Our hopes for independence in Scotland are far from being isolated from the hopes of millions of others around the world. #IndyRef brought us face to face with the people who pull the strings, and we learned a thing or two about them.
During the last months of the Scottish independence campaign in 2014 so many of us were caught up in the immediacy of the event that we were incapable of seeing the bigger picture. That was certainly the way it was for me. As the moderator of a tiny, almost insignificant Facebook page, Scotland’s Independence Countdown, I was busy relaying a teddy bear called “Brucy Bear” to numerous expatriate Scots around the world. We were energised and having fun. We were living in the certainty that this was a fair change at gaining independence, and that we were going to win.
It wasn’t a fair fight, and all the signs were there that we were being lined up like ducks. The BBC was in overdrive sowing the seeds of fear, the diplomatic brass in embassies around the globe were twisting arms and calling in favours to create the impression that a Scotland free from the shackles of the United Kingdom would be an ostracised economic basket case, and the British political élite were working day and night – across party lines – to manufacture a web of lies and deceit that would terrify the Scots voting public into submission. The result was inevitable, only we would be the last to know.
The bigger picture is that what was happening then in Scotland was part of what was and still is happening right across the world. Soldiers were called onto the streets of Lisbon, an EU member state, to stop a democratically elected left-wing faction taking power. The European Union effectively brought Greece to the very brink of starvation to keep its democracy in line. In Spain too Podemos was bringing the stand-off between economic justice and the mega-powerful corporations to a head. Much the same was happening across North Africa and in the Middle East. Hong Kong rose up for democracy and in the United States the polarisation that has resulted from decades of corporatist hegemony produced the Trump and Sanders campaigns.
Scotland wasn’t just about gaining independence from Westminster. We too were the popular embodiment of a reaction against something much bigger; bigger than Westminster, the EU, and the United States. Our campaign was as much about changing the order of things – the poverty, the inequality, the corruption – as it was about becoming a self-governing country. Now, of course, we are coming to see with greater clarity the part that we were playing – and are still playing – in a much bigger picture.
The people who really get to call the shots– the multi-billionaire class who control the wealth and resources of the world – are a far greater threat to us than Westminster or Brussels could ever be. These are the people who have the clout to manipulate the global media spin and “influence” public opinion to their own ends. These are the people who have the post powerful politicians in every nation – their agents – in their pockets. Scotland doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against these people, but understanding that we are part of a truly international movement – a Global Spring – should give us some confidence. These are not gods. They are a global power, and the job of bringing them to heel is a global task. As we prepare for Scotland’s next referendum, or whatever our next bid is, we ought to be thinking globally, reaching out to others and making friends. After all we’re pretty special in the bigger picture. Our encounter with the big boys has given us a very useful skill-set.
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