VIEWSrnScots Nationalism, Yesterday and Todayrnby Michael Hillrn”If you were to judge as I do, you would not readily place your neckrnunder a foreign yoke.”rn—^William WallacernAs we approach the millennium, Celtic nationalism threatensrnto rip apart the United Kingdom. After nearly 250rnvcars of English-imposed centralism, the Scots are reassertingrntheir cultural identity and using it as the foundation of arnnascent nationalist independence movement. Though theyrnand their Celtic cousins, the Irish and the Welsh, were defeatedrnhy the modern English state and subjected to London’srnovedordship, the experience of defeat sharpened their sense ofrnidentity and made it impossible to assimilate them into thernBritish national polity. How far or how fast the Scots arernwilling to push devolution remains to be seen. Because of thernhistorical and cultural connections between Scotland andrnAmerica, the success or failure of the Scots’ campaign for selfdeterminationrn(or to be less polite, for secession) ought to ringrnfamiliar and be of more than just passing interest to their kinsmenrnon this side of the Atlantic.rnTo the same people and for the same reasons, the story of therndestruction of old Scotland should be told often and well.rnWhen Confederate President Jefferson Davis at his 1861 inaugurationrnasked that the South be “let alone,” his plea was notrnnew. It had been made over a century earlier in the Highlandsrnof Scotland, when that prcmodern, traditionalist society wasrnconfronted by a rising modern state. Both the antebellumrnSouth and old Scotland were branded anachronisms and slatedrnfor extermination in the names of “progress” and “union.” Matcriallvrnsuperior enemies destroyed them in the trenches at Petersburgrnin 1865 and eariier on the killing fields of Culloden inrn1746, and in the wake of overwhelming triumphs the victorsrnMichael Hill is a historian, president of The Southern League,rnand author of Fire & Sword: Sorlcy Boy MacDonnell and thernRise of Clan Ian Mor, 1538-90 (The Aegis Press).rnmolded the Anglo-Celtic world into a new shape. We, on thernverge of the new millennium, must judge their results: deracinatedrninternational consumers, incapable of self-governmentrn—veritable “nowhere men.”rnPrcmodern Scotland (as well as Celtic Ireland and Wales)rnwas a “nation” in the biblical and historical sense, meaning arnpeople, rather than a state. The Gaelic north and west and thernEpiscopalian northeast nourished an organic rural society inrnwhich extended kinship groupings (clans) exercised local selfrule.rnThe dominant clans and “Highland line” families werernthe focus of an informal, private social organization that increasinglyrnwas threatened by its opposite to the south: the modern,rnpublic state. By the latter half of the 16th century, thernstruggle between these contending polities marked a newrnphase in Scotland’s history.rnBefore the extension of modern government into the Highlandsrnand northeast, the clan kept order, produced most of therngoods it consumed, educated its young, provided care for thernold and infirm, and most fundamentally, took responsibility forrnits own defense. Indeed, the right to self-protection was centralrnto most prcmodern societies and entailed widespread possessionrnof arms as well as strong moral sanctions against aggressorsrnwithin and without. When these conditions are met, menrnhave no need of external government. The Highlanders onlyrntolerated monarchical government for an obvious reason: thernking was no more than the nominal “father” of his people, arndistant chief whose physical power did not extend into theirrnmountains and glens. The Highland chiefs and the northeasternrnlairds, influenced not at all by, as G. P. Insh writes, “thernelaborate casuistry of the political philosopher [nor] the ‘originalrncontract’ v/ith which the Whig sought to justify his dispositionrnof the monarch,” expected little from the king in terms ofrnNOVEMBER 1995/15rnrnrn