CALEDONIA DREAMING…

indexBella Caledonia was formed in 2007 by Mike Small and Kevin Williamson as an online magazine combining political and cultural commentary.

Our Background

Bella is named after a character in Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things (1992). Like Bella we are looking for a publication and a movement that is innocent, vigorous and insatiably curious. Bella is aligned to no one and sees herself as the bastard child of parent publications too good for this world, from Calgacus to Red Herring, from Harpies & Quines to the Black Dwarf.

Poor Things is a remarkable book. Presented as the memoir of Dr Archibald McCandless, it describes his life and that of a colleague – Godwin Baxter. A monstrous proto-Frankenstein, Baxter performs surgical marvels, his greatest achievement being the (re) creation of life: he brings to life a drowned woman by transplanting the brain of the foetus she is carrying. The full-grown woman with the infant’s mind, is Bella.

What we do

Following the idea ‘don’t hate the media become the media’ – you can write for us – share us – support us. We have had over 3 million readers, 45 thousand followers on Twitter and a Facebook Group with over 12,500 members. We have a Vimeo channel with short films and interviews and an Instagram account with photography by Jannica Honey. We are just launching a new series of ebooks, this first ‘War is Coming’ by Gordon Guthrie.

We have published hundreds of writers over the last decade: Irvine Welsh, Vonny Moyes, Christopher Silver, Alan Bissett, Jay Griffiths,  Jen Stout, Kathleen Jamie, Stuart Cosgrove, Katie Gallogly-Swan, George Gunn, Saffron Dickson, Kirsty Strickland, Robin McAlpine, Alda Sigmundsdóttir, John Warren, Alec Finlay, Andy Wightman, Caitlin O’Hara, Shaun Burnie, Smári McCarthy, Wilson McLeod,Svenja Meyerricks, Cat Boyd, Darren McGarvey (aka Loki), Douglas Robertson, Haniya Khalid, Justin Kenrick, Karen Emslie, Yiannis Baboulias, Kirsten Han, Jack Ferguson, Alastair McIntosh, Alistair Davidson, Lesley Riddoch, Dougie Strang, Laura Cameron Lewis, Kevin Williamson, Meaghan Delahunt, Jenny Lindsay, Peter Arnott, Fiona Ferguson, Lauren Currie, DJ MacLennan, Pat Kane, Ruairidh Maciver, Daibhidh Rothach, Rona Dhòmhnallach, Billy Kay, Matthew Fitt and many others.

See our Contributors section for more detail.

We publish in three languages, having started our Gaelic and Scots language columns in 2014. We believe that you can’t really separate culture and politics – that’s why we’ve produced an album ‘Songs for Scotland’ (you can buy it here) and a concert (watch it here). We produced four issues of a print magazine called Closer, you can download a copy here – or we can send you a printed copy. We hold regular live gigs and events for members and supporters, including this one with Ricky Ross, Karine Polwart, Loki and Becki Wallace.

We’re not aligned to any one political party but believe in self-determination for Scotland. Only then will a country disfigured by poverty and inequality be re-born. Only independence can bring democracy. The British State is irredeemable.

We’re not aligned to any one political party but believe in self-determination for Scotland. Only then will a country disfigured by poverty and inequality be re-born. Only independence can bring democracy. The British State is irredeemable.

Future Scotland

In the last few years we’ve seen a political ‘Tsunami’, a Scottish Spring and we have shaken the British State to something near panic in 2014. We’ve seen a collapsing print media, the disintegration of the labour and Liberal Democrat Parties and the emergence of new forces and new voices and new expectations.

bella-text-kelmanWhilst the Scottish Spring remained an electoral event, rather than a social revolution, it does mirror the changes happening elsewhere in the process named ‘collapsonomics’, defined as ‘The study of economic and state systems at the edge of their normal social and economic function.’

After the independence referendum in which ‘a campaign was won but a country lost’ we remain in a liminal state – somewhere between a confusing ‘here’ and an unknown ‘there’. After 2014 – there was frustration, anger but very little despair. In losing we won and reinvented ourselves, but that process – to define and re-imagine ourselves is ongoing, incomplete.

Why are we still positive in the face of unrelenting lies and with all of the powers against us?

Partly because collapsonomics and the shifting sands of relations between global and local, individual and community, self and identity, culture and technology unleash unexpected results. A fractured, discredited print media, a London government that appears like a throwback to the Edwardian era, and the catastrophic failure of the Labour Party to create a political narrative have combined to produce an ongoing political uncertainty that is ripe with potential. All this on top of twenty years of cultural renewal and a growing sense of, if not confidence, declining self-hatred. In a post-ideological world, the idea of starting a nation ‘afresh’ seemed compelling.

The project/movement is half-done, over-professionalised, unshared and lacking both depth and vitality. It suffers from being focused too much on one party, and an inability to think beyond the current failed economic paradigm. The ruling party is still wedded to fossil fuels, committed to export-led growth, has little idea about creating an ‘architecture of participation’, and often woos big business as if they are the panacea rather than the illness. But perhaps it is not the role of professional politicians to guide a movement to its fruition. Ultimately, these changes create the prospect of transforming not just Scotland, but the political landscape of the UK.

The general election  of 2015 was incredible but already has become normalised.  The SNP won the most remarkable landslide in Scottish electoral history: 56 out of 59 Scottish seats. At the time Alex Salmond announced that there hadn’t been a general election swing on this scale – 30% – since 1835. But as Iain Macwhirter pointed out “since only about 40,000 people in Scotland had the vote back then it was hardly a relevant comparison”.

We are – as we seem to have been constantly in recent years – at a historic and epic political moment. We believe that renewing, reclaiming and re-imagining the media is a key part of the democratic revolution that’s taking hold in Scotland and beyond.

 

 

 

Keep our Journalism Independent

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

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Bella Caledonia