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By Jason Michael

Apparently independence has to be the answer to some question posed by Gerry Hassan or Bella Caledonia. They are asking that we make Scotland a pawn in a game where it always comes last.

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Thus opens the Unanimous Declaration of the original thirteen United States of America, made in Congress on 4 July 1776.

Yesterday Gerry Hassan published an article on the Bella Caledonia blog asking the question: “What is independence the answer to?” In this piece he forces a distinction between those he dismisses as “Nationalist Scotland” and those who we are to assume are its intellectual betters, “non-Nationalist Scotland” – that is “the majority of Scots” who do not see “independence [as] an end in itself.” The world can be divided, as the old joke goes, into two types of people; those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don’t.

His major thrust in the article is that the Scottish National Party, assuming the mantle of leadership of the independence movement, has squandered all of its opportunities to advance the cause of independence, leaving the wider – non-SNP – movement to wither on the vine. He paints a gloomy picture of post-2014 Scotland as a failed attempt to become “a different kind of state,” something which can now only be delivered by the messianic “advent of the Corbyn Labour Party.” It stands to reason, then, that his chief criticism of the SNP is that it has stifled “such independent initiatives as RISE and Common Weal.”

Hassan is entirely wrong. As is the case with all political messiahs, Jeremy Corbyn is no saviour. He is a broken reed. Just as the 2008 election of Barack Obama was heralded as an age of hope and change, but maintained and even extended enough of the ancien régime of neoliberalism and US expansionism to feed the fires of Trumpism, so too are the empty promises of Mr Corbyn. How can Corbyn ride into Edinburgh on a donkey, bearing the glad tidings of Brexit and Trident renewal, when Scotland has already rejected his gospel?

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary…”

As far as any nation’s foundational documents go, at least in the modern world – while they seldom if ever live up to their high ideals – our American cousins have certainly produced the best. Whether we are Hassan’s nationalist or his non-nationalist or even a unionist, we are, to quote this outstanding declaration again, “one people” for whom it has become necessary “to dissolve the political bands” which have heretofore ensured the domination of our country by “another.”

Gerry Hassan demands, following an editorial trend in much of Scotland’s supposedly pro-independence new media, that independence must be the answer to an as yet unknown question. This is not an episode of Jeopardy! The progress of a nation through time need answer no questions. It moves by its own accord, under the steam of its own initiative, following the complex calculus written out by the thousands of expressed and unexpressed desires of its people.

For theorists like Hassan the vast complexity of what the United States understands by the term “manifest destiny” is reduced to an essentially statist project of forging “a different kind of state;” a top-down utopian vision of state perfection. Such pipedreams lack any awareness of the organic development of the nation and its natural movement through history, powered as it is by the people of the nation.

Worse than this, his blasting of the SNP betrays an almost Fukuyamian anxiety. Utopia – his “different kind of state” – must be brought about in the here and now, even if this means a political accommodation with Britain – if Saint Jeremy can make it happen. In this schema Scotland is not an end in itself, nor is it a means to an end. It is merely a pawn in a contingent political ideology in the same way Slovakia was in the former Czechoslovakia, as Croatia was in Yugoslavia. Time and again history and the dynamics of peoplehood have cast off the provisional state settlements imposed on them in anticipation of some radical Marxist internationalist perfection.

Scotland, as “one people,” is not an ethnic or racial designation or even an expression of national exceptionalism. The people of the nation are simply that – the rich tapestry of the sum of all the people who make up the nation, regardless of all other floating signifiers. All peoples exist in place and time; their collective destinies are in constant flux. Scotland is no different.

Our destination as a people – as “one people” – is not dependent on the actions of the SNP or the independence movement as Hassan would have us believe. Political parties and social movements are indeed expressions of the many desires of the people, but they are always merely effects of the deeper transformations of the people and of the nation. Where Gerry Hassan imagines “listlessness, inertia, and anxiety” – stasis – the reality is quite different. We are a people on the move.

In one election after another we demonstrate that we are not the same as England. We are a different people with different national priorities and aspirations. With or without the SNP at the helm, Scotland consistently expresses the truth of its distinct peoplehood and indeed the divergent path it is taking – over time – as a nation. Scottish independence will not be the result of a magical date when, as Jim Sillars once said, we hold our sovereignty in our hands. It won’t be the result of the SNP’s actions or inactions. Our independence will only ever be the fruit of a process that has been turning and turning since 1707 – the movement of “one people.” This is so because the conditions of the union make it necessary if we are to continue to be Scotland.

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4 thoughts on “Answering Gerry Hassan’s Independence Question

  1. Well said and put.

    For the record and though I am no fan of “-isms”, but am more concerned about humanity and it’s liberation in order for folk to seek their fuller enlightened form, some folk might regard me as a Marxist and some not.

    Personally, I could not give a tinker’s cuss about what Whited Sepulchres think either way and am only concerned about gaining the gift of seeing myself as other genuine folk see me as we move together through life.

    However and bear with me, those who would not see me as a Marxist would include the remnants of the imperialist CPGB, and the various pro-British imperialist Trotskyite groupings. Why? Because “my” brand has its historical roots in the thinking and struggles of John MacLean, Matt Lygate, James Connolly et al and which are grounded in the concrete, historical, anti-imperialist struggles of the people’s of Ireland and Scotland going on for centuries now against the AngloBritNat state (this anti-imperialist struggle being for Lenin the most developed and advanced form of class struggle though you can try until hell freezes over to get the aforesaid remnants and infantilist Trot factions to admit to that unless it’s in some very “exotic” place very far away and the farther, the better).

    All very fancy Dan stuff from the Brit pseudo-left this aforementioned nyah nyah contemporary political variation on the obscurantistism of the obtuse scholastic theologians and their angels on a pinhead rammies disconnected from reality (with due respect to Duns Scotus the Subtle Doctor). And Hassan and co are of precisely this medieval ilk repeat washed and rinsed and re-packaged as right on urban kool thinkers, doncha know and dig it, babe?

    Smoke and mirrors stuff, basically, for they are really only Ju Ju practitioners of the superstitious dark arts tarted up with politically correct buzz words and the kind of alchemy which seeks to turn warm pish into chilled wine and red herrings into genuine Arbroath smoked haddies over the hot fumes of their designer bongs.

    Furthermore, this unsavory belladonna cabal of wannabe vanguard intellectuals carry about with themselves the whiff of the self-regarding elitist which radiates foostily about their sanctimonious, self-selected and mutually anointed high priestly caste cool set with hipster revolutionary pretensions as they troll about the mainstream of genuine radical activity all hell-bent on peddling their doctrine of the so-called permanent revolution as the Holy of Holies’ core canon mediated via them to the great unwashed, by any means fair or foul, including canonizing false idols like St JezzaBrit Corbyn of Brexit and the Nukes.

    They are, after all, the hereditary Cohens of the revolution, baby.

    Any revolution anywhere, any time, Comrade Baby Doll, as long as they can winkle their way into the genuine mass movement in order to dictate the pace and carve a spot out for themselves – right, Comrade Sweetcheeks? – and even if if means fcuking with the sovereign will of the people themselves; and for some of them, that IS their mission on behalf of their imperialist bosses. Their raison d’etre – that is, to fcuk it rightly and righteously up, n’est ce pas, Kamerad Bam Pot?

    They are, in effect, Trojan Horses. A motley crew of opportunistic narcissists looking for the main chance to mainline on power and stroke their inflated egos plus some fellow traveler paid agents of the imperialist state in the mix seeking to sow division, confusion, and mayhem – bloody if necessary – as history copiously teaches us with regard to the British state’s track record even unto these isles over the centuries.

    Such a parcel of rogues, in short.

    This all vented, it will be, as you say, the sovereign people of Scotland who will ultimately claim the day aided and assisted by the SNP and the broader YES movement because they seek to sincerely serve their fellow citizens and help give genuine voice to their hopes and dreams.

    It most assuredly will not be these pricks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sorry, but I basically disagree. As far as I’m concerned there are three kinds of people those who will vote yes, those who have not made up their mind, and those who are going to vote No no matter what the offer is.
    By quoting the American Declaration of Independence you are merely appealing to those who also hold these truths self evident that Scotland Can, Scotland must and Scotland will be independent. I don’t disagree with that.
    However get outside the bubble of those of us who are what I will call true believers, and it is very different. There those whose minds have to be changed. Yes it is bad that we have to have a Dutch auction on the financial rewards of an Independent Scotland, but unfortunately they are among the people whom we have to persuade.
    As a party the SNP has failed – and yes I’m a party member – in using the people who joined the party in anger and with high hopes after the Referendum. I remember party meeting which were standing room only, but quickly the old guard got rid of them by burying them in the minutia of politics. The meetings are back to where they were.
    There were few in the organisation who had the vision and the energy to get things going. I took on CA responsibilities, but gave them up after a year because nothing was going to happen. That was why I was so keen on Tommy as Deputy leader.
    Scotland is not at the moment Independent. It will only become through by the democratic action of the Scottish people. For them to do this they will need to be informed, educated and lead so that when the next Referendum happens a majority will vote Yes.
    It is fine to talk about the Sovereign people of Scotland. A lot of the bastards voted Tory last election. People quote the leaders of the past. Ultimately they were failures. Of course they may have laid the structure, or given people dreams to dream, but they failed. The revolution never happened, the Neoliberals at the minute are winning. People are only concerned about their own and your youth lack a feeling of self worth.
    Of course we don’t like what Hassan is saying. He is reminding us that at times the Emperor was no clothes, and at the same time he is telling the Emperor to remember that they are dust. Yes, Scotland has the potential to be independent but not all the twaddle, about inalienable rights means a thing, when these rights are still out of our reach because of the position of our country people. Hassan merry is nasty enough to tell us as it is.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This response is more considered and generous than Gerry Hassan deserves. He’s been dishing up the same thin gruel for years now and many, meself included, have long since bolted at the slightest whiff. If Gerry wants to find out how much appetite there is for his concoctions he might want to organise a conference where he could share the stage with fellow vacillators (such as McLeish) and see what kind of turnout he gets.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. >In one election after another we demonstrate that we are not the same as England.

    This simply isn’t true. In the referendum “we” voted that we were more like the UK (which happens to include the Welsh and Northern Irish, as well as the English). In the General Election, “we” voted for Tories. Polls, for what they are worth, on immigration and other issues show that attitudes to most issues are broadly similar across the UK. And why wouldn’t they be?

    You can invoke the Declaration of Independence all you like, but the ties that bind Scotland to the rest of the UK are far stronger that those at the time The Founders wrote that document. It’s just hyperbole to suggest that we are living under a remote, oppressive king, and oppressive taxation (if anything, the opposite is true).

    Most Scots are perfectly happy to be part of the UK. They believe they get more benefits than going alone. Economic, cultural, political. You can disagree with that, but it’s a losing proposition. You can try to make it appear as though we are different, somehow more exceptional, but it’s self defeating. People are tired of the drama.

    The independence movement is bust, because it simply cannot, even under the best circumstances, achieve its goal. Inevitably, voters will drift back to Labour or the Tories, where the quest for independence doesn’t get in the way of governance.

    Like

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