People have compared the U.K.-Scotland relationship, in the event of a split, to the United States and Canada, which of course is inexact and even absurd in all kinds of ways. But I will say this: whenever I’ve visited Ottawa and dipped a toe into the Canadian political experience, I’ve always come away impressed with the advantages of national politics on a different scale (however large and diverse in its own right) than the kind of experiment we have going in our increasingly imperial republic. True, those advantages don’t incline me to pick up and move to Vermont and throw in with the Green Mountain state’s separatists, and they don’t incline me, in the end, to desire the dissolution of Great Britain’s successful and rather extraordinary union either. But they do incline me to a greater sympathy for the cause of Scottish independence, a greater understanding for why ruling themselves from Edinburgh might seem preferable to being represented in Westminster, than a tabulation of financial considerations would allow. At the very least, I envy them the chance to cast so significant a vote, and I would find something to admire in either outcome. (Ross Douthat)
I'm not that acquainted with the particulars of Scottish separatism, but if the primary motive is nationalistic, it's silly. On the other hand, I think that more regional autonomy is desirable.
As the globe further centralizes, there will be, paradoxically, more regional autonomy. We already see the outlines of it in the U.S. The center cannot hold, and, really, we shouldn't expect it to. Nevertheless, there are minimal functions that a center should play, and this is the mistake the Scots make if they are hell bent on complete independence. Interdependence is the more desirable future, and that requires a weakened role by the center, but should not obliterate its role completely.
I consider myself a social democrat, which obviously requires a prominent role for government in the shaping of our society. The change that I've experienced since 2008, especially after seeing the mess the Obama administration has made in its technocratic attempts to reform public school education, is to devolve government more to the local level. A national, one-size-fits-all education policy makes no sense, and certainly the idea of privatizing public education through charters, etc., makes no sense.
Local or regional control doesn't get rid of the problem of local oligarchies controlling dominating the system, but such oligarchies are easier to deal with on the local level when their depredations become egregious.
But centralized power is the only power that can effectively deal with issues like multinational corporate predatory behavior, environmental degradation, and it has an important role on the national and international level to play in setting fair labor standards, trade and transportation rules, and lots of other things that need coordination and regulation at a higher level.
Conflicts between the local and the center will always be thorny: Should locals refuse genetically modified produce exported according to rules determined by an international body? Probably. Because the bias should always be toward letting the locals alone, except where they prove themselves outrageously unable or unwilling to solve problems that clearly undermine the greater good. What that greater good means in reality will depend on lots of different, mostly contingent factors. Locals can always find ways to resist centralized regulations when they lose in these conflicts, through boycotts and other means. But such protests are easier to organize on the local level than on a national or international level.