2007 - 2020

The Open Veins of the Gaidhealtachd

13-04-2015-eduardo_galeano-1-1Eduardo Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America* (Las Venas Abiertas de América Latin) is a landmark book which has been described as the bible of the Latin American Left. Published in 1971, it was quickly banned by the military dictatorships of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and saw Galeano, who died last year, forced into exile.

This incendiary book, which Hugh Chavez gave to President Obama on their first meeting, charts the colonization, plundering and ruthless exploitation of Latin America from the arrival of Columbus in 1492 up to Pinochet’s CIA sponsored coup in Chile in 1973. It reveals how, over centuries, a systematic policy of under-development was imposed at gunpoint on Latin America by Western powers – mainly Britain and the USA –in a classical colonial pattern which sees raw materials extracted at the cheapest price possible – first by slavery, later by wage slavery – before being shipped on for manufacture elsewhere and sold on for vast profits, leading directly to the accumulation of capital which propelled the West into modernity. Lloyd’s of London, Galeano (pictured) reminds us, accrued its vast fortune underwriting slaves, slave-ships and plantations.

Galeano describes the history of Latin America as “mutilation disguised as development”; for anyone familiar with the history of the Scottish Highlands since 1746, and notwithstanding the vast differences in scale, the parallels between the Latin American experience and the Gaidhealtachd are all too clear, albeit in Scotland development went by a different name: improvement.

If the conquistadores settled Latin America for Spain and Portugal, it was Britain, and later the USA from the 20th Century onwards, which benefited most from a sub-continent rich like no other in natural resources. The gold and silver Spain extracted from the Americas was squandered on maintaining a vast empire, and effectively destroyed the national economy of Spain, crippling local productivity. British traders, backed by the prowess of the Royal Navy, stepped in to take over the trading routes and make most from the plunder. Most often, this domination was achieved without the need for military occupation, controlling the destiny of Latin America through the manipulation of corrupt local elites, imposing free trade at gunpoint, undermining and overthrowing any government which sought to impose protective measures or redistribute land, or do anything to break the culture of dependency.

The result was the economic colonization of Latin America by the Anglo-American Empire. By the end of the 19th Century, for example, “Chile destined three quarters of its exports to Britain, and from Britain it received almost half of its imports, a trade dependency even greater than India”.

Galeano’s assertion that it was the vast accumulation of capital plundered from Latin America which led to the industrial revolution and propelled the West into modernity would obviously include the Scottish merchant class which benefitted from the Union of 1707: indeed, that was exactly the point of the Union for those Scots: access to the English empire and its trade routes. Galeano even cites one of the great feats of the Scottish Enlightenment to explicitly make the point: “The capital accumulated in the business triangle of manufactures- slaves- sugar made possible the invention of the steam engine; James Watt was subsidized by merchants who had made their fortune in this way”.

Acknowledging the role of Scottish merchants in the rise of the British Empire is nothing new; but few seem to acknowledge that the fate of Gaelic Scotland from 1745 has everything in keeping with the colonized experience of Latin America, right up to the present day, as seen in some of the following ways.

Conquest: The native Indians of the Americas were conquered, to a great extent, by astonishment. Hernán Cortes, the Spanish conquistador, captured Tenochtitlan, the capital of Aztec Empire, a city bigger than Madrid, with just over five hundred men. The Indians were so completely bewildered by the arrival of the Spanish, on horses, an animal they had never seen before, that their capacity for resistance was severely affected. Likewise, so much of the literature on the Highland Clearances makes reference to the sheer bewilderment of the clansmen, the disbelief that they could be expelled from the ancestral lands by the Clan Chief. Famous for their warrior spirit, the clansmen offered almost no resistance when they were cleared from the glens in their thousands, or forced onto ships sailing for America. Astonishment conquered them too.

Mutilation Disguised as Development: The conquest of Latin America saw rich, fertile lands which had sustained local communities for millennia with food in abundance transformed into vast monocultural estates worked by starving labourers to produce cotton, sugar, coffee, or rubber for exportation. Cuba was famous for its forests before the British razed them to the ground to make way for sugar plantations after the invasion of 1762. “Cuba died of diabetes as a result”, says Galeano. Brazil was no more known for its coffee than the Highlands for wool until the advent of the latifundistas, the criollo land owners of massive slave plantations, and in Scotland, the rich southern landowner, the dreaded factor, and the Cheviot sheep in that Bliadhna nan Caorach of 1792, the year of our very own Celtic nakba.

This is what the histories of Latin America and the Highlands share: the means of exploiting the land may change – the Highlands have been used at various times for sheep, kelp, and blood sports, and more recently tax relief for the rich, the nuclear industry and oil – but what has stayed the same for centuries is a highly concentrated pattern of land ownership, absentee landlordism, and monocultural use of the land which completely fails to take into account the needs of the local community, leading to a state of chronic dependency.

Death, disease and depopulation. The native communities of the Americas were decimated by the arrival of the Europeans. Something like 80% of the American population died, and in places like Argentina, were wiped out completely either by disease or deliberate policy. Used as slave labour or subsisting on starvation diets, the hellish lives of the, displaced Gael gathering kelp on the Scottish coast and the enslaved Brazilian rubber worker tell a similar tale.

Today, Gaelic Scotland barely exists at all. The same land which was once supported 25% of the nation has one of the lowest population densities in the world, comparable to Bolivia or Russia. The Gaelic language, cynically betrayed by the SNP at the 2014 referendum – and for what? – exists on a life-support machine.

The Gaidhealtachd has been colonized, the land held by a few hundred latifundistas in foreign capitals, the people displaced, the local culture systematically smashed over centuries, its people brow-beaten into anglicizing or changing their surnames on leaving the glens, supressing their own history and culture.

Culture wars: The Europeans unleashed a full-scale culture war against native America, as did the British State and the Anglo-Scot against the Gael. The native Indians were written off as subhuman: “Bacon, De Maistre, Montesquieu, Hume… refused to recognize as fellow human beings the “debased men” of the New World” notes Galeano, while in mid -19th Century Scotland, at the height of the Clearances, the notorious Charles Treveylan, one of the masterminds of the potato famine which killed over one million Irish, called for “a national effort to rid the land of the surviving Irish and Scotch Celts” to be replaced by settlers of Teutonic stock, “an orderly, moral and industrious and frugal people, less foreign to us than the Irish or Scotch Celt”.

To this day, Scotland lives in the aftermath of a cultural war lasting hundreds of years. The legacy of three hundred years of British imperial anti-Gaelic, anti-Celtic racial policy can be seen in the antics of the small minority of fanatical anti Irish Catholics which Scotland continues to produce, or the much more common monoglot bigots who denounce even token investment in Gaelic.

Culture war parallels extend even as far as the national dress. The kilt, a creation of the Anglo-Scottish aristocracy, is no more than an “improved” form of the Highland plaid outlawed in 1746, while the traditional dress of the South American was in fact imported from Spain, in direct emulation of the peasants of Extremadura.

Towards a Celtic Utopia: If Gaelic Scotland has been colonized and exploited since 1746 in a way comparable to South America, and colonization was one of the specific aims of the Union of 1707, it therefore follows that any drive for Scottish independence which fails to put Gaelic Scotland at the forefront of its thinking is condemned to failure. Politics, much less policy, alone cannot and will not win independence for a country. The independence of any country is always an act of imagination, a faculty politicians are rarely noted for: or as Hugh MacDiarmid wrote, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

The landscape, the backdrop, the setting which is indispensable to the Scottish imagination or vision are the Highlands and Islands. Reconnect Scotland to its Celtic past and independence would fall into our hands like ripe fruit from a tree: to engage with Gaelic culture, or better still, learn even a little Gaelic, is a transformative political act of far greater weight than attending the next demo against austerity.

Otherwise said, the fate of Scotland as an independent nation is deeply entwined with land redistribution and the repopulation of the Highlands, the restoration of the Gaelic language, and some form of remembrance and recognition for the cultural genocide carried out in the past by the State.

If that sounds like utopia, than Galeano, a writer who shows us just what words can do, points the way again: “Utopia is on the horizon. I walk two steps on and it walks two steps away. I walk ten steps forward, and it moves ten steps back. No matter how much I walk, I know I will never reach it. So what, then, is utopia for? For just that: to keep on walking”

Walking towards that elusive Highland Utopia, towards the end of the nightmare of three hundred years of British imperialism in the Gaidhealtachd, is also a way of walking towards an independent Scotland, for they are, in essence, one and the same cause or at least ought to be: and so even with just small steps, we must keep on walking.

Comments (91)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. John Tracey says:

    I shake my head at the importance given to the Gaelic language as a weapon to achieve independence. By the time a majority of people in Scotland (of all cultural and language backgrounds) learn some Gaelic, we will have been subjugated for another century or more. I don’t want to wait that long. Learning how to be politically aware and astute will gain independence much more quickly.

    1. Lynsey says:

      It doesn’t take a century to learn another language! Uni students can do it in 4 years and the top grades are considered to be fluent. No need to be fluent though and no excuses for not learning a bit of one of our native and endangered languages. Speaking to Catalans, they tend to find it strange that the ‘nationalist’ movement in Scotland doesn’t show more concern for language.

      1. John Tracey says:

        Lynsey,
        I read what you say. I agree that some university students learn another language. Not everyone can manage this. I have two degrees but have struggled to learn another language over the past 60+ years! I envy those who can speak another language!
        What of the majority of people living in Scotland who do not go to university – have they the aptitude and opportunity?
        Those wishing to see some compulsion to learn Gaelic in schools should look to how many of the present post-school population will be missed out. Plus, think of the success of learning French or any other foreign language in our schools over the past generations when it was compulsory. Why and how will learning Gaelic learning succeed where other languages have not?
        I used “century” to signify a long period of time we would use to learn a language (little or fluent) – time which would be better spent working for independence.
        I am not against Gaelic, indeed tried to increase Gaelic teaching provision in the school where I was Head Teacher.

  2. Muncaidh Man says:

    Well, this was interesting. I think the stuff about the colonisation of South America was fascinating but the author needs to study the Highlands a lot more. Anything he says about the colonisation/cultural genocide of the Gaels (a very real tragedy) is very wooly and lacks nuance. If he studied our history in great enough depth he would understand that we Gaels have been fighting an uphill struggle against Anglicisation since the Davidian Revolution in the 12th century. In a way, the movement of the Gaelic-speaking Scottish royal family and government and power to the Anglicised, newborn lowlands mirrors what happened in King James VI’s reign. You could say the British government simply took up the anti-Gaelic baton of the Stewart Dynasty. Since the 12th C Scotland has been a nation of at least two entirely different peoples with different languages, but both considering themselves “the true Scots”.

    As a Gael I must say the bit at the end about the Utopia was a bit cringeworthy. I am not insulted because his heart was obviously in the right place – the way to achieve independence isn’t to evangelise about the ways in which the Gaels have been screwed over by Lowland Scottish and later British elites, it’s to convince No voters of the necessity of independence. Most No voters didn’t give a damn about the poorest in Scottish society; “I’m alright Jack, what about my pension?” won the day. Why would they care about us Gaels and our history?

  3. Stuart Ingleby says:

    Quick question: how do you consider the gaelic language to have been betrayed by the SNP during the indyref campaign? Please elaborate.

    Otherwise a highly readable and well argued piece. Important to note that the dominant factor for many No voters was the (incorrectly) perceived weakness of the Scottish economy. Not sure that offering them gaelic lessons is the immediate remedy.

    1. Douglas says:

      Stuart, the SNP did not pose the question in Gaelic on the ballot paper. Not even in the Highlands and Islands. Now, that, for me, is a betrayal. It amounts to treating Gaels as second class citizens. What kind of national party is this we have? If there is another referendum, and the question is not put in Gaelic, I am not voting.

      Or maybe just go the whole hog next time and ask, “Do you believe North Britain should be an independent country?”, Huh?

      The Scottish cringe is alive and well at the highest levels of the SNP….

      1. Stuart Ingleby says:

        Thanks for your reply. I don’t agree in the slightest however.

        1/ You need to work out whether independence would be a) better or b) worse for the gaelic language and vote accordingly. Given the effect of 300 years of union on gaelic speaking areas and culture, getting het up over a perceived slight on a ballot paper is like refusing to call the fire brigade because you don’t like red lorries.

        2/ The 2014 ballot paper was a compromise between the Scottish and Westminster governments- and a remarkably good one in terms of clarity (just look at how the Quebec referenda were torpedoed by complex ballot papers). It would have been preferable to see the question in gaelic, certainly. Was its absence a betrayal? No.

        People in the metropolitan pro-indy movement have a great deal of respect for gaelic culture and want to see the people of the highlands and island freed from the domination of their landlords. Please don’t reject willing and natural allies on such a superficial and misplaced grudge.

        1. Douglas says:

          Stuart, thanks.

          You see, the Scot is so colonized, so English already, that you maybe wonder what’s the point. I mean what is the point of independence if the national party doesn’t offer the question in the two national languages? You always see it in terms of convenience. I see it in terms of respect. It is a disrespect to the Gaelic people in Scotland not to put the indie question in Gaelic if people want it. But also of coherence. Which national party ever tried to win indie on mere policy? Policy is contingent, culture is inherent.

          By the way, the UN and charter for minority languages which the UK is signatory would support that opinion of mine. The Quebec question was badly worded. In our case it was a very clear question, and it is just as clear in Gaelic as it is in English. Or is Gaelic inherently more complex than English? No, it is not.

          So, you know, you have a national party which refuses to promote the national cultures, refuses to sell indie on culture, offers free child care as an alternative….these things could only happen in Scotland….what’s the point? I mean, maybe there’s no point….pound in the penny nationalism is what it is…keep the Queen, keep the pound, refuse to accommodate the Gaelic and Scots speakers….what’s the point?

          1. Stuart Ingleby says:

            That’s what I feared… that despite writing an article that apparently mourns the economic consequences of colonisation and cultural damage, the actual realities of people’s lives are ultimately only irrelevant non-cultural detail. What a pity.

            You ask me several times what the point of independence is if not cultural protection and propagation.

            There are hungry children all across this country yet the Westminster government yesterday voted £12 billion more cuts to the funding that is already failing to feed them. The UK’s main ‘left-wing’ party abstained from that vote.

            That is the point of independence. All else is secondary. I don’t care if the next referendum question is in english, scots, gaelic, martian or elvish- if offered the chance I will crawl over broken glass to cast another vote for independence.

          2. Douglas says:

            Stuart you are stooping to words which offer no nuance….I defend Scottish Gaelic, ergo, I care nothing for the poor in Scotland.

            Guess what Stuart? I am the poor in Scotland.

            But you, like so many, seem to think indie Scotland is an inherently left wing cause. Well, if it was, why would you want to keep the queen? another “necessary compromise”….the SNP have compromised Scotland into oblivion….

            Can I just say I believe that Scotland should be independent because “Scotland is a nation and nations do best when they govern themselves”.

            Guess who said that? The young Alex Salmond…I couldn’t agree more….ask yourself this. If there was no poverty in Scotland tomorrow, would you still want independence? You would right? If so, let’s concentrate on the kernel of the matter and stop confusing two different issues. There is child poverty in every single country in the Western World….Scotland has been colonized for 300 years and the cringe is so widespread now that people don’t even have the balls to stand up for their own culture, their owns institutions, their own history…. it’s pathetic and you will not win indie on mere politics…

          3. Heidstaethefire says:

            “….what’s the point?”

            Let meas a’ charaid, the point is to govern ourselves.

        2. Ray Bell says:

          The contempt for Gaelic doesn’t date back to 1746 but all the way to David I.

      2. John Tracey says:

        While taking on board that to a minority of people living in Scotland Gaelic is important as a language and accepting that the ballot should have had more than one language (the number of languages decided by the number of speakers of the languages used in Scotland as first languages?), I repeat that if we want independence we become politically aware and astute in order to move forward. History has its place but it is the future vision for Scotland that will inspire more to want an independent Scotland.

        1. Douglas says:

          John, thanks for your comment.

          To achieve independence, you need a transformative act, a utopic act….there was no majority for the independence of Ireland until the martyrs stormed the Post Office.

          Let me be clear: I am not advocating violence of any kind.

          But the notion that independence will be won by politics is nonsense. No country in the history of the world ever won independence in such a manner. You have this tinder or paraffin, which is Scottish culture. Use it, dare to use it, and the whole country will be on fire. But the SNP don’t seem to understand that. The SNP was established by Scottish writers and artists. What happened to that? They disown us, they refuse to support us, they appoint people who have no knowledge of Scottish culture to run our arts affairs for us….

          ..if it wasn’t Scottish artists, we would have maybe won 25% of the vote last September. The SNP are a dismal failure in terms of Scottish culture and so, as I have said many times, with such weak-willed people steering independence, frankly, we deserved to lose. A bunch of munchkins…

          As the Catalan poet Gabriel Ferrater wrote, “If you have Napalm to spare to bomb fields in the North / Then dare to lose wars in the South”….

          …we need much more daring….much more acceptance that to win indie we need to lose wars in the South…

          1. C Rober says:

            I agree with the thought , a final push , perhaps it lies in the peaceful removal of propaganda , ie blockades of BBC , citizen arrests of Sky news reporters on Breach of the peace and so on. Seeing as how you mention Irish independence should you not also mention India , perhaps we should follow Ghandi with people blockades?

            You are also right on the control of the arts being based on non Scots educated or born , one just has to watch STV or BBC to see under every other interviewee name head of “x” dept , national bodies , and not just in the arts.

            ME ah canny be bothereed wi the arts , especially how it is funded , as a business model if it needs funding over ticket prices then its subsidzing the elite , ie ballet , orchestras etc , not just the ticket prices but incomer jobs too. If art pays the bills for the artist , by sales , then I have no problem with it.

            I just cant be arsed watching it , hearing it or looking at it , pickled sheep , dirty duvets isnt art , to be expected to fund it just because the sheep is grown in Scotland or the duvet is tartan wont cut it for me.

            But a chainsaw carved log in the shape of a scotty dug , gies two fella.

          2. John Tracey says:

            Douglas, I very much take your point. I am certainly not advocating the SNP as the “politically aware and astute way” forward. I mean all of us as individuals who want independence must be so. This very site is making many individuals more aware and astute as are other sites and groups such as Commonweal.
            The actions of artists among others leading to the referendum was political, not simply cultural.
            Language and culture have been the way forward in Wales for some years now. How much nearer independence are they?
            Be assured I am not ‘against’ culture or language but feel their power is not sufficient to bring about independence.

  4. Ruth Forsythe says:

    The quote about vision originates from the Bible – Proverbs 29: 18 Where there is no vision, the people perish.

  5. john young says:

    A great article and very very true to control those you choose to subjugate,you eradicate their history/culture/language,this they have all but achieved this in Scotland you would be well to remember that John.We certainly me was never ever taught anything of Scots history in school warts and all,no wonder we have a huge swathe of our population that do not consider themselves as Scots but British their fathers fought for the British Empire and they have inherited their fathers mis-judged loyalty.A bit off topic but a great but also horrible topic on paedophilia from the top of our establishment down,never a word from any politician or from anyone in the msm this includes the SNP and that is a huge scandal why?

  6. John Craig says:

    The broad thrust of this article holds merit, however, the vision of re-populated glens in the Highlands with all the inhabitants fluent Gaelic speakers is a bit much to swallow. A future Scotland will in the main, build it’s economy in the central belt. The great swathes of Scotland owned as sporting estates are in fact probably at their most efficient doing what they do. The thousands dispossessed in the Clearances lived a very impoverished existence in many ways. They were held together by their loyalties and culture. Highland Scotland beckons us as a giant playground where we can refresh our minds and bodies; to do that, the stranglehold of land ownership not only has to be resolved, but resolved quickly. It should be our aim to devise such methods as will make land ownership a less than attractive prospect. We are seeing such an initiative in the levying of income tax on these estates. Right to own by foreign nationals restrictions would certainly help. I’m personally looking at a ban on driven game shooting as being worthwhile. It’s been done with live Pigeon shooting in competitions, so why not Grouse and Pheasant ? Not stopping a man and his dog going on the hill with his gun. That’s hunting anything else is target practice. I’m sure more astute minds than mine can come up with a few viable suggestions.
    And in closing, look for Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, the scot who out Nelsoned Nelson. His name is on streets and squares the length of South America and I’ve only ever met a couple of Scots who have heard of him.

    1. deewal says:

      Hey. We live in your fanciful giant playground and we are not beckoning you.

      1. John Craig says:

        I live in it too my friend and you can’t eat the scenery. A decent living’s hard to come by in Scotland’s wilder areas as you will know. What I’m pointing out is that there’s a lot of fanciful drivel about what you can do with the land. If there was anything remotely viable that would make a bob or two, then it would have been exploited years ago. Tourism, outdoor activities and wildlife are the name of the game, they don’t employ big numbers and the money doesn’t get spread around too far. Would be interested in your ideas though as would many others who live here.

    2. Elaine Fraser says:

      “A future Scotland ………its economy mainly in central belt”

      Perhaps but then again perhaps not, I have a copy of the Map of Productivity published last year in conjunction with Commonweal. It details the huge potential for developing the North , Highlands and Islands and the potential for migration of population from the central belt back North – from a resource -rich point of view but also strategically. It certainly opened my eyes and made me think of my own country and the old assumptions about that part of Scotland. Worth a look if you can get your hands on a copy – a beautiful book with fantastic visuals and easy to understand graphs, etc.

    3. Domhnall says:

      It it just a huge fallacy that the land is at its best use as hunting estates. The land can be developed in many ways for many different uses e.g. agriculturally using many different techniques to change the nature of the land (for example changing the soil by allowing forestry and different animals to develop the richness of soils etc.), recreationally (lots of different sports and pastimes could be had [pony trecking, motor sports, mountain biking etc.] on land that has only been used as stalking moors], and there are diverse wildlife/nature tourism potential. There are also electicity generation, forestry and agriculture, tourism potential that would be much better realised if there were more or community owners. Here are some figures from Community Land Scotland that back this up http://www.communitylandscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/FINAL-CLS-Economic-Data-Study-2-Page-Summary-140414-For-Release.pdf
      From this you can see that community land is outstripping the old hunting estates on the most marginal land by a long ways even though community land ownership is in its infancy.

      Also, it is just another fallacy that the Highlanders were in fact in any great poverty before the clearances. There were famines yes but there were famines all over when crops failed. The facts are that when people had access to subsistence farming and land they did relatively okay (they also worked and fought all over the world and there were other industries in the Highlands like illicit whisky distilling that brought in money). When they started to get cleared to the more marginal land on the coasts and deliberately given crofts that were too small (so they would take up kelp and fishing etc.) that was when the real hardships began. Then it was very easy for the landlords to say there was overcrowding and overpopulation etc. (which there would have been to some extent but unforced emigration would have fixed this easily). This can be most obviously seen in the fact that the landlords changed the emigration laws when they needed to keep people for kelp and fishing (make it far harder for them to leave) then basically kicked them off when they didn’t need them. There was also widespread psuedo scientific racism against ‘the Celt’ at the time. If you look a bit more in depth into it and don’t just believe the British type history that tends to believe the accounts of the landlords and disregards the oral history of those that were affected then these fallacies will persist.

      The landed classes want us all to believe they are doing the best possible thing with the land. Think about it though. How many do they employ. Who gets the benefits? Why were hunting estates set up in the first place? They were, and are, just conspicuous consumption. A way to show you are of the same class as Queen Victoria and our present Queen. Rich Arabs and other rich people who have everything buy in to. The hunting estates are an embarrasing anachronism. All they show is the degree to which we have been subjugated and to which their lies and influence still hold over us.
      There is potential in the Highlands and tourism, recreation and wildlife are not to be sniffed at they can bring in a lot. Also, in this day and age people can develop all sorts of industries. With improved communications and roads etc. it is just a bit silly to suggest that the central belt is the only place money can be made. Just because everything was centralised in the past is no reason to keep doing it. High tech manufacturing could easily happen in the Highlands (the University of the Highlands and Islands is getting more and more advanced all the time) and if a lot of that is going to be marine based (renewables, oil and gas etc.) then the Highlands makes sense from a geographic point of view as well.

      1. John Craig says:

        A more incisive comment than mine I must admit Domhnall, but some common ground methinks.
        What legislates against manufacturing in the highlands is quite simply transport. To be successful in manufacturing further north than Perth is difficult unless you have a product requiring cheaply transported materials and an end product of a similar nature. A good example of that is the Lifescan facility in Inverness. Three truckloads of raw materials a week in and one truckload of massive value finished product out. Battery and fridge freezer production further north legislated against by transport. As a great admirer of Neil Gunn’s work, despite my lowland origins, I am well acquainted with the enormity of what was forced on the highlands and by whom. The demise of the sporting estate “as it stands ” would be welcome; something operated on more egalitarian
        lines might still be worthwhile. I don’t sniff at tourism of any sort (apart from the funicular railway on Cairn Gorm) and I’ve been watching Highland wildlife for most of my life. I’m almost seventy now and love our country dearly, but at heart I am a realist. I wish the best for Scotland and the Highlands in particular, but have no delusions about the task of bringing prosperity to the remoter areas

        1. Axel Koehler says:

          “The thousands dispossessed in the Clearances lived a very impoverished existence in many ways” – well, what is one to think of this part of the comment? Dòmhnall put it quite well, though there were certainly poor people in Gaeldom before the Clearances. However, I cannot help saying that this observation sounds a wee bit like much of the stuff purported by the very “improvers” who ran the Clearances, or Fuadach nan Gàidheal, “expulsion of the Gaels”, as they are known in Gaelic tradition. @John Craig, while you live in the Highlands and are familiar with the often harsh reality of this beautiful part of northwestern Europe which also has, and will always have, a special place in my heart, I sincerely hope you have done your history homework beyond the mainstream history books, and read your share of James Hunter, Krisztina Fenyö and Michael Newton, to name but a few ethnologists and historians of recent times who have really shown some commitment to study the true history of Scottish Gaeldom hidden by the “tartan screen”, and the anglo-centric and anglo-supremacist self-celebrations in the vein of Pinkerton, Macaulay and other Victorian apologists of imperialism.

          I have been familiar with the Highlands from six years of age onwards, and my folk hail from a similar, albeit not Gaelic-speaking area of Germany, or Hessen, to be more exact, which has equally always been a harsh environment, its few boons of economy exploited by local landlords, and much of its population equally forced into emigration and exile in the mid-19th century by failure of crops (though being rather known for animal husbandry in the upper braes – goats, sheep and cattle, in case of the wealthier farmers). This may not be known to many Scots, owing to anti-German bias in mainstream school teaching in the light of two world wars in the first half of the 20th century, yet still largely ignored even by German historians to this day. And no-o, I am not talking about one of the former “Ostgebiete”, areas of Eastern Europe once colonised by swathes of German settlers long before Hitler, but a highland area right in the heart of Germany. Therefore, I feel somewhat akin to the Gaels, though that was not the only reason why I studied their beautiful language, and no, the coincidental fact that my ancestral homeland was once a Celtic realm (yes, aye, 2000 years ago) did not contribute much to that, either.

          No, I first got into touch with Gaelic when just a wee lad of six, travelling Argyll, Lochaber and Wester Ross with my parents, and returning as a regular with my family during much of the 1980s and early 90s. Now, this may come as a shock to Domhnall and many others of the anti-shooting estates lobby, and anti-hunting lobby, but it was deerstalking which brought my father to the Inner Hebrides in the first place. My father, a kind and gentle man, is not a rich Arab nor an American, or Russian magnate, but a self-made small businessman in retirement who spent most of his life building up a small town pharmacy in the heart of Hessen, rewarding himself now and then with a one, or two week farmhouse holiday in Argyll with a wee bit of stalking and a lot of wildlife photography.

          @John, @Dòmhnall – many of you do not like being stereotyped, but are happy or feckless enough to bestow stereotypes on others if they do not fit your mindset, e.g. guest stalkers / hunters, or even non-Scots born Gaelic learners. Those amongst ye supportive of Gaelic, and Gaelophiles from elsewhere ought to think twice before verbally condemning the “shooting estate industry” – not all deer stalking estates are run by magnates, but hard-working farmers (even if they are incomers), and sometimes, future supporters of Gaelic from foreign shores might first enter Scotland as guests at such estates!

          And to all further commenters, even though this may well be moderated away: I shall not be cowed by either derisive or downright vitriolic remarks about either (foreign) Gaelic learners, or deer stalking, I am not one of those submissive young folks “fae ma ain countrie” who shy away from making a statement, even though it may not be considered PC. Ann am briathran Mhàrtainn Lùtaraich: “Tha mi nam sheasamh an seo, chan urrainn dhomh a ghiùlan ach mar a tha mi, gun cuidich an Tì Beannaichte mi. Amen!” En Anglais: “Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God. Amen!”

          Le meas,

          Axel Koehler, MA (Abdn), MPhil (Edin),

          independent author, Gaelic scholar and tutor
          in affiliation with the University of Marburg

  7. Clive P L Young says:

    Is there any evidence that speaking or learning Gaelic makes anyone more inclined to Yes? There has been some discussion as to whether speaking Scots makes someone more of an independentista (comparing 2014 referendum and 2011 census data). In the ongoing climate of stigmatisation declaring yourself a Scots speaker is surely just as much of a “transformative political act” as picking up a copy of “Teach Yourself Gaelic”, maybe even more so. The answer, sadly, seems to be there is no link between linguistic assertiveness and Yes-ness. In my view therefore Gaelic and Scots should be supported and promoted because their irreplacable value to Scottish education, culture and identity in their own right, not because they may somehow lead to political change.

  8. Patty Morton says:

    Never in a million years did I ever dream that I would see my much loved, and sadly missed, fellow countryman, Eduardo Galeano being quoted on Bella Caledonia. Perhaps there is hope for Scotland after all. Godd article, interesting parallel.

    1. Douglas says:

      Gracias compañera. Muchos saludos. Era un grandisimo hombre.

  9. john young says:

    John Craig go to Japan and there is a young Scotsman his name evades me who is revered throughout Japan and that takes some doing,he was only 21yrs of age and had a huge impact on the country,recent history is littered with Scots that have gone on to do great things,John/Thomas Muir not related by blood or deed but both immense characters,John Muir the father of national parks was hardly even recognised in his home town Dunbar I think,if this country ever throwsoff the shackles of servitude there is every possibility we can make giant strides,even the “Darien Project” was hundreds of years ahead of it,s time.

    1. Shaun says:

      The Scot you’re thinking of with the Japan connection, is it Thomas Blake Glover?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Blake_Glover

  10. donnie says:

    Interesting article but got to pick up on the following point – “to engage with Gaelic culture, or better still, learn even a little Gaelic, is a transformative political act of far greater weight than attending the next demo against austerity.” – the two shouldn’t be counterposed, the struggle against british cultural imperialism should go hand in hand with those fighting the same forces who are now waging a class war called austerity against the working peoples of these islands. Other than that though a fine read

  11. Fay Kennedy. says:

    Interesting read. And Yes we do need to learn our history and what better way than through our languages and Gaelic is embedded in what we are and can help us better understand the path to a better country for all of us who share that inheritance. You cannot separate language from a sense of belonging. We need to go beyond the limitations that the post industrial carnage has imposed for too long. The old days can teach us what to retain and what to discard so we all make history and the more voices that are heard the more we go towards the dream of a better world for all. Let’s give the young a fair go for a change.

  12. Duncan McCallum says:

    United Fruit Company, the Dulles brothers and their friends in Washington, well worth a read in gaining and understanding the the havoc, duplicity and long term political division the U.S. visited upon Central America. A continuation of the Monroe doctrine!

    There are many parallels with Scotland’s treatment by britain.

    Not sure where you got your got your referendum nonsense from, it was unexplained and ran counter to thrust of the piece?

  13. D J MacLeod says:

    Why do you think the Highlands and Islands are relevant to the whole of Scotland? – you state: “The landscape, the backdrop, the setting which is indispensable to the Scottish imagination or vision are the Highlands and Islands.”

    Without explanation, I’m afraid your words lack substance.

    Oh, and please leave Gaelic out of any independence argument.

    You are fueling the anti-Gaelic lobby.

    Chan eil ar cànan feumach air a sin – tha thu nad chunnart dhuinn, le beachdan mar seo.

    1. Douglas says:

      “We have maintained a silence
      closely resembling stupidity”.
      –From the Revolutionary Proclamation
      of the Junta Tuitiva, La Paz, July 16, 1809

  14. Iain MacKinnon says:

    It is very good to read Douglas wrestling with the magnitude of Scotland’s internal colonial past using this powerful Latin American connection.

    There’s support for the ‘internal colonisation’ argument from Edward Cowan, professor of history at Glasgow University, who has described the staggering level of economic outlay was brought to bear by the emerging British Empire in their efforts at ‘planting’, ‘extirpating’ and ‘deculturising’ the Highlands and Islands in the modern period. He wrote:

    “The amount of money expended on the so-called defence of the Highlands – defended, be it noted, against the enemy within – must represent one of the greatest single outlays by imperial Britain, taking into account the miles of road, the amount of engineering and quarrying, the number of bridges erected and drains installed, as well as the building or rebuilding of forts, not to mention the maintenance of troops and gangs of labourers required for the various projects. The construction of Fort George alone, some twenty years in the making, cost over £200,000, more than £1 billion at present day prices.” (Cowan 2009: 13, 14.)

    Cowan believes this process can be traced back through the 1745 Jacobite Rising to the reign of James VI (and possibly further). In his view James “can be seen as the architect of governmental policy toward the Gàidhealtachd which would be implemented by successive generations”. (Cowan 2009: 11.)

    A new generation of historians, most notably Martin MacGregor, Julian Goodare and most recently Aonghas MacCoinnich, are showing that the British Empire’s interventions in the Highlands and Islands were built on earlier Scottish Crown colonial policies.

    As academic historians they are of necessity cautious in their interpretations of the past. However, the work they are doing can augment more radical arguments – drawing on the experiences of other colonial contexts – being made for the Highlands and Islands as a site of colonisation. Thanks for sharing this Douglas.

    Citation for Edward Cowan’s article: Cowan, E. 2009. ‘Contacts and Tensions in Highland and Lowland Culture’ in Crossing the Highland Line (MacLachlan, C. (ed.)). The Association for Scottish Literary Studies.

    Link to Martin MacGregor’s chapter: http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9780719086083

    Link to Julian Goodare’s book: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199243549.do

    Link to Aonghas MacCoinnich’s new book: http://www.brill.com/products/book/plantation-and-civility-north-atlantic-world

    1. Douglas says:

      Iain, thanks for such a wealth of information.

      I am no scholar, but the word for Fort William in Gaelic says it all: An Gearasdan, which, of course, means The Garrison….
      Could there be a clearer symptom of the Highland experience? The two fort towns built in the north after the 45 were, of course, named after “the butcher” Cumberland: Fort William and Fort Augustus…in honour of William Augustus Cumberland….the man who decimated the Highlands of Scotland….we have towns named in honour of a man who butchered thousands, who ran amock in Inverness…

      Is there any other word for it but COLONIZATION? The C word….

  15. john young says:

    That is the guy Shaun thank you,I feel what has/is being discussed through the likes of Bella/Commonweal shows that we have many many people with bright and imaginary visions for Scotland and it bodes well.Surely our land could be opened up to small holding/farms producing food/meat that are organically grown they through agreement could supply the supermarkets/hospitals/prisons e.t.c.,I watched a documentary on such a subject from Poland where they had covered areas that got their heat from recycled water that was heated to steam level,they could grow most foods economically.

  16. C Rober says:

    A true motorway is needed from perth to inverness , perth to the north East. Infrastructure is needed before investment , before job creation , before exports …. or the highlands will always be cleared.

    Gaelic should be taught in High Schools as the 2nd language , not French , German or Spanish.Reinforced by one day a week were all classes are taught in the gaelic , speeding up its use in fluency. This should be the goal for the next generation schooling , which would mean training and recruiting now.

    Do the SNP betray the gaelic speaker , not really , nor do they do anything other than token gestures , actually I think in General the Party is that of token gestures about every policy …. especially land reform.

    Want to see land reform in action , North Ayrshire Council aiding a Lord to build housing on farmland , going against many of their key policies. No surprise there really when it has an MSP , MP and council leader from the same family…. with the sort of history that brings along with it – that this never works other than for the benefit of themselves.

    Cant expect the SNP to be anything other than career politicians now that indy , their sole reason for existence is gone until next round.Their tartan tory skins are showing through the rented socialist veneers , cant expect them to be for the Shortbread tin history of Scotland when they arent teaching it in schools ….just like gaelic.

    IF the human body is Scotland and is unwell , then the highlands are the last to be looked at in triage , the amount that needs to be invested to bring it towards higher incomes is silly money , and much like triage save those that can be saved.Blaming landowners and landlords for the problems of today , because of history , that cannot be funded to be improved , well its just as silly.

    The landowners to the SNP are a tool , land grab is a tool never to be taken out of the box , the SNP are only offering lipservice on land reform , much the same as Osbrone offers up the unemployed rather than the banker for the countries economic woes.

    The future for land reform is to tax it to the point of non ownership , 1 percent value tax yearly , eventually they would have none left combined with super inheritance taxes. But for that Hollyrood needs to use the powers it already has….not whinge and blame Westminster.

  17. john young says:

    C Rober I have a feeling you are close to the mark lots of rhetoric then nothing like most if not all political parties and that is why I,m against them all of them,give me Commonweal all the time,having said that there are many many watching them and if the falter then they are gonners.

    1. C Rober says:

      Aye but I would still take SNP with its obvious failings over labour , as labour currently operate at least , but were labour the labour of old and offering devo max with its ffa , EU and pound then one might jump ship.

      Like some have suggested the shortbread tin view of scots history , perhaps we like being the downtrodden to the landlord and Westminster , its still the same mental quagmire , the only difference is that the old is the new. Its this mentality that drives the SNP nutter to vote SNP , as the rest vote on promised supply – or lack of from Labour historically.

      Scotland has to move on , from its hard done by mentality.

      The roads to prosperity dont exist for manufacturing in the Highlands , regardless of these fictional landlords villians , they will never exist , so voting SNP in order to get them oot and investment in is stupidity.

      To build the roads perhaps makes little or no economic sense , to spend what 30 billion plus for Perth to Inverness , Inverness to NE , and from Perth to NE each?

      To justify that perhaps we could see 4 or 5 newtown schemes created , like they did for Glasgow overspill , but again without a long term plan for employment they will fail , the last lot of new towns just became commuter towns with dwindling industry.

      What else could they do to make the investment viable , forestry and farming , heavy engineering , these will not justify the expense to repopulate the highlands with road investments alone…. neither will some American tourists looking for their clan home just before a dirt nap.We need more than a desire , more than a Brigadoon vision for its future.

      Perhaps the Highlands , and Islands lets not forget them , need a different kind of rethink on population and employment , given the high percentages of English crofters then its not all about working the land at all for an income , but the quality of life that this brings that matters instead. There are some that can work from home , video editing , sound studios , e-chitects , artists etc but again the tax income just will not make the viable case for investment in roads.

      Whether we like the erasing of one of Scotlands historical languages to be replaced by English to be a deciding factor on the education of children today , it must also be as futile as re population of the highlands.

      Todays business language is English , currently , but it could well be Chinese or Indian in a generation , one thing it wont be is Gaelic , hence my argument for it to replace the 2ng language in Schools , not be instead the primary goal to somehow regain faux Scottishness for its sake , but to have a historical link to at least part of its past -one not written by either an Anglophile or Scottish victorian romanticist.

      Scotland is just like England a mongrel nation , Celts , Gaels , picts , saxon , angle , Spanish , Portuguese and French are but a few of our invaders and incomers , where the language imparted on oor ain , thier genes too , hell even the vikings take less of a kicking from your typical non educated nat nutter than the English .

      We are all the better for it noo , English language that is , and despite oor ain language being genocidally eradicated by legislation we did benefit for it , yes even including those that left during the clearances , but then again so did the mill owners that took the crofters weavers income and expected them to be greatful for near slavery in the mills – while history portrays the owners as some form of benefactor.

      Today when I talk biz I use English , in Europe or Scotland , when I am at hame I like to bastardise it with mither tung.

      The wife forever complains to me ” dont talk like a scumbag or a schemie” , to which I reply ” I um jist dain the same hing to the English Language as it huz dun tae oors , but without a condom”.

      So why should we continue to argue legislature jist fir the gud feeling , the chip on the shooder , to make the wains dedicate more than a 2nd language time to Gaelic , it would only make them dumber fur it , taking time away from other education that would make them better tooled for working….even if that does mean a modern version of the clearances as they too move away to England and beyond.

      To dae the same investing in 2 new motorways is just as silly.Its money that could be used to build salt water dams , freeing us from fuel poverty instead , making the country a serious player in electricity exporting or making manufacturing once again viable due to low cost to produce yet retaining a living wage while remaining competitive against China etc. Perhaps jist a wee bit this is where the future for the highlands lies.

  18. Ian Vallance says:

    I a

    Am I the only Scottish Nationalist who resents the increasing and tedious tendency to conflate Real Scottishness with a largely romantic and hugely distorted Gaelic “Tradition”? I can only view as tedious the frankly often incredible lengths folk go to create and perpetuate a culture of victim hood to tie to this faux tradition. This article Being a real humdinger example. And the snide and ludicrous use of terms like Anglo-Scots as a term to describe “baddie” non Gaels (and so presumably non real Scots) is just annoying as well as insulting. (Fact is an Anglo-Saxon dialect was an official language of the Kingdom of Scotland before one was in England.) Ideology as driver for historical interpretation has a poor record (Marxist History is generally turgid stuff) and this article is no different it distorts, selectively interprets and wildly generalises in order to shoehorn the facts so as to fit the desired narrative, classic stuff. For me a future Scotland should be a forward looking forward thinking technologically advance modern state not one wedded to a past mired in largely manufactured victim hood.

    1. Douglas says:

      Ian Vallance, I don’t know the answer to that question other than to say that you are the only person I know to spell victimhood, victim hood…let’s start there….you Lowlanders think you’re the bees knees pal….it takes a Celt to expose you for a bunch of bumbling illiterate fools which is what you are….maybe try learning some Gaelic pal? That might way you might end up with English too….your master’s voice after all….

      1. Ian Vallance says:

        Douglas it is generally the sign of a lost argument to knock the grammar etc of someone’s contribution rather than take the time to read and understand the content then attempt to make relevant counter arguments. Should I just assume you have no relevant counter position or maybe that you knee jerked an irate response to what you thought I was saying rather that take the time to read what was written?

        1. Douglas says:

          Fair enough Iain, bellow the belt: apologies

    2. Iain MacKinnon says:

      I agree, Ian, that we should not conflate the historical experiences of Gaels in Scotland with the broader experiences and self-understandings of peoples in Scotland.

      Having agreed this, I ask that you consider how Gaels in Scotland today might feel to have our sense of tradition, and through tradition our sense of self-understanding, dismissed as ‘faux’ – which is a posh way of saying ‘fake’.

      It seems to me that, in part, the purpose of Douglas’ article is to raise awareness of the fact that the self-understandings of Gaels in Scotland have been hugely distorted, partly by people in the lineage of Hugh Trevor Roper and David Starkey who appear to believe that we are a bunch of ‘fakes’.

      Like you, I don’t believe that Douglas has fully achieved that in this piece of writing. One of the major revisions that I think is necessary has already been pointed to by ‘Muncaidh Man’. It is that an account which proposes 1707 or 1745 is a point of origin for colonisation misses at least 600 other years where processes very much like colonisation appear to have been taking place.

      But, unlike you, I recognise that Douglas is striving to understand and give an account for why these grave distortions in our self-understanding exist. In my view such attempts take courage; more courage, perhaps, than trying to simply dismiss the position he is writing for, and perhaps from, as fake.

      1. Douglas says:

        Iain, give me a break, compadre, no?. I spent a weekend trying to cut down 3000 words to 1700, which is publishable on Bella. Hard to publish 3000 words online.

        You could write a book about the colonization of The Highlands, and James Hunter, did: “The Last of the Free”, a truly superb piece of work, a work to which I am indebted.

        But I read Galeano’s book and I just wanted to take a run it…I could see the parallels and just wanted to have a shot: a generalist shot. .

        By the way, if you get the time, read Galeano’s book. In fact, it’s not so much a book as an incendiary device. Absolutely sensational piece of writing…

        1. Iain MacKinnon says:

          No disrespect intended Douglas – I think you have given it a good shot in 1,700 words and let off your own compact literary incendiary device in the process with some explosive consequences. That’s why I want to acknowledge the validity of Ian Vallance’s non-Gaelic sense of Scottishness which might have felt your device to be a bit too explosive, while at the same time asking Ian to consider how people who consider themselves to be Gaels might react when someone appears to suggest baldly that our traditions are just ‘fake’.

          Jim Hunter has done very important work on the history of the Highlands and Islands. Although he has not been consistent in his views about the area as a site of colonisation (in ‘The Making of the Crofting Community’ he says there was no colonisation; in ‘On the Other Side of Sorrow’ he says there was), he has given powerful accounts of some of the historical forces involved and the cultural consequences which you have used to advantage here. If you are going to build on this analysis – and I for one hope you will – I’d also suggest the work of Michael Newton – ‘Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders’. An impassioned, scholarly, jargon free post-colonial inspired account of the history and culture of the Gaidhealtachd. I find it very useful.

          Co-incidentally, my partner has just bought a copy of ‘The open veins’ in Spanish – so I suspect I will be learning a lot more about it in the coming weeks!

      2. Axel Koehler says:

        “It seems to me that, in part, the purpose of Douglas’ article is to raise awareness of the fact that the self-understandings of Gaels in Scotland have been hugely distorted, partly by people in the lineage of Hugh Trevor Roper and David Starkey who appear to believe that we are a bunch of ‘fakes’.”

        Tha mi ag aontachadh air fad, Iain chòir, ri Dùghlas còir, ‘s ruibh fhèin.

        The irony with the late Trevor Roper – who I hope will have to serve forever in the netherworld as a scullion to Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, Iain MacCodruim or Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair for his words – is that he who was so keen on exposing genuine Gaelic tradition as fake by throwing it into the same pot as common tartanry fell for the fake Hitler diaries as written by the late forger and impostor Konrad Kujau (s. http://www.economist.com/node/374877), as so vividly and well depicted in the film satire ‘Schtonk’ in 1991. Served him right – nach ann airsan a thàinig an dà latha…

        Trevor Roper in his zealous wrath for the “forger” MacPherson, aka Seumas Bàn MacMhuirich (1736-96), overlooked another fact too: Horace Walpole, the author of the first ever gothic novel published in Britain, The Castle of Otranto, professed to have based this work upon “ancient documents found in Italy” – which later turned out to be much less true than what James MacPherson, and subsequent Gaelic scholars incl. John Francis Campbell, Iain Òg Ìle, ever said about his sources for Ossian et seq. It is interesting that this is often overlooked or ignored by mainstream scholars of literature, and history, in Britain and elsewhere, yet Trevor Roper for all his shortcomings and blunders is still being taken at face value by a too many self-styled “serious scholars”…This is also being discussed in my 2011 monograph (‘Die Helden der Fianna: Goethe und die Gälen’, Wetzlar: Phantastische Bibliothek; Schriftenreihe Bd. 108, a preview and abstract of which may be found here: https://www.academia.edu/12999162/Die_Helden_der_Fianna_Goethe_und_die_G%C3%A4len).

        Well, I hope Kujau as well as the stalwarts of Gaelic culture no longer among us are having a jolly good laugh at Hugh Trevor Roper over yonder in the Elysian Fields, ‘s nach fàs an duine ud fòiseil ‘na uaigh a chaoidh!

        1. Iain MacKinnon says:

          Axel a charaid. Abair sealladh – Uisdean Coird-Ealaiche mar sgallag ri Donnachadh Ban!

          Good man Axel. And what a vision – Hugh Roper as a sgallag to Donnachadh Ban!

      3. Ian Vallance says:

        Iain

        All tradition is faux. Essentially each generation reinvents its traditions usually by selectively picking through history to support their chosen narrative. This article does that in spades. It seeks to justify current action on the basis of a very distorted and selective view of history. The article fails on multiple levels in its attempt to promote its victimhood message. The stuff about the Aztecs is drivel and it’s extension to the depopulation of the highlands just ludicrous. I subscribe to Ford’s maxim that History is most bunk. It’s interesting but to seek to impose a future on the basis of a deeply flaws reading of History is just daft. Specifically on the language issue no where on Earth outside Isreal has a language been successfully revived. Languages need to be used and that requires enough people to want to use them. No amount of government support can make folk want to use a language the Irish experience testifies to this. Nearly 100 years of full on support hasn’t really made folk want to use Irish in their daily discourse.

        1. Iain MacKinnon says:

          “The non-genuine person cannot believe that the genuine exists” – Hamish Henderson.

        2. Axel Koehler says:

          @Ian Vallance – “All tradition is faux” Which ideology taught you that?

          I fully agree with Hamish Henderson and Iain MacKinnon who quotes him. My reply is: Ideology is the secular sibling to religion, ergo opium for the people. “Das Eia-popeia vom Himmel” (“The lullaby of heaven”), according to Heinrich Heine.

          Both sets of beliefs create dogmatism, arrogance and self-righteousness, no matter what denomination or political colour one belongs to. And both are detrimental to humour, creating dourness and dreichness instead.

          1. Ian Vallance says:

            No ideology Axel, it’s purely an opinion gained from observation of my follow himans and non selective reading. And I fully agree with your views on ideology and as I read this article for me that it was written by an ideolog and informed by dogma was only to obvious. Which was the point of my initial response

        3. Douglas says:

          Ian Vallance, allow me to correct you.

          The Basques and the Catalans and the Gallegos and the Norwegians have all successfully restored national languages in the last 100 years. Also, there is currently something of a boom going on in the Americas just now with the revival of indigenous languages.

          I’m not in favour of imposing languages, so I’m not saying learning Gaelic or Scots should be compulsory, like Basque and Catalan are compulsory in the schools of the Basque Country and Catalonia. I’d like every Scottish child be offered the chance to learn either Gaelic or Scots during their schooling.

          But the hostility you show to Gaelic speaks volumes and is common in Scotland; not indifference mind, hostility.

          As for you not having an ideology, but me having one, well that is an opinion exactly typical of the monoglot who speaks the language of the Empire, and hence, as an indirect consequences of that, is incapable of any world view of history which does not coincide with the version of history of the winners. The winners have their version of history on your TV screen every single night.

          I am unashamedly ideological; I am on the side of the losers of history and not even you can claim the Gaels have been anything but the losers of Scottish History. That seems to me to be undeniable.

          1. Ian Vallance says:

            I have no hostility to Gaelic I just don’t share your ethusiam for its mass revival. Mostly as I don’t think it’s wanted by the majority of Scots, ditto btw on Scots which the remnants of I still regularly use. It’s saddens me that languages are list but History and modern linguistic experience say recovery efforts rarely if ever work even with State backing as in Ireland. Others mention Catalan and Basque as successes but neither were as far gone as Gaelic and importantly we’re used and supported by a substantial section of their regional middle class even during their persecution this was not the case for Gaelic. Norwegian it can be argued was never dead at all it also had middle class users and it wasn’t and still isn’t that different from Swedish. A Swede can easily read and understand modern Norwegian.

          2. Ian Vallance says:

            On losers History is a zero sum game. The Celtic world peaked before Rome and ultimately outlasted it. Rome’s legacy is arguably much larger but most Historians would argue this is because it was literate and the Church preserved much of its learning. Many empire’s cultures and languages vanished and left very little we can clearly identify. This is the norm surely. Gaeldom in Scotland peaked as Scotland was forming but even the name of the country that ultimately established itself says they didn’t win in the maneuvering for power

          3. Axel Koehler says:

            Thèid mi leibh, a Dhùghlais chòir, ‘s mi ag aontachadh ruibh air fad – it is sad, sad, sad that (us) supporters of Gaelic are always seen as “ideological”, whereas the anglo-centric and anglo-supremacists do not (want to?) see that they are being influenced by ideology, too. And I shall not even go into trolls such as Neil, yon sort are mere stupid hecklers of Sun or Daily Snort level…no, it is intellectuals such as Ian Vallance I have my beef with, or people of the Anglo-Scots academic establishment such as John Dunkley of Aberdeen University (then head of the School of Modern Languages of which – rightly so – the Dept of Celtic was then part of) who, as my mentor Seumas Grannd was in a Gaelic conversation with a guest who was quite an important person ann an saoghal na Gàidhlig, rudely interrupted the conversation which he was not part of with the words: “Don’t speak THAT language in my presence!” It is not the Gaels who are backward, it is the monoglot anglophones and their paranoia someone could say something awkward or hostile about them could be said in “that language”…bad conscience or what? I “only” speak four languages firmly or fluently – Gearmailtis on bhroinn, Beurla ‘s Fraingis troimh ‘n sgoil ‘s troimh shiubhail ‘s troimh sgoilearachd agus Gàidhlig troimh spèis, ùidh agus sgolaireachd – and I am not constantly worried if someone says something in my presence in a lingo I do not command. Is it because I am continental, and thus exposed to many different languages from the cradle on, including internal differences in language or dialect (Upper Hessian – Bavarian, Upper Hessian – Low German, Hessian – Friisk etc., etc., not to mention Italian, Portuguese or Turkish in my native area – through immigrant communities)? Goodness, youse anglophone monotones, in continental Europe, there are countries where four languages exist peacefully next to each other, road signs are tri- or even quatrolingual, and indigenous languages have official status – such as Rumantsch in felix Helvetia… “But not in Britain!!!” I hear some folk say – and why not, youse paranoid small-minded supremacists? Nooo, the Gaels are NOT backward – YOU are!!

          4. Ian Vallance says:

            I can assure you Herr Koehler I am a fully paid up European and 15 years ago I could have answered you with little difficulty in German or Dutch, (Ik heb fijf jaar in het Nederland gewoond.) I have to confess that since leaving Holland 17 years ago and no longer working for German firm since 2000 I have let my language skills lapse which is indeed to my eternal shame. So I readily admit laziness and lack of practice means that it would take me a month of Sunday’s to write a reply in either language these days. I have travelled and worked all over the world and I am not in the least bit worried about what folk (Johnny Foreigner) might be saying in “foregen” lingos nor am I worried that anyone speaking Gaelic is of course taking the opportunity to laugh at me. I admire your commitment to learning Gaelic and wish it every success. I personally have little interest in Gaelic beyond understanding how it fits into the Indo-European family. But as I have said I do resent the reinvention of “authentic” Scotland as a solely Celtic affair. Sure Scotland has a strong Celtic element in its past but it is no more authentic that any other bit.
            And as for modern Scotland I look at language revival as a question not of culture or need etc but a question of does the population have the appetite for it and more importantly the inclination to vote for parties willing to pay to try. (Even if modern experience and linguistic science suggest that the liklihood of success is pretty low, I am a democrat so would naturally accept the democratic will of the Scottish people, something I strongly believe in, which is why I voted Yes in the recent referendum. It deeply saddens me that Gaelic and Scots (the residual form of I do use daily as my first language of choice, but you are right diglossia is not a concept widely understood by the British middle classes whichever part of the UK they live in ) may die but I have no desire to tell the Scottish people what it takes to be Scottish. I distrust (as I suspect many of your fellow nationals also do) folk who want to rigidly define what it takes to call yourself anything, that I leave to the ideologues.

  19. Michael Marten says:

    Excellent, though note that whilst Hugh MacDiarmid may have written, “where there is no vision, the people perish”, these are not his words – he was actually quoting the Bible, Proverbs 29:18 (in the King James Version).

  20. john young says:

    Nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia Ian as long as we do not overdo it,there is room aplenty for Gaelic in our society and for me would enhance the country it is a beautiful lyrical/poetical language so can,t be at all bad,we surely can accommodate both Gaelic/English,it is more important that we try and change our society for the better of all,the model we have just now is broken beyond repair it is venal/corrupt,my worry about a “technological/modern advanced state” is that it would still end up with the same old dinosaurs lording it over us,plus ca change.

    1. Douglas says:

      Nostalgia, John, which planet are you on at present? Maybe we Gaelic speakers are going to get it right up you colonized pussies and put you to shame? At last….leave you exposed for what you are…a bunch of shilly-shallying cap in hand nationalists who lost us the referendum cause you don’t have the cojones for it…

      1. Ian Vallance says:

        Another simplistic analysis and crass conclusion Douglas. The referendum was lost in my view because the Yes campaign forgot that the most important thing was to get power transferred before you went about making promises about what you’d do with. That and avoiding really answering the questions the middle class wanted answered on the currency and Europe. Sticking with the message that Scotland is best governed by its own people who will then be free to vote for whatever they want Gaelic in Schools etc. But getting the nation behind better under all circumstances was the only valid way to win. The Yes lost because not enough older middle class folk believed that best under all circumstances was true. Maybe as some say they never wanted to but not even trying to answer their concerns doomed the Yes campaign. The loss was most certainly not down to not being Gealic/Scottish enough that would indeed be an ideology view

  21. Douglas says:

    Friends, I call for a full scale dialectical war against the Anglo-Scottish ascendancy from every single writer on Bella Caledonia. If we do not turn back the tide of Anglicization, Scotland will not exist in twenty years. No Scottish bairn will understand a word of Burns, let alone Sorely MacLean, in ten or twenty years. At that point we can safely say Scotland is deid.

    The stakes have never been higher friends. A full scale dialectical war against the Anglo-Scottish ascendancy with absolutely no quarter. Don’t worry about being called this or that. The future of Scotland is at stake. A full-scale dialectical war right back at them.

    Never, ever, have we needed our writers more. Where are they? Get out yer garrets friends, come down onto the floor, Scotland needs you…

    1. C Rober says:

      At times I am ashamed that I dont know , cant read , write or speak the Gaelic , either from my Irish or Scots ancestors.

      But this in no way diminishes my thoughts on Independence , but language is a Secondary goal , one that may intimidate or alienate those can can enable those long term goals to be enacted.

      be a little mair “cridhe con votre paciência” , thats a fourfor fur ye.

      1. Douglas says:

        No need to feel any kind of shame C Rober. Why? Not your fault. Not saying everybody should learn Gaelic or that Gaelic speakers are “better Scots” than monoglots. Nothing like that. Just that you would hope that we could save that culture, defend it, promote it, foster it.

  22. Neil says:

    The majority of Scotland never was Gaelic, and doesn’t live in the past. Coming from the NE of Scotland, I have no connection with Gaeldom, whatsoever, apart from various wars of ancient history against the Irish invaders and colonisers called Gaels. Meanwhile, Doric culture has been completely ignored and crushed, possibly because there is only enough collective imagination to dream up one historical cultural stereotype.

    1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

      With regards to the oft-heard “Gaelic was never spoken here” type argument, readers are respectfully directed to Mike Small’s article ‘Gael Power’ (Bella Caledonia, March 26 2015) and its comment thread:
      https://bellacaledonia.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/gael-power/

      1. Neil says:

        I think the tedious and boring argument is that I am a true Pict, therefore I am a true Albaist, and those Scots gaelic invaders from Ireland were colonists. But that is stupid in the face of an invading culture with written language rather than chiseling shapes into granite, and was bound to lose.

        Wasn’t Gaelic stamped on by medieval Scottish kings in the first place? And why not?

        1. Axel Koehler says:

          Neil, ye’re nowt but a pseudo-Pictish troll. An faar div ye think the mony Gaelic place-names in NE Scotland came fae? If ye dinnae see ony on the map, ye’re either blind or doonricht daft. Ye ocht tae buy a buik for place name etymology, if ye’re still open eneugh for self-education, or fin een oan http://www.archive.org for free – there’s mony o them.

          Merely repeating phrases and paroles disnae mak ye richt, pal…or have a wee keek here: http://www.gaelicplacenames.org/index.php.

          Inverurie = Inbhir Uaraidh
          Meldrum = Meall Druim
          Braemar = Baile-Caisteil Bràigh Mhàrr
          Bucksburn = Allt nam Boc
          Tillydrone = Tulaich an Dreoghainn

          etc., etc.

          I lik the Doric as much as I lik Gaelic, but yer sheer displays of aggressive ignorance dinnae merit the intellectual discourse Bella Caledonia is weel-kent fur, ma maanie! Hiv a word wi yersel! It disnae gie Doric supporters a guid name either, and I hiv kent some fae Aiberdeen an twaal miles roon fa were equally supportive o baith leids, Gaelic and Doric!

  23. john young says:

    Douglas if as you say the future of “Scotland is at stake”,well division and lack of understanding lack of respct and lack of generosity of spirit will most certainly diminish the cause.The highlands and those that dwelt there were betrayed and led over a cliff by their own leaders,let,s not make the same mistake again,the shilly shallying nationalists did not lose the referendum the concerted efforts of the media and the establishments lying and mis-representing of the facts along with the entrenched Orange Order lost it,remember after the “Battle of the Boyne” when Catholics and Protestants united to fight for a free Ireland,the government asked General George Knox how they could deal with this serious threat,his reply was don,t worry I will play the Orange Order hand and they will deliver and that as they say is History.

    1. Douglas says:

      John, sorry, no offence intended. Not trying to create division so much as foster debate. Sorry if that didn’t come across.

  24. Fearchar says:

    The Highlands have suffered a capital leakage of huge proportions for centuries, and what we can see there is the effects of that – the (initially willing) emigration, the vultures known as “improvers” pouncing on the unprotected resources for short-term gain and the cobbled-together ideology of ethnic discrimination to justify it. These are the consequences of policy choices made by a favoured few long before any notion of democracy or human rights was understood, let alone put into practice.

    It is only just to restore Gaelic to its central place in Scottish (not just Highland, and certainly not just Western Isles) culture, and that means providing access for all citizens to public services in our autochthonous language, in order to recognise equal human rights for all Scots. Omit that, and the nation-building effort already looks less substantial than that of, say, Finland, which had to fend off not one but two imperial powers, but whose Swedish speakers, in choosing to support developing Finnish, became a driving force for national self-determination.

    However, the central problem of the Gaidhealtachd (as no less an economic historian than Marx pointed out) has always been the haemorrhage of capital – this from the vast majority of our country. At the moment, that problem is exacerbated by anti-rural policies that ensure education siphons off talented people to urban centres, while transport is excruciatingly limited, whether for people, goods or energy, thereby keeping rural areas on the fringes of national life. As Lesley Riddoch has pointed out, that isn’t the way in places like Norway or Sweden.

    A public scheduled airbus/seaplane service connecting all these apparent fringes with the urban centres, and power connections allowing the exploitation of the huge potential of wind, wave and tidal power (on the mainland as well as on islands) might be useful first steps to compensating for those earlier losses of capital. Fast (hyrdofoil?) ferry services and maglev trains might be the next steps to knitting a functioning national economy together in place of the Central Belt/rural hinterland divide we see now. Such investment in infrastructure might bring to planners the realisation that agriculture is no more likely to be the saviour of rural economies in the next 200 years or so than it has in the last 200 years. After all, who now would propose investment in heavy industries to revive city centres?

  25. Neil says:

    I suppose it is ironic that Gaelic descendants of people who colonised Scotland went off to colonise N. America.

    In Scotland, Gaelic is a colonial language of some people’s heritage which some people should try to maintain. That can be contrasted to Welsh which probably is an indigenous language. Internationally, other colonial languages include Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, English etc. Some of them fare better than others, but at the end of the day, communication is much more important than language. If language was static, rather than evolutionary, we would still be speaking like Chaucer. Ditto for culture.

    1. Iain MacKinnon says:

      No more ironic, Neil, than that the descendants of colonised Indians went off to South Africa to participate in British imperialism there; or that for centuries native peoples have collaborated with imperial forces in colonial wars. The Seneca elder John Mohawk once said that ‘colonisation is the means by which we are systematically confused’.

      Confusion and co-option into the imperial agenda is a common part of processes of colonisation and the experiences of subaltern peoples – not only for the Gaels of Scotland. This doesn’t make it right, it just means that to understand it you need to dig a little deeper into history and humanity than you have managed here. Another great Latin American work, ‘The pedagogy of the oppressed’ by Paulo Freire, might not be a bad place to start.

      1. Neil says:

        I think they were Bengalis, already colonised by the Punjabis and forced to speak Hindi, then taxed by Scots of all people. At least they didn’t force them to speak Gaelic, although I guess they were forced to speak Afrikaans.

  26. Fearchar says:

    Perhaps this sheds further light on the importance of Gaelic to national confidence:
    http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2015/s4278032.htm

  27. John Craig says:

    It’s quite a few years now since I was in conversation with the late Tom Weir, Author and Broadcaster. Tom made the observation that there is a simple geographical split which divides Scotland in other ways. ” If you were born south of Ben Lomond you weren’t seen as Scottish” was his take on much of Scotland’s ailments. He was of the opinion that the Clearances were almost like a badge of honour to be worn by those left behind and their ancestors. History seemed to have ignored the brutal poverty akin to slavery under which much of the rest of Scotland languished at that time. The up and coming industrialisation of central Scotland would be paid for in blood and sweat by a similarly dis-enfranchised though vastly numerically superior group of people than the Crofting communities. He described Scots as the victim of something the world had not seen before; the machine age. The Australian Aboriginals, the Red Indians and all those that were mown down by that machine were as nothing when confronted by a “civilising force ” that would enslave it’s own at the end of a Bayonet. North or South of Ben Lomond ? It didn’t matter.

  28. john young says:

    We need to restore a bit of pride in ourselves,it,s bad enough others denigrating us it is a parlour game for them,over the hundreds of years we have never been really united as a country possibly pre the 1500s,far too many in it only for themselves,back stabbing switching loyalties and all for self glorification.We now have a bedrock of 50% of the people prepared to go that extra mile we have to harden our resolve for the battles ahead and stay united,I see no reason whatsoever that gaelic couldn,t be introduced to our school curriculum along with a proper understanding of who we are our history and the great acheivements of Scots instead of the brainwashing we have had for so long.Anyone who has travelled the length breadth of this country and further afield can,t fail to have noticed the pride the people have in their country,why are we the “odd men/women out”.

  29. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    Here’s an experiment. No doubt there are pro-independence Scots who can follow Irish as well as Scottish Gaelic. I wonder how folk might get on with this video interview in which Joe Higgins MEP gives a Leftist overview of the European economic crisis. His fine, measured Irish is a pleasure to listen to, particularly given the contemporary context and register. It is from a series called ‘Faoi Bhráid na Stoirme: Glórtha ar an Gheilleagar’ [‘Before the Storm: Voices on the Economy’] (and does have English subtitles):

    1. Neil says:

      In Holyrood, the guy in charge of Gaelic, doesn’t speak Gaelic. If there is any sentiment behind it, it is not Gaelic, and it is incompetent and involves lots of money.

      1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

        And of course let’s not forget the ULTIMATE anti-Gaelic argument: “Potholes!”.

        1. Neil says:

          I have no idea, but do you think that the Edinburgh High Commissioner for the Gaelic language not being able to speak Gaelic might have something to do with the popularity of the Christian party on Lewis?

          Should there be an expose from Edinburgh dinner party attendees making a mint from internet charity blogs?

          1. Fearchar says:

            A “High Commissioner for…Gaelic” and a link with the Scottish Christian Party (presumably)? Should you not be getting back to writing that fantasy novel?

  30. Douglas says:

    Ian Vallance:

    I don’t think I am ever going to convince you, so this is my last comment on this thread. My point is really quite a broad one: the revitalisation of Scottish culture – not just the national languages – through an intelligent use of powers which are already devolved to Holyrood is the key to independence, the key to awakening people to the idea, especially young people.

    You get all this talk about “the Scottish identity”. Nobody talks like that elsewhere in the world. The Basques talk about culture, the Catalans talk about culture. Not “identity”. What is that?

    Re Catalan: There was nothing translated into Catalan for almost 300 years, and although people spoke it they did not write in it: so directly comparable to Scots. Today, the Catalans have one of healthiest translation cultures in Europe, Catalan literature is alive and well, there are newspapers and TV stations in Catalan. Why? Because the Catalan nationalist/home rulers towards the end of the 19th century decided to do something about it: they called a literary congress, established a grammar, set up a Language Academy. What were the Scots doing then? They were busy weeding out their Scotticisms so they could get a job in the Empire.

    As for Gaelic, it either becomes a minority national language right across Scotland or its chances of survival are slim I would say. This “I’m a Lowlander, Gaelic has nothing to do with me” is equivalent to saying you shouldn’t teach Shakespeare in the schools of Inverness. It’s parochial and narrow and nonsensical. You have a tradition in literature, art, poetry and music going back hundreds and hundreds of years….

    National culture has always been the most important weapon in the arsenal of independence movements the world over. You would hope the national party would see that, but they don’t seem to, or not enough.

    To achieve indie, you need people to reimagine the country, reinvent it; you need a new mythology…

    If Corbyn wins the Labour leadership and tacks to the Left of the SNP, you’re going to see how futile it is to base indie on something as nebulous as a so-called predisposition to social democracy …

    1. Ian Vallance says:

      You hit the nail on the head, The most important thing about the revitalizing of Catalan and Basque (and neither was as degraded and unused as Gaelic became) is as I said before that the middle class and intellectuals wanted to use them. That wasn’t and largely still isn’t true for Scots Gaelic (and to lesser extent Irish where a kind snobbish precious approach to usage etc is quite common among some middle class speakers). Scots is doubly hindered as the Scottish middle class would generally rather eat a piece on Shite than utter or have their children utter a vernacular vowel. Further you need folk to want to use a language for it to thrive. Here again the Irish experience says that is not easily achieved even with enlightened government support. Overall I feel if social democracy is not the best route to an independent Scotland then I’d rather pass on the reinventing of the national culture route not just because I don’t think most folk want it but because what it might produce is mean spirited backward looking insular victim culture which would serve no one well I feel.

      1. Douglas says:

        Well Ian, you’re completely right about the Scots’ aversion to their national languages, or in fact, any second language these days. That’s a fact.

        The Scots invented elocution lessons!!! I know SNP paying members of a certain age who are proud of their elocution lessons! Nationalists actually paying good money to sound more English…Scotland is a totally baffling country….

        My assertion is that you probably won’t win indie unless you can change that aversion, and the SNP haven’t really tried to change it, and they will never have a better opportunity than right now. You have to believe in the young people who just went through the thrill of the referendum campaign, hope they can change that situation.

        Nicola Sturegon says to the Labour Party the other day, “If you’re not here to defend the poor what are you for?”….to which I would answer, “If the SNP is not here to defend Scottish culture, what is the SNP for, Nicola?”. Relinquish some power – and money – from the Holyrood mandarins and hand it over to the Scottish Arts Community, see what happens. No more reports, no more studies and findings…

        As for English, it is an imperial language, and has been so for about 150 years, and like all imperial languages it is in steep decline for all that the numbers of speakers are rising. It is loaded with jargon, cliches, soundbites, memes, distortions, the language of commerce and human resources, and advertising and bureaucracy…you can barely read a newspaper these days…it’s a language which has lost so much of its richness and its poetry and powers of expression…. it’s turning into gibberish….the language of power, the language Orwell talked about in “1984”….

      2. Douglas says:

        Ian, this is from the “What We Do” statement on the Creative Scotland webpage:

        “Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here”

        So CS is working for everybody and anybody who sets foot in Scotland, even to play golf or go hunting in the Highlands…

        “We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. ”

        What does that sentence mean? It’s outright GIBBERISH… that’s on the front page of the national arts body…nice people, I’m sure, but….

  31. John Craig says:

    I originally intended a reply on Axel’s riposte to Neil on the presence of Gaelic culture in the N.E.I’ll condense it into an observation that the rich agricultural land running up the Carse, through the Mearns and out over to Moray was probably targeted by usurpers long before Culloden and we tend(the relatively un-educated of us) to see Gaelic as holding to the West and the Islands. The place names tell a different story, but is there some definitive record of the death of Gaelic in the N.E.
    To illustrate the fragility of our cultures, I look back to an article in the Aberdeen P&J. A reporter made comment shortly after the Oil Industry had settled in Aberdeen, that a man of his long term acquaintance, given to welcoming him with a couthy ” fit like mannie ?”
    now met him with “Hi ya son of a bitch, how’s it goin”.
    Big Dallas had just swallowed little Dallas and nobody batted an eyelid.

  32. highlandgirl says:

    I heartily commend Douglas for writing this article and stimulating this debate. Re- imagining our beautiful Scotland involves transforming the economic, the social and the cultural. Returning from a trip round the north west coast of Scotland I am saddened that no Scottish people seem to actually live there anymore. Hardly a surprise when the smallest cottage seems to be priced at offers over a quarter of a million pounds. Part of my vision would be to support and encourage the dispossessed folk of the Highlands who currently reside in the cities to be enabled to return with a piece of land and suitable housing. Planning permission for fish farms would only be given for community owned and controlled farms where the emphasis would be on jobs and environmental protection rather than profit.
    The late Melbost bard said that Scotland without Gaelic would be like “a harp with one string or veins without blood”/ Clarsach aon-teud is cuislean gun fhuil.”

  33. John Craig says:

    Highlandgirl,
    the late eighties financial boom saw most of the little cottages sold willingly for ridiculous sums of money. The beneficiaries of this financial wave were in the main happy to move to areas where employment, schooling and healthcare were more readily available and life in general was cheaper. If you were young enough to be dependant on your parents, you went with them, if you were old enough and wanted to stay, you were in for a tough time indeed and that legacy remains today. Many of the little cottages you mentioned were bought as holiday homes by people basically gambling on the value of their homes down south. when the financial bubble burst in 1990, they would do their best to re-coup their losses by holding out for the price they paid which even today young people can’t afford.
    Other purchasers of the little cottages, sold what they had down south and with their new-found collateral, were able to settle in and even start their own businesses again legislating against local younger people with the ideas, but not the capital. If anyone was dispossessed, it was the twenty to thirty year olds
    As for the Salmon Farming idea, it was initially seen as being a boon to the crofting communities on the West Coast but the initial attempts at local level were soon bought up by big business and although the resulting situation does provide work for local people, the fact remains that most of the employees in the industry on the West Coast, come from elsewhere. The effects of the industry on the local ecology also bring in to doubt the sustainability of the practice. I in no way wish to spoil your dream in saying what I have, but ultimately one has to look at reality in finding a way forward.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.