(4) so if it is worthwhile, a move to independence has to be liberating beyond a long and deceptive moment of liberation like the one many of us experienced when Blair was elected and my son and I climbed the Pentlands and looked north, east, south and west and were so overjoyed that no Tories had been elected for as far as the eye could see and way way beyond. Being elected with such hope and relief, Blair had an ability to carry out warfare, extend privatisation and hand all power to finance (think PFIs) in a way and to a depth that the Tories could never have done, because while they were in power we still had a category way of framing our opposition (Labour against Tory, just as currently we have Scotland against the British state). .
So we need to make the move to independence be about far more than us against them, and make it instead about us also wanting to liberate them (as Ghandii so successfully managed with the British).
We need to make it about much more than Salmond and the SNP and nationalism. We need to recognise that all of these can become as oppressive – or more oppressive – than the current state of affairs, where there is at least a deep knowledge that this is not what we would choose.
We meed to approach all this with a lighter touch, with a hopeful-but-in-this-for-the-long-haul confidence.
We need to be able to be more playful, and far more critical and generous, including being both self-critical and also recognising the qualities and difficult histories of others.
Unless we recognise that it’s the way we do this they matters far more than whether we are successful or not, we could end up as pompous,, superficial and murderous as Blair’s post-Thatcher Britain or as failed as any post-colonial African state (a failure for its people because a success for those forces bent on continuing to exploit its resources and people).
So what are the touchstones, the grounds of struggle and celebration and empowerment?
How can we tell if what we are doing is fuelling an independence movement that will lead to an intensification of disempowerment, or one that is enabling a flowering of self-determination and autonomy?
4 suggested touchstone questions:
- is it for, or is it against?
- is it seeking peoples’ self-determination and autonomy from other categories within and beyond itself (does it gather those struggles into this moment and advance them as it advances), or does it marginalise them and say they will have to wait while we focus on ourselves?
- does it recognise that if it is truly liberating it will both generate an overwhelming attempt to stop it (out of all seeming proportion to its reasonable assertion/ request), but that it will also gather support from across the world, and from those within the categories it seeks to liberate itself from, and from those within itself who might otherwise reject it (out of all seeming proportion to it’s reasonable assertion/ request).
- can it focus on disentangling the histories and current dynamics of this particular oppression, while remaining fully aware of it’s potential to oppress, and remaining fully aware of the need to help liberate those in the category currently experienced as oppressing?
For me, this is why the Greens have gone increasingly silent on independence as the prospect of it happening increases.
I am a Green myself, but I do not speak as someone who has ever had or sought any position in the party, and I may not be speaking for anyone else in the party.
But as a Green myself, I think it is crucial we Greens step forward and explain why we have huge concerns about an independence framed in nationalist terms, but also explain why we have a real hunger to participate in a struggle for real autonomy and self-determination, and that we recognise that this moment and this struggle offers real opportunities to advance a movement towards liberation without which there is every likelihood this planet will become uninhabitable for humans by the end of this short short century.
So who and what are we Greens?
Fundamentally we Greens need to realise and explain to others that:
This moment and this struggle to reclaim sovereignty from Westminster offers a real and rare opportunity to advance a movement towards liberation without which there is every likelihood this planet will become uninhabitable for humans by the end of this short short century.
That this is a rare opportunity to put forward a vision of what real sovereignty could mean, and so enable us to strike out now in a direction all countries will eventually have to follow. The urgency of the need to show other countries it is possible to rapidly decarbonise, localise and humanise our economy can be measured by the depth of resistance to such a move.
In this, we need to be fundamentally realistic about the depth of change needed, and about the absolute inclusivity required to achieve it.
We work globally to renew locally. We work locally to renew globally.
And the other key move we need to make – as part of as broad and deep a movement as possible – is to reclaim and reshape the state so that it is no longer kept in place as a forceful tool that uses people’s identity as a way of dividing us against each other and so enable far more powerful forces to exploit us.
Reclaiming the state can play a powerful part in enabling us to resist being continually divided, uprooted and exploited.
But only if statehood is a means to multiple levels of liberation, rather than it being the end of liberation.