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By Jason Michael

NICOLA STURGEON IS CORRECT when she says that Scotland is moving to the inevitable goal of independence. Aside from the active social and political campaign for Scottish independence, Scotland and England are diverging. These two nations have, as we have seen over the past five decades of what passes in the United Kingdom for parliamentary democracy, very different sets of attitudes, priorities, and outlooks, and – as Professor Tom Devine has rightly acknowledged – the current constitutional arrangement no longer benefits Scotland. Some, like myself, would go further and state that Westminster with its inbuilt arithmetic of domination has never benefited Scotland. But, historically speaking, the trajectory is clear; Scotland is moving towards independence.

Natural social and political conservativism, however, dictates the slow pace of such concrete political change, meaning that, left to its own devices, the inevitable will be the result of a prolonged process – possibly even taking decades to be fully realised. Immediately, those of us in the active campaign must ask ourselves if we are prepared to allow nature to take its course. We campaign for national autonomy not for independence alone, so as to continue as things are and in so doing replicate Westminster in miniature in a free Scotland, but to make a better Scotland. This want for better is our hunger for a fairer and more equitable society, the achievement of which – in light of the suffering caused by British policy in Scotland – is a political concern, and one in which we simply do not have time to waste. People are suffering, people are hungry now.

Making Scotland better, then, must be a task for the immediate present – for right now. Therefore, we cannot simply sit back, in good conscience, and wait for history to play out. We must act so as to accelerate the processes moving us towards independence, and this is done by activism and agitation. Activism is what we are already doing. This is our active and visible participation in the independence movement and our public show of support for the cause. This is something we do for ourselves. Agitation is quite different. This is something we take to our opponents.

An article published in the US journal Revolution in 1978 explains:

Agitation, whether spoken or written, generally focuses on one event, and one contradiction, and seeks to make a single idea powerfully clear to broad numbers of people. It is like a sharp knife seeking to expose and make raw a glaring contradiction and draw blood around it.

Our “event” is present reality – the current constitutional arrangement between Scotland and England, and the “contradiction” is created by the argument for the unionist status quo; that we are Better Together. Clearly, we are not better together. Had that be the case there would be no logical need to make Scotland better by breaking its political bonds to England. The evidence shows that this union benefits England to the harm of Scotland and Scottish people. Scotland’s natural resources are plundered by the British state while Scotland and its interests are side-lined and its people impoverished and held in check by political under-representation. By engaging in agitation we are applying the sharp knife and exposing to broad numbers of Scottish people the facts of this contradiction, and in so doing we are allowing them to come to the conclusion that independence is better.

How do we agitate our opponents? Agitation can be violent and it can be peaceful. But we must forget violence. Our struggle is against bad ideas and bad politics. It is against the bad politics and economics of domination. It is not against bad people. There are no bad people. Sure, there are people who do bad things – people like those who administer the bad politics and economics of our nation’s subjugation to England. But we must remember always that the purest victory is that which defeats a bad idea. People who are prepared to do bad things for financial and career gain will always be with us. Yet, the paradox remains; violence against those who dehumanise us itself dehumanises us – making us the monsters we wish to slay. Rather, our agitation should begin and end in peaceful action, thus exposing, for all to see, the monsters for the brutes they are.

Agitation is the self-affirmation of our political will in such a way that it forces those who impose the contradiction to show themselves fully. There is no shortage of examples, but let us focus on one: The Faslane nuclear-submarine base. Our event is of course the union which compels us to be the dumping ground of these diabolical weapons of mass destruction and murder. The contradiction is that this is foisted upon us – a people who are a peaceful people and a people who have time and again said in no uncertain terms that we do not want this nightmare in our country – in the name of union and better-togetherness. We show our political will by making it impossible for the British state to base these weapons in Scotland without it fully demonstrating that they are based here by forceful compulsion. We can achieve this – easily – by marching thousands of anti-nuclear activists and independence supporters to the base and utterly surrounding it, refusing to allow anything to move in or out of the base without the use of police and military force.

One single baton blow, one single arrest, one single trial will be enough to show that the presence of this base in Scotland – a mere 30 miles from a major population centre – has nothing whatsoever to do with consent. It will be made perfectly clear to everyone in Scotland that this is neither good for us nor here because we are better together. After a single baton blow or arrest there will be no denying that this base is here because it is better for England that it is here – and that it is to our detriment and harm. The first baton blow or the first arrest will galvanise the national popular resistance to it and increase numbers and support. The more force the British state uses, the more it will be shown for what it truly is – a force of oppression and domination. At every stage and after every new development the demonstration must remain peaceful, thus highlighting the more the viciousness and monstrousness of the British state in Scotland.

This is one example. There are plenty of others. There is almost no end to the list of peaceful methods to agitate the British state in Scotland, and the beauty of such popular agitation is that it boosts the morale of the movement and forces the oppressor to make mistakes. Each mistake costs the regime in terms of support and increases the protest in terms of numbers and solidarity. Agitation is the next phase of activism, and it is time the independence movement began agitating.

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Rear Window – Anti-Nuclear Protests


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