Welcome to our second issue at the need of another tumultuous political month in which Great Britain has been replaced with Little England and we have been tipped out of Europe. ‘Global Britain’ is the brand name for the political entity you now inhabit.
“Outside the E.U., the world is our oyster, and the Commonwealth the pearl within,” UKIP declared last year. The harsh truth beyond this delusion will unfold before us in the coming years. Already the cold reality of European ‘contagion’ is becoming clear as Donald Tusk lays out the terms of the process.
Amongst the talk of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘taking back-control’ – what these last few weeks have shown us is that there is an emerging relationship between English ‘independence’ and Scottish self-rule. The more the former is asserted the latter has to be suppressed. This is a dangerous new dynamic being handled badly by an elite high on their own rhetoric and whose judgement is completely distorted by their own myth-making.
It’s in this context that Robert Somynne writes on the emergent international status of Scotland, on the one hand put down by Theresa May and on the other becoming recognised in a new light by our European neighbours.
There’s few better metaphors for our unfulfilled potential than the story of our shambolic indigenous film-industry, which staggers from crisis to crisis. May Miles Thomas busts a few myths about the eternal search for a Scottish film studio and the inability of our political class to create a platform for us to tell our stories (and others) on a world stage. “The absence of film as a cultural force is Scotland’s shame because if we can’t tell our stories to ourselves and the world then who are we as a nation”, she asks.
This longing for some basic European conditions is explored by Sue Palmer (from Upstart) from a very different angle, as she examines that the state of our children’s play and schooling. She warns us that Scottish children are now among the least active in the world, with fewer than ten per cent of four-year-olds achieving the recommended level of activity, pointing out that: “The change in children’s habits of play is compounded by Scotland’s extraordinarily early school starting age. Only 12% of countries worldwide send children to school at four or five years of age – and almost all are ex-members of the British empire! Most nations begin school at six, while 22% wait till children are seven. The majority of European children therefore spend three or four years in kindergartens, where the emphasis is on social and emotional development and learning through play, before beginning formal education. This means European parents are well aware of the developmental significance of play and – even in a 21st century culture – young children have plenty of opportunity to be outdoors, active and playing with friends”.
Finally another grand European connection to be celebrated later this month is the work of the Italian writer Antonio Gramsci who was imprisoned for much of his life by Mussolini. On the 80th anniversary of his death a major conference is to be held in Edinburgh exploring his ideas, which were first translated by Hamish Henderson between 1947 and 1951.
If we are to make sense of the world and its new forms of madness Gramsci’s widely influential notions of ‘hegemony’ and the ‘manufacture of consent’ from his Prison Notebooks can shine a light on how forces of reaction are shaped. Colin Fox explores his central idea that beliefs are cultivated through a ‘hegemony’ reproduced in cultural life through the media, universities and other institutions to ‘manufacture consent’ and create legitimacy for reactionary forces.
We’re delighted to explore these deep and rich European connections, as our political leaders at Westminster seek to cut us off from the continent and take us back in time. Today it’s all the more important to have open minds and open hearts and celebrate our internationalism as contemporary Scottish European citizens.