2007 - 2021

We Are in Trouble

You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you. If the world tells you how you are going to be treated, you are in trouble.”

So said James Baldwin in an dialogue with Margaret Mead in 1970. Baldwin died on the first of December, 1987. His death was a huge loss to the world. All his life was a search for identity.

Identity, Baldwin argues, isn’t something we are born with – rather, it is something we claim for ourselves, and if so then must assert it wilfully to the world. And not be compromised, or chauvinist. We have to be Scottish. And we have to say it loud.

We in Scotland, through our parliament and throughout our system of government, from Edinburgh to London, are not making the claim to be Scottish. We are not asserting it willfully or in any way whatsoever. We seem determined to let other people define us by what were are not. Not independent, not sovereign, not European. We should be all of these things, and have been, but are currently not. We are ruled over, from Westminster, by a government we did not elect, who implement policies we do not agree with, that we did not originate, that have no place in our culture and which directly harm us. We have in Edinburgh a government which we did elect, thorough our democratic process and through our parliament, but which does nothing to bring us to independence. Which is the primary reason for the political party, the party in power, existing. When the time to do something is now it is criminal to do nothing. Just to do something, that is the cry. That something is called independence for our people, our country. And yet we do nothing. Or so it seems. Except moan. Groan. And throw things at the TV or radio. Or switch them off and sit in impotent silence. Our government should be advocating for our independence. Now. As James Baldwin also said,

“It is a curious way to find your identity, labelling yourself by labeling all the things that you’re not.”

But here we are, politically, in Scotland. We are not free. We are Scottish. We are not British. We are not Scottish. We are in trouble. We are not ourselves. We are not anything. Yet. Here is a poem by the Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott which I think sums us up:

“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”

So, let us feast. In Scotland we have a tremendous history and unimaginable future. Like all nations. All people. Brexit, the covid pandemic, all these things make it obvious and lamentable. Independence is the only thing we have got politically to work with. Our necessary socialism will come once we have ourselves back to ourselves.

George Kerevan – a man I have known for a long time, as he said himself once, “When I had hair and you were thin.” He is a brilliant writer, but often I disagree with him. Good grace, for that. But I love his work because it makes me think. Last week, in The National, August 2, 2021, he wrote about the problem of 45 SNP MP’s in Westminster, each one getting £81k + a pop. I do not grudge the money. I question their existence. What are they actually for? What are they doing? Do they take down the love letters from the bookshelf? I would advocate that they pack up and head home. As the Irish did in 1918. They refused to participate in the hee-haw of British parliamentarism, sometimes called democracy by those who are short sighted. They created a country. For Scotland we have different historical circumstances. And we need to do things differently. George Kerevan says that withdrawing the 45 MP’s from Westminster,

“without political preparation, would indeed appear outlandish.”

The question I ask is, outlandish to whom? He goes on to say that,

“Every week the SNP MP’s are comprehensively and humiliatingly ignored. The definition of madness is repeating the same act over and over, hoping the outcome will be different.”

Do we withdraw our MP’s from Westminster, where they obviously are achieving nothing? Kerevan thinks not. He says,

“Having eyes and ears in Westminster gives advance warning of what the government of the day is up to.”

It is a point but quite frankly no-one has a clue about what this crowd of political chancers are going to say from one day to the next. Usually, what they do, is bad for Scotland. Witness the dog dance of Covid. How to make something really bad a hundred times worse. I’m sure it will be a case study in years to come. However, Kerevan says, and I agree with him, that in Westminster our MP’s are left to do their own thing,

“By a parliamentary leadership more concerned with debating than campaigning.”

And that is the heart of it. The parliamentary process in London strips purpose from politics. Our MP’s have to leave Westminster and if, and when they do, they do they will destroy it. Which is a great thing.

Kerevan has another idea. He writes,

“The SNP should be at Westminster to fight a guerrilla campaign for independence, or they shouldn’t be there at all. They are not sent there to be a permanent fixture. Their primary allegiance is to the Scottish people.”

What the Scottish people need is freedom. Freedom to be. Freedom not to be exploited. To “love again the stranger who was your self” as Derek Walcott attests. How do we get to that? Well, we get it through bravery. By assertion. As Kerevan also writes,

“The Scottish electorate is the most social democratic in Europe, despite 40 years of neo-liberal propaganda.”

After independence comes socialism. A country like Scotland, of five and a half million people, cannot be run to profit all of its citizens in any other way. We should not worry about any of this. Out of the ashes of World War Two came the National Health Service and this from a state that was broken. Killed. The welfare of our people determines our future. It is our only future. Britain damages our people. It thwarts our future. Being Scottish is our future.

“You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you. If the world tells you how you are going to be treated, you are in trouble.”

James Baldwin was dead on the money.

George Kerevan goes on in his piece, to say that what we should be focusing on is,

“Destroying the uber-reactionary Unionist state (being) the only route to getting socialism anywhere in the British Isles.”

My mother was one of the first cohorts of nurses to be trained into the NHS in 1945. She was passionate about the NHS, as I am. It was her life. It literally is in my blood. My brother and I grew up with the love that is socialism. No Eton educated thing is going to destroy that. The only way we can preserve our heritage is by being assertive. Which is why the current government in Holyrood depresses me. We have to move now for independence or pay the consequences, historically, of dithering. There is no right time. There is only now. Which is the right time. Let us put it to the people and let the people decide. In Gaelic we are na daoine, the people. In Greek we are the demos. We are the democracy. But right now, as everything stands or falls, we, the people of Scotland, are in trouble.

To mislead, which is the Tory governments only way, its preferred strategy, without apparently any remorse, shows us if we needing showing, how necrotic the body politic of Britain has become. From the very top down. The lying, the reality-denying is not a one-off case. It’s the other epidemic. It is one we can vaccinate ourselves against. By becoming an independent country. A country that does not bleed its people or expose them to extreme hurt. But rather a country that nurtures her people. Such a country can get out of trouble.

©George Gunn 2021

Comments (79)

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    George, what if they call a referendum for 6 months time and we end up back in lockdown? No indy marches and no momentum. Why not wait till the full effects of the clown’s policies are laid bare?

    1. james gourlay says:

      Are they not laid bare at the moment? Must we wait until Westminster or the SNP decide on the “right” time. We may wait a long time.

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        So, given the electoral powerlessness of any agency other than the SNP, what is the alternative to waiting? Beyond girning about it, what do you propose we do?

      2. Tom Ultuous says:

        Laid bare to us, yes but not to everyone. We know the loyalists and racists will follow the Tories off a cliff but the sheep will turn when the clown’s policies start to affect them personally. When they or their children lose their job and then have their benefits sanctioned because they don’t fancy bar work or fruit picking. When they can’t get their aged parent into a nursing home because of staff shortages. When the supermarket shelves are empty. When they’re queueing at customs for their holiday. When their roaming charges come through. When they realise that the rich are getting richer while there’s no sign of levelling up. When they realise there’s no US trade deal. When it all kicks off in NI.

        The SNP have already said there will be a referendum within this parliament’s lifetime. If there isn’t they’re going to lose a lot of support. Be patient FFS.

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          Yep, as per usual, the end is nigh. Keep watching the skies for the second coming of the Referendum, with Socialism hard on its heels, after which every tear will be wiped from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away…

          It’s ane auld, auld sang.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            Greta knows where you live Colin.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            And so we come to the so-called ‘Greta phenomenon’.

            Greta has become a celebrity and thus a vessel for our projections, both slanderous and hagiographic. The Greta phenomenon, by its nature, provokes emotional responses ranging from those who are freaked out by a smart, passionate young woman to those who are driven by a compulsion to provide her with paternal protection due to her child-like appearance and aura of innocence.

            The slander inflicted upon her is reprehensible. Her sincerity is unquestionable. Her demand for a viable future for herself and her fellow young people is unassailable.

            What’s equally reprehensible, however, are the psychological projections that with which she’s burdened. She’s a teenager, whose diminutive physical stature and open, guileless visage evoke projections of the Divine Child, arrived on the sin-sullied earth as redeemer. Demonstrators lift paintings of Greta in the style of a medieval icon of a saint with a halo, FFS, which speaks to a sort of spiritual desperation rather than political activism. This kind of iconography and hagiography is exactly what Putin reprimanded when asked for his comments on the Greta phenomenon, in which he advised her to go back to school and be a regular teenager.

            The Greta phenomenon has followed the vague and wonky storyline of a freak or a prodigy. Whichever, she poses no threat to established power structures, which have absorbed her in the celebrity role of a kind of Climate Muppet. As such, she’s been provided wide exposure in the media. Had she presented a threat to the status quo, she would have remained in obscurity, kept in her place. Greta is sincere in her intentions. She is alarmed by the climate crisis and aims to do good. Yet her intentions matter little in the larger historical scheme of things.

            Her presence on the global stage has been exploited by greenwashing profiteers, who are retailing a world-changing ‘new paradigm’ in the same way that the dream hijackers of the 1970s exploited antiwar and antiracism sentiment in marketing campaigns similar to the ones contrived for Greta. The bourgeoisie is working feverishly to change its brand. It’s marketing a faux movement in order to turn a profit. This movement also serves as a safety valve through which the socio-economic pressures that would blow the current power arrangements apart can be released.

            Greta is the perfect icon for this faux movement because she presents a genuine, passionate concern for the fate of the upcoming generation. She has rightfully called out the wealthy and powerful for their apathy. She genuinely fears for the future of this planet. Her words are powerful, and she makes our predicament plain. But that very iconography mutes our response to that predicament.

            Follow the money. Who or what will benefit from Greta’s presence in the public sphere: you and I, or the Davos-type denizens who are rolling out a for-profit agenda they have branded ‘The Green Revolution’?

            It evinces dangerous naivety to believe that the exploiting class – the bourgeoisie – has been suddenly moved to empathise with the exploited by a road to Damascus moment. The worldview that reduces earth, sky, psyche, even language to inanimate phenomena, which are only viable as monetised transactions, persists. And nowhere does it more tenaciously persist than in our own commodified minds.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            She’s not been round yet then Colin?

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            No, we don’t get many celebs down our way, Tom. Though George Galloway was spotted at a Doonhamers match about a year ago.

  2. Hugh Hunter says:

    I agree with the above, and I also noticed that the two ALBA MPs are doing things differently. I also hope that after the first ever ALBA conference, things will be even clearer, on the path the Party wishes to take from here on in, and the make up of their constitution. Makes for interesting days ahead, I’d say.

  3. Mary MacCallum Sullivan says:

    Just – yes, George. Thanks, as ever, for putting it into the right words (pretty much in the right order!).

  4. Colin Robinson says:

    ‘The Scottish electorate is the most social democratic in Europe.’

    Successive surveys of social attitudes would appear to contradict this. They seem to show that social attitudes in Scotland are not significantly different from those of the population of these islands as a whole. Why do you think we’re more socially democratic?

    ‘After independence comes socialism. A country like Scotland, of five and a half million people, cannot be run to profit all of its citizens in any other way. We should not worry about any of this.’

    This is called ‘blind faith’, and I’m a sceptic.

  5. Morag Lennie. says:

    I have been a loyal member of the SNP for some 60 odd years. Despite being embroiled in the fight for the soul of the Party in ’79 onward for several years, when Sillars, Salmond, MacAskill et al, were trying to take it over, and turn it into Sillar’s failed Scottish Labour Party, I have NEVER publicly criticised the SNP, it’s leadership, or any other aspect of it. I admire Nicola Sturgeon , while not being too keen on her choice of husband, BUT , I am becoming increasingly uneasy about the lack of direction in which we find ourselves. The sight , and sound of the ” Leader ” of the Parliamentary group , sounding like a Wee Free meenister, and being ignored, insulted, and derided , and by corollary, we the people and Nation, of Scotland, is almost unbearable.

    I am old now, but vividly remember dragging my poor little boys out on freezing winter nights, to stick leaflets through doors, the abuse that we often got while canvassing, at a time when we could have had annual conference in a phone box, but we had fire in our gut, burning belief and ambition in our hearts , and rage in our brains , for the rape of our Country and resources.

    Where has that gone ? For the love of God, will someone get moving, get the band back together, get the show on the road, any euphemism you like, but get some action. Start now. We need our Independence, and we need it now. The time will never be better. The population can see an egotistical liar doing precisely as he chooses, while laughing in our faces. How much longer do we put up with it ? Please, for all those who kept the faith through thick and thin, who are quite literally a dying breed, and the children yet to come, get back out on the streets, stop being so nice and civilised, FIGHT.
    INDEPENDENCE, NOTHING LESS.

    1. George Gunn says:

      Morag. I m sure we will. Soon. Very soon. GG

    2. Colin Robinson says:

      Ian Blackford puts me more in mind of an investment banker rather than of a wee free minister. He oozes prosperity rather than parsimony.

  6. Mike Fenwick says:

    Acta non verba … Deeds not words.

    Stage 1: On the 6th April (1320 – 2021) I prepared two documents, the first my individual “Declaration of a Sovereign Scot” and set out to find “The First 100” dedicated to regaining Scotland’s independence. The second was a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations (the first of a series that are planned and ongoing). The National picked up on the initiative and I agreed to open up both documents for all and any who might wish to participate. Many now have.

    If interested these are the links used by The National:

    The link to the “Declaration” needs only two things – insert the date and sign it.
    http://www.bit.ly/2SYcIVt

    The link to the letter to the UN needs three things – add your address, insert the date and sign it.
    It can be accessed at: http://www.bit.ly/3ANCaOL.

    The further Stages will be recorded on this F/book page (and where relevant are also being shared eg., on Indy/Live):

    https://www.facebook.com/X2-113742180011217/

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Documents not words… Nice one!

  7. Meg Macleod says:

    Yes . Freedom to use our own brains to think and decide..yes.

  8. Daniel Raphael says:

    Brilliant article on what would be James Baldwin’s birthday. Tweeted to a growing circle of international socialists such as myself who wish for an independent Scotland, socialist, peacful, and green.

  9. Mouse says:

    A Scottish nation will result in socialism?

    I think the author must have gone blind, deaf, and can’t read braille. Two months ago there was an election in Scotland. The socialist parties didn’t do very well, because there weren’t any.

    I have no idea who Mr Gunn is but going by his articles I have a feeling he would be an hilariously entertaining dinner guest.

    A neoliberal capitalist party who seem to be run by corporate lobbyists won by a landslide. The means of production are owned by large corporations backed by the government. If Scotland left Britain the means of production would be owned by large corporations backed by the government.

    1. Mouse says:

      Sorry, I have to correct myself. TUSC and the Communist Party did have candidates somewhere, so the total number of votes for socialism throughout the land was 2,500. Out of 2,700,000.

      Socialism in Scotland is currently dead.

      1. Mouse says:

        But I presume that all that socialism in Scotland is waiting for is the sacking of 50-odd MP’s and a change of flag.

      2. florian albert says:

        ‘Socialism in Scotland is dead.’

        It is worth noting how recent its demise is. In 2003, The Scottish Socialist Party got 128,026 and Socialist Labour got 21,657. (The electorate was below 2 million.)

        The 2021 Holyrood election was the first in Scotland for well over a century when there was – de facto – no socialist presence.

        In between times, we had the biggest crisis for global capitalism since 1931.

    2. Colin Robinson says:

      Unless, of course, the process by which Scotland left the UK was itself a revolutionary transformation of our existing relations of production. But what are the chances of that happening, especially when we’re being told ‘Independence first; socialism after.’

      An independent Scotland would be just another client of big business.

      1. Mouse says:

        I think the chances of Scottish independence resulting in a revolutionary transformation are the same as the chances of me visiting the planet Venus.

        (Unless having a country run primarily by Scottish Serco, with the assistance of Scottish Amazon, Scottish AirBnB, etc constitutes a revolutionary transformation, rather than even more of the same).

        1. James Mills says:

          ” Would passenger Mouse , booked on the Branson Venus flight , please make his way to boarding gate 2 as he is holding up the take off !”

  10. John Learmonth says:

    ‘To my utter despair and discover every day anew that there is in the masses no revolutionary idea or hope or passion’.
    Another quote from Bakunin. ‘Socialism’ (whatever is meant by the term) like all philosophies/ideologies is a preserve of the ‘educated’ middle class which is why ‘socialism’ historically has always been imposed, as the masses simply don’t know whats in their ‘best interests’.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Most people do know (i.e. are capable of deciding) what’s in their best interests. The problem Bakunin points to is that this knowledge isn’t acceptable to those who think they know better what’s in their best interests; that is, to the educated middle class.

  11. Johnny McNeill says:

    “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”. James Baldwin

    ‘The British establishment not only knows how important it is to deny a colony its history but how psychologically crucial it is to have that history’s own descendants demean it at source. In doing so we are all unwittingly diminished in the eyes of our own children, who will innately mimic us as we, then they too as adults, willingly hand over our most precious of resources – our children – to feed as deliberate depopulation, conveyor-belt cannon-fodder to ‘meat’ the unrelenting, insatiable demand of the perennial British (&US) Imperial war machine. In short, first they take your mind, your ‘reality’; then they take you. Then you give them your children.’

    ‪‘#Gleichshaltung Gaslighting – The Eradication of Scots Historic-Cultural Identity’ (2017)‬ https://wp.me/p94Aj4-ye ‪by #GaslightingGilligan‬

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Sh*t*! It’s every generation’s duty to demean its own history. Our ‘Historic-Cultural Identity’ is something to be surpassed.

      1. This generation isn’t – objectively – as described by the world scientific community – and our own lived experience – anything like every other generations , is it?

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          No, it isn’t. That’s why the hauntological hankering for a ‘Historic-Cultural Identity’ is, existentially speaking, a death wish.

          1. It really is.

            Or, if it isn’t – what part of omnicide are you considering normal and routine? What part of climate crisis are you shrugging your shoulders at?

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            Sorry, I’m lost. Are you saying that this present generation is or isn’t anything like every other generation? I thought I was agreeing with you when I said it isn’t, that it has ‘gone beyond’ Johnny’s ‘Historic-Cultural Identity’.

            And I’m not shrugging my shoulders at any part of the crisis of capitalism. I’m shrugging my shoulders at apocalypse as a two-thousand-year-old cultural phenomenon.

            Apocalypse is complete destruction of the world as described in some detail in the Book of Revelation. Nothing worse can happen to humanity. Interestingly, it has been a recurring aspect of civilisation for over two thousand years, but every prediction of ‘End Times’ has failed.

            At the turn of the new century, when millennialism ramped up to near-hysterical levels, PBS in America made a documentary. This documentary documented the evolution of apocalyptic belief from its origin within the Jewish experience after the Babylonian exile to postmodern times. Historians and biblical scholars were interviewed to discuss the concept of ‘End Times’ and doomsday in order to elucidate the ideas of mass destruction and how those ideas shape our world.

            The Book of Revelation emerged from this discussion as central to Western consciousness. A considerable portion of Revelation originated in the six hundred year period of Jewish history that involved wars and defeat by a succession of foreign invaders. As a result, visions of heaven and hell and the eternal battle between good and evil arose, shaping culture for 200 years before the birth of Jesus. Ever since, apocalypse has been on people’s minds, in one form or another, as a final reckoning.
            The concept of apocalypse remains a very powerful force to this day, especially in the variety known as ‘climate apocalypse’, a term that tellingly generates 7,610,000 hits in all of 0.58 seconds when you Google it.

            Apocalypse clearly still has an audience. It’s clearly still constructive of the hopes and fears that drive us in capitalist society. As such, it stands in need of deconstruction as part of capitalism’s moment of crisis.

          3. Colin Robinson says:

            The narrative of climate apocalypse is a concrete expression of the crisis of capitalism, its own immanent deconstruction.

            We are powerless to avert this deconstruction; we are manifestly and evidently incapable of acting collectively in the manner and on the scale required to avoid catastrophic climate change.

            This powerlessness in the face of nature is also itself a concrete expression of the crisis of capitalism. We’re being drawn irresistibly towards the precipice of revolution.

          4. The question was whether you accept that this is an unprecedented crisis the like of which no generation has seen? In your previous response you suggested it was just part of everything “I’m shrugging my shoulders at apocalypse as a two-thousand-year-old cultural phenomenon.”

            “Apocalypse clearly still has an audience.”

            You are still calling it a “narrative” but appear to be rowing back.

            Clever Cynicism is wearying but an understandable defence mechanism.

          5. Colin Robinson says:

            Yes, the crisis we’re currently experiencing is unprecedented; no previous crisis has been so global or irresistible. Hence its ideological expression as apocalypse, which as a conception is itself a crisis phenomenon that needs to be deconstructed in order to transform that crisis into revolution.

            Or do you think that the crisis we’re currently experiencing can realistically be resisted, that capitalism can be ‘greened’ and saved? I don’t see much evidence of this in the staged spectacle of events like COP26 or in the empty gestures of climate emergency declarations. I see only the powerlessness engendered by the apocalypse that’s constitutive of the hopes and fears that are driving the ‘end times’ of capitalist society.

          6. Capitalism can certainly not be saved or greened, no. I’ve spent most of he last decade arguing this.

            Writing on problems with the COP26 later.

          7. Meg Macleod says:

            an apoclypse` engineered `..perhaps? one good thing about the traffic of alternative narratives going around the world ..grains of truth may flourish yet…perhaps this aspect of interconnectedness has been underrated by the` big pharma/industry`working hard to increase their millions
            alas Britian looks no further than the bbc

          8. Colin Robinson says:

            Maybe the crisis needs to be given a more positive spin, then, that that imparted by the apocalypse narrative.

          9. Colin Robinson says:

            Not engineered, Meg; emergent, rather, as an ideological expression of capitalism in crisis.

            Likewise the deconstruction of truth into a plurality of interconnected warring voices (‘post-truth’); post-truth and apocalypse are both ideological expressions of capitalism in crisis.

            The expectation is that the power relations that comprise capitalism, and of which its ideologies are signs and symptoms, will continue to disintegrate until they are no longer sustainable and sublate into a new synthesis. That’s the nature of revolution; it’s a structural rather than a volitional process.

          10. Colin Robinson says:

            Contrary to bourgeois political idealism, we don’t author revolution; we merely narrate it.

  12. Malky McBlain says:

    James Baldwin was also recently quoted in an election campaign. All you have to do is imagine that this guy is talking about Scotland in its current situation and it should resonate and inspire you. Watch and be inspired.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikgh4JbAWUU

    1. James Mills says:

      The Time is NOW !!! So true !

      1. Mouse says:

        The time is always now, and you are always standing directly above the center of the Earth. I think Baldwin was referring to what time racially segregated buses should be unsegregated, possibly in Alabama, and the subject wasn’t metaphorical.

  13. Angus says:

    I don’t speak Gaelic.
    I agree, put it to the people and make a case that’s written in prose rather than poetry.
    Make a case based on your socialism rather than saltire exceptionalism which, frankly, is dreary and patronising beyond words. This shortbread tin nationalism is losing ground amongst the young (look at the polls), so stop moaning and get on with it.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Precisely! Our ‘Historic-Cultural Identity’ is a regressive force; it needs to be cancelled or surpassed (Aufhebung).

      1. Angus says:

        It also alienates ‘non-scots’.
        I find the Anti-English tropes, based on a fantasy of Scottish exceptionalism, dangerous; my teenage kids are massively turned off by it.

        When Nicola goes, we are in trouble; the problem is – she sees the difficulties of independence and is too scared to call a referendum.

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          Yep, none of my kids feel particularly ‘Scottish’, but (with the exception of the youngest, for whom I have high hopes as a cynic) are all for independence. They find the whole ‘Scottish’ thing embarrassing.

          Also, I think Nicola doesn’t want to just hold another referendum; she wants to win it. Losing another referendum would serve to stoke ‘Scottish’ grudge and grievance against the English/Unionists/Tories/Westminster, but it would set the prospect of independence back by a goodly number of decades.

  14. Angus says:

    This article is pretty typical of why an independent Scotland vote will eventually fail. It’s a flawed class-grievance based argument which, as I have said before, is tedious.

    If there is to be an independent Scotland, it will not be based on a poetic misty dream; it will, hopefully, be based on what is right for the people now, today and in the future. If that argument is not won, then we would be better seeking a stronger sense of devolution.

    When people walk into that booth, they won’t vote for a Braveheart myth, they will vote for hard future reality. That reality needs to be based on facts.

    “Seall na fìrinnean dha na daoine, chan e am bruadar.”

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Indeed, independence will only be realised if it appeals to people’s wallets rather than to ideals.

      1. Meg Macleod says:

        The ability to think for ourselves and make decisions we think are right for Scotland .. independence..why so much argument..? Is this not what everyone wants if they are true to themselves.Westminster government is not providing that….it’s simple. We will have to work hard to make a new future for Scotland based on a practical solution to mend the brokenness of the spirit of many people.That solution requires a certain amount of faith in our future and our abilities.not fearfully hiding behind the status qoue

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          “Is this not what everyone wants if they are true to themselves.”

          Clearly not, Meg, since about half of the electorate doesn’t want it.

          I’m all for thinking for oneself and making decisions one thinks are right. But I can do that anyway, regardless of whether the Scottish government is independent of Westminster or not.

          1. Colin Robinson says:

            It also seems evident that we’re much more interested in going out and getting our money, coming home, and spending it than in anything as numinous as mending broken spirits. And again we can do that anyway, regardless of whether the Scottish government is independent of Westminster or not.

          2. Tom Ultuous says:

            You can also do it without an Eton c0ck stuffed up yer jacksie Colin.

          3. Meg Macleod says:

            the discussion might go on forever.. it is the nature of the beast….

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            But we have our own bourgeoisie, Tom, that comprises the equally entitled Scottish establishment.

            I was at a garden party a few weeks ago, in the grounds of a house I didn’t even know was there, in the company of people I’d never met before. I remarked to my wife that this was a completely different Scotland – another world – and wondered who the hell all those people were, how they could have been here all along, invisible. “Fancy,” I said. “We’ve lived here all our lives, yet never knew this place was here behind those trees.”

            It was the land of the haute bourgeoisie, the very buggers who run the UK through the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised and who’d run an independent Scottish state should that ever come to pass.

            It turns out the class enemy isn’t b*st*rd*n English after all. It’s the nomenklatura; the bureaucratic elite.

          5. Colin Robinson says:

            All discussions are interminable, Meg; their outcomes are undecidable. That was the provisional conclusion of my doctoral thesis; nearly 50 years on, I’m still undecided on the matter.

          6. Meg Macleod says:

            I suppose freedom to one person is interpreted as slavery by another…..the circle of opinion…..
            Somewhere. …humans wrote down a reasoning definition of freedom….it did not include being subjugated……
            I feel imprisoned by the tentacles that reach out from the south..perhaps they reach into the elite of Scotland….. when there is no more wine on the shelf …perhaps..a change of position in the circle……….

          7. Colin Robinson says:

            The condition of not being in bondage, of being able to act of one’s own will, seems essential to any definition of freedom that I’ve read. It’s also been used analogously of nations, in the sense of not being subject to foreign rule or despotism, since the 14th century.

            Except for the periods during which I’ve been employed for wages, I’ve always been in the happy position of being able to act of my own will, whichever government’s been in power. But I appreciate that not everyone is in the happy position of not having to sell themselves in order to subsist.

            And I don’t find Westminster rule, the tentacles of which reach out from the south, any more foreign or despotic than Holyrood rule, the tentacles of which reach out from the north, or indeed Dumgal rule, the tentacles of which reach out from the east. But, again, I appreciate that not everyone feels that way.

          8. Tom Ultuous says:

            ” I don’t find Westminster rule, the tentacles of which reach out from the south, any more foreign or despotic than Holyrood rule”

            You’re clearly a bad judge of character then Colin. How could Holyrood ever match Tory chumocracy, the war crimes in Ireland / Iraq / Afghanistan / Argentina, the Nazi like treatment of refugees etc. etc. To quote Meg, I could go on forever. Maybe you unwittingly found your niche when you had brunch with the Lordly Ones.

          9. Colin Robinson says:

            Yes, Tom; the lower house of our Westminster parliament presently has a majority of duly elected Tory members, and the parliament as a whole has historically approved policies of which many of us disapprove. But that doesn’t make it foreign or despotic.

            And it was afternoon tea, not brunch. And it was a gathering of the haute bourgeoisie rather than the ancienne bourgeoisie; company directors, architects, academics, lawyers, civil servants, doctors… c*nts like that. Not a lord or a lady in sight.

          10. Tom Ultuous says:

            Colin, either you don’t see the Johnson mafia as being in any way despotic / tyrannical (exercising power in a cruel or arbitrary way) or you consider the SNP to be of the same ilk. Which is it?

          11. Colin Robinson says:

            Neither. The dichotomy you present is a false one, a straw man. Let’s deconstruct it:

            The UK regime is not despotic; no single entity rules with absolute power; the power of the UK government – its ability to rule – is contingent on its being able to command a majority in parliament; that is, on the outcome of general elections. The power of the Scottish government is not despotic for exactly the same reasons.

            Both, however, are equally tyrannical, insofar as both impose the will of a majority on those of dissenting minorities on the voting principle that winner takes all. But that’s another matter.

            More to the point, neither jurisdiction is foreign to me because I have a vote in both Scottish and UK elections.

          12. Tom Ultuous says:

            The dichotomy you present is a false one, a straw man. Let’s deconstruct it:

            “The UK regime is not despotic; no single entity rules with absolute power; the power of the UK government – its ability to rule – is contingent on its being able to command a majority in parliament; that is, on the outcome of general elections.”

            Did you have a large union jack behind you when you wrote that? It’s like saying a football team never won 9 in a row because it wasn’t the same 11 players every game. Murdoch would be ROFPHL if he read that.

            “Both, however, are equally tyrannical, insofar as both impose the will of a majority on those of dissenting minorities on the voting principle that winner takes all. But that’s another matter.”

            You’re comparing having an independence referendum thrust upon you with invading countries, war crimes, Brexit, awarding huge government contracts to chums and treating refugees like vermin all in your name?

          13. Colin Robinson says:

            So, Tom, are you maintaining that a UK government’s ability to rule isn’t contingent on its being able to command a majority in parliament?

            ‘You’re comparing having an independence referendum thrust upon you with invading countries, war crimes, Brexit, awarding huge government contracts to chums and treating refugees like vermin.’

            No, I’m not. I’m comparing the political régime in Scotland with the political régime in the UK and finding that they’re both majoritarian and, to that extent, tyrannical. Are you maintaining that they’re not both majoritarian?

          14. Tom Ultuous says:

            “So, Tom, are you maintaining that a UK government’s ability to rule isn’t contingent on its being able to command a majority in parliament?”

            May had a majority but not the backing of Murdoch.

            “I’m comparing the political régime in Scotland with the political régime in the UK and finding that they’re both majoritarian and, to that extent, tyrannical. Are you maintaining that they’re not both majoritarian?”

            With PR the majority (even if it that consists of 2 or more parties) set the policies but it doesn’t follow the resultant government is tyrannical. The fact is Colin, you said you did not find Westminster any more tyrannical than Holyrood. Please stop digging.

          15. Colin Robinson says:

            But Theresa’s government couldn’t in fact command a majority in the UK parliament. Hence her inability to rule and eventual resignation. Whether or not Rupert Murdoch or anyone else had a hand in her loss of parliament is irrelevant to the question of whether or not the UK régime is any more or less despotic than the Scottish régime.

            Regardless of whether the majority is proportionally representative or not, it still imposes its policies on dissenting minorities and is thereby tyrannical. Read J.S. Mill on Liberty. That’s the big problem with majoritarian democracy, and it’s one that the Scottish and UK régimes share in equal measure. PR is a red herring.

          16. Tom Ultuous says:

            The fact is Colin, you said you did not find Westminster any more tyrannical than Holyrood. Please stop digging.

          17. Colin Robinson says:

            It isn’t. Tyranny is the big problem with majoritarian democracy, and it’s one that the Scottish and UK régimes share in equal measure, as I’ve explained. What precisely is it about that explanation that you disagree with?

          18. Tom Ultuous says:

            By your definition a mother scolding her child is as tyrannical as Hitler implementing the holocaust.

          19. Colin Robinson says:

            No, it’s not. Tyranny is using the power of the state to coerce people into doing what they don’t want to do (even if it’s ‘good’ for them). The Nazis used the power of the state in this way; bad mothers don’t use the power of the state to coerce their children. It’s another false analogy.

            Are you denying that both the UK and Scotland are majoritarian régimes and/or that majoritarian régimes necessarily involve tyranny?

          20. Tom Ultuous says:

            tyranny
            NOUN
            cruel and oppressive government or rule.

            You said you did not find Westminster any more tyrannical than Holyrood =
            You said you did not find Westminster any more cruel and oppressive than Holyrood.
            STOP DIGGING.

          21. Colin Robinson says:

            No, I said that I didn’t find Westminster any more or less coercive than Holyrood. (Hint: it’s the coercive nature of tyranny that’s cruel and oppressive.)

          22. Tom Ultuous says:

            Colin, the only person you’re draining with your semantics is yourself.

          23. Colin Robinson says:

            Sometime in the late 19th century, people began using the word ‘semantics’ to allude to semiotics; that is, to theories about the relationship between signs and the things they signify. By the late 20th century, people (and, for a while in the 1980s, I was one of them) had begun arguing self-reflexively about what ‘semantics’ itself actually means (and subsequently still about the problem of self-reflexivity itself).

            These days, however, you’re likely to hear someone accuse an interlocutor of ‘semantics’, which (if you think about it) means their interlocutor is ‘just’ arguing about meaning, which (if you think about it more) is the whole point of arguing in the first place?

            ‘It’s just semantics’ is a common rhetorical retort that people use when they’re trying to ‘win’ a disagreement. What they mean is that the truth of their opinion is independent of the words and phrases in which that opinion is encoded. The irony, of course, is that our opinions are nothing but the words and phrases we deploy; that is, verbal behaviours.

            Sometimes disagreements really are about the meanings of words. If two people agree on all the facts (that is, they know who did what to whom and what happened when, where, how, and why, etc.) but still disagree about what those facts mean or signify, they may be having a genuine disagreement about semantics.

            When something is ‘just a matter of semantics’, it’s often about something that potentially matters a lot, despite the somewhat dismissive connotation of the phrase. Words carry meaning, and thankfully, we’re living in a time in which our society is starting to take that notion seriously. It matters how we designate people and their actions, for example; how we define and delimit and ascribe values to people and their beliefs and practices, and how we respond to them, is often ‘just’ a matter of semantics.

            And while people have always and will always disagree over facts or because they interpret those same facts from radically different and incommensurable perspectives and world-views, simply writing off semantics as ‘nit-picking’ isn’t really a constructive way to move the conversation forward.

            Instead, acknowledging that what we say and what we mean are undeniably interwoven and powerful and, ultimately, shape our respective worlds might be a better jumping-off point for deep (and not so deep) dialogues.

          24. “Sometime in the late 19th century, people began using the word ‘semantics’ to allude to semiotics”

            Really?
            When?

          25. Colin Robinson says:

            Michel Bréal; sometime in the 1880s, I believe. Semiotics (the study of symptoms, relating to signs) dates from the 1640s, when language was seen as a ‘symptom’ of mind. Bréal reversed this, making mind a ‘symptom’ of language. This reversal was fateful for French philosophy in the 20th century; the counterpart of our ‘linguistic turn’. Bréal is better remembered not as the founder of semantics, however, but as the inventor of the modern marathon.

          26. Tom Ultuous says:

            “Colin, the only person you’re draining with your semantics is yourself.”

            I withdraw that Colin. I am now completely empty.

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