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By Jason Michael
THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT in Scotland is a diverse movement. It incorporates all those people and ideas in favour of ending our country’s union with England and making it an independent state. There are nationalists, socialists, and those who describe themselves as “small ‘c’ conservatives,” all working together for independence – and, in the main, this is a good thing. Where it is possible we must build alliances with those who seek the same goal, but sometimes this is not possible – some groups and the ideas they spread are simply beyond the pale. Some ideas and ideologies are simply so dangerous to people, society, and democracy that keeping them excluded is of more importance than the political end we hope to achieve.
On Saturday a small number of people belonging to the far-right Scottish nationalist group Siol nan Gaidheal attended the annual Bannockburn memorial rally, causing uproar by walking for a brief time with a banner reading “Tory Scum Out.” Almost all of the discussion of this on social media has focused on the use of the word “scum” to describe Conservatives. But this furore, surely, has missed the more important problem; that this group was allowed to attend the march at all. Personally, I am not in favour of calling people “scum,” but, while I can appreciate others’ concerns that this was a family friendly event, there are few better ways to describe people who support a Tory class war that has violated the human rights of the disabled, reduced the poor to actual starvation, and has given us something as repugnant as the rape clause.
So yesterday I - & many other people - tweeted about Siol Nan Gaidheal turning up at a pro-Yes march expressing unh… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Mhairi Hunter (@MhairiHunter) June 25, 2018
Dangerous political parties and groups are not dangerous on account of the slogans they plaster over posters and banners. We can often agree with some of their slogans and beliefs. Adolf Hitler was a dog lover. This gives many of us something in common with him, but just because we have this or a number of things in common doesn’t mean that we support what he and his party stood for. These groups are dangerous – very dangerous – because of their ideologies and pernicious ideas.
While many independence supporters self-identify politically as nationalists, we must recognise that there are many forms of nationalism, and some of them are so toxic – so racist and fascistic – that we must stand against them with every bit as much energy as we stand against unionism and loyalism. In the case of Siol nan Gaidheal we are talking about ethno- or “blood and soil” nationalism, the very form of nationalism that underpinned the genocide of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Nakba, and littered the Balkans with mass graves. Allowing this poisonous ideology to share platforms and marches with us, to take root in our movement, will result in its spread and the creation of an ugly movement which good people cannot support.
Was just reading the Siol nan Gaidheal website. Bunch of feckin' alt-right wannabe loopers hiding their vile blood… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) June 24, 2018
Siol nan Gaidheal is a smart operator. Like all true ideological racism has done until recently, it obfuscates itself behind carefully worded language replete with coded references for the initiated and dog whistles for the like-minded. A careful reading of its website leaves the reader under no illusions – this is a true, dyed in the wool, hate group. Let us consider how this group defines its nationalism:
The Nationalist recognises the obvious yet very often occulted fact that to defend the unique and the particular is to strengthen the universal. Conversely the sniping and terminally tiresome voices of globalism and consumerist “multiculturalism” are the sirens of uniformity and abject submission to the mindless and rootless market.
It sees multiculturalism – the civil and peaceful coexistence of people from many cultural and racial backgrounds – as the great enemy of what it perceives to be the unique; its imagined ethnically and racially pure Scotland. Note too that the author has felt the need to put multiculturalism in quotation marks. Why? There’s nothing new about this term, requiring it to be emphasised. The author isn’t quoting someone else. These quotation marks do not need to be here unless the author is trying to do something else. “Multiculturalism,” as a word, has become a rallying call for the far-right all across Europe. This author is quite deliberately putting up a flag.
Every bit as important is the note of fear the author hopes to strike. The purpose of globalism – another far-right flag – and multiculturalism, according to the author, is to reduce us to “abject submission.” This is exactly the same as the “international Jewish conspiracy” rhetoric of the Nazis before and during the Holocaust. If you doubt this, just replace “international” with “globalism” and “Jewish” with “multiculturalism” – foreigners from around the world are conspiring to destroy our ethnic and racial uniqueness. In the same paragraph the definition continues:
Diversity is non-negotiable to the Nationalist, it is the defining constant of our humanity as individuals, as societies and as a species. There can be no tolerance afforded to those who would bulldoze the myriad ethno-national phenotypes and practices of our kaleidoscopic world into the amorphous and terrifyingly inhuman hell of McWorldmart.com.
“Diversity,” surely this is a good thing? Multiculturalism is all about diversity. But this is not what is actually being said. For Siol nan Gaidheal diversity is about the “kaleidoscopic world” where every race and ethnic group has its little patch of the world. Black people, Jews, Gypsies, “the English” are alright, this says, so long as they get back to where they came from – and stay there. Most worrying of all, this author says exactly what Hitler said of Nazism in Mein Kampf:
The future of [this] movement is determined by the devotion, and even intolerance, with which its members fight for their cause. They must feel convinced that their cause alone is just, and they must carry it through to success.
Many reading this piece will no doubt be concerned that intolerance of Siol nan Gaidheal is itself intolerance, and the last thing we want to be is intolerant. We are an “inclusive” movement after all. But this paradox has been dealt with before, by the Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper. After the horrors of the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazism in Europe Popper reasoned – rightly – that it is not intolerance to refuse to tolerate the intolerant. When Hitler said that intolerance was part of the Nazi movement he meant it, and when he came to power he showed he meant it by shutting dissenters – people like you and me – up in concentration camps. Soon after he came to power his intolerance meant that our intolerance was silenced in dismal places like Dachau. History has taught us in the cruellest way imaginable that we have to take such threats seriously. Those who advance the vicious ideas of racial and ethnic purity and intolerance of dissent – no matter their views on Scottish independence – must be cast out of our movement.
As individuals and as a movement we have a duty to speak up about this. We have a responsibility and a moral obligation to demand that the organisers of pro-independence marches and rallies tell Siol nan Gaidheal and other racist and ethno-nationalist groups that they are not welcome to participate. If the organisers do not do this then we are obliged not to attend. If these groups come along after being told not to attend then we have to distance ourselves from them and remind them that they have no place in our movement and no place in the Scotland we want to build. This is our movement and no one will be responsible for it but us.
How did Hitler rise to power?