That is the melodramatic title of this short essay by Emile Simpson, an English scholar and former British infantry officer. (Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer.) Although we are not certain when a tragedy becomes a “moral tragedy,” Simpson’s paper is worth reading because he explains why tomorrow’s independence referendum is not really democratic at all, since the voting rules establishing who gets to vote — and who doesn’t get to vote — are arbitrary and thus questionable. (As an aside, we tentatively agree with Prof. Cowen when he writes: “Regardless of the result [of tomorrow’s historic referendum in Scotland], allowing this referendum to go forward likely will go down as one of the greatest unforced errors in recent times.” We say “tentatively agree” because of the “ex ante” vs. “ex post” problem.) In any case, will the case of Scotland set a precedent for other regions in the world, such as Catalonia in Spain or California in the U.S., for that matter?
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