Words are weapons, and in our continuing journey to independence the unionist establishment and media have assumed the role of defining us and the rules of engagement. Our defence is in taking the initiative in the war of words.
As the dominant British political ideology, unionism is never required to define itself. It is, in fact, the normative political default against which all other positions must be defined. It is this power relationship that explains the numerous contradictions now evident in the United Kingdom’s present socio-political turmoil; draping every square inch of the Mall with union flags while decrying the evils of nationalism in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and rallying Eurosceptic opinion around the totems of racism and xenophobia in its efforts to free itself from the European Union while sneering at us, their own ungrateful separatists.
London’s establishment élite, suffering from the hangover of empire, sees nothing of its own ideology; there is no ideology without conflict of ideology – it understands itself as conservative, a caretaker mentality fastidiously preserving the status quo. It is out here, on the boundaries of normative Britishness, that we must be defined, and neither being the custodians of the pure nor the holders of power, we don’t get to define ourselves. Definition is an act of power.
So long as its not London, the NATS will accept the rule of any European capital - Brussels and Berlin preferably. #indyref #the45 #snp—
Scottish & British (@ScotBrit2014) November 11, 2014
So it is we, and not they, who are the “nationalists,” “separatists,” “extremists,” and “fanatics.” We are the outsider, the other, the object of the gaze and scrutiny of Power. That the union assumes the right to describe us implies its assumption of power over us, and by accepting its descriptions we are submitting to its authority. If our objective is indeed independence, then now is the time to reject our dependence on the union’s language, classifications, descriptions, and definitions – for so long as we speak its language (in the metaphorical if not the literal sense), we are bound to its grammar of oppression and domination.
It is true that our movements of national liberation are nationalistic by their nature, but this in no way demands that we are limited to the categories of Nationalism – and certainly not the categories of Nationalism as they are being defined by Britain. Similar to the English privileged class’ deployment of the term “Chav” (Council Housing Area Vermin) against the colonised English working class, the unionist vocabulary dehumanises us with “Nat” (a deliberate association with an insect). Language is a weapon of power, used to keep those defined by it in their boxes. Language too is a tool of resistance, and we must use it to reclaim not only the definitions ascribed to us, but to reclaim ourselves.
Unionism is “patriotic,” a respectable self-referential that in and of itself evokes the Patria of Roman imperialism and the grandiloquent, civilised obfuscation of cruelty and brutality. We of course are denied patriotism because we are backward and retrograde (another contradiction – as its appeal is to the Classical World). We are “nationalists” qua earthy and swimming in the natus placenta, or we are “separatists” in not being team players. We are lonely savages.
Patriotism is a step above because it is civil, it is rooted in the civis – the city, the state. Yet again this is another contradiction the patriotic cannot and will not see; as pride in the construct of the state (the nation state as god and salvation) is misplaced. Pro Patria – for crown and country – has littered the whole world with graves. Rather than looking to its own rivers and meadows, it is compelled to compare itself with its others and prove itself against them in their slaughter and subjugation. It is not enough for the Patria to succeed. Others must be defeated.
So we must neither be defined by their definitions nor define ourselves in imitation of them. Neither one is the way to freedom. Our task is in first gaining fluency in a liberative language of our own, defining what we are doing in practice, answering why we are doing what we are doing, and vocalising the visions of where this is taking us – and all in and on our own terms.