Pat Kane, Scotland After Yes
Published: 12 February 2014
In an effort to broaden the debate, we've asked two prominent figures in Scottish arts and culture to address the theme How could a Yes or a No vote help Scotland cope better with the future? In this feature, sci-fi writer Ken MacLeod and musician Pat Kane will present their cases. Pat's argument for a yes follows.
There is, no doubt, a case to be made that a Yes vote to Scottish independence on Sept 18th is a step back into the past, not towards the future.
We live in a world traversed by global markets and communications systems - where the face of Nelson Mandela is better known to you than the neighbour two doors down. A world where climate change and migration flows urge us to think at the level of the planet (or at least the planetary region). Where technology and science constantly threaten to reimagine our sense of the normal and stable…
So what is remotely exciting about an old territory like Scotland, regaining a full national sovereignty that was lost 300 years ago?
It’s precisely because the 21st century will be so demanding, but also so full of opportunity and challenge, that we need to find the right collective vehicle to take us forward. We need a political democracy with the right balance of population and natural resources, of modernity and tradition, of secure values and demonstrable talents. For me, an independent Scotland is precisely that vehicle.
We are small enough, but sophisticated enough, to be able to easily and readily turn to each other, and work out how to steer our way wisely and well through the great themes of the coming century. We simply need to give ourselves the full range of government tools to do so.
In energy, we sit on the cusp of two eras, the carbon and the renewable - and we can leverage the steady wealth of the first to build the infrastructure and capacity for the second. But only if we have the macro-level powers of a nation-state to plan and coordinate that.
In education, we have already made a bold leap - in Curriculum for Excellence - towards a learning that presumes the plenitude of the information age, and thus values adaptability, agility and social literacy in students, over rote learning. But we need to continue on the journey, and not falter - which the collective will of a Yes vote will provide.
In science and technology, in arts and creativity, we already seem to be embedded deeply in the future. Whether Grand Theft Auto or Dolly the Sheep, Mark Millar or Peter Higgs (and his Boson), Scottish genius - no doubt reverberating from the glory days of the Scottish Enlightenment - seems to be irrepressible.
But we need to ally our native smarts with a truly global ambition. How can Scotland become one of the world’s great problem-solvers? We have to use the global calling-card of a Yes vote for independence to let the planet know we’re ready for the adventure of the future.
As an English-speaking, highly-developed and globally-recognised “nation-brand”, Scotland has a once-in-a-generation chance to become fully engaged with the tumult of the coming century. It’s a moment that asks us to raise our game as citizens, workers, players, empaths. To me, there’s nothing more futuristic than a Yes vote.
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