The Destruction of the Metropole

It is an odd situation that Scotland finds herself in at the moment.  A bit like a teenager, yearning for the freedom which is only a few years away but seems like a lifetime is to be lived until the magic date which will denote the beginning of our independence.  And like a teenager we must make good use of the intervening period to ensure that our freedom once obtained is not shackled by repeating mistakes that many have made before and lived to regret as the first flush of their youth evaporated.

In the 1950s and 1960s a wave of liberation swept through Empire.  Great hopes were held for the third world and grand schemes were developed.  By the 1980s, riddled with debt, systematically stripped of resources and a pawn in the Cold War, its people were hungry, impoverished and disease ridden as the newly rich implemented the tricks of the Bwanta – syphoning off the nation’s riches, using ethnic and cultural differences to justify exploitation and conflict, all the while squandering the capital of the nation to build luxurious and impressive symbols of the nation in its capital.  Welcome to the new boss, same as the old.

The anti-syzygy of the Caledonian position is not difficult to see as the former coloniser contemplates becoming the post-colonial.  Our liminal state within the United Kingdom and our centrality as a constituent of the British Empire is about to be transformed as we build a new nation in its place.  We should heed the experiences of the third world and the lessons it teaches us in nation building and developing an identity in our own right.  The sale of sovereignty in 1707 by the clan chiefs, the murder of our people and the theft of our land, sea and oil should not be forgotten and that which is outstanding should be returned, but at the same time we cannot develop national cohesiveness on the basis of that which we are not; we must develop a positive national identity and build a new nation founded on inclusion and integration with respect for all the peoples within.

It is in the emergence of the interstices—the overlap and displacement of domains of difference—that the inter-subjective and collective experiences of nation-ness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated.
– Homi Bhabha

Although small and fairly ethnically homogeneous, Scotland is a diverse nation.  Comprising both mainland and island; lowlanders and Gaels; settled communities and travelers; white and Black indigenous communities, and old and new citizens, we have ethnic and cultural faultlines which run through our nation.  On our islands, where people live geographically cut-off from mainland Scotland, the margin is the centre, our cities become resource banks for those citizens to draw from and deposit to.  We must ensure that our cities are accessible and inclusive to those who select to base themselves at the margins, valuing their contributions and supporting their ambitions.  The relationship between the Lowlands and the Highlands with its Gaelic culture, language and ethos must be reciprocal, eschewing both hegemonic cultural domination and a romanticisation of the noble savage.  The travelling communities of Scotland: flitting ere like the Borealis race, must be given space to develop, all the while making sure that no fingers are pointed.  Our established minority communities must be allowed to find their own distinctive cultural fusion, while our new citizens bring a diversity, richness and new ideas from lands beyond our ken and the relationship between the two supported as the generations of international diaspora meet.

The temptation to build an Athens, a replacement metropole to manage the periphery, must be resisted.  In 2004, as Our Majesty, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, gave her royal seal of approval to the parish council that we had been allowed by the benevolent occupier, thousands gathered in the shadow of a folly which stands monument to the wasted lives and squandered resources that result from imperial ambitions.

We believe that sovereignty rests in the people and vow to fight for the right to govern ourselves for the benefit of all those living in Scotland today, tomorrow and in future time.
– Declaration of Carlton Hill

Nations are not born fully formed, but continually reshaped and moulded.  As we grow in national confidence and stature, grasping our way towards new responsibilities and challenges; finding our way in the world and our relationship to it, we must also consider our own internal growth and development, ensuring balance and respect as we go about the business of daily life.  We must not build a new metropole, but embrace our liminality weaving the strands of our identity together like a tartan where each of the colours is distinct but the real beauty is in the interlocking.

Comments (22)

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  1. RevStu says:

    “The anti-syzygy of the Caledonian position is not difficult to see as the former coloniser contemplates becoming the post-colonial. Our liminal state”

    If you’re wondering, that’s where I gave up.

    1. Albalha says:

      As I understand Caledonian antisyzygy is a sense of two contradictory forces in the country pulling in different directions, I think. Anyway I’d say Scotland is way more complex than many people appreciate but in the event, hopefully, we vote for independence we’re in for interesting times, it never fails to amaze how little our many so called commentators, columnists actually know about the country and its people.
      Does anyone know when the Scottish Independence Convention website will be up and running again.

      1. Albalha says:

        Re above comment I don’t mean the writer of this article who is referring to the diversity, complexity of the country.

  2. Ralph says:

    Homi Bhabha highlighted in bold with the implication that we should pay extra social attention?… Do you not know this bloke is a charlatan? Just because someone has read a bit of theory and uses some obscure words doesn’t make them an authority on anything, especially if their writing is consistently muddled, incoherent trash. Quoting a charlatan makes you look like one too. Fail.

    1. mhairi says:

      Homi Bhabha is in bold purely because he is quoted to make it stand out from the main text. I’m not sure why you consider him a charlatan, I think he’s got quite a lot of interesting things to say about fusion, integration and post-colonialism.

  3. wendywelch says:

    Oh dear! Carlton Hill, indeed!!

    1. mhairi says:

      Oh yes, you’re right! I have been picked up for that many times before. My only defense is that I live on the West Coast – its clearly an intercultural mistake 😉

  4. tom says:

    I am always intrigued by discussions on Scotland’s diversity and – for some people – implying that this could be an obstacle to an independent nation. In all countries there are diverse and conflicting opinions, in several cases in western Europe of an extremely violent nature. It would be inconceivable in any of these situations to imagine the population deciding that they should abandon nationhood.

    1. mhairi says:

      I’m not suggesting that the diversity of Scotland suggests that it couldn’t be independent – quite the opposite – independence gives us more opportunity to recognise the diversity and ensure that all the peoples of Scotland are involved in its governance, in a way that isn’t possible under London rule.

  5. intentionally blank says:

    What utter nonsense.
    To start with there’s the use of an anthropomorphised Scotland in place of absolutely overt patriotism. Johnson was right about patriots 300 years ago and nothing has changed. then that is followed up with the blatant falsehood that the country is waiting, like an homogenous whole, for independence. Wasn’t it only 36% in favour at the last count?

    Patriotism – the last refuge of the scoundrel.

  6. Alex Grant says:

    Why am I not surprised you are ‘intentionally blank’ As it happens when Johnson made that comment he was not suggesting that all patriots were scoundrels! You should be a little more careful with your quotes!
    By the way 36% is a large number and will grow- and it is only at that level because of generations of brainwashing by the British state persuading Scots that they are ‘too wee and too stupid’!

  7. intentionally blank says:

    Alex, thanks you for your reply.

    “When Johnson made that comment he was not suggesting that all patriots…”

    Really? Have you got a citation for that?
    I would not say that all patriots are scoundrels, but I would say that anyone who attempts to justify their attempt to influence a populace to sign up to a war, or to massive economic change, using only or primarily patriotism as motivation is a “scoundrel”. I’d prefer facts over emotion.

    “…the 36% will grow.” You got a citation for that either?
    We are lucky that we have intelligentsia such as your good self to see through the lies that have confused and bamboozled the other 64%.

    I went looking for arguments and blogs that were in favour of independence so I could read the arguments for myself, and maybe have a debate or two. This site is not it. It has passion but lacks facts, or fact checking. The arguments I read are often circular (“The people of Scotland want to be separated from the rest of the UK because the people of Scotland want to be separated from…”)

    The most popular article on this site opens with the line “Iceland is part of the EU”. The comments section has a number of people pointing out this and other massive errors within the text and yet the editors have left it up with the disclaimer “We know bits of it are wrong but other bits are good”.
    I have seen evidence of unionist “spin” but the separatists need to have a long look at themselves if they set such a low bar for their own propaganda.

  8. John Souter says:

    Scotland, like all nations, has a diversity factor equal to its population.

    Bundle ‘diversity’ and you are averaging averages to the benefit of statistics – a lie based on dubious measures paraded as truths to benefit an argument.

  9. carandol says:

    oooooh this is gonna get complex……..
    a) passion and reason, history and reality
    b) the transformation of the attractor- the metropole, centralised power and the peripherarians
    c) who says why no ???
    d) our place in the geopolitic

    While I feel for the general thrust of your thesis take for example your map of the ‘celtic fringe’ although these nations are identified as such, grouped together and given common characteristics of freedom of mind/sense of the rights of the individual, the propensity to stand up to abusive authority, a passion for story and music etc.etc.etc. – the ‘celtic temperament’ – we know from genetics that Ireland and Wales are full of Basque markers, that most fowk haven’t moved far since the ice left, that there are key differences between eastern and western population within the isles, etc., and , that these facts don’t map well with our common perceptions of our locale distinctiveness , further, a comparative semantic analysis of language extant in the ‘celtic fringe’ and ‘celtic homeland’ (which I can’t find at the mo 🙂 ) has shown that the key semantic indicators of the celtic temperament are local to here and so not in any way indicators of celticness. As an example take the story collected from the Ghaedhlig (1700s?) that the Corrievreckan was created from the bones of the ice giant Ymyr . well enough that norse terminology is found in the western isles, this is easily comprehended within current understandings but the key point I would like to make here is that we ‘know’ that the whirlpool was formed during the post glacial sea level changes, therefore no matter what language is current (and hence cultural/ political ties percieved) the details were transmitted… i.e. someone o’us wiz there 🙂
    Beyond my criticizing the logic of your premise it doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with the thrust of the thesis that we have the right and ability to govern ourselves.
    Contextually I believe a more fruitful approach may be to stress more the historical stratifications from the growth of the metropole and how that has led humanity so dangerously near to collapse, a concept framed a century back and more, and, that the post imperialist modelling that has taken place (ie the Commonwealth etc) while still abused (Neo-colonialism, the rise of the ‘Kleptocracy’ etc.) doesn’t mean that there haven’t been forces for the good in action… there is more than one mob encamped on the plain.
    I believe that localised decision making within a agreed social context (ie UN charter, European legislation, common law etc) can be a better more empowering experience for that which really matters, the real organic beings, not the ‘state’ but us and although
    I appreciate the mood and the desire that came to be thon fowk makin their case on Calton Hill it is still just a re-iteration of the discussion from way back – we are sovereign, the crown is the abstraction and guarantor of us and not that we are subservient in any way to the whims of whatever thug can get his mitts on the reigns of power.
    Our opportunity here is to make of ourselves and, that again organic common identity, our scots nation – that whatever the colour of your skin, the beliefs you hold and the history that you by being express, we can, may and amidst us will build a grande millieux healthy honest and open. This transformation away from overcentralisation to the enabling of the sovereign soul which has been ongoing for so long in so many places in space and time is the context of this moment.
    Carpe Diem
    n’diem tartan if y’wish
    blanket, skirt, bags or briches
    🙂

  10. carandol says:

    ta Mhairi
    🙂
    brian

  11. Derick fae Yell says:

    Meanwhile we tak example frae
    thon desert beast, Chameleon –
    St Andrew’s white and blue the day
    the morn, Marx’ vermilion
    Three Cheers! we’ve got a mixed up gray
    and wear it by the million

    The Scottish antisyzy-o
    It fairly maks ye dizzo=o
    baith bandy-leggit and knock kneed
    It bates my auntie Lizzie-o
    Robert Garioch

  12. seven says:

    Derek I don’t normally ‘get’ poetry (inverted dundonian applied mathematician) but I get this
    Gonna save it in fact

  13. Dave Coull says:

    “lowlanders and Gaels” – what a gulf of ignorance is revealed by these words presented as if they are opposites. The truth is, most “lowlanders” have Gaelic ancestry, and many so-called “lowlanders” are more “Gaelic” than thousands of so-called “highlanders”.

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