The Hibakusha: the Ethical Case for Independence

Kenzaburo OeThere are almost as many reasons for the independence of Scotland as people in favour of the idea.

Over the last few months, James Kelman, Alasdair Gray and more recently Alan Riach in The Herald have all argued passionately and persuasively for independence on the grounds of the survival of Scottish culture.

There are others, social democrats mostly, who are disenchanted with a UK political system which no longer offers Scottish voters any real choice and see it as simply a question of governance and democracy: Scotland will always be outvoted by the South of England under Westminster rule.

And then there are the more traditional civic nationalists in the YES campaign who – quite reasonably it seems to me – argue that they want their country back.

All of these reasons obviously overlap, and yet each stands on its own merits; none of them has anything to do with money or oil, though that is primarily what the newspapers report on – or misreport on in the case of the BBC and most of the mainstream press.

But perhaps the most universal argument in favour of a YES vote – the humanitarian or ethical case for independence – comes down to this: anybody who votes NO will effectively be voting for the renewal of Trident submarines; and Trident, nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction do not just have a bearing on the people of Scotland, they have a bearing on the whole of humankind.

It just so happens that the referendum has been called at around the same time that Brown’s Labour government, followed by Cameron’s Conservatives, have committed to spending 100 billion pounds on renewing a weapons system with the power to kill five million people at the touch of a button.

Trident, it has always seemed to me, is a moral calamity for the people of this country, a monstrous responsibility thrust upon us, a looming shadow which penetrates our dreams and feeds into our fears in a manner in which we are scarcely aware.

We didn’t ask for it, we never wanted it, but we’ve been handed this fight, and we must rise to the challenge, with the weekend of action from the 13th to the 15th of April organized by the Scrap Trident campaign a key date for those opposed to nuclear arms and against Westminster rule.

For this much we do know: Trident and Westminster go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t matter if you vote Labour, Conservative or cast your ballot for the Zelig of British politics, the Lib Dems; a vote for any of them is a vote for nuclear weapons.

The universal, ethical case for independence, the case which you could explain to anybody almost anywhere in the world is: we don’t want nuclear weapons, we don’t believe in them, and we don’t believe that there ever could a justification for using them.

Because to use Trident would be to commit a humanitarian crime on an unprecedented scale, an act of utter barbarity. To possess these weapons amounts to a threat to the rest of the world, and an abuse of power. Trident, more than anything else, is the symbol of the obstinate stupidity and parochialism of the British ruling class, who still fail to see that everything changed after Auschwitz and Hiroshima,

Nor can anybody believe Trident is a deterrent; the military junta in Argentina back in 1982 which ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands didn’t seem to think so, and nor did any of the terrorist groups which have attacked British targets over the years.

More importantly, Britain has backed every single US foreign war of aggression since Vietnam. To talk of Trident as a deterrent in this context is like talking about somebody who keeps a bazooka under the bed at home and from time to time goes out into the countryside to hold up post-offices with a pistol.

In short, anything other than a YES vote in 2014 is a vote to threaten the rest of humankind with another Hiroshima.

What actually happened there on the 6th of August, 1945, the day “Little Boy” was dropped on that unfortunate city by an American B-29 bomber? You see the photos, you watch the film footage, but it is hard to get a true picture of what Hiroshima means.

But the people who survived that crime against humanity have a name in Japanese, and some of them are still around today; they are known as the Hibakusha.

I know this because – Wikipedia aside – one day, on my wanderings around the city of Madrid, where I lived for many years, I came across an old bookshop in the Lavapiés neighbourhood where I found a copy of Kenzaburo Oé’s Hiroshima Notebooks, in Spanish.

Oé, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, visited Hiroshima a number of times over almost two decades and wrote down his impressions of what he saw there. What does Oé talk about in Hiroshima Notebooks?

He talks about the dignity of the people of Hiroshima; the heroism of the doctors and medical staff who fought the effect of the bomb for years, risking their lives and often dying while helping others; he talks of the resistance of the authorities to accept that the effects of radiation were due to the nuclear explosion; and the collusion between the Japanese government and the Americans in obscuring the facts and silencing the population.

Oé talks of tragedy, of suicide, of death and despair on an almost unmatched scale, the suffering of a people, the suffering of the Hibakusha; but he also talks of their dignity, their defiance, and their self-sacrifice.

Above all, though, Oé talks about the need to rid the world of nuclear arms:

“In the widest context of human life and death, those of us who have escaped from the atomic holocaust must consider Hiroshima as an inseparable part of the history of Japan and an inseparable part of the history and destiny of the world. If we, the survivors, want to expiate Hiroshima and grant it some positive value, we must mobilize our efforts against nuclear weapons under the motto “the human suffering of Hiroshima” and “the renovation of all humankind”(“Hiroshima Notebooks”, Kenzaburo Oé)

I would argue for independence using any of the reasons outlined at the beginning of this article. But I am not someone who feels proud to be Scottish, if only because I find it hard to understand how people can feel pride at something which come down to a question of chance – where you happened to be born in the world.

Nor am I somebody who necessarily believes in being loyal to a country or nation. As far as I’m concerned, loyalty is best paid to ideas – the kind enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But if the people of Scotland vote YES and we can get rid of Trident, that would be something to be proud of, a decision which would resonate around the world.

If, on the other hand, Scotland returns a NO vote and Trident is renewed, future generations will have every right to look back at us with recrimination and reproach. You had this chance, they will say, why didn’t you take it?

The future generations of Scotland, that is, and also the future generations of Hiroshima…

© Douglas Stuart Wilson

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  1. Charles Patrick O'Brien says:

    One of the best articles I have read in a long time,although I have never needed a reason to be an independence seeker,I have always wanted an independent Scotland,this just enforces my want and need.

  2. Excellent article, Douglas, but, sadly, you are once again preaching to the converted. Getting the message out there to the hard of thinking is the real problem.

  3. Ewan Morrison says:

    I was very keen to read this article, but the piece does not anser the premise. The introduction of trident into your debate is a non-sequitur. You’re sneaking a third element into your argument. The argument for unilateral disarmament dwarfs any questions you are trying to raise or answer. The ethical question must surely be framed within the context of the questions which come with governance- so you must address the different forms that government can take, the different sizes of government and what this means for representation, the ethical problem of ‘reason’ and bureaucracy, the question of what degree any country can be ‘ethical’ in an unethical global economic system.

    I’d like to see a fully engaged article that attempts to answer these questions rather than this confusing false argument with a third element snuck in the back door, which goes along the lines of

    independence good
    nuclear weapons bad

    The biggest problem here is that you overlooks the fact that it is possible to be pro-independence and pro-nuclear weapons and nuclear power and to consider this position as ethical.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Hi Ewan, feel free to make the case for your pro-indy, pro-Trident, pro-new nukes on these pages. But surely it’s up to you defend or articulate that position, not Douglas?

    2. Douglas says:

      Ewan Morrison,

      The first sentence of the article says: “There are almost as many reasons for the independence of Scotland as people in favour of the idea.” You can take that to include people who want a nuclear-armed Scotland, one with even more warheads than at present, why not?

      The article is entitled THE HIBAKUSHA: THE ETHICAL CASE FOR INDEPENDENCE… – not the other way around – and the first two words ought to provide a clue as to what it is about, ie, nuclear weapons. Why would Trident be a non sequiter in such a discussion…?.

      No doubt there is another article about the ethics of independence – one which is “fully-engaged”, as you put it – but no doubt too you could write it better than I could.

      As for the premise of the article, it is that nuclear weapons are unethical and species-endangering, and that consequently the referendum has a wider, ethical dimension to it; by voting YES we might get rid of Trident, while anybody voting No – even if they are against Trident – is voting for its renewal.

      You can agree or disagree with that premsie as you like of course but I was puzzled by your reading of the piece.

      Slainte

      D

      1. Ewan Morrison says:

        Douglas –

        you say “The universal, ethical case for independence, the case which you could explain to anybody almost anywhere in the world is: we don’t want nuclear weapons…”

        This statement, is absolutely, a non sequitur. Where in “The universal ethical case for independence” does the issue of nuclear weapons come up? You may as well say The Universal, ethical case for independence is: we don’t want (fill in the blank with anything). Although I agree with the sentiment behind much of what you say the construction of your argument is flawed.

        A proposition which you could claim, and which I’d sympathy with is: “The universal ethical case for independence is : we don’t want your culture colonising our culture.”

        Or “we don’t want your military occupying our country”

        The operative word here is ‘YOUR”. We don’t want what you are forcing on us – that is the universal case for independence. Not nuclear weapons, not just nuclear weapons. You could equally well include on the list of things being forced on us – debt, pop music, central govt, tv.

        When you say that the nuclear issue is universally connected to independence (everywhere in every case), all it takes is one piece of evidence to the contrary to disprove what you propose:

        Was there ever a country which won independence without the nuclear issue? Yes.

  4. Paul Carline says:

    It’s a strange kind of ethics to be pro nuclear weapons and nuclear power – not one that’s based on any soundly-based ethical or moral position that I’m aware of. Pragmatism is not an ethical standpoint – even were one to conceive of the possession of either nuclear weapons or power stations as being pragmatic: neither make sense in any world except one based on a flagrant abuse of power and an amoral lack of concern for human health and welfare.

  5. dswil08 says:

    Ewan Morrison,

    The article is entitled THE HIBAKUSHA: THE ETHICAL CASE FOR INDEPENDENCE (and not the other way around); surely the first two words provide a clue as to what it is about, ie, nuclear weapons? Why would Trident by a non-sequiter in such a discussion?

    No doubt there is another, different article to be written about the ethics of independence – one which is “fully engaged” as you put it – but equally, no doubt you could write it much better than I could.

    The first sentence reads: “There are almost as many reasons for the independence of Scotland as people in favour of the idea”….that would include people who want a nuclear armed Scotland, one with even more warheads than now, why not?

    The premise if of the piece is that nuclear weapons are unethical and species-endangering, and that, in a political system in which none of the main parties is offering unilateral disarmament as an option, the referendum has a universal, ethical dimension to it, because by voting NO you are also voting for Trident.

    You might not agree with that premise, fine; there we would have to agree to disagree.

    Slainte.

    D

  6. George Gunn says:

    The “experimental” nuclear plant of Dounreay with its three reactors and HMS Vulcan with its two have sat on the north coast of Caithness for sixty years and throughout the Cold War made the people of Caithness a second strike target for the USSR. No one consulted the people of the Far North as to whether they wanted Dounreay or HMS Vulcan. I want to live in an independent Scotland because the imposition of nuclear militarism on a powerless people must not be allowed to be repeated. It is not Douglas Stuart Wilson who is missing the point about Trident.

  7. thejourneyman says:

    What an absolutely brilliant article! Nuclear weapons or not has never been my main reason for wanting independence, but I have believed for many years now that their time had passed, if indeed there ever was a reason for them in the first place. However, after reading this piece it is obvious to me that I must participate in the next demonstration for their removal because it is the ethical thing to do. I want Scotland to be a nuclear free zone in my lifetime.

  8. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    It is not possible to be intelligent and to support the deployment of Trident or any other nuclear weapons in any ethical or logical manner.
    Only a madman would use nuclear weapons
    A madman is not subject to deterrence
    The presence of Trident does not deter anyone who is likely to use nuclear weapons. It main effect is to encourage the insane to try to arm themselves with nuclear weapons
    The only significant effect Trident has in Scotland is that it makes Scotland, in itself incapable of providing threat to anyone, the number one target in the world in the case of any lunatic deploying nuclear weapons. (This is a very comfortable position for the US in particular)
    It follows that any Scot supporting the retention of Trident in Scottish waters is arguably insane

  9. Graham Ennis says:

    I utterly agree. Shame on SNP for keeping the nuclear bases.

  10. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    When was that?
    At the last SNP conference I voted with a majority for a motion which expressely guaranteed that nuclear weapons would be removed from Scotland (if the SNP was voted into government)
    Can’t speak for future Labour or Tory Governments of course. Perhaps you’re getting a little confused.

    Geting a bit tired off people tapping the side of their noses, winking and saying. “Of course the SNP says snow is white ,but that’s not what they actually mean”

  11. CameronB says:

    I know that I am out off step with the majority of the Scottish vote, but i see membership of NATO as being the problem. If Scotland manages to get rid of Trident, yet stay in NATO (it is possible), we will still be party to the Trident gang.

    Some may consider me a conspiracy fruitcake, but I am more than a little disheartened that so very few people seem to be aware of Operation Gladio. This was a 50 year campaign of false flag terrorist attacks, carried out by the governments of NATO members, against there own civilian populations. This was NATO’s cold war strategy to prevent the spread of socialism, and is all recorded historical fact.

    Personally, I doubt if Gladio was ever halted. In fact, I would suggest that the upsurge in salaphist violence is Operation Gladio 2.0, aimed at ensuring an arc of instability along the entire southern border of Russia.

    1. picpac67 says:

      Agree entirely, Cameron. NATO is the major threat to world peace. It should have been disbanded long ago – at the latest in 1990 – but it had already become much more than an Atlantic alliance supposedly for mutual defence. Now it is the main vehicle for the US-led (with the UK as its main co-conspirator) agenda for “full spectrum” (land, sea, air and space) global economic and military dominance. It’s a clever way of hiding the fact that it is primarily American interests (i.e. the corporatocracy which runs the country) which are being pursued. Other countries are co-opted (in a coalition of the willing and often not-so-willing – but threats and bribes can work wonders) to make it look like a shared ‘crusade’ – and also, of course, to provide more cannon fodder for the illegal wars and subversion.
      You’re right about Operation Gladio (see Swiss historian Daniele Ganser’s great book on it: “Operation Gladio: NATO’s Secret War in Europe). Right-wing groups were trained and armed by the CIA and MI6. Over a roughly 12-year period they murdered some 500 civilians and injured twice that number. The European Parliament promised a full investigation, but for obvious reasons it was never carried out.
      It is to Scotland’s shame that it has played such a significant part in NATO’s illegal and immoral wars, based entirely on lies. An independent Scotland should free itself from the NATO sranglehold.

  12. Heather Wilson says:

    This article is really important as the actual fact of having nuclear subs at all and so near to large areas of populations, has not really been seriously considered, as well as being a) here against the wishes of the majority of the Scottish people, and b) just how dangerous these weapons are and the threat to the stability of not just Scotland but the world. It is important to write from an emotional stance and to try to get the message across just what the consequences are when these weapons are deployed. The only moral and safe way to deal with them is decommissioning, which is the opposite it seems to what the westminster lot have planned. For future generations this is of the utmost moral and ethical importance, the size and forms of government that Ewan mentions makes no sense in this context at all. Yes, an Independent Scotland is very very good, and yes, nuclear weapons are very very bad.

  13. Hello Bella, I’m not saying that I am pro nuclear, I am saying that this article rests on the assumption that nuclear weapons and, by inference, nuclear power are unethical. and that unilateral action against nukes is the only ethical course of action – George Monbiot would take issue with this.
    Nuclear is a huge debate and one that dwarfs the question of independence. As a former member of CND I would recommend that the Yes campaign doesn’t get bogged down in the nuclear question. It only serves to depict the independence movement as stuck yet again in the confused multi Platform radicalism of the 70s. I would hope that you will be able to win pro nuclear people over to the Yes campaign. If you do not you will be cutting your vote at least in half. Politics is not about ticking all the boxes on all the things you believe in – not unless you want to be in a movement that splinters into ever smaller factions of the righteous.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Ah, George Monbiot. He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy Ewan.

      I think George is very confused about some things, nuclear power is one of them.

      But seriously, I’m also getting worried about Mark Lynas who seems to have gone several days without radically reconsidering some central belief he has held for all his adult life. Keep me posted.

      Nuclear is central to the debate about severing our links to the British State.

    2. Douglas says:

      Ewan Morrison,

      The inference you refer to is entirely yours – I make no mention of nuclear power in the article, so why would you infer that I do?

      Anybody can see that nuclear weapons and nuclear power are two entirely distinct questions, ethically speaking, because nuclear bombs and nuclear power stations are built for entirely different purposes.

      As for the assumption that nuclear weapons are unethical, then of course I think they are. They are designed to kill millions of innocent people, and for no other reason; they represent the ultimate accumulation of power by the State against the individual. How could anybody argue otherwise?

      As for assumptions, you make a few yourself; I wrote this article following a reading; it is the reaction to a reading in a particular context, most probably a unique context in my liftetime – the referendum…

      As for the righteous – an ugly word; it would be just as easy to call it principle, and just as easy again to describe pragmatism as cynicism – then if you consider Kenzaburo Oé to be so, then so is W.G Sebald, Primo Levi and about a dozen other twentieth century novelists whose work I admire…

    3. bellacaledonia says:

      Today:

      SCOTS are overwhelmingly opposed to replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system, with opposition running at 75% even among those planning to vote No in next year’s independence referendum.

      That figure rises to 87% among those planning to vote Yes and the same figure applies to those who are as yet un-decided on the referendum issue, according to a TNS BMRB poll carried out for the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

      The headline figures on the constitution in the poll, carried out from February 20-28, appear to show a firming up of opinion, with a nine-point drop in those undecided on the referendum issue compared with the previous month’s TNS poll carried in The Herald.”
      http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/even-pro-uk-voters-reject-trident-move.20481478

      1. Douglas says:

        Thanks for that, Bella…

      2. Ewan Morrison says:

        Bella – some context is necessary here for your stats. from the same article we can see that the question asked was:

        “The UK Government plans to replace the existing Trident nuclear weapons with a new system, at a cost of £65 billion. Do you support or oppose the UK Government buying a new nuclear weapon system to replace Trident?”

        Two points here – part of the question is do you think we should spend £65 million on anything at all that is non essential, to which in a time of recession people answer no.

        The other point is the question of REPLACING trident, leaves it open for many people to go on thinking that the existing trident is adequate.

        So, from the above it is false to assume that this is an anti-nuclear weapon vote. This is a poll that shows that people are against spending a hell of a lot of money on replacing something that already exists – it is a not a poll that proves anti-nuclear sentiment.

  14. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    All reputable polls show around 70%plus of Scots wanting nuclear weapons removed from Scotland. To suggest we need to concede anything to the other 20 odd percent is not credible. Many Scots like myself want nuclear weapons removed from Scotland because they are immoral and the use of them cannot be morally justified in any way. Others have a simple aversion to their homes, towns and families being vapourised in the result of any nuclear war – in which Scotland will without doubt be the number one target.
    Whatever
    There is no sensible, practical or moral arguement to retaining nuclear arms and we should seek none

  15. Ken says:

    Thanks Douglas, your article fully expresses my thought about nuclear weapons and Scottish independence.

    I am from Japan and I’ve come to live in Scotland. Growing up in Japan means you get to know a lot about what happened in Hiroshima and (don’t forget) Nagasaki. And the Hibakusha. Fortunately I do not have any relatives who were directly affected by these events, but many of my friends do. One of them lost his granny because of the effect of the bomb. Being a Japanese means your life is surrounded by memories and experience of the nuclear bombs and nurtures in you a natural anti-nuke sentiment.

    Despite this, the Japanese governments have promoted nuclear power as a national energy project (cheap and clean, they said) and built 18 nuclear power stations and 54 reactors over 50 years. There was America’s influence behind the project. The government staged careful media-campaigning and also injected huge amounts of money in the places where stations were built. With the help of media, it also created a myth that Japan’s economic growth was led by the nuclear power. And people seem to have accepted the myth, forgetting the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They paid the price when the massive earthquake hit Japan two years ago.

    Trident is not necessary. Maybe the UK’s nuclear armament was justifiable during the 1950s-70s, but not now. Trident is an unwanted and unnecessary heritage of the Cold War era. It is no longer a deterrent either. Now that the form of international conflict has changed from large-scale warfare to terrorism, nuclear weapons could actually attract enemies, because if terrorists manage to destroy nuclear weapons in their enemy’s country, the damage would be devastating and long-lasting. Maybe the same thing could be said of nuclear power stations. What would happen if Heysham or Torness is destroyed by terrorists? Just think about what happened in Fukushima.

    This article only mentions Hiroshima, but I would argue that Scotland must learn from the painful experience of all of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima. If the people in Scotland do not want to contaminate this beautiful land with radiation, they must get rid of Trident and nuclear power stations. They must protect this country from future destruction and devastation. It’s too late, far too late if something’s gone wrong.

    1. Douglas says:

      Ken, thanks for that…it’s good to get a Japanese perspective.

      Of course, you’re right about Nagasaki, if I didn’t mention it, it was to keep the piece fairly short. I understand there were some people who survived both explosions in fact.

      As for Fukushima, you’re right, it clearly raises huge questions about nuclear power, though I don’t know enough about energy matters to have a fully informed opinion. In any case, I do think it is a different debate. The case against Trident is open and shut. It’s a scandal that they are going to renew, an outrage.

      Thanks again.
      D

  16. Ewan Morrison says:

    Of course 70% fo Scots may not want nuclear weapons, but this is largely not-in-my-back-yardism and should not be mistaken for a radical anti-nuclear vote. Ask the same 70% whether or not they want to have a scotland without a nuclear deterrent, and they will probably tell you that they wouldn’t want to be left without a European deterrent, on the one condition that the nukes were not kept anywhere near their backyard. This is selfish conservatism and hypocritical. Please don’t delude yourself into thinking this is some kind of popular revival of anti-nuclear sentiment. Lets have a survey on how many scots want to live without a nuclear deterrent – you’ll find that most would not want unilateral disarmament.
    (I drive past Faslane twice a week, live ten miles from it, and I can assure you that the number of protesters a week number no more than five and they are mostly English born old ladies and old men who look like Bertrand Russell).
    This claim that nuclear weapons are unethical is also simplistic. You cannot judge history by intentions, you must do so by it effects. There is a strong argument (advanced among others by Jean Baudrillard) that the cold war was a more peaceful time than now and that there is a rule of ‘unintended consequences’ at play in history. If we were to judge history by intentions then on the other hand we’d have to forgive Mao and Stalin who “meant well”. It turns out that superpowers who did not mean well at all and stockpiled weapons of apocalypse may have against their intentions created a more lasting peace than that which we experience now.
    The Yes campaign has to be a very broad church and that means expanding beyond the comfort zone of the kinds of connections that the old left and what’s left of it feels comfortable with (CND supporters, former communists, equal rights supporters, human rights activists, anarchists, disillusioned labourites and so on). The success of the Yes campaign will rest to a great degree on convincing people who don’t stand for left wing values to vote for independence (the anti nuclear issue is just one example – you’ll also have to convince people who are not for equal rights, or human rights or equal pay, who are against taxing the rich and so on). Strategically it may be of value to not appear to be falling into the old leftists camp – and not wearing all of the things you stand for on your sleeve.

    1. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Rubbish, Ewan
      I know no intelligent or well informed Scot who believes the nuclear stockpile we have does anything other than make us the number one target in the event of some completely non deterred lunatic starting a nuclear war.
      Of course the “Better Together” campaign is targetting the half-wit vote and this issue may have some traction with that group for a while..

      I suppose you think this is the the price we have to pay for the economic benefits of having UK troops stationed in their multitude in Scotland – actually at the last count in the same numbers as the defence force of Trinidad and Tobago

  17. Douglas says:

    Ewan,

    Thanks for replying.

    The case against nukes is universal and ethical because it is something which affects the whole of humanknd, not just the people of Scotland. It is an ethical question because it is to do with moral behaviour; it is universal because we all live on the same plannet, and a nuclear strike would affect everybody in the world, to some degree of other, directly or indirectly…as does our possessing nuclear warheads (and obviously Trident is only the delivery system).

    Trident forms part of the independence debate because of the dysfunctional nature of Brittish politics. In some way you’re right, it’s not intrinsic to it, it’s circumstantial. But the situation at present is that none of the main parties offer voters a choice to express an opinion on Trident renewal, and the weapons system is based here. Nobody has ever asked the people of Scotland if they want Trident, let alone the rest of the world. People who might be undecided and are against Trident have an opportunity to make themselves heard.

    There are is another article – a number of others probably – about the ethics of self-government, I agree with you. But that wasn’t the one I was trying to write, as I mentioned, I read a book and responded to it in a particular context at a particular time. The reasoning behind each YES vote will cover a much wider spectrum than the No vote, that’s my view. Regardless of the relative nature of all opinion polls, I would think the YES campaign has more to gain than to lose on the issue of Trident by stressing rather than downplaying it. But I don’t claim to be a political strategist.

    It is wrong to possess nuclear weapons because in effect you are installing yourself in a kind of perpetual, “soft”, gun-boat diplomacy, albeit the gun-boats are parked on the Clyde; and by possessing them, you are implying you will use them. Look at the history of the British State. Trident has everything to do with our imperial past. Scott Lavery’s piece here (The Instransigence of British Nationalism) a few weeks ago very eloquently makes that point.

    Trident renewal, militarism, an aggressive foreign policy, these are all things very much related to the British Empire and the past which the London old-boys network won’t let go of. And acute, widespread inequality, ignoring basic human rights, an expanionist foreign policy – these are things which all of the countries in the world which possess nuclear warheads have in common. Even France, because the French have a very dark colonial past too.

    Coincidence? I doubt it.

  18. Douglas says:

    A final point, Ewan:

    Poets may no longer be the legistalors of the world, but writers can be its conscience.

    Oé’s voice deserves to be heard in any independence debate in a country with nuclear weapons. The past is always informing the present; the point is, which past?

    The experience of the people of Hishorima and Nagasaki should not be forgotten or overlooked, their voices should be heard in this debate. That’s my view. and that’s why I wrote the article.

    Thxs again.

    D

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