RIC 2019: We Ourselves

Ahead of a debate at the forthcoming Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow on Saturday 26 October, David Jamieson argues that the independence movement should stop courting the powerful

“The first essential for the success of any movement or party is that it should believe it carries within its own bosom all the material requisite to achieve its own destiny. The moment any organisation ceases to believe in the sufficiency of its own powers, the moment its membership begins to put trust in powers not their own, in that moment that party or that organization enters its decline.”

The words are those of the great organiser and revolutionary James Connolly. He must be high in the running for greatest Scot (born) of all time, and it is remarkable he is so little evoked in debates about the next step forward for the Scottish independence movement.

This probably has something to do with the careful distance that some leading Scottish nationalists have always placed between Scotland and Ireland. But it must also owe something to the challenge his ideas pose to that leadership.

Connolly’s insistence on the special, central place of the working class in the national configuration is a threatening idea. So too his warning that independence from ‘foreign’ powers cannot be won by borders and flags. The most alien force of all, capital, doesn’t recognise these things and extends its rule across all nations – those ‘independent’ from and conjoined with other nations.

This might be an abstract intellectual or moral judgement were it not for the argument advanced in the above quote. Autonomy of political force is, Connolly argues, an essential question for any movement.

Who defends the autonomy of the Scottish independence movement, and who seeks to subvert it? This is the real question that must be posed at the Radical Independence conference in Glasgow on 26 October.

I will submit that the attempts to make Scottish independence acceptable to the ruling capitalist elite are both futile and self-destructive.

Futile because they are very unlikely to succeed. Self-destructive because the attempts to make Scottish independence a vehicle for the class interests of one small part of society (who are already deeply committed to other national and transnational vehicles) will require the abandonment of the interests of the majority, and even the demand for democratic sovereignty which is the engine room of the independence movement.

The SNP’s autumn conference in Aberdeen should have felt like a rally on the eve of a general election and, possibly, a referendum on Scottish independence. Instead, it was like a tomb. This is no accident. The SNP leadership envisions no immediate independence referendum.

What must be grasped to make sense of this situation, is that the form of independence sought by the current SNP leadership militates harshly against political action towards independence.

What is that form? Independence within, suitable for, and mandated by the international establishment – the western alliance sometimes erroneously referred to as the ‘international community’.

The greatest and most profound challenge to the independence is that its current architects want it to be realised only when it is entirely acceptable to a host of much more powerful entities.

As I stated, this is first, futile. Elements of this ‘international community’ can be, at the very maximum, fair-weather friends to the Scottish independence movement when it suits their own narrow interests.

The EU has become a Moses type figure for the leadership of the SNP, leading us on a physical and spiritual journey to our national future. But so far the EU has done no more than nod and wink at Scottish independence at irregular intervals. It has done so as an exercise in soft power, as one of various attempts to exert leverage over British state negotiators.

The fantasy of benevolent, enlightened Europeans prepared to accept or even support Scottish independence after the example of English nativism should have died with the agreement by European leaders with Johnson’s deal.

This regressive new arrangement was arrived at without a shred of concern for its impacts in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK.

But it should be obvious from the nature of the EU – a committee for the management of the common affairs of the European ruling classes – that it will not support any mass social movements that threaten to disrupt the status quo. The suppression of Catalonia with the deep complicity of the EU leadership is proof of this.

The EU will resist Scottish independence because all of the major nation states that form the core and immediate periphery of the EU project are laced with minority national claims and national questions. Spain is frequently evoked in this regard and not without reason.

But the UK is probably the bigger obstacle. The EU would embrace a UK outside of the EU with an intensity that may well forbid Scottish entry. In a world of big capital, big states and naked competition, small nations like Scotland and Catalonia are small fry.

Another friend sought for Scottish independence (and by some pro-western axis ideologues, the rights of small nations in general) is Nato and US military and soft power. Needless to say, it was not forthcoming under Obama, and will not be forthcoming under Trump.

If anything, the issues around Nato are more acute today than they were in 2014. Not only does the military alliance continue to press a confrontation with Russia, not only does it continue its gruesome alliance with Turkey’s oppression of the Kurds and senseless occupation of Afghanistan, but its attentions are increasingly turned inwards to member states themselves.

Nato is already an infringement of sovereignty in Scotland, involving the placement of Nato forces and operations here, the Trident system and the export of Scotland’s youths – sometimes to death – for US interests. Now Trump is turning the screw on Nato members, touring the provinces of the empire demanding greater taxes and human sacrifice. An intolerable situation for an independent Scotland.

Sorry to say, but of all the wonders of the Sanders campaign, foreign policy radicalism has not been one of them. We can assume that for the foreseeable future of the US regime in general, an increasingly assertive and sovereignty-compromising Nato is on the agenda.

Perhaps the most bizarre desired ally for Scottish independence has been the British state itself. It has been a traditional contradiction of gradualist SNP strategy that it relies upon the coherence and stability of the British state. Not that the state is in its worst crisis since world war two, it will be doubly intransigent in the face of democratic demands.

Faced with this reality, it is a true absurdity to request the use of Sterling, and much else besides from a chaotic British elite.

This is not only a question of what kind of independence we want, but if we want to achieve it at all. After the mess of Brexit, it is apparent that going into break-up negotiations with the British state carrying a long list of requests for access to this and that institution, this or that ally, is diplomatic self-immolation.

But most importantly of all, casting around for agencies outside of ‘we, ourselves’ demobilises our forces and obscures a simple reality: the driving force of the independence movement, and the only thing that can deliver independence, is a mass movement of ordinary people. 

When we cease to place faith in “powers not our own”, we can re-orientate on the kind of movement we want, without being held back by the need to appear ‘respectable’ to our enemies.

Comments (34)

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  1. Daniel Raphael says:

    Excellent analysis; highlighted an extract with the link, which I tweeted. Best wishes and comradely greetings to those who wish for a Scotland independent, socialist, ecologically sane and free of Trident.

  2. squigglypen says:

    So then…..UDI and sod everybody else…is that worse than pretending to want independence or seen on the world stage as a pathetic nation being laughed at by Westminster.Here is Johnson’s answer to Ian Blackford’s question re Scotland being ‘shafted’ ..”Can I remind you how well England are doing in the rugby tournament…”
    We seem to have an endless ability to be insulted by the parasitic little nation south of us represented by turds like Johnson….
    Of course we could get up a petition and then take it to Westminster for their approval and then ask politely if we could leave.. because that would be seen as legal..etc etc… . Aren’t we a joke (rhetorical question)..or I’ll take answers on the back of a stamp.

  3. John Watson says:

    Well said; I totally agree with this analysis. We’re not going to triangulate our way to independence, that’s for sure, but I fear we’re going to have to wait until the current crop of liberal centrists at the top of the SNP depart the stage. They seem to be carrying everything before them just now but every dog has its day and people will eventually realise they’re being strung along.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    I find it odd that an article warning about courting the powerful would open its pitch with an appeal to authority and push a Great Man View of History.

    The way to head off a USAmerican “alliance” (not a prospect I have heard pushed for an Independent Scotland) may be simply to expose them, pushing past their apologists in British cultural mainstream. It is odd how many times journalists and other non-historians seem to have to step in to write the critical histories of US crimes and misdemeanours, but the reputation of the “Land of the Free” is there for the taking down.

    And we should surely avoid making the elementary mistake of placing any (thought) leader on a pedestal, and wary of celebrity-endorsed programs (celebrities are generally sooo comprised).

    Are there any international groupings that an Independent Scotland might join? I have not kept up with the doings of the Non-Aligned Movement, but if you want to push for, say, a reformed United Nations, few other groups have the clout, a disarmament agenda (at least theoretically) or an anti-superpower focus:
    There are some policy areas in which Scotland should defer to appropriate international bodies (environmental, peace, human rights), and we should acknowledge that whatever “destiny” some may envisage, nations currently have to work collectively for the sake of the planet.

  5. Douglas says:

    We need some fresh thinking to come out of the RIC this year, and from what I can see, it’s basically the same line-up as the 2013 event…

    A lot of cheerleaders on the platform, not enough thinkers… a lot of people who have been speaking at these events for decades, like from back at the 1980’s…

    As for the EU, of course on the one hand David is right, on the other, as we have seen with Brexit, if you want to trade on anything other than WTO terms with the EU, you have to align so much you’re better being inside the club. We know the 3% deficit criteria is an unnecessary straightjacket for example, but on balance, we’re better off inside than out. There are plenty of critics of the Maastricht rules within the European Parliament, and a Scottish Left party would feel at home with them, there are ready allies waiting for us there..

    It’s also a sphere of influence question. You either choose to be under the influence of low regulation post Brexit England, or you choose the EU. And, for me, half the point of independence is seeing Scotland aligning with Europe on a whole number of different issues, from culture, through to health, housing and many others.

    We need to break out the Unionist-Imperialist mentality… EU membership is the right way to go for us IMO…

    1. Douglas says:

      PS: David, it is somewhat harsh and in any event misleading of you to blame the EU for Johnson’s dreadful Brexit deal in terms of its absolute disregard for the people of Scotland.

      I’m afraid that’s just not how it works. The EU negotiates with the UK govt. It doesn’t take into consideration what any other body may think about any deal except the UK govt, because that is the legal relationship it must honour. It has no choice but to stick to what the UK govt puts on the table. If the UK says “screw the Scots” as it has done, the EU cannot interfere there. It has no legal right to do so.

      The only reason the EU has taken into such consideration the people of Ireland, is because the EU is co-signatory to the Good Friday Agreement. It has a duty to honour its international treaty commitments.

      In that sense, the EU has behaved impeccably throughout these nightmare negotiations, and completely disproved the arrogant English Brexiter theory that EU members state unity was a fiction which would crumble with a bit of pressure from London….

  6. mince'n'tatties says:

    ‘The only thing that can deliver independence, is a mass movement of ordinary people.’ A correct summation ending a very powerful cohesive and erudite article. ‘The SNP view the EU as Moses’. And indeed they do. Unquestioning belief. Superb… So why the beginning?
    The author surely knows the divisive nature of Connolly.
    For 20 years Edinburgh endured marches in his name; every single one resulting in mayhem and violence. At least now it’s only about a statue. You want cohesion?…
    try compromise.
    Regardless of what you think we are headed for red poppy Sunday. Show a little understanding of working class sacrifice. Almost no Scottish family left the Great War unscathed [including my own]. A little empathy would go a long way.
    Putting Connolly front and foremost means remaining fringe, And I ain’t talking Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
    Oh no apologies for my very last comment. After Tommy Sheridan, the Radical Left have a trust re-build project first. Get on with it.

  7. Jo says:

    “This probably has something to do with the careful distance that some leading Scottish nationalists have always placed between Scotland and Ireland.”

    This being Scotland, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

  8. florian albert says:

    The R I C, as part of RISE, fought the 2016 Holyrood election. It was – as one of its leaders wrote in BC – brutal. The voters showed no interest in RISE’s brand of left wing politics.
    Did R I C have a serious analysis as to why this happened ?
    As an outsider, it looks as though the R I C is set fair to replicate a strategy that failed miserably previously. It involves largish meetings where the already converted gather. The mass of voters remain entirely disconnected from the culture that these meetings exemplify. The near certainty is that, if R I C/RISE take their case to the voters again, the electoral result will be no different.

    Since Connolly’s revolutionary activities led fairly directly to the creation of de Valera’s Free State – close to the antithesis of revolutionary socialism – I am not certain that he is a suitable case for adulation.

    1. RIC organise events on a scale few political parties could emulate.

      I’m tired of these comments. What is the point of this contribution?

      1. Douglas says:


        Florian can be a bit of a gripe, but sometimes he is right.

        I would expect the Scottish Left to be talking about the work of Thomas Piketty for example, or Zizek, or Varoufakis to name just three examples.

        The Scottish Left has been going on about the Revolution since I can remember. Nobody else believes in the Revolution these days anywhere else in Europe…

        The great agent of History is not the working class, its technology, something Marx did not foresee…

        1. I just wonder about all these right wing people hovering about Bella hating everything, I can’t imagine commenting endlessly on some right wing magazine pointing out the error of their ways and thinking it’s a productive exercise.

          1. mince'n'tatties says:

            Back in the day, an attack of the vapours would be countered with a lay down and an Abdine powder…. Just saying Ed.

          2. Douglas says:

            Och come on Bella, you know that Florian likes to pour cold water on things… he’s a bit of a Jeremiah…

            As for David Jamieson, I had forgotten that he was a Euro sceptic, like Cat Boyd herself. Why doesn’t David just say as much instead of slipping a bit of Brexit like propaganda into his piece – fake news, fake news – whereby Johnson’s pitiful deal is somehow the EU’s fault? Remember all that stuff about “having our cake and eating it”? What happened to that? Johnson and his team just dropped the cake on their own lap. The UK govt just got trashed by the EU in these negotiations. 5-0. They haven’t moved an inch. Johnson has effectively made a united Ireland a question of time…

            I just can’t get my head around the idea of anybody supporting Scottish isolationsim with the neighbours from hell we have, the capital of the Anglo Empire. We’re not Iceland, we have no choice but to align with Europe. It’s Europe or England.

            Scottish intellectuals, during Scotland’s most important moments historically speaking, have always sought to keep Scotland connected with Europe, it’s always been our lifesblood, both back in the 18th century at the time of the Enlightenment, and then again in the 20th century with the Scottish Renaissance. James IV and his attempts to make Scotland a European power through marriage would be another example. The whole sad history of Mary Queen of Scots has many readings one, is between pro European elements among the Scottish ruling class against the pro English elements, who won out.

            To retreat back into isolationism is just not an option as far as I can see…

            As for the Scottish Left, it all sounds like it did back in the 80’s. Revolutionary politics is unlikely to offer many ideas to the challenges we face. I know RIC is a good platform, but it all just sounds very familiar. Tariq Ali? Seriously? How many times have I heard Tariq speak? Nice guy but….

            That thing Kenneth White said about ‘roots’ all too easily turning into ‘ruts’… the Scottish Left sounds to me like it is in the same ruts it was 30 years ago…

          3. florian albert says:

            I am grateful to Bella Caledonia for allowing an open forum where I can post.

            However, I do not consider myself remotely right wing and do not ‘hate’ anything.
            I am critical of the Scottish Left. In this I differ from most people; they ignore it totally. How many Scots have even heard of RIC ? Very few.

            The SNP is veering right, yet the left shows absolutely no sign of taking advantage of this. The left is self indulgent and self deceiving.
            Specifically, RIC is repeating a political strategy which was proved to be disastrous in 2016.

            If my analysis is wrong – rather than ultra pessimistic but accurate – point out where it is wrong

          4. You are correct that the culture of the ideological left is alien to most people and some of the language is alienating.

            But RIC is not an electoral project.

            It is easy to be dismissive of RIC but it organises events on a scale and with a reach that few professional political parties would dream of. Many people have and do find these events inspiring.

            I believe that there are people organising to break out of the silos of leftism.

  9. Douglas says:

    Tax the super rich at 80%


  10. Angus says:

    ‘Not that the state is in its worst crisis since world war two, it will be doubly intransigent in the face of democratic demands.’

    Jamieson recognises that ‘the state’ or ‘sovereignty is no longer fit for purpose with regards to agency and effective policy due to the inescapable nature of the global econ and post national power structures. He then bangs on about how a sovereign Scotland will somehow subvert this – without explaining how??? It’s such childish exceptionalism.

    e.g. ‘Faced with this reality, it is a true absurdity to request the use of Sterling, and much else besides from a chaotic British elite.’

    Ok, so no Sterling – but ALL currencies are part of the global financial system? They cannot logically exist in isolation? Use another currency and you’re in exactly the same boat!

    There is NO isolation or agency for anyone anymore. Either we all change or no one does!


    1. Angus says:

      This kind of childish nonsense just irritates me. You want independence then come up with a logical plan!

      Dear David.

      If we don’t use Sterling (and) we don’t use the Euro – if we don’t tie ourselves to the Bank of England or the ECB in Frankfurt as you seem to be suggesting, what do we do? How do we import goods and how doe we sell anything?

      Because the rest of the world (especially the developing world) isn’t interested in reverting to small communes eating fucking beetroot. They kind of like modern cancer treatment and modern trains and modern ships and going on holiday to Greece rather than being stuck in a yurt in East Kilbride.

    2. Angus says:

      Western imperialist arrogance. We’ve industrialised, we became wealthy because of the market, we live in the top 15% … but now we don’t like it and want to pull up the drawbridge. It’s easy to belittle the market when you’re the beneficiaries of it as opposed to those at the bottom. You don’t have to like the macro structure to see the unequivicable benefit of the general structure.

      The last century:

      Communism and Socialism (not the market socialism or social dem) = 0 out of poverty.

      The market and redistribution = Billions out of absolute poverty!

  11. Douglas says:

    The more I think about the RIC, and what David and Cat think about Europe, the more I see the RIC platform as leading inevitably to Unionism from the Left.

    If England and Scotland leave the EU, and if Scotland is independent, it will be so in name more than anything else. Scotland will be completely overshadowed economically by England, inevitably part of its orbit, much more so than now when power is diffused by the EU and European institutions …

    Which is to say, Scotland has more independence now from England, as part of a UK within the EU, than it would have as a nominally independent country outwith the EU and outwith the Union. I know that sounds paradoxical but it is probably the case. And then there’s the Corbyn factor…

    I admire the RIC for their initiative and organizational skills, and their amazing work during the referendum campaign.

    But I profoundly disagree with their strategy and their outlook on building a Left alternative for the future. Nothing about environment on the programme, nothing about health and lifestyle, nothing about culture. It’s all about “resistance” and bears the imprint of the Scottish Left of the pass.

    Andd mass mobilizations may or may not be a good thing, it depends on the ideas people are fighting for. The first politician to truly understand how to mass mobilize was Hitler after all…

    As for James Connolly, he is a good reference if you are in a revolutionary colonial situation. I can’t see how anybody can say that of Scotland, which doesn’t mean Scotland hasn’t been slowly culturally colonized over three centuries. But that is much more the fault of the Scots than the English, and David and Cat’s thinking does not suggest that process would be reversed in any shape or form.

    I think we need a new platform….

    1. Douglas says:

      PS: The thing about the Irish revolutionaries David Jamieson – leaving to one side the fact that they lived before the Geneva Conventions, Universal Suffrage, the NHS and the Welfare State, and the creation of the UN and the European Court of Human Rights – is that they were poets.

      They weren’t very good poets as far as I know, but Padraig Pearse was a poet, and Thomas MacDonagh was also a poet, and they emerged from a moment of Irish cultural nationalism.

      It’s no accident, you know? What came first, the poet or the revolution? Who knows, but they convinced the greatest Irish poet of them all, W.B Years, up to then very sceptical of Irish Republicanism, to sign up to their cause…The fact is you can’t talk about an independence strategy and completely ignore culture…

      As for ‘the emancipation of the working class’, well there are many ways people’s lives can be improved apart from the ‘Revolution’, there are techniques to help cope with the stress of poverty, to make people aware of lifestyle choices, which are open to forming part of a left wing platform.

      For example, the Spanish anarchists of the beginning of the 20th Century eschewed tobacco, alcohol, coffee, anything which might create addiction because they saw these products and the addictions they cultivate as just another strategy of capitalism to enslave people and make them dependent… in that sense they were like the Charterists who formed the backbone of the abstemious leagues in 19th century Britain. That’s all gone from the discourse of the Left.

      We need to cultivate a much broader outlook I would argue than anti-fascism, anti-nuclear weapons, etc…

    2. So much incorrect about this – but on just one point there is plenty about the environment in todays conference, see for eg Nathália Urban
      @UrbanNathalia from @resistbrasil_

    3. David and Cat’s views on Europe – whilst welcome on here as part of a political debate are not representative of anything in particular, other than their own strand of socialism.

      1. Douglas says:

        David and Cat are two of the most well kent faces of the Scottish Left. They’re very motivated and they do a lot of good work I am 100% sure. But I can’t identify with their strand of Left wing politics. It’s from a different age, and I think the electorate felt that too when RISE rose… and then collapsed.

        Look, James Connolly is the past. He espoused violent revolution. He cannot be any kind of reference for anybody except historians or those who believe in violent revolution, which I most definitely do not, at least not as a goal or a strategy or a plan.

        But a lot of people on the Scottish Left do believe in that – I don’t know about David and Cat themselves – or better said, are ambiguous about it. They admire it in the past most certainly. They kind of flirt with it. the mentality is that of a resistance movement, not that of a constructive political party with new ideas (exceptions like Robin apart).

        The RIC is the nearest thing to a party on the Left we have. Why don’t we have a political party on the Left which is attracting the young people of Scotland? Because the people who are influencing RISE are old Marxists like Tariq Ali and George Kerevan… their line of thinking is the ghetto, the cul-de-sac… George talks about “fascist Spain” and “replacing capitalism” in his most recent article… nobody believes these things outside the small circle of back-clapping enthusiasts which are the old Scottish Left….

        …the whole language of the Left in Scotland is contaminated with the Marxian language of class-struggle of people in their sixties and seventies… that’s all gone in Europe.

        It’s a failure, it’s a disaster, we’re going to live to regret not having founded a progressive political party in Scotland the day after independence day….

    4. There is no “left platform” and RIC does not intend or aim to speak on behalf of a movement or develop a manifesto, its just a platform for ideas.

      1. Douglas says:

        Bella, why don’t we have a left wing republican pro Europe, pro indie party? What’s your explanation? You’re right in the center of it, I’m out in periphery of the periphery, so I don’t know the answer…

        But Scotland is probably a more left leaning country than most other countries in Europe. So what is failing? Something is clearly failing.

        I think it’s the people at the top of the Scottish Left and their out of date, romantic, and stale rhetoric. It’s just one big act of posturing for the most part.

        It’s the only conclusion I can draw… it turns people off… and it’s meaningless more often than not, just as it is meaningless to take James Connolly, a Scots Irish revolutionary as an example when we live in democratic country where we had a referendum and we’re going to have another one. What the FF does Connolly have to do with our current situation?

        1. Why dont we have a left wing republican pro Europe, pro indie party? Good question.

          Partly because we are still recovering from Tommy Sheridans charisma-clusterfuck, partly because all energy has been drawn in to the vortex of the SNP and partly because the idea of the “Left” has little to say about climate crisis other than slightly stale workerism and productivism … and partly because Brexit has re-awoken a dormant Lexit strain which nobody had heard for thirty years

          1. Douglas says:

            The Sheridan card? Not so much a ‘get out of jail’ card as a ‘go to jail card’…

            Ach, I just get fed up when I hear somebody on the Scottish Left like David blaming the EU for Johnson’s deal, you know?. We can’t misrepresent the situation like the mainstream media do, being on the Left, it behoves us to tell the truth.

            We all know the Brexiters have been pursuing the most extreme from of Brexit of all, that if a British PM picked up the phone tomorrow and said “We’ll stay in the customs union” or “We’ll stay in the single market” then this would all be over.

            It should have been over years ago by now… 2017 or something like that, and the craven arse-licking English press, including the so called ‘liberal press’ like Channel4 News and the Guardian almost never point that out… the English Tory government are pursuing the hardest form of disconnection from the EU.

            Then they talk of ‘Brexit fatigue’? I don’t have Brexit fatigue, I’ve got Tory government rule in Scotland fatigue. I’m sick to death of the English Conservative Party ruling Scotland as they have done most of my life without ever winning a majority in Scotland or even coming close to it….

            As for “anti-capitalism” like Cat and David espouse, well it’s like being”anti-feudalism” in the Middle Ages or “anti the Bronze Age” in the Bronze ages… there are historical forces at work which go way beyond any group or nation or political party wills to happen….

  12. Douglas says:

    And there’s nothing especially Left wing about being anti-fascist or anti-nuclear weapons… I’d say 90% of Scots are anti-fascists and about 65% anti nuclear weapons.

    Why does the Scottish Left keep going back to these issues? Because the Scottish Left has a long and proud history of anti-fascism (Spanish Civil War, Pinochet etc) and because the anti-nuclear movement was very important back in the 70’s and 80’s. They were very live and polemical issues in their day. But not any more.

    You need to update the agenda, and formulate new proposals for new times…

    And Podemos didn’t win five million votes by harking back to the Revolution. You’ll never hear Pablo Iglesias or Erejón talking about “the revolution”. That’s all gone.

    The Scottish Left is way out of kilter with what is going on in Europe; isolated, disconnected, not up with the currents of left-wing thought on the continent…it’s embarrassing… no wonder nobody voted for RISE….they’re being offered a manifesto which wouldn’t look out of place in the 1980’s…

    We need a new forum, or platform, or group…or something… but I can’t get behind a movement which believes in cutting ourselves off from Europe. It’s a just non-starter for me.

    Anyway, rant over…

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Douglas, I read your rant with some interest, and find many of your points reasonable. It is difficult to see how RIC would pursue an internationalist agenda without an Independent Scotland joining international organisations and signing up to common policies (like, say, a common EU foreign policy), necessarily ceding some independence. And in turn influencing those collective policies.

      The event does seem somewhat old-guard-led. People, not ideas (the definition of “small mindedness”?) selling the show. They do advertise a Green New Deal breakout, although I don’t see that concept as particularly radical.

      I happen to agree about your point on technology opening the way for greater democratic experimentation. This week’s BBC Click showed a platform called pol.is which has apparently been used to troll-neutralise open, online public collective decision-making, providing insights into idea-clustering and working iteratively towards consensus-making by promoting common-ground statements to greater prominences. This kind of technology is worth piloting, to see if can be manipulated, or rigged, and what issues it works best with. At some point we probably have to make democracy digital to work on national and global scale, and solve the access-equality problems that requires.

      If you are going to be internationalist, environmentalist and relevant to youth, while promoting RIC’s five priorities, you are going to have to get behind existing collectivist and communistic movements in global science, open technology and the digital commons. And in terms of culture, as I don’t apologise for repeating myself, games. In fact, if you are going to be internationalist, then scientists, technologists and digital commoners are far better practitioners than poets.

      Some of this RIC name-dropping seems almost like establishing credentials, and as we know from establishment, state and corporate infiltration of dissenting groups, such credentials are easiest to fake. Let’s have an ideas common, rather than a clique or cadre or self-appointed vanguard of professional revolutionaries who (in at least one time and place) missed the real revolution when ordinary people decided to start it themselves. RIC risk, unfortunately, looking very much like an Establishment-in-waiting.

      1. Douglas says:

        Thanks for reading Sleeping Dog, I was beginning to feel like one of these poor folk you sometimes see walking down the road shouting randomly into the air…

        The Left in Scotland is stuck in a rut. There is a huge electoral space between the SNP and whatever is RISE are or the SSW were which is waiting to be occupied.

        It needs somebody on the Left to ditch all the Marxian baggage and cliches of the past and come up with some policies grounded in reality which would actually improve people’s lives… somebody young preferably. When you look around Europe, there is a party in that political space in every single country, normally on about 10% of the vote.

        Why isn’t there one in Scotland? Because David Jamieson is a Marxist and Cat Boyd is a Marxist, and the general mood music hasn’t changed in 30 years. People in Scotland on the Left have stopped thinking critically and just repeat the same mantras of the past. We need critical thinking and we need some imagination, and to drop all these dreadful cliches like anti-fascism, or at least move them down the agenda. There really isn’t any fascist party in Scotland, so when you turn up on somebody’s doorstep and start talking about that, or about being anti-racist, another laudable cause but not a particularly Left wing cause these days, they just switch off…

  13. Wul says:

    I wonder if a new and radical take on land ownership is something that is missing from much of our popular political debate?

    Your average Scot has no idea just how impoverished they are by not owning some land. They don’t really know what land is for, or what you would do with it if you had it, or how very, very useful it is. Nor do they realise how much of their life’s work and money will go into paying for, or renting the wee patch of dirt under their home (which costs them a lot more than the bricks & mortar). Not owning land makes you poor. That’s why the toffs have it all for themselves.

    A radical approach to Scottish politics should be creating a burning demand amongst our young people for a piece of cheap, affordable land as their birth-right.

    Land is what frees you from poverty and wage-slavery ( that’s the reason it was stolen from the populace in the first place; to get them into the factories). Lord Leverhulme ( of Lever Bros.) offered the poor crofters of Lewis & Harris a warm, dry cottage and a steady wage if only they would give up their land and work in his socially enlightened soap factories. The island crofters wisely declined.

    A campaign to make it clear to our young people just how rich their lives could be if they owned a bit of land would be a good idea, I think.

    Create the demand. Explain the current barriers to land ownership. Then set about dismantling those barriers.

    With land you can; build a house cheaply, have giant parties & family gatherings, light bonfires, collect cars and spare parts, grow food, be resilient, independent and resourceful, have a workshop, start a business, open a campsite for free, host a festival, keep animals, grow trees & firewood, build dens & huts, make sculptures, raise kids, make a fucking noise!

    We are a nation of tenants in our own land. That’s at the root of a lot of our malaise I feel.

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