Editorial: Plato, Referendums & The Trauma Of Nations

Tim Haïdar


"Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge." – Plato (428 – 348 BC)

By this time next week, the divorce papers may have been signed to end the three century-old union twixt England and Scotland. A staggering 97 per cent of the Scottish population has registered to vote on secession from United Kingdom, and with two days to go until the ballots are cast the race is too close to call.

The two central issues that have emerged in the course of the last few months of campaigning have centred around an independent Scotland’s financial clout, wellbeing and sustainability: that of currency and oil.

The UK is predicted to rake in £57 billion ($92 billion) in North Sea tax revenue through 2018, with as many as 40 years and 24 billion barrels of profit left to reap. This will form the backbone of a sovereign Scottish economy and a proposed oil fund that will put as much as £1bn ($1.6 billion) per annum into a Norwegian-style kitty. But with declining recovery rates and, therefore, cash proceeds, will it be wise to base the prosperity of a fledgling state on a pressingly finite resource?

The battle that has raged for two years is finally approaching its denouement. Although the ultimate fate of the United Kingdom remains unknown, it is guaranteed that seventy-two hours from now, roughly 2.6 million people will be dissatisfied with whatever the result may be. And that outcome will be the product of Plato’s three main founts for human behaviour.

Birth and death have often been described as the two most traumatic events in the human experience. No matter the intention, the beginnings and demises of nations are no different…

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