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By Jason Michael

Ending London rule is not simply a matter of gaining independence as a national political goal. It is about ending a systematic programme of hunger and impoverishment.

That there are now more than four million people – that’s 80 per cent of the population of Scotland – over the whole of the United Kingdom – that’s 6 per cent of the UK – relying on foodbanks for the simplest necessities of life informs us, and in no uncertain terms, that our society is fast approaching a crisis of catastrophic proportions. In the past ten years we know that in England and Wales alone over 120,000 people have died as a direct consequence of Westminster’s programme of austerity – with cuts to welfare spending, sanctions, and bogus medicals conducted by private contractors contributing to a spike in incidences of malnutrition, disease, and a suicide epidemic.

Personal accounts of unemployed and underemployed people, the disabled, and the elderly who have found themselves on the receiving end of this British government policy make for sobering reading. Analysis of this austerity regime by academics like Guy Standing leaves us in no doubt that this is a thoroughly calculated policy designed to simultaneously accelerate the transfer of wealth from the bottom of society to the top and comprehensively crush any prospect of resistance.

In England – the only democracy that matters in the UK – there exists no real opposition to austerity; no viable democratic means of stemming the tide of Tory-led class war. The Brexit-supporting English electorate is being led by the nose by a media-fuelled narrative of racism and xenophobia, a narrative that obfuscates the impact of austerity on people’s lives behind a fictive need for security and control – a profoundly fascistic narrative. At Westminster the people of Scotland, Wales, and the north of Ireland – who are represented by a mere 18 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons – are completely at the mercy of England and the will of the English people.

Without Home Rule or independence Scotland has reached the absolute limit of what it can achieve; of what it can do to protect itself, at Westminster. We find ourselves at a point where more radical and more militant measures have become necessary, and we are rapidly approaching a point beyond which resistance will no longer be possible. Hungry people and people preoccupied with the task of finding sustenance for their families do not make effective rebels. Austerity is coming for us all, and sooner or later the vast majority of Scottish people will feel the hunger pains of this policy in their stomachs. The time to resist is upon us.

Every human being has the inalienable human right to food, adequate housing, and dignity, and when these basics are denied by the state or any other body every human being has a duty to fight for those rights – and to use physical force if necessary in that fight. Our rights – our liberation from austerity – will not, as Paulo Freire says, be gained by chance, “but through the praxis of [our] quest for it, through [our] recognition of the necessity to fight for it.” And of the need to fight he adds:

This fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence, lovelessness even when clothed in false generosity.
– Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Chapter One)

Keeping people in a state of hunger and in continual fear of sanctions in the pursuit of its neoliberal political agenda is Westminster’s lovelessness. It constitutes a real act of violence, and as a political weapon it is an act of oppression – even in this so-called democracy. Fighting to end this, by whatever means it requires, is an act of love precisely because it reaffirms our humanity in the face of those who are dehumanising us and because it re-humanises our oppressors who have made beasts of themselves in their violence, oppression, and lovelessness.

What am I suggesting? Well, it is clear that if those four million people at the foodbanks took up arms against the state, the state would struggle to survive for more than a week. But I am not suggesting an armed revolt – not yet anyway. “Radical,” as I have said countless times before, is a term that has been co-opted by temporary socialists; middle class “creatives,” gentrifiers, and the more comfortable sections of the precariat. Such radicals are fair weather friends, best dispensed with now. They’re not suited to barricades. Militancy is what’s needed.

Feeding people is of course our number one priority. At a time like this feeding people is in itself an act of rebellion, but the foodbank must be militant – it cannot and must not feed people on a charitable and apolitical basis. It must not simply feed the hungry, but ask why they are hungry. Such a militant movement must use the soup kitchen and the foodbank as the mess halls of a revolution.

Action must be taken, insofar as it does not disrupt what little money and food people are given, against the instruments of the British state, against the machinery of austerity. Buildings and offices used for the purposes of administration and work capability assessments can be occupied for days and weeks at a time. What would it take to enter and occupy the Scotland Office? Really, what would be their response – to call in the Black and Tans? Our demand is reasonable: Let people live. It would fall on the British then to be reasonable in return; if they want to up the stakes then we can reply in kind, making new decisions and varying the level and intensity of our militancy accordingly.

We mustn’t forget here that a militant process isn’t about violence. It is a response to violence, and it has become necessary in order to save lives. If London wants to continue to govern Scotland then we must send London a clear message: That we refuse to be treated like garbage, that we refuse to see one more Scot go hungry, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to make this murderous British establishment understand that we have had enough of London rule.

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Yanis Varoufakis explains austerity in under 8 minutes


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