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By Jason Michael
Why is it that when we describe what we are doing in the independence movement as a “conflict” there is a general panic in some quarters? Just what is it that people think we are doing here, and how does Britain see it all?
Young Ross Greer, that ragamuffin who thinks I’m a latter day Michael Collins with a keyboard, has taken issue with the suggestion that we are in a conflict with Britain. His understanding of conflict would appear to be limited to Dan Dare and Biggles; although even those might be before his time. Responding to the assertion made by the Butterfly Rebellion that we are “engaged in a real conflict with Britain,” he insisted – by way of excusing his anti-Irish racist remarks – that “we are definitely not in a conflict with the British state where it’s willing to kill some of us.”
Where does one begin with this level of ignorance? Okay, I’m not going to be too tough on wee Ross. I have a sneaking admiration for anyone who would compare me to an Irish national hero dazzling enough to be played by Liam Neeson on the big screen. “Riddled? Riddled? What are you going round riddling people for?” Whatever he needs, this young whippersnapper needs a short history lesson. As he was so keen to start his attack on me with Ireland, let’s start there. This British state of his that isn’t willing to kill us – its citizens – on 30 January 1972 shot and killed fourteen innocent civil rights protesters on the streets of Derry. On 6 April 1985 the 61 year old Scottish independence campaigner and anti-nuclear activist Willie McRae, after being surveilled by Special Branch and MI5, was shot in the head. He died the next day.
Ross Greer (@Ross_Greer) August 08, 2017
There are so many people in the independence movement who, in their innocence and naïveté, truly believe we are not in a conflict with the British state – a conflict in which Britain would be willing to kill. Youngsters the likes of Greer, born in 1994, will no doubt think of Bloody Sunday and the McRae assassination as events from the olden days, when the television was black and white. Guys like Greer, with their visions of independence and as means to a utopian end, look at the London government and see little more than a benign auld uncle who’s dithering is getting in the way of “progress.” People who approach Britain the way these lambs do are living with their heads up their backsides.
Britain is the dying embers of what was an imperial-colonialist murder machine that put both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union in the shade when it came to its sheer barbarism and its perpetration of genocide. In Greer’s own lifetime the British government lied to the public in order to follow the United States into the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan – conflicts in which over one million civilians have been killed – and now stands implicated in the murder of the weapons expert, Dr David Kelly, who blew the whistle on the state’s lies.
All of this might seem a bit abstract and far away to Ross Greer and the others just like him in the independence movement, so let’s bring this a little closer to home. In the early hours of this morning, at four twenty-six according to my phone log, I had to make a call to a young woman who was feeling suicidal. Very shortly she has to undergo a Personal Independence Payment – or PIP – assessment at the hands of the DWP. With a chronic illness she cannot work, she has no savings, no family nearby, barely meets her rent, and is so petrified of this trial by pencil-pusher that she believes she is on the verge of taking her own life.
When we add up the numbers of all those who have taken their lives as a result of the strain imposed upon them by this system and all those who have otherwise died due to the stress it causes, can we ask how many people in Scotland the British state has killed as a result of this deliberate and calculated, callous “welfare” régime? It’s darkly humorous to point out that Greer, after watching the Ken Loach film I Daniel Blake knows all about it. We know this because he tweeted: “May be [sic] a movie but it’s the reality I see every day when constituents ask for support. #WeAreAllDanielBlake” Just who does Greer imagine is behind this violence; a violence described by Loach as “imposed with conscious cruelty?” This is a system engineered to kill people.
I am questioning if Greer is, as he claims, Daniel Blake at all. He doesn’t give the impression that he has joined the dots between the conscious cruelty of the British state and the groundswell in support for independence in Scotland over the past ten years. It is clear for anyone to see that London is using austerity and now the chaos of a Brexit that will compound the suffering of tens of thousands across Scotland as a weapon to bring Scotland to heel. Such economic warfare was used against us in the past, and, yes, it is killing people.
Ross Greer (@Ross_Greer) November 06, 2016
As I see it, there is a confusion here when we use the word “conflict” – exactly the right term to describe what is happening. There are those – both unionists and utopian independentistas – who are trying to narrowly define “conflict” so as to portray people like me, who use it – in the Marxist sense, as idiotic keyboard Michael Collins’ or William Wallace’s; imagining ourselves at fictive barricades fending off the Black and Tans or the English. But no, “the history of all hitherto existing society,” wrote Karl Marx, “is the history of class conflicts.”
It is true; we are not a class in the socio-economic sense intended by the Manifesto. Yet we are a class in the sense implied by the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. We have come together as a political and politicised class – the independence movement – in order to challenge the hegemony of the British state and the British establishment, which is – in every sense – a class unto itself. Everything we are doing as a movement is done in the context of this conflict, and whether or not we are comfortable with the language of conflict – class or otherwise – we can be absolutely certain that Britain sees this as nothing other than an existential conflict.
So to address Ross Greer’s quibbles about us being in a “deadly conflict” with the British state, we can say quite uncategorically that he could not be more wrong. It was British violence towards Scotland over three centuries, and the lives that it has cost, that gave rise to this movement he now pretends to lead, and now that we have started Britain will kill more in its efforts to stop us. Ross, after dropping out of university, wants to school me on what is and is not conflict. After having completed an MPhil in Conflict Studies and awarded a fellowship at the In Flanders Fields museum in Flanders, Belgium, I am fairly sure I know what I am talking about. We’re in a deadly conflict.
Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’