Rage, the Overton Window and the Faultlines of the Future

Watching the response to the SNP-SGP co-operation agreement has been an amazing insight into how the media works, who are the gatekeepers and and police of opinion – and the gulf between Scotland’s elected pro-indy majority and the entitled commentariat that hold permanent positions of media power. They are almost all white men of a certain vintage bridling and clearly shocked by their inability to influence politics, unable to take-on any new ideas and completely dumbfounded by the scale of the ecological crisis or any economic innovation in response.

It’s quite a coalition, to coin a phrase.

Iain Macwhirter calls it a “pretendy coalition” and rails against the Sturgeon’s “human shields”. The Herald, careering all over the place in search of a readership gives this its whole front-page; Brian Wilson over at the Scotsman combines attacking the new Makar, Kathleen Jamie, celebrating the GERS figures and championing new nuclear power (an industry for which he’s a long-time lobbyist) before declaring that “The green-washing of the SNP is an amusing sideshow … An energy transition will progress over coming decades for reasons unrelated to Green posturing or Nationalist virtue-signaling. Just as the growth of renewables over the past twenty ears was enabled by subsidy from consumers throughout the UK, so too will the transition towards net-zero targets require vast subsidy and a UK-wide market to sell energy into.” For Wilson, the UK is just a source of endless benevolence, a subsidiser of the poor (inexplicably) weak periphery. This has no limits and no ends. But T.I.N.A. His time-line is quaint for anyone who has read the IPCC, or been conscious for the past thirty years.  Chris Deerin stumbles on an insight among his inchoate rage spluttering: “The new SNP-Green pact has only one aim: remove Scotland from the UK” – as if this pro-indy majority has been revealed to Deerrin as he awakes from a coma. “What?! Who knew this?!” As he comes round to the awfulness of it all he tells us that ” The Greens, are by far the most left-wing party ever to have held power in the UK”.

Ex-blogger Stuart Campbell is just consumed in his own bile. while Graham Grant at the Daily Mail descends into a – hopefully actionable – new low of homophobia …


Paul Staines – who attempted to form a pact with the British National Party and was a leading member of a group that produced Hang Mandela t-shirts writes:

Magnus Linklater is sure the agreement is a “mark of desperation”. Like most of the commentariat Magnus is 100% clear that “there in not a single area of policy-making where economic growth is not a necessary condition.”

These commentators aren’t divided by left or (far) right; by unionism or nationalism, they are united by a total commitment to the present economy and a very narrow idea of what politics is and should be allowed to be. They are indistinguishable. While personal hatred of Nicola Sturgeon or closet (or not so closet) homophobia is a persistent theme the main common denominator is that GROWTH – endless and perpetual – is an essential good despite the overwhelming evidence that it is destroying our world. The answer to these men is MORE and MORE forever.

GDP and growth are gods. Anyone challenging them are a disgrace.

This extraordinary position, as the economist Katherine Trebeck points out: “Flies in the face of increasingly mainstream recognition of perverse incentives of GDP. That folks in gov hold onto it as a measure & declare “growth necessary for XYZ” shows not just outdated thinking, but unwillingness to engage with reality we need an economy #betterthangrowth”.

The useful thing about this strange experience is that you can watch the commentariat fade into irrelevance in real time – and also see very clearly (perhaps for the very first time) the faultline of the way ahead.

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  1. Alex says:

    As improbable as it might seem , it may be that the Anti-Scottish , Anti SNP, Anti – ideas, Anti – collaboration & compromise commentators both in the Unionist media and YES movement may be about to become extinct, unable to accept and adapt to the reality that people can see through their bias, want a new politics and have endorsed the SNP to progress the changrs leading to a better everyday life for the many people .

  2. Chris Connolly* says:

    Fuck ’em! We have come to the point where this response is exactly what we would have expected. Personally, I’m delighted; it will take a lot more than a Daily Mail front page or the blathering of the terminally jealous to make me change my mind.

  3. Graham Ennis says:

    No one doubts the determination of the Grees to make the planet a greener world, But my experience of them is that they are short on technical and scientific knowledge on how to do that. It was upsetting for me to see some very sincere people still believing that its clever to be anti-science and anti-tech.
    I think things have somewhat iomproved recently, but they are still believers in “Magical thinking” on Green issues. As someone who has worked on climate change, nobody could call me anti-green, or not caring about the environment. Yet some of the things I have heard distress me. The Greens need to have a real policy on green issues, based on sound science and economics, and we are running out of time. There are some Greens who also want this, but there are others who operate within the greens on a real-politik basis. There are also others in the SNP who are now a little war weary of it all, and that is no urprise, as they operate in an environment of hate and derision, from the knuckle dragging right of Scottish politics. McWirter is a classic example. He is, without doubt, one of those Scots, who culturally joined himself to the nasty right wing of the Scottish Tories. Such people are ready made Quislings, already in place, as the storm starats to brew on Independence.

    1. Alan Crerar says:

      i don’t know what’s happened to McWhirter this past few years (maybe having backed the wrong Labour/devo horse he now just needs a job), but his two books (“The Road to Rerendum’ and ‘The Battle for Scotland’) are actually a good read with reasoned and informative comment. His current article is quite simply deranged – read for amusement rather than skilled wordsmithery!

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Sadly, there are many examples of youthful radicals who became grumpily right wing as they got older. Some of those advising Ronald Reagan, for example, had been communists in the younger years in Europe. Several of the Education Black Papers of the Thatcher years were penned by former socialists and communists, like Robert Conquest So, the trajectory of people like Brian Wilson, Iain MacWhirter, Bodger Broon, etc is a well-trodden path.

        I had a pal, now, sadly, deceased, who studied politics and went on to become a diplomat with the European Commission, had a theory that the bipolar spectrum of ‘left’ and ‘right’ was simplistic. He preferred a model which was circular, like a clock, where the hand pointing to the imaginary ‘6’ was ‘the centre and most democratic parties in democratic countries occupied the space between 4 and 8, with most being between 5 and 7. He saw numbers like 7 and 8 as social democrat/democratic socialist territory. Some communists and some in groups like the SWP were more towards 9 or 10. Because such groups are instinctively authoritarian and dirigiste as are those on the extreme’ right’, what such individuals did was flip past 12 to the ‘right’. They did not become gradually more ‘moderate ‘leftists’, then ‘centrist’ and moderately ‘rightist’, but flipped rapidly to authoritarian rightists. A good example is the Revolutionary Communist Party with people like Claire Fox and her sister who are pundits for the right. However, ego plays a big part with some. If the party they are in or support disnae dae whit they tellt it, the flounce off in the huff and become hacks for the right.

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          The ‘Left/Right’ dichotomy in traditional political discourse has degraded into sectarian shibboleth. Its terms no longer have any substantive meaning in our postmodern world.

        2. John Learmonth says:

          If your young and not a socialist then you don’t have a heart but if your old and still a socialist then you don’t have a brain….

  4. James Mills says:

    If Scotland could harness the ire and indignation of these overwrought commentators we would have a wonderful and plentiful supply of Green ( envy ) Energy to offset the problems caused by the polluters that so many of then champion .

  5. Chris Ballance says:

    Feels so good to be annoying all the right people so much. Thanks Mike.

    RE: The Daily Mail article, I really must speak out against the vilification of my old friend the late (and great) Ian Dunn. He started the Scottish Minorities Group (in the days when defining oneself as homosexual was illegal in Scotland), then the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group and the Edinburgh Gay Centre beneath his flat in Broughton Street. They didn’t dare put it’s name on the door in those days – he used to boast that instead he put a vase of pansies in its window. He was also a key member in the founding of the First of May radical bookshop, campaigns to preserve and restore historic buildings, and various other radical concerns. As a profoundly respected leader of the Scottish gay movement, his untimely death was front page news in the Edinburgh Evening News. He was absolutely not involved in forming any paedophile group and never fought to legalise paedophilia, and the Daily Mail’s story upsets me very deeply. A true gentleman.

    1. G says:

      It certainly sounds like Ian Dunn did a lot of good work. Nevertheless, Wikipedia cites him as a co-founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Dunn_(activist)#Paedophile_Information_Exchange, and many bodies and individuals (Patrick Harvie included) seem to think this link well-documented enough (there are plenty of sources in the Wikipedia article) to have disassociated themselves from him. Regardless of Ian Dunn’s good intentions, PIE did a lot of harm as an entryist group in left movements of the 70s (not to mention the harm caused to the minors who came into contact with its members), and continues to harm those it came into contact with during that time (due to being an easy point of criticism for outlets like the Mail). If Ian Dunn really had nothing to do with them, perhaps Colin could add a source that counters the references in the above Wikipedia article?

      1. This appears to be true. I had no idea. I find that indefensible.

    2. D C says:

      Surely many ‘a true gentleman’ has been associated with pederasty? However, Ian Campbell Dunn’s involvement in co-founding the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in 1974 is well documented, e.g. Ian Dunn’s letter to Mick Licarpa, editor of PIE publication ‘Minor Problems’, following the arrest in 1983 of another PIE member Peter Bremner, who established Minor Problems. [1]. By 1983 PIE members attending London’s Gay Pride March were carrying a banner declaring: ‘ADULTS LOVING CHILDREN LOVING ADULTS’. [2]. And so, to cut a long story short out of respect for your loyalty to a dearly departed friend, not only was Ian Dunn a founder member of PIE (doubtless for reasons of free speech; giving voice to minorities; his own sexuality; etc), he also contributed to Minor Problems, and stocked it in a bookshop he was involved with that together with PIE’s activities triggered a police raid, as well as having set up ‘Rain Makers UK’, linked to importing and distributing hard-core scat pornography among a group of like-minded men. For reasons unknown, a lot of archive material relating to ScotsGay magazine, including John Hein’s obituary of Ian Dunn as well as other ‘appreciations’, are no longer available online. [4].

      1 ‘Child Pornography: An Investigation’, by Tim Tate, 1990, Methuen.
      2 https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/10325/view/LSE001442.pdf
      3 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/library-set-up-tribute-to-paedophile-campaigner-ian-dunn-tnwmxz6gt
      4 https://twitter.com/oculusaye/status/1343637913641377793

  6. Laurie Pocock says:

    With some reservations I am in favour of this coalition. If Ross Greer can stop insulting great men like Churchill and Salmond, and their economics can be brought nearer to the real world then this might be a winner my combination.

  7. Derek says:

    My question has to do with expended energy; if there’s a perfectly useable vehicle, is it not better to re-purpose it than build an entirely new one?

    And aye, Sturgeon, I’m lookin’ at you, ‘cos I asked you ages ago and you didn’t reply…

    1. Ben Zyl says:

      To a certain extent, but the energy costs of constructing a new and better vehicle vs the continuing use of an older one equalise at about the 20,000 mile mark – http://www.cleanmpg.com/community/index.php?threads/18240

  8. Derek says:

    Stuart does have something of a point, does he not?

    1. Wullie says:

      Jeezo, Brian Wilson, Mrs Mac of Take the High Road to the life.

  9. Mouse says:

    A bit of an odd article when the SNP are completely committed to economic growth. Pretty odd that the article doesn’t mention that. Why?

    I think the government is a bit more important than Stuart Campbell…

    1. Dennis Smith says:

      Economic growth of what? It’s perfectly consistent to support the increased production of some economic goods (e.g. knowledge, culture, maybe even well-being) while calling for reduced production of other, damaging ‘goods’ (e.g. plastics)

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        It’s also unclear by what criteria the SNP would measure economic growth. For example, if you were to include environmental and/or human degradation as a criterion, then you’d have to conclude that our economy has actually been shrinking exponentially since the onset of the industrial revolution (and perhaps even since the onset of the agrarian revolution).

        Like everything else, ‘growth’ is a relative measure.

        1. It’s not unclear at all. I’ll steer you to some key texts on degrowth economics if your unfamiliar with the term? Or you might consider not contributing on topics on which have no knowledge?

          1. Colin Robinson says:

            Well, you know me: I make no claim to knowledge about anything (not least about décroissance) and, as Kierkegaard put it, ‘speak without authority’ about everything. But if you could point me in the direction of the criteria by which the SNP says it would measure economic growth (and, specifically, where it says it would replace GDP with social and environmental well-being as the indicator of prosperity), I’d be interested in seeing it.

          2. Hi – sorry I should have been clearer. This is precisely the faultline I mention in the article.

            The agreement specifically EXCLUDES replacing GDP with other indicators. See the extract from Katherine Trebeck’s quoted here: https://twitter.com/KTrebeck/status/1429014249205026821?s=20

            The ‘Excluded Matters’ are the faultline, as are the hysteria of the media elite. IMHO.

          3. Colin Robinson says:

            Cheers! I’ll have a wee look at that.

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            Good! That exclusion reserves the right of the Greens to dissent from the SNP’s adherence to the capitalist definition of wealth implicit in the GDP measure of growth and to oppose the government in this matter. A ray of hope for anticapitalism in all the despair that surrounds the prospect of a powersharing agreement.

            Let’s hope that it exercises that right fiercely and vigorously and doesn’t just get sucked into and become complicit in the status quo.

          5. “That exclusion reserves the right of the Greens to dissent from the SNP’s adherence to the capitalist definition of wealth implicit in the GDP measure of growth and to oppose the government in this matter.”

            Yes. Precisely. This is the faultline. The talk of “sustainable growth” or “green growth” is a misnomer.

      2. Degrowth and well being economics does precisely what you describe Dennis – it calls for less of the destructrive and more of the restorative

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          Indeed! ‘Economic growth’ is relative to your definition of ‘wealth’; i.e., whether you define it in terms of real goods or in terms of their money/transactional value. In a capitalist economy, ‘wealth’ is defined in terms of the transactional value of real goods as commodities rather than in terms of those goods themselves.

          Economic growth is something that neither the SNP nor its running dogs propose to revalue along anticapitalist lines. Their project is just to save the world as it is by making capitalism ‘sustainable’, the b*st*rds!

          1. John Monro says:

            Colin, you’ve probably hit on the major issue – that is defining growth – is growth something that means we always have more than what we did before, including people perhaps, or does it mean doing better with less? I suppose in the absence of any firm commitment from any government anywhere, or any green party even that I know of, into constructing an economy that can actually still function without “growth”, I can take (small) comfort that at last the issue is being debated in the open, a bit. Ten years ago even you’d be hard pressed to find any economist or politician even discussing this. The problem for us that thanks to that well known Scot, Adam Smith, we’ve constructed an economic system almost completely predicated on borrowing wealth from the future, in fact unable to function at all without it – this is looking increasingly fraught as we realise our future may have less wealth than we do now, as we come to face reality with an increasingly relevant Club of Rome’s “The Limits to Growth”. As this was published in 1972 we’ve had almost exactly fifty years of warning to change our ways, instead we have all those mentioned here still unshakeably emotionally committed to an economic system that has no future, and very angry indeed that anyone would have the temerity to question it.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            It’s less about the definition of ‘growth’ than about the definition of ‘wealth’ in relation to which growth is measured.

            The task is to resist the hegemony of the capitalist definition of wealth as the transactional value of goods as commodities rather than in terms of those goods themselves, which definition makes ‘greening’ a wealth cost rather than a growth factor.

            We can’t change this positively (the capitalist definition of wealth has been built into the fabric of our consciousness and, thence, into the structure of our praxis by the current relations of production we labour under), but we can sabotage it through the negative dialectics of immanent critique.

        2. Laurence Pocock says:

          What’s important here is whether or not people will be better off or not with a SNP/ Green government. As some have said any move towards higher taxes, and additional imposition on their finances in order to save the planet may not work out electorally and let’s face it lessen the appeal of independence. But isent that looking inevitable anyway?

          1. Colin Robinson says:

            But the issue we’re discussing here is what constitutes ‘better off’: growing transactional power or growing social and environmental justice?

            At present, we’re socialised by our current relations of production to behave in ways that grow our transactional power in all areas of life and not just in commerce. (That’s the basic thesis of Markus Wissen’s essay on The Imperial Mode of Living, from the discussion of which I appear to have been blocked.) For example: in the politics of our own wee parish, the current powersharing agreement between the Greens and the Nationalists is itself an instance of two parties coming together to grow their transactional power in relation to the promotion of their respective ideologies. This kind of politics is part of the sickness rather than of a cure.

            That’s the extent to which capitalism is woven into the fabric of our consciousness, the totalitarian extent to which we’ve been colonised by it. And it’s the deconstruction of that world that’s signified by the current crises and our catastrophising of them.

            As Wissen argues, the appropriate response to these crises is not solutionism; it’s to problematise them further.

  10. Ben Zyl says:

    “Twenty ears” doesn’t sound a lot given it’s a subsidy from the whole of the UK.

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