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What would Braveheart do?

| Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

No matter how the vote turns out on Thursday in Scotland, either for independence or continued union with Britain, the disintegration of the Old Continent appears almost inevitable. Already the British government has conceded that even if the Scots vote for union, Edinburgh will receive greater powers to rule itself.

Cheering for the breakup of the U.K. are Catalans and Basques, Bretons and Corsicans, Tyroleans, Venetians, Flemish, all dreaming of nations of their own carved out of Spain, France, Italy and Belgium. Europe's secessionists have waxed ever stronger since the last decade of the 20th century when the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia splintered into 22 nations and Czechoslovakia broke in two. Abkhazians and Ossetians then broke from Georgia as Transnistria fought free of Moldova. Chechnya went to war twice to escape from Russia. Secessionists now battle Russia in Ingushetia and Dagestan.

The decomposition of the nations of Old Europe is the triumph of tribalism over transnationalism. The heart has reasons that the mind knows not, said Pascal. And the wild heart is winning.

Here is Niall Ferguson in The New York Times wondering how these crazy Scots could think of seceding from England: “The economic risks are so glaring that even Paul Krugman and I agree it's a terrible idea. What currency will Scotland use? The pound? The euro? No one knows. What share of North Sea oil revenues will go to Edinburgh? What about Scotland's share of Britain's enormous national debt?”

Niall Ferguson is the kind of fellow who in 1773 would surely have admonished those stupid farmers on the Concord Bridge that if they didn't put those muskets down, they could wind up ruining the Colonies' trade with the Mother Country. And he would have demanded of Jefferson in Independence Hall in 1776: “What currency will we use?”

Yet it is not only in Scotland where peoples are deciding that what separates them is more important than what unites them. Secessionism is ablaze all over the world. The Syria and Iraq we have known will never be the same again, as the Shia-Sunni divide deepens and the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran come together. We have seen Ethiopia and Sudan break in two.

Facing secessionist movements in Tibet and the Uighur lands of the west, Beijing is exporting Han Chinese by the trainload to repopulate the regions. Vladimir Putin is perhaps the most popular leader alive for bringing home to Mother Russia the Crimea and making a virtual protectorate of the Russified southeastern Ukraine.

But it is not only secessionism that imperils the EU. In Britain, France, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and most of the countries of Europe, populist parties have arisen to liberate their nations from what they see as the soft dictatorship of the EU. What assures the growth of these parties is what engendered them — mass immigration from the Third World and the attendant rise in crime, Islamism and social disorder.

And what is there to halt the waves of immigration in boats and rafts from across the Mediterranean? Nothing.

As for the Scots, not to worry if Goldman Sachs is bearish on secession. When you enter the polling booths, just ask yourselves: What would Braveheart do?

Pat Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

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