The very same forces that are pushing Brexit from below south of the border are driving Scotland from a union that has become the museum of murder and sin. Brexit will forge two nationalisms, one of bitterness and another yearning for fresh air.
Just beneath the thin viscosity of Britain’s social surface something both ugly and powerful is raging, pushing at the fragile membrane of political acceptability in order to break free. We can look at the Brexiteers and from our lofts consider them uncouth, barbaric in their anger and hateful rhetoric, and write them off as the fringe. Yet we know that they are anything but the fringe, lunatic or otherwise. We know this because we, together with them, are products of the same alcoholic mother – a puffed up and half-baked notion of cultural superiority, mired in the mud of cold Thatcherite ideology, and pitted worker against worker by a privileged ruling class that hides its greed and negligence behind the arena where we do combat with our sisters and brothers for their entertainment.
Those who are now demanding the closure of our borders to aliens and foreigners, and them that are seeking the repatriation of the Other in our midst, do so from the same sense of fear and abandonment that is driving us to smash asunder the flaccid god of Brutishness and empire. The same darkness and uncertainty that has agitated and formed them has also riled fashioned us. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. As much as Scotland has been plundered by Westminster thieves, our class companions all over England and Wales have been degraded, humiliated, and criminalised in their enforced poverty and alienation. England is seething as much as Scotland, but, unlike the Scots, the English and the Welsh have nowhere to go.
Nationalism to them is a return to the bosom of mother London, the unfeeling psychopath and source of nations’ postcolonial dread and nightmares that it is, and a future of Munchausen by proxy love – locked in the attic with the crumbling dried-out corpse of Queen Victoria in the Bates Motel. No wonder they are calling for a separation from Europe; outsiders are the greatest threat to the dysfunctional comfort of families with so many bones under the patio. Of course they can’t blame mother, so all their venom must be directed at the lodger instead – who must fall asleep sometime. This is the poisonous fruit of misery; the misery of identity loss, humanity loss, soul loss – brought on by imposed and enforced powerlessness.
Nothing of this is different for us in Scotland. We were born in the same Gulag as the Yorkshireman and the Cockney. We have been subject to the same dehumanising social, political, and economic assaults. We were shaped by the same violence. The Scouser and the Glaswegian are the unfinished business of British history, and the only difference between them is that the Scot – by virtue of a different history – has a choice in what happens next. Britain’s class war, directed as it always is by the puppet masters in Downing Street, is about to take a turn for the worse; in blind fury Tommy is going to return to the attic of ossified imperial memory, and Jock is going to take the high road.