Monday, October 21, 2013

The Dilemma of the Self-Interested Scholar

Those who study conflict may occasionally get at least a small jolt of excitement and satisfaction when their topic of interest becomes more relevant as violence increases.  No harm done, just a bit of guilt.   I am sure the Germans have a term that schadenfreude-esque. 

Why do I raise this now?  Because I guess I am relieved that the realization that Scottish independence is not going to happen is becoming clear too late--too late for a conference in which I am participating next month in Scotland.  I would hate to miss an opportunity to go to Scotland (never been there), so I am glad that interest in the referendum remains high despite the probable outcome.  Sure, things could change, but given how easy it is for the No folks to make it clear that a big political change has uncertainty and likely costs, and how hard it is for the Yes folks to make clear the benefits of secession, I would bet on No.  I would also bet on this not going away, as the losers are likely to try again.  At least, that is what I learned from Quebec.

Of course, this likely outcome makes it easier for me to take the stance at the conference that I had been planning anyway--that whatever happens in Scotland will not really change anything for anyone who is not in the UK.  I will post my argument (in op-ed form as requested by the organizers) here or a link to it here after the conference.

The key, of course, is that this conference and the effort at independence gives me the excuse to say over and over again for the next month:

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