000 is 24% of $76,000. That doesn't sound right -- are the quoted figures sound?

Black Death said at September 15, 2014 7:07 AM:

@amac78 -

Don't think so. I checked the Institute for Statecraft website and couldn't find them. The numbers don't make sense, and I don't know where Evans-Pritchard got them.

In FY 2011, the US military budget was was $664.84 billion. There were 1,369,532 active duty and 850,880 reserve personnel, which comes out to about $300,000 per person. That includes everything, not just salaries and retirement benefits, but the weapons systems, health care, energy costs, etc. So I don't know where Evans-Pritchard's numbers originated.

However, the article is interesting. I especially like this:

The EU was supposed to lock in a European Germany, not a German Europe. The grand design assumed a plausible level of parity between Berlin and Paris, buttressed by an array of cohesive nation states led by London. This is dying before our eyes.

James Bowery said at September 15, 2014 7:44 AM:

Pritchard's brain-fart "the borders are breaking" is a product of his crimestop training. When a state ceases enforcing its borders, it violates the contract civilization makes with individual men to give up their natural right to initiate force on behalf of their own territory to the state that, in return, guarantees to enforce the border with its monopoly on force. What is going on all over the "liberal-order" is states are violating that contract by refusing to enforce their borders. Those states therefore are breaking because they no longer possess legitimacy. In their place are borders being constructed -- some of which are real borders hence some of which will result in legitimate states.

The more borders and border enforcement, the better for one simple reason: Regardless of the supposed benefits to be obtained by enforcing free travel against the will of those whose territory is being violated, there is one over-riding force of nature that determines whether symbiosis will evolve from "diversity" or virulence will evolve from "diversity" in a given ecology: vertical vs horizontal transmission respectively. Vertical transmission is basically sleeping in the bed you've made -- or at least sleeping in the bed you would have made had you migrated there earlier. Horizontal transmission is basically take-the-money-and-run as an evolutionary strategy and that's why evolutionary medicine recognizes it as the source of virulence. Although these concepts were developed in evolutionary medicine to explain why some microbes are beneficial and others are deadly, the same principles apply to human behavior and cultural evolution.

Mike Street Station said at September 15, 2014 9:22 AM:

I think ironically the existence of the EU makes secession more likely, since it presents an automatic economic polity that provides trade and a currency. It's a perfect situation for such starter nations as Scotland and Catalonia.

Dan said at September 15, 2014 2:40 PM:

Her majesty the Queen says Scotland should 'think very carefully.' That is literally all she has to say about that.

England might be cut in half and the Queen of England literally has no opinion to give. Hullo #echo#? Anybody home?

God save the Queen? For what? I'm not sure which is more horrifying, this or Rotherham.

Matra said at September 15, 2014 4:35 PM:

Her majesty the Queen says Scotland should 'think very carefully.' That is literally all she has to say about that.

England might be cut in half and the Queen of England literally has no opinion to give. Hullo #echo#? Anybody home?

She has no business interfering in politics. She's said too much already.

This trend goes beyond Europe. Quebec could take European splits as inspiration and leave Canada.

Although one can never say jamais it's likely too late now for Quebec. In the last few years young Francophones seem to have embraced a Canadian identity, unlike every previous generation going back to the 1960s. Quebec is also home to about 250,000 more immigrants (mostly Asians, North Africans, Haitians) since the last referendum in late 1995, which was defeated due to the non-French ethnics voting as a unified block.

Wolf-Dog said at September 15, 2014 6:43 PM:

Randall Parker said: "The wild card: If Bitcoin takes off then currency could cease to serve as a common glue keeping a nation together. "


Maybe Bitcoin will be unreliable (because there can be arbitrarily many similar rival competing fictitious currencies), but how about a worldwide electronic bartering system that exchanges everything ranging from personal assets such as houses, cash, metals, even to stock certificates of copper mines, to individual labor itself? This would be the new transmission mechanism to run new and old businesses. Such a computerized bartering system would be very challenging to implement, but in the future it will probably be possible if software becomes more advanced. Google and Amazon can perhaps make an alliance to implement such a complex computerized trading system of electronic currency that will be backed up by real things, and this would be a superior form of currency because it would be more direct than the need to use abstract currencies that first require permission from the owner of the money and then a rent in the form of interest payment just for the privilege of exchanging one thing for another that has nothing to do with the owner of the original cash.

Randall Parker said at September 15, 2014 8:25 PM:


I agree that the EU makes secession more likely. But does secession within the EU make the EU more or less likely? On that I'm less clear.

I see secession as making sovereign debt payments harder to do. Will Catalonia accept its full share of Spain's debt and future entitlements obligations? How even to calculate Catalonia's fair share?

Same for Scotland. How to even legally shift lots of Sterling sovereign bonds to Scotland's obligation?

amac, Black Death,

Yes, I found the spending per soldier in the US and EU implausible.

But dollars per soldier is a misleading metric. The US DOD has boosted civilian employment in order to avoid hiring more soldiers and contractors. They've shifted who does what work. There was big growth in contractor employees as direct employee numbers shrunk and now the pendulum is swinging back.

Kudzu Bob said at September 15, 2014 10:03 PM:

George Kennan thought that America was too big and should be broken up into a dozen or so loosely-confederated countries. He was a man who was seldom wrong.

Mike Street Station said at September 16, 2014 10:59 AM:


Sovereign debt is THE wild card. Salmond threatened to not pay Scotland's fair share of it's debt, but how to split it in any case? No agreements on debt mean no EU membership and no international credit, unless it's offered by some meddler like Russia. Each little independence movement is going to have to come to it's own answer, but these issues are not even being seriously discussed in the case of Scotland. The Scots really think they can coast on oil revenue and get even more welfare in the process. That's what Venezuela thought too.

Pat Buchanan last week said on Scotland independence that the heart votes yes but the head votes no. We'll see...

Leonard Pinth-Garnell said at September 16, 2014 8:05 PM:

The problem with any secession movement in the USA is that any successful system attracts parasites. Let's say the red states and the blue states agreed to some kind of peaceful separation. Does anyone believe for a minute that the president of the "blue republic" would not behave in a manner similar to the president of Mexico, i.e. actively encouraging his losers to emigrate to the "red republic?" I find it very plausible that the "blues" would actively look for ways to undermine the "reds," engaging in everything from economic espionage to border incursions to diplomatic meddling. The "reds" just want to be left alone, the "blues" actually hate the reds.

James Bowery said at September 16, 2014 11:12 PM:

Mike Street Station, There is a simple answer to that sovereign debt nonsense: Autarky.

The politicians and bankers don't think autarky is feasible, so it must be.

Randall Parker said at September 17, 2014 8:58 PM:


Autarky: Just how self sufficient do you have in mind?


If I was a British MP from England I'd demand that Scottish MPs leave the British Parliament at the start of the negotiation process for separation. The debt negotiation is high stakes. The Scots should not have any influence over the British government's negotiating position.


Any state that secedes needs to block immigration of people with opposing values. Or else the secession's benefits will not last.

James Bowery said at September 18, 2014 12:30 PM:

One of the conundrums of secession is the allocation of natural resources. Clearly Scotland's in a good position there. If it can retain even a fraction of the off-shore reserves, it is set to transition to truly radical autarky enabled by advances in materials science, manufacturing and agriculture.

From the human capital standpoint, one must keep in mind Scotland was the home of James Clerk Maxwell, among other lesser but nevertheless highly gifted figures in science and technology. Although it is true the damage to Scotland's human capital is analogous to that of the upper midwest of the US, the reserves there have not been so depleted that it is incapable of the transition to radical autarky.

Check it out said at September 18, 2014 5:02 PM:

I once heard that Argentina is not better or worse than Spain, only younger. I liked that theory, so I invented a trick to calculate the age of a nation, based on the "dog system". When we were kids, it was explained to us that, to know if a dog was young or old, one had to multiply its biological age by 7. In the case of nations, one must divide their biological age by 14 to know the humam equivalent. Confused? In this article, I give some telling examples.

Argentina was born in 1816, therefore her age is 190. If we divide that by 14, Argentina is about 13 ½ "human" years old, i.e. she is an adolescent. She is rebellious, annoying, has no memory, answers before thinking and has acne all over (maybe that's why she is referred to as the granary of the world?).

Almost all Latin-American countries are the same age, and as it always happens in such cases, they form gangs. The Mercosur [the Southern Common Market, a trade agreement] gang consists of four adolescents who have a rock group. They rehearse in a garage, make a lot of noise and have never released an album.

Venezuela, which already has titties, is about to join them in the choir. In reality, like most girls her age, she wants to have sex, in this case with Brazil, 14, whose member is large.

México is also an adolescent, but of indigenous descent. That's why he barely laughs and doesn't smoke even one harmless little joint, like the rest of his little friends; instead, he chews peyote, and is close to the USA, a mental retard teenage of 17, who is dedicated to attacking the hungry 6 years old kids in other continents.

At the other end is millenarian China. If we divide her 1,200 years by 14, we get an age 85 lady, conservative, reeking of cat piss, who eats nothing but rice because she can't – for now – afford to buy herself some false teeth.

China has an 8 year old grandson, Taiwan, who makes her life miserable. For some time, she has been divorced from Japan, a grumpy old man, who got together with the Philippines, a stupid young girl, always ready for any aberration in exchange for money.

Then come those who just reached majority and go for rides in dad's BMW. For example, Australia and Canada, typical kids who grew up sheltered by daddy England and mommy France, received a strict and discrete education and now play dumb.

Australia is a foolish 18+ year old who does topless and has sex with South Africa; while Canada is an emancipated gay boy who will at any time adopt baby Greenland to form one of those alternative families so common nowadays.

France is a 36 year old divorcie, more promiscuous than a hen, but well respected in the professional milieu. She has a barely age 6 son, Mónaco, who is on his way to be a prostitute or a dancer … or both. She is sporadically the lover of Germany, rich truck driver married to Austria, who knows she is being cheated on, but doesn't care.

Italy has been a widow for a long time. She is dedicated to taking care of San Marino and the Vatican, two catholic sons just like the Flanders twins. She was married the second time to Germany (that didn't last long: they gave birth to Switzerland), but now she wants nothing to do with men. Italy would like to be a woman like Belgium: a lawyer, independent, who wears pants and discusses politics as an equal to men (Belgium also sometimes fantasizes about knowing how to make spaghetti).

Spain is the prettiest woman in Europe (possible, France comes close, but she loses spontaneity because she uses so much perfume). She goes around topless a lot, and almost always drunk. Generally, she lets England screw her and then files a complaint. Spain has children all over the place (almost all age 13), who live far away. She loves them very much, but it bothers her that, when they are hungry, they spend some time at home and raid the fridge.

Another one who has kids scattered all over, is England. He goes out on ship cruises at night, gets laid by idiots, and nine months later a new island appears somewhere in the world. But he stays in touch. Generally, the islands live with mom, but England feeds tham. Scotland and Ireland, England's siblings, who live on the upper floor, are always drunk and can't even play soccer. They are an embarrassment to the family.

Sweden and Norway are two almost 40 lesbians, with nice bodies for their age, but pay attention to no one. They screw and they work, because they have a diploma in something. Sometimes they make threesome with Holland (when they need dope); other times, they give a hard time to Finland, a sort of androgynous character aged 30, who lives alone in an unfurnished attic and spends all his time on the cellular with Korea.

Korea (the one on the south) is always watching her schizoid sister. They are twins, but the northern one took some amniotic fluid on her way our of the uterus and ended up stupid. She spent her childhood playing with pistols, and now that she lives alone, she is capable of anything. USA, the 17 year old moron, watches her a lot, not because he's afraid of her, he just wants to take her pistols.

Israel is an age 62 intellectual who had a shitty life. A few years ago, Germany, the truck driver, didn't see him and and run over him. From that day on, Israel went bananas. Now, instead of reading books, he passes the time on the terrace hurling stones at Palestine, the girl doing the laundry next door.

Irán and Iraq were two 16 year old cousins who used to steal motorcycles and sell the parts, until one day the stole a part from a USA bike, and that was the end of their Business. Now they sit around and eat their buggers.

The world was fine like that, until one day Russia got together with the Perestroika (but they didn't get married) and they had about a dozen and a half children. All weird, some mongoloids, others schizophrenic.

A week ago, thanks to a big rumble with bullets and dead bodies, we the serious dwellers of the world learned that there is now a country called Kabardino-Balkaria. A country with a flag, a president, a national anthem, flora, fauna … even people! I am a little scared when short-aged countries show up just like that, suddenly – when we find out indirectly and even have to pretend we already knew, so we don't look like idiots.

And I wonder: why do countries keep on being born when those already there don't function?

By Hernán Casciari

Dan said at September 19, 2014 7:39 AM:

@Check it out,

If you are going to quote 'intellectuals', at least quote the smart ones. This Hernán Casciari, who I never heard of, comes across as an ignorant guy who knows nothing of these countries besides their names.

Dan said at September 19, 2014 7:43 AM:

This Hernan Casciari, who I never heard of before, doesn't seem to have any correct information about any of these countries except their names.

James Bowery said at September 20, 2014 3:27 PM:

So, the women of Scotland voted to be dependent, hence the damage to Scotland's genepool continues rather than letting their men give their women what they want with manufacturing technology like this instead of getting money from a political economy bent on destroying them as a people so their women can "go shopping" for the products of less sophisticated manufacturing owned by genocidal sociopaths.

Seth W. said at September 22, 2014 2:40 PM:

Nothing happened and nothing's gonna happen to the U.K. Just like nothing happened with Quebec some years ago.

Dan, I think Check it out's quote wasn't meant to be an academic one, but just an entertaining story which might or might not be fully accurate. Relax Dan. Just enjoy it, because if you take it literally and start getting all philosophical we'll come to the point in which we'll say that it is impossible to compare countries as if they were people. It's a joke.

Here Dan, -How can you make holy water? -Boil the hell out of it.

See? It's a joke, so we can all criticize it as perhaps dull, just like my holy water joke. Yes, the Casiari quote was a little too long, and I myself have never heard of the man either, but I confess I had some fun reading it and personally enjoyed the last phrase: "Why do countries keep on being born when those already there don't function?"

It was meant for fun. Let's not lose track of the issues.

Check it out said at September 23, 2014 3:59 PM:

"Her majesty the Queen says Scotland should 'think very carefully.'"

"Her majesty"? "Her majesty"?..... For real?? Either Dan is one of those British minority fans of the monarchy or..... Nothing; never mind. He's definitely British. He has to be. No citizen of any republic would talk about a king or queen calling him/her "majesty". It sounds so cute.

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