What do you think of the September vote in Great Britain to decide whether Scotland shall be free of London's rule? Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707. Yet, in September, Britain will go to the polls to vote "yes" or "no" as to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" If a majority vote "yes," Great Britain will be great no more.
The Act of Union in 1707 was a long time ago. It ushered in over 300 years of uniting -- dare I say it -- two great people, the Scots and the English. The Scots may have been portrayed as a junior partner, but they held their own. Edinburgh in the 1770s came to be called "the Athens of the North," the home for a brilliant enlightenment with great thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith. Over the past 300 years, the Scots have made splendid contributions to philosophy, science, the arts, commerce, warfare and -- forget not -- drink. To this day, its leading export is whisky, and it is very good whisky, on par with Tennessee bourbon, maybe even better.
Yet now centrifugal force has set in. A sizable minority of Scots will vote "yes" this autumn, and they have they have the momentum. They could become a majority by the election. Would Scotland really relish its role in the community of nations as a country that has no clout? Would it relish diminishing England? Today, Scotsmen figure mightily in the world with their power base in Scotland and England. Just a few years ago a Scot, Gordon Brown, was prime minister. England is peppered with powerful Scotsmen. Do they really want to diminish themselves to the level of, say, Slovakia.
Slovakia broke from Czechoslovakia in 1993, goaded by visions of self-importance and an irrational urge for change. The Czech Republic, full of confidence and cultural and economic competence, greeted the divorce with insouciance. Today it is about as important in the world as it was before the split. As for Slovakia, well it is a backwater.