Problems of class and state formation in Scotland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


It is widely understood that Brexit and Scottish independence are twin symptoms of the crisis of the UK state. In both cases an illusory image of ‘state sovereignty’ as a steering apparatus was supposed to provide an answer to the question asked by the right of nations to self-determination. This is of course a fine slogan but raises at least two questions. First, who is the ‘self’ that constitutes the nation and, relatedly, how does ‘the nation’ determine itself? In the first case, the national self resides with the popular will, while in the second case the nation is can only be fully realised when it acquires a fully-fledged state apparatus with monopolies of the means of violence and taxation.

Rather than strengthening the authority of the UK state, as intended, these experiments in state-organised plebiscites eroded legitimacy based on popular consent by bringing to the surface fundamental social divisions. An unrepresentative and unelected Scottish state represents a major barrier for a more egalitarian and democratic Scotland. Despite ‘widening educational access’ (or 'levelling-up' [sic]) the squeezed PMC will always manage to reproduce and pass on its competitive advantages. A re-introduction of the lexicon of class into the Scottish public sphere – unburdened by labourist assumptions – might break the spell that we somehow all get what we deserve in a fluid society of personalised human capital sanctified by the PMC
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021
Event11th Annual Conference in Political Economy: The Pandemic and the Future of Capitalism: On the Political Economy of our Societies and Economies - online conference
Duration: 12 Sept 202119 Sept 2021
Conference number: 11th


Conference11th Annual Conference in Political Economy
Abbreviated titleIIPPE Annual Conference 2021


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