2007 - 2022

The Unthinkable World

It’s Friday morning as I write and a guest on Good Morning Scotland is explaining that Boris Johnson is ‘an electoral asset’. I think what he meant was that he is an electoral asset in England, but his lack of clarity and self-awareness was telling. As the furor about the Downing Street party reached a crescendo this week speculation mounted about Johnson’s own future. The bad news for us – and the point Mo Hussein was making – was that it is Conservative MPs who will decide Johnson’s future. Not us. With the Tories eighty seat majority it will be down to the Conservative’s calculation of their leader being an electoral asset or not.

The Teflon PM may have met his comeuppance but I’m not convinced. I suspect he will ride it out and everyone will head off for their Pandemic Yule festivities exhausted and disheartened by their political leaders. The weird discussion about the Party That Never Happened was the multiple times it was confirmed that it had actually taken place culminating in the disclosure that Boris Johnson’s own Director of Communications made a thank you speech and handed out awards at the Downing Street Christmas party on December 18 which is now the subject of an internal investigation. But Johnson’s wiggle-room to avoid a terminal charge of misleading parliament maybe his repeated use of the phrase “I was informed that no rules had been broken”. There may be more sacrificial lambs higher up the pecking order than Allegra Stratton and on they go.

The shambles staggers on with the impact not just on the Conservatives reputation, such as it is, but also a broken trust between wider society and the political class. Downing Street has repeatedly denied any rules were broken on its premises but according to a poll for Sky News only 9% of voters believe them; meanwhile, absolutely necessary public health measures are tarnished by association with the British government.

Whether you voted Yes or No in 2014 or Remain or Leave in 2016 you may be watching this regime’s reign with some astonishment fear and anger.

I wonder what people who voted No in 2014 watching the debacle from No 10 actually think about all of this? Is this what you voted for? Is this what you imagined? Is this better than electing your own government?

Johnson’s role in all of this is pivotal. Remember he was the ‘unthinkable leader’ as famously described by Blair McDougall in 2014 – it was simply scare-mongering by the Yes side to suggest a future scenario in which Boris Johnson could be the Prime Minister. Well folks we’re off the map now. We are living in an Unthinkable World.

If Johnson survives this latest scandal (as I think he will) it may be useful for the independence movement. Here a wildly unpopular figure who is the epitome of England’s political system riven with hierarchy and class interests but detected as an asset for the Tories. What could be better-recruiting sergeant for the Yes movement? But there’s something really demoralizing about this sort of thinking. Surely people will ‘move’ when things get really really bad? But history tells us that’s not how people behave. For many Unionist-minded people, there are simply no scenarios in which they would consider voting to live in a democracy. Many are so encased in a series of folk memories about what Britain is that reality cannot pierce them. Even if ‘Britain’ is drastically and radically changed into something unfamiliar and macabre that world-view, that folk-memory still protects many No voters from that uncomfortable truth. Many people have simply internalized some stories about Scotland that they won’t shift; the too wee, too poor, too stupid story or the story of Scotland being somehow protected by a benevolent southern neighbor.

The stench of corruption that emanates from Westminster may be overwhelming and Johnson’s louche and reckless sub-culture may have created a government that staggers permanently from crisis to crisis, but that isn’t enough to entice people to vote against dependence. We can’t base the case for independence on how terrible individual UK PMs are.

It’s like we are standing on the deck of an obviously sinking ship with a large rescue vessel moored some way off. We cannot spend all of our energy shouting about the incompetence of the captain of the sinking ship and his crew, we need instead to be lowering the lifeboats and sailing to safety.

Somewhere somehow – from our disheveled exhausted selves we need to find some radical innovation, some clearer vision, and some navigation out to the new ship. We need to do so in the knowledge that the other ship is safe but is still in troubled waters; the seas it is sailing in are ones still dominated by the virus, economic uncertainty, and climate breakdown. The first act of ‘getting to safety’ is to acknowledge that life on the new boat won’t be ‘business as usual; it will be only the first act of a process of radical change. Admittedly it is difficult to see how this will be achieved by a political class in Scotland seemingly paralyzed by a tendency towards managerialism caution and inaction.

It is a mistake I think to imagine some post-covid world in which the stage is set for a safe and pristine referendum to take place. Instead, the Scottish government, the pro-independence parties, and the wider movement should see independence as part of a deeper ‘recovery’ program. ‘Recovery’ in this sense isn’t contained to Covid-19 it should be seen to include repair from the economic damage of living under capital, restoration of a broken eco-system, and transformation of a nation buckled and distorted by the Union.

An example of this came up recently in footage of a panel event attended by These Islands’ Sam Taylor who explained why the Union was essential for the decarbonization of the economy. The logic here was that Scotland’s large renewable sector needed to sell its energy output to England. He said: “Scotland is blessed with enormous renewable resources but it’s not blessed with a great many people…”

This was revealed on a number of levels, not just the way These Islands view the relationship between Scotland and England. Scotland is basically seen as a provider and England a recipient, but oddly it is Scotland who is in dire need in this relationship despite having the resource in question.

Historically it’s interesting also. The Highlands of Scotland – depopulated by clearances in the past – and by a housing crisis fueled by second homes in the present – is we’re told: “not blessed with a great many people”. The function of this strangely depopulated and under-populated territory is simply to supply green energy for its southern neighbor. This extraordinary depiction of the benefits of the Union also mistakes energy production as a commodity rather than a public utility. In real-world climate terms viewing energy production as a product to be maxed out on the market is a disaster not a vision of the future.

This is just one example of how being trapped in the Union disfigures our understanding of how to manage Scotland’s economy/ecology.

There may be some readers who bridle at this idea of loading ‘independence’ with the task of solving our other crisis. But that’s not what’s meant. The acutely reductive vision of independence (keep Trident, the Royals, NATO, and the pound) isn’t fit for purpose anymore. It never was. We are way past the moment of ‘don’t frighten the horses’ and ‘just get it over the line.’ Describing the reality of the landscape around us and the problems we face isn’t ‘loading’ the independence movement with unachievable tasks it is giving it a much-needed shot of truth and honesty (and urgency).

The Unthinkable World is where we are and pretending we’re not won’t make that go away.

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Comments (40)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    Perhaps Johnson is an electoral asset for Labour.

    Independence will open the door for new models, and a priority will be developing a constitution that will eliminate (as far as possible) elite rule. This will involve assigning rights to the non-human living world and ecosystems, and drastically levelling down privileges (institutional power, private ways of cheating the system, land ownership etc). As a co-conspirator in Empire, Scotland should also face up to paying its share of reparations, which could be part-financed by the transfer of crown properties and royal estates.

    As a client of the USAmerican Empire, the British Empire is permeated by overlord influence. This essentially makes every cabinet member a de facto traitor (the new changes to arms export licensing makes this clearer, I think). The problem for the UK public is that their secret state is dominated by USAmerican interests.
    There is no option for the UK public to decide who our friends and allies, enemies and opponents are. That is all wrapped in Royal Prerogatives. In an independent Scotland, we must avoid these traps and lock-ins. During Cold War independence struggles, some nations tried to avoid neocolonialism by new alliances non-aligned to superpowers, or played one superpower off against another, or tried to build up economic strength and national unity (with varying success). Although not a colony, Scotland could join in the new wave of decolonisation, reconstituting its institutions towards intellectual independence, self-criticism and rigorous anti-corruption standards. The pursuit of riches and power are chimeras, as planetary reality will demonstrate. The very concept of embodied political leadership is heading for the rocks. Johnson has just given it a little nudge onwards.

  2. Sophia says:

    Really good article. I’ve long given up on the idea that things need to get ‘really’ bad before people go for indy. The poor tend not to vote and the ‘threatened’ better off become more conservative and more maintain the status quo. I’m not sure what the answer is but it does need to be smth different to overcome the brainwashing of adults into Scotland’s renewables and other economic assets as somehow being a problem, as you write. On a minor point….and with some humour, crescendos are not ‘reached’…they are a process ( a getting louder). Its a common error seen often. I guess it doesnt really matter…most get what you mean. But for the musicians among us reading about ‘reaching a cresendo’ always seems odd!

  3. Tom Ultuous says:

    Could the scenario arise where the Tories only hope of forming the next govt and completing their Britannia Unchained wet dream would be Scotland becoming independent before that election? That is, a referendum would be granted and the Tories would do their best to irk the Scots?

  4. Robbie says:

    The Tories doing their best to irk the Scots, God if I’m irked anymore than I already am I’ll have to be put in a straight jacket , I feel my temper rising daily at the way we are just cast aside as a people who just don’t matter, we never have to be honest , they can all go and take a flying f**k at themselves including the Americans ,Scotland Can be and IS a great little country To be born and live in ,we have friends in the EU and around the world where people from those country’s are more than Welcome to live and work here And join their friend who already do

  5. Colin Kirkwood says:

    Just as I argued back in 2014, If there is a two-way referendum, independence or status quo, I will vote for independence. That’s not the point. The point is: what does independence mean? For me, it means : (1) strong, good, unequivocal central leadership; (2) radical decentralisation, to personal, local, district and regional levels; (3) self-government; (4) fundamental democratisation (direct democracy); (5) saving the planet for organic life; (6) actual (not rhetorical) social justice. Does anybody not get that? Let’s put an end to equivocal rhetoric, and covert hostility to English people. They need the same things. We can do it first.

    Colin Kirkwood.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Independence will mean what the Scottish establishment decides it will mean because that’s where power will still reside. Simply making the Scottish government independent of the UK government in its decision-making will do nothing to alter the whole matrix of social relations within which power is exercised in Scotland.

      The exercise of power in Scotland can’t be understood unless it is recognised that it’s exercised socially rather than politically, and this won’t be affected by whether or not we have our own wee sovereign government in Edinburgh, but only by social change. And the idea that ‘the Left’ (or whatever) could use an independent Scottish state to drive significant social change is ludicrous, given the lack of popular support it enjoys in Scotland. This unelectability and general ineffectually of the Left in Scotland COULD conceivably change after independence, but I see little evidence that it WOULD. The usual suspects – Scotland’s haute bourgeoisie – would still rule the roost, and I can’t see it granting your wishlist of strong central government, radically decentralised government (How do these two work together, btw?), and direct democracy.

      What we need isn’t independence but a huge upsurge of the ‘impredictable’ or ‘unthinkable’ that fatally disrupts the whole matrix of our existing social relations, which seems – thankfully – to be where the world is heading… unless, of course, we can save capitalism and avert the apocalypse of its immanent deconstruction.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        “Wee” sovereign parliament? “Wee” Hugh McDairmid? Why wee? What do you mean by it?

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Derek Thomson, it’s just Mons Neg.

        2. Mons Meg says:

          Isn’t it clear from the context in which I use the word?

          In relation to government, I’m using it to belittle the claim that ‘making the Scottish government independent of the UK government in its decision-making will do nothing to alter the whole matrix of social relations within which power is exercised in Scotland’.

          In relation to Hugh MacDiarmid, I’m using it to express affection for the bantam-weight intellectual scrapper that he was:

          “Scotia Irredenta [unredeemed Scotland] is another realisation upon which a creative Scottish nationalism must be erected… By ‘Scotia Irredenta’ here I mean the realisation of the extent to which our national accomplishments have been restricted and our potentialities inhibited by the identification of minor and transitory manifestations with the terms ‘Scotland’ and ‘Scottish’… And At the same time I am protesting the idea that a scheme for developing the poultry industry in Ayrshire or reafforesting part of Sutherlandshire, or re-establishing a parliament in Edinburgh, or, in short, any scheme to do anything at all, political, economic, commercial, or industrial – except to rouse a distinctive and dynamic spirit in Scotland again AND WITHOUT ANY CUT-AND-DRIED SCHEMES LET THAT SPIRIT FIND ITS OWN FORMS no matter how impredictable and how unrelated to anything in our past history [they] may be – has anything whatsoever to do with Scottish nationalism.

          “The curse of Scottish psychology has been its insatiable itch to domesticate every issue with which it has been concerned; and the curse of the National Party today is its desire to foresee and guide the course of events. Nothing that can be so foreseen and guided is worth a curse; Scotland needs a great upwelling of the incalculable.”

          – Hugh MacDiarmid: The Caledonian Antisyzygy and the Gaelic Idea

  6. David B says:

    “Is this what you voted for? Is this what you imagined?” Presumably the answer is ‘no’, otherwise there’d be little point holding another referendum.

    In fairness to No voters, 2014 seems like a very different time. There hadn’t been a majority Tory government since Major, Brexit wasn’t even a word, and Boris Johnson wasn’t an MP. Also the SNP White Paper was rubbish, and First Minister was, well, Alex Salmond.

    Ultimately we’ll never know what would have happened following a 2014 Yes vote. Would the Brexit referendum have still happened in 2016 (in the midst of the UK dissolving)? Would a pre-Brexit Indy vote have been viewed kindly by the rest of the EU? Would we have our own currency, and if not how would we have fared in the pandemic? These are all hypotheticals. People will fill in the gaps based largely on their existing biases.

    Good point about second homes. Welsh Labour and PC are apparently due to act on this in their new co-operation deal. It looks to me like their programme for government is more ambitious than ours, despite the Senedd having fewer powers. Scotland’s failure to adequately use our existing powers depresses me at least as much as the Westminster sh—-show.

  7. Robbie says:

    The Tories are privatising the NHS by stealth working hand in hand with American insurance giants we have no say in the matter , the English people get what they vote for, the Scottish people do not. That’s besides all the other S*** going on with this government .

  8. Hamish100 says:

    David b

    Wales labour and PC are more ambitious? In what way? Most of their proposals are to catch up with what we have in Scotland.

    They will end up in the same impasse. Most of our taxes and monies from our natural resources are held by a hostile government min another country.

    As for the media and bbc Scotland they are promoting the other unionist party as things go pear shaped. Even then Labour are led by mediocrity.

    1. David B says:

      Hamish – e.g. capping 2nd/ holiday home ownership, reforming council tax (I know the SNP have pledged a Citizens Assembly on this but they’ve done nothing since 2007, while Wales actually revalued their bands).

      I don’t believe we’re at an impasse (i.e. a point beyond which no progress is possible).

  9. florian albert says:

    ‘The acutely reductive vision of independence (keep Trident, the Royals, Nato and the pound) isn’t fit for purpose any more. It never was.’

    Forty five per cent of voters supported such a platform in 2014. There is little or no sign that more radical policies (get rid of Trident, the Royals, Nato and the pound) would increase support for independence.
    R I S E discovered this in the 2016 Holyrood election. Interestingly, R I S E did not even bother to contest the 2021 election.

    1. Well the world changes and Britain has changed radically …

      1. Mons Meg says:

        …and pigs might fly…

    2. SleepingDog says:

      @florian albert, are ‘live and let live’ and democracy really such radical ideas? Compared to the nuclear death pact terror cult of NATO, or the extremist anti-democratic politics of imperialist royalism? We certainly have restricted room in public debate for either topic (the former due to British culture and policies being largely slaved to its overlord USAmerican Empire, and the latter due amongst other things to calling for a republic in UK being legal treason, punishable by life imprisonment). Now that’s pretty extreme.

  10. John Monro says:

    On a practical political matter, why doesn’t the Labour party in Scotland support independence – if they did this wouldn’t they give the SNP a big fright and improve democracy in Scotland, even if Scotland doesn’t become independent for another wee while? The SNP’s overwhelming political ascendency is dangerous. And wouldn’t it improve the likelihood of a better Scottish constitution and future? I find Labour’s reluctance to do this, especially in the face too of the failure of Labour and its leadership in England, inexplicable. There’s an interesting psychology in that the Scots will vote so enthusiastically for a party whose raison d’être is independence yet when actually given the chance to achieve this, seem to fall into a funk. Perhaps someone here can explain?

    1. Mons Meg says:

      The long-standing antipathy of the Labour Party towards separatism and nationalism is perhaps explained by two factors relating to its ‘soul’, which it’s unlikely to surrender to political opportunism?

      The first is that its politics has traditionally been class-based rather than identity-based and that, being strong on tradition, it accordingly values intra-UK solidarity over fragmentation into independent identities.

      The second is that the Labour Party has traditionally advocated home rule rather than independence. The founding programme of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888 included home rule for each separate nationality in the British Empire, with an Imperial Parliament for imperial affairs. For it to become a party of independence would thus require an existential shift of a magnitude similar to that which it underwent when it removed Clause IV from its constitution as part of its rebranding exercise in 1995 to make it more electable.

      1. Alec Lomax says:

        The Labour Party’s antipathy to nationalism? They had better keep that quiet to their nationalist asscociates, the SDLP.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Right enough! The SDLP’s an affiliate of the British Labour Party, isn’t it, which demonstrates the Labour Party’s pro-nationalist credentials? Maybe the SNP, which is also (currently) a social democratic party, should affiliate with the Labour Party too.

          1. Alec Lomax says:

            Ian Murray and Jackie Baillie splutter on their cocoas

      2. David B says:

        I think that’s an excellent summary Meg. The curious thing for me is why Labour isn’t more clearly supporting devolution of further powers, such as drug and employment policy.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Under Starmer, Labour seems to have revived its Blairite plan to set up a ‘UK-wide constitutional commission to consider how power, wealth and opportunity can be devolved’ as a ‘means to an end. To empower. To democratise. And to deliver social justice.’ This kinda communitarianism fell by the wayside under Corbyn’s old-time socialism. And, of course, Labour and its ‘third-wayism’ is in terminal decline in Scotland, where we’re caught between the rock-and-roll of hard independence of the SNP and the rolling stone of hard unionism of the C&U.

  11. MBC says:

    I think those native Scots who support the union are the secure and comfortably off who don’t see the need for change. It’s the ‘I’m all right, Jack’ mentality. It’s the small ‘c’ conservative variety of Scot who can’t see further than their front door.

    The situation you describe where Scotland’s place in the union is seen as a resource base for England is a colonial one. That is exactly what imperialism is. Exploit the resources of others. And in every colonial situation you always get a group of enablers who are the native collaborating elite. Hugh MacDiarmid called them ‘the loyal Kikuyu’ after the example of Kenya. A native group who were elevated in status by the imperial power whose job it was to enable colonial exploitation and keep the rest down.

    We also have a fair number of colonists. People who have come from the south to benefit from what is on offer here, cheaper housing, more space, professional jobs that are never offered to natives because they lack experience, and are competing on an uneven playing field. Whole sections of professional Scotland operate that way. Universities, Arts Councils, hospital boards, all the quangos. Not all colonists are unsympathetic, some are of a liberal democratic disposition and can see what is going on, and can see the ethics and potential of an independent Scotland clearly, but the majority are either indifferent (‘why should I care?’)or hostile.

    As for culture change, experience shows that cultural change more often begins with women. It’s when women begin to change their views that change in society’s culture happens. It’s women voters that the independence movement needs to target. There is some evidence to suggest that this is happening and that more women than men now support independence.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      To hell with the ‘native’ Scots! A majority of ‘Scots’ per se (everyone who participates in the civic life of this imaginary community we call ‘Scotland’, ‘incomers’ and ‘oor ain folk’ alike, whatever their nativity might be) can live quite comfortably within the constitutional status quo. It’s the task of the Independentistas to paint a bleak enough picture of their lives and prospects under the status quo to scare them out of their cautious conservatism. Hence the post-2014 repackaging and marketing of independence as our last best transcendent hope to save capitalism from its immanent moral, economic, and ecological collapse.

      1. MBC says:

        You won’t scare the comfortably off No voters into supporting independence whoever they are. I’ve doorstepped many of them and they are not for persuading. They have their own fortress and they simply don’t care.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          That’s reassuring.

          1. Niemand says:

            Indeed. Why anyone who is called a colonial occupier in the place they live would listen to someone who was calling them as such is clearly beyond those who think this way.

            But no surprises there though – the logic that English people simply living in Scotland are colonists, with the serious pejorative connotations of that, is a terrible development in the nationalist movement which I see is gaining ground. Its recent incarnation is rooted in the execrable, fraudulent ideas of Alf Baird, who at the end of the day is a simple prejudiced bigot, but a clever one who couches his bigotry in pseudo intellectualism. He reminds of those ‘intellectuals’ who founded the National Front and similar fascist movements.

            If anything could end my support for independence it is this kind of divisive ‘racial’ thinking, and those who espouse it might reflect on the fact it will appal many other supporters too, and gain little but the worst kind.

      2. I think the point of the article is that its NOT enough for ‘independistas’ just to point at the wreck of Britain but to carve out, articulate and build a vision for a better place (however far along a spectrum of progressive/radical change is as feasible). The second point (probably not very well expressed) was that the other giant problems that exist don’t just magic away because they’re not popular. You can say that the ‘political classes wont act’ or ‘public opinion isn’t there’ on issue X or Y but that doesn’t make these problems go away. At some point they come bite you

        1. Mons Meg says:

          I don’t disagree, Mike. The problem is that idealism doesn’t sell that well at the ballot box, where the voters of ‘Middle Scotland’ (Mr & Mrs Average) are more concerned with the more immediate (and more scaleable) bread-and-butter matter of maximising their own disposable incomes than in with more abstract matters of social and environmental justice and human (let alone planetary well-being). Mainstream politicians understand this, which is why (come election time) they focus their campaigning on ‘the pound in your pocket’, why budgets are sold on how better or worse off they will leave various classes of people in society, and why ‘solutions’ have to always be marketed as cheaper than the ‘problems’ they aim to solve.

          And, indeed, this state of affairs doesn’t make those more abstract/global problems of social and environmental justice or planetary well-being go away. It just perpetually ‘defers’ them, which is a kind of coping strategy in the face of their overwhelming magnitude and complexity.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, but consumerism is itself an artificially-sustained ideology which tells people (through immensely expensive and pervasive propaganda) that they will be better off by spending more on goods and services they don’t need. Propaganda that tends to break down very quickly when real emergencies or hardships shatter the illusion. It is hardly a new observation that such consumption is counterproductive. But the British public has for many generations been radicalised into supporting the extremities of status quo, to the point where threatening planetwide death and destruction has been normalised. Other mindsets are available. Extremism is not hereditary. Conditioning that worked on one generation may struggle to find purchase on its successor. Our accelerating pace of technological and environmental change will tend produce exponential social change which can manifest in ways which can be virtually impossible to predict (uncertainty, complexity, emergence, tipping points, instability, unsustainability, phase shifts…).

            If you are so confident in your predictions about the stability of the status quo, why not state them here? Where will we be in five years time? Ten? How far does your horizon-scanning extend? Or are you just fugged in a Fukayamist fairytale, gratifying your ego by imagining yourself as the untoppable pinnacle of human perfection?

          2. Mons Meg says:

            ‘…consumerism is itself an artificially-sustained ideology which tells people (through immensely expensive and pervasive propaganda) that they will be better off by spending more on goods and services they don’t need…’

            Indeed, that is part of the hegemony by which we’re constructed in capitalist society, the false consciousness by which that society sustains itself. And that hegemony will itself deconstruct as the crises of capitalism deepen.

            ‘If you are so confident in your predictions about the stability of the status quo, why not state them here?’

            How on earth can my banging on ad nauseum about the imminent deconstruction of capitalism through the serial crises it generates, and about the futility of our attempts to arrest those crises, be construed as ‘predictions about the stability of the status quo’?

            You can read, can’t you?

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, my apologies, I mistook your dogmatic meanderings on the death of capitalism to be mere abstract posturing for disingenuous affect. Reconciling your various expressed viewpoints is unfortunately beyond my capabilities, if not yours.

            Imminent, you say? What will survive these crises? Royalty? Nuclearised NATO? The Union? The living planet? The patriarchy? Established religion? Once the funding and institutional support for today’s behavioural modification dries up, what behaviours will tomorrow unleash? Or has our fate all been neatly plotted for us by some 19th century futurologists?

          4. Mons Meg says:

            Well, my strategy isn’t to attempt a reconciliation of the ever-shifting plurality of possible viewpoints into a single ‘imperial’ truth which transcends all viewpoints and to the singularity of which that ever-shifting plurality can be reduced; rather, it’s to hold that plurality of viewpoints in a creative tension of dueling polarities (an antisyzygy). Some modernist Scots (e.g. wee Hugh MacDiarmid) held such a strategy as typical of ‘the Scottish genius’, which I seek to enact in my own practice and by which I seek to grow. As a product of the Beat generation, I’m always on the road and never arriving.

            And no; not ‘imminent’, but ‘immanent’ as opposed to ‘transcendent’. (I think my last post might have been the victim of ‘auto-correct’). I’ve no idea what will survive the immanent deconstruction of capitalism; I don’t have a crystal ball.

          5. But it isn’t ‘idealism’ to respond to climate crisis (to take just one of the meta-crisis), is it?

            Few if any of the ‘Middle Scotland’ are immune from this.

            Reality bite from Julia Steinberger:

          6. SleepingDog says:

            @Editor, a refreshing dip in a stream of sanity from the Julia Steinberger video. I remember having enough reliable information in the mid-eighties to make sound transport choices, although the propagandising targeting very young children from car and fossil fuel industries was long evident (and saturating in the UK). Much else covered by the lecture and Q&A became clearer from public sources since, while the latest research presented was new to me. While I was glad to hear the military question at the end, my only tiny quibble would be that the military do have a limited role in public health for closing borders, protecting medical staff/institutions/supplies and arranging safe passage during pandemics (and in emergencies, supplementing civilian medical services with their own). But having contributed so much to global heating, not least in the UK’s case by maintaining bases round the world (what are British military still doing in Kenya?), their best contribution to climate action would be to rapidly dwindle and contract.

          7. Mons Meg says:

            No, but it is idealism to ‘articulate and build a vision for a better place’, which is what I was referring to.

            And we will of course have no choice but to respond to the climate crisis; only, that response will be ‘impredictable’ rather than in realisation of any vision from among the many we variously articulate according to our respective social hopes and interests. The place in which we end up, for better or for worse, will be determined not by wishful thinking, but by the manner in which we’ll be obliged by the technology available to us to organise the production of our means of subsistence and thereby construct our collective life-experience and its ideations.

          8. Mons Meg says:

            That is “…available to us ‘after the event’, as if were…”

  12. SleepingDog says:

    A simulation in virtual reality highlights some of the problems with nuclear monarchy (which comes with its own paranoia and formal exclusion of dissent/civilian opinion):
    As for NATO, they are one of the few organizations to have brought us right to the brink of the destruction of much of the living world. Able Archer etc.

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