Surely I’m not the only one to have observed how, as the inevitability of independence becomes increasingly difficult for even the most fervent British nationalist fanatic to deny, the rhetoric of the campaign to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people grows ever more irrational. Perhaps I’m guilty of indulging in rose-tinted hindsight, but I seem to recall a time when a publication purporting to be a serious newspaper would shy away from the kind of demented drivel we’re getting from Scotland in Union and other hard-line unionist organisations. If such standards ever existed then they have surely been abandoned as the British establishment fights a desperate rearguard action against the tide of democratic dissent that has risen in Scotland.
Sometimes the arguments are so utterly demented framing a rebuttal in rational terms is problematic. All too frequently, the unreasonableness of British nationalist dogma simply defies reason. This is one of those occasions.
Arithmetic is entirely reasonable. It is, perhaps, the epitome of reason. When somebody denies arithmetic, they deny the very laws that hold the universe together. How might one deploy universal reason against that which negates the reason of the universe? There’s a passage in Orwell’s 1984 that captures the elusive essence of this, if only you can get your head around it.
“How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
Treating one-third as if it constitutes a majority is little different from maintaining that two plus two equals five. Or three. Or whatever suits your purpose. Holding that an arithmetic minority is actually a majority is “sane” only within the context of an ideology that is itself quite deranged. And this is what Scotland in Union is doing – with a lot of help from the British media. They’re subordinating the imperatives of arithmetic to their ideology. If arithmetic no longer counts for anything, what do you use to counter their “argument”? How do you debate with people who have abandoned reason without joining them in their world of unreason?
Fortunately, there is a part of their argument which is amenable to being addressed in rational terms. The questions asked in the survey make little more sense than the “special” arithmetic by which 32% becomes a majority. But we can easily point out the fallacies whilst keeping our feet firmly planted in the world of reason.
The Scotland in Union survey asked questions based on the premise of waiting until Brexit was actually implement before holding a second independence referendum. The idea is that we should wait until after Scotland has been taken out of the EU against the wishes of its people before taking action to ensure that Scotland isn’t taken out of the EU against the wishes of its people. Have you spotted the flaw yet? It’s a bit like saying you should wait until after someone has been executed before holding the trial to determine their guilt.
That is stupid enough in itself. But there’s more. Scotland in Union is pushing the idea of waiting to see what Brexit means for trade etc. before holding another independence referendum. Although we should note again that their own survey found only a relatively small minority in favour of such a delay. Perhaps because, unlike the British nationalist fanatics behind Scotland in Union, the majority of people realise that discussions on trade deals can’t even begin until after the UK has ceased to be a member of the EU.
There will be more of this kind of madness. Dismissing 68% in favour of 32% may be the least of it. We have to find ways of dealing with the irrationality without being infected by it.Views: 3341
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