Looking for Lincoln
Martin Kettle, quoting Abraham Lincoln, is getting all dewy-eyed and panicky:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Kettle writes: “When he ran for election in 1860 and gave that speech in 1861, Lincoln knew he had a country to save. I am not certain, in 2015, that either of the men about to contest the premiership know that they too have a country to save and rebuild.”
I’m not sure we want to remember quite every battlefield Martin, but we get the point. ‘All in this together’, that sort of thing.
Over at the Herald. Alison Rowat is less pompous: “Is there any chance of Mr Salmond ever shutting up?” she asks before descending into a fog of her own indignant stupidity. She’s clearly channeling James Kirkup of the Telegraph who asked plainly back in December: “Why won’t this man die?”
It’s a good question – and one that presumably will be settled over time.
There is a new sense of raw panic in the air.
Indeed Max Hastings is terrified over at the Daily Mail comparing the SNP to Stalinists. In a spectacular foam-speckled rant Hastings writes:
How on earth has it come about, in a few months, that the referendum which was supposed to silence debate about the UK’s constitution for a generation, today appears instead to have triggered an avalanche? A string of factors, some blameworthy and others mere accidents of our times, have come together. It was, of course, a mistake for Cameron to agree to hold a Scottish independence referendum. Throughout the western world, electorates are fragmenting, becoming harder to manage or predict as voters abandon lifetime loyalties to big parties, and instead cherry-pick policies and factions that look pretty on that night’s supper table.
Three things leap out of this rage and fear-fueled spiel:
First I love the idea that the entire point of the referendum was to shut people up. That’s truly magnificent. Whilst hundreds of thousands of people engaged in democratic debate, often for the very first time, in a revival now (bizarrely) claimed as their own by some unionists, this was not in fact the intention. The intention, according to Max, was to shut you up.
Second he deems it a mistake for Cameron to ‘have allowed this to happen at all.’ Here we are getting nearer the true feelings of many reluctant democrats in the No campaign. What he’s suggesting of course is that the landslide election that the SNP won should simply have been ignored, and presumably repressed or put down. That could have been interesting and it’s good to have all these things out on the table, even in hindsight.
Third there’s the lovely image of electorates becoming ‘fragmented and harder to manage’. This clearly a problem and a terrifying one for Max and his readers. Can someone get Chomsky on the line?
But for sheer casual racism (exposing the underbelly of arrogance and self-importance) who can beat the utterance that: “Like the French and Greeks, the Scots seem immune to rational argument about their circumstances and prospects. They simply challenge the Westminster parties to declare who will pay most for their support.”
Setting aside the magnificent denunciation of civilizations that helped create much of the Western world, Hastings is in fertile ground here. Defining ‘the other’ as barbaric and incapable of thought has such a rich heritage I wonder if Max is aware where he is heading?
Frantz Fanon (1967) writes: “Every effort is made to bring the colonised person to admit the inferiority of his/her culture.” Linda Cusick (Scottish Affairs, 1994) suggests: “Once self-doubt is created, resistance to foreign rule is weakened, while for the coloniser self-justification is achieved with a belief that were it not for his interventions the colony would slide back into barbarism.”
I’m not suggesting Scotland’s a colony but just that Hastings sort of language is regressive in cultural terms, and locks us into relationships of subordination and dependency.
We live with the cultivation of popular assent around some core ideas: ‘we are generally incapable’ is reiterated daily by consensus builders and the media elite.
An understanding of this process and a widespread conscientization may be one of the best outcomes of the referendum process as we begin to figure out who runs this place and how we can overcome them.
This diatribe of abuse wouldn’t be acceptable in reverse. It would be thought quite wrong to write that the English are ‘immune to rational debate’, to call the Tories fascists or to engage in the routine abuse that Scots voters are being subject to. This is now an everyday occurrence.
Bella will continue to bring rational argument to the table each and every day, in the French and Greek tradition, and will not be silenced by abuse from mainstream media, or threats or smears online from people who have defined themselves as being disinterested in the democratic process, the very one that they pleaded we should be a part of.