Archive for the ‘Scottish Nationalism’ Category
The New European Politics of National Resentment
Europe is in the throes of a major economic and political crisis. The later, overused, word barely covers the depths of despair felt by those facing mass unemployment, wage cuts and the devastation and privatisation of public services. Protests against austerity have united radical lefts, trade unions and the peoples. They have yet to succeed.
In the absence of any substantial – ‘actually existing’ – alternative to the austerity consensus of Christian and Social Democracy, reactionary currents have gained ground. Nationalists, such as the UK Independence Party, UKIP, the weevils of British politics, have had a strong echo, encouraging popular anger against the European Union. Overtly xenophobic parties, the Front National in France (17,9% in the first round the 2012 French presidential elections) and a host of others in Western and Eastern Europe, have gained ground. The Greek Golden Dawn has gone backwards so far that it has revived the far right’s tradition of bullying private militias.
But it is another reaction that has caught attention today. The victory of the right-of- centre party of Artur Mas, Convergència i Unió (CiU) in the Catalonian regional elections opens the way to a referendum on national independence. In Belgium the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) of Bart Wever appears on the way to complete Flemish autonomy, if not the dissolution of the kingdom. The Scottish Parliament has decided to hold a popular vote about the country’s future that could lead to the ‘break up of Britain’. In Italy the Lega Nord, Northern League, stands for the rights of North Italy’s ‘Padania’ against the South. It has lost momentum in recent years following its collaboration with Berlusconi, but may well revive.
Are these different populist protests against Europe’s oligarchs? That is, part of broader demands for “localism”. Tory Ferdinand Mount is a critic of “centralisation and top-down control” He calls for, “giving power back to the people” on the “human scale”(The New Few 2012). Are these movements in any way aimed at the “distribution of power to the many, the taming of the oligarchs, and the opening of opportunities to the worst off.”? (Page 219) It can be quickly seen, that some on the left, notably the Catalan left, Esquerra Republicana which looks set to work with the victorious CiU, and the warring factions of Scottish socialism, do indeed consider the push for independence in their lands as opportunities for such moves.
Most of these movements are however not principally concerned with reviving an idealised municipal government past or the voluntary associations that made up David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society. The route they take, from hard-right to apparently ‘social democratic’ Scottish nationalists, is towards what Mount described elsewhere as the “”visible symbols of national community and unity” (Mind the Gap. 2005) But as Mount would recognise, all these movements are intensely concerned with control over money. From UKIP’s jibes about Brussels to the Catalan, Flemish and Northern Italian regionalists, they are preoccupied not just with bureaucratic waste, but the feckless use of public funds by their improvident – Southern – neighbours. Scottish nationalists, for reasons which are all too obvious, show less interest in this, but continue to rail against the UK-wide distribution of revenues taken from ‘their’ oil and gas,
If there is any common thread between these, often very different, parties and the tides of opinion that bolster their position, it is resentment. They are not movements of national liberation, comparable to Irish republicanism, the fight for Norwegian independence from Denmark, or the forces that created national states following the break up of the Hapsburg Empire, the “prison of the nations”. Perhaps the Flemish nationalists are unique in holding an annual trek around francophone Brussels, pissing on every lamppost to mark out Dutch speaking territory (okay, I made the urine bit up). But the impulse to define and protect ‘their’ people, our ain folk is widely shared. Read the rest of this entry »
Scots Left Say he’s a Diamond Geezer.
My Scottish grandparents were Chair and Branch Sec. of a Branch of the ILP in Springburn Glasgow.
Comrades will no need no reminder that this was, and is, a poor district and the heart of Labour Movement.
It is with some distress that we read that the so-called ‘socialist’ party the SSP, has backed the Murdoch supported SNP in its demand for ‘independence’.
Going to the length of appearing on public platforms with – I like my bath-water so much I drink it Salmond.
And not saying a dicky bird about the SNP’s plans to raise the price of a pint to (rough estimation) seven quid a pint.
The cost of a bottle of me gramps daily tot (0r six) of whisky must be pretty stiff as well..
The Zeitgeist Future: Yuk!
Occupy Glasgow’s inability deal with an incident of sexual assault, has created a serious controversy. From the City itself Mhairi from the Scottish Socialist Party, has described this on her Blog, and her report has yet to be properly answered. (Full post Here.)
The gravity of this incident is illustrated by this commentator’s observation, “This horrendous rape has just shown how so many people, supposedly on the side of the underprivileged, actually see women as objects and fucktoys, incapable of independent thought.”
We will not comment on this further.
But one concern has come up which relates to a wider problem about the ‘Occupy Movement’ – its tolerance towards a conspiracy cult with dodgy ideas that parallel a strain of thought on the extreme right.
The Scottish Socialist Party’s Youth group offers this account TZM (full story Here.)
Zeitgeist got started when a man called Peter Joseph (this apparently isn’t his real or full name, as he conceals his real identity) released a documentary called, amazingly enough, Zeitgeist (which is German for Spirit of the Times) in 2007. This film was stuck up on Google video, and quickly got loads of views. This was then followed by a sequel, Zeitgeist Addendum, the following year.
The first film is an amalgamation of conspiracy theories: first of all, about religion, making all kinds of claims about the origins of Christianity; then a large middle section about 9/11, asserting that there were no terror attacks and they were in fact carried out by the US government. The final section is probably the most important for us to examine as socialists, because it’s about money and finance. It argues that the world is dominated by a small elite who operate through control of international finance, the media and education. This elite deliberately enslaves the rest of the world by keeping us permanently in debt to the banks by the way they operate the money system.
The SSP then turns to the Second Film and the present ideology of this cult,
If you try and engage Zeitgeist activists about these issues, in all likelihood they will say something along the lines of “Well, we don’t promote the first film any more, we’ve moved on to new things.” Sometime between the making of the first and second films, Peter Joseph came into contact with Jacques Fresco, a designer and engineer who has a series of plans for improving society which he calls the Venus Project. Zeitgeist now describes itself as “the activist wing of the Venus Project.” Privately, some are trying to distance themselves from some of the material in the first film, but officially it is still promoted on the main page when you google Zeitgeist, and remains most people’s introduction to the movement.
The Venus Project advocates what it calls a “resource based economy”, arguing that there are enough resources in the world to provide everyone with a decent standard of living. The problem they argue is that capitalism deliberately makes resources scarce in order to make a profit. So far this is definitely something socialists could agree with. The project goes on to present a whole series of exciting looking sci-fi style drawings of what the high-tech future they propose will look like, which are strangely retro and remind you of concept art for 60s sci fi shows.
Anybody looking for two minutes at the Zeitgeist US site (yes, funnily enough it’s from there!) and reading more about this “global sustainability movement” can see that it’s a cult – here.
I never liked that cretin Buckminister Fuller anyway.