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By Jason Michael
NIETZSCHE NEVER FAILS to unnerve his readers. His nihilistic philosophy of the human condition and the will to power do not make for easy reading. “Uncle Friedrich,” said my Ethics professor, “spells out for us what drives us when we are unencumbered by the gods.” Man, as the final arbiter of his own morality is a monster. He is capable of anything; no achievement and no depth of depravity is beyond him. This was precisely what Dostoyevsky meant in The Brothers Karamazov when he wrote: “Without God, without an afterlife, in the end, it will be that everything is allowed, anything can be done?” In Beyond Good and Evil (1886) Nietzsche writes of the soul gazing into the darkness and the darkness looking back – not the most pleasant thought for anyone afraid of the dark, but his point is simple; the abyss of the human imagination is not a passive force. It is always active, at the deepest parts of our individual psyches and throughout history, in pursuit of its ambitions.
Human darkness, the worst demons of our nature – our conscienceless and insatiable will to power is an intelligent and active agent. Nietzsche and Franz Kafka were prescient enough to perceive what was coming later the twentieth century. They read adroitly the trajectory of European politics and foresaw its descent down into the depths of authoritarianism and totalitarian brutality and state-sanctioned murder and genocide. What they saw was the nature of power in the modern bureaucratic state; how it acts to obfuscate itself in the Byzantine curia of the civil service and how it recoils from no level of violence and savagery in its self-preservation. Its highest moral good is its own survival.
Nicola Sturgeon’s assistant, Mhairi Hunter, and Mike Small, the blogger behind the Bella Caledonia website, think me a dolt. Personally, I don’t blame them. I’m usually the first to question my own intelligence. Both have displayed a remarkable ability to sneer at activists in the independence movement who have suggested that the darkness of the British state is watching us, that we – as a movement – are being targeted for surveillance and nefarious interference by Britain’s clandestine services. Long before I was aware of the British Army’s 77th Brigade and the role it plays online to infiltrate and subvert public discourse and political dissent, I rightly assumed this was exactly what the secret services were doing. My presumption was that we had to assume this. After all, their priority is to protect the cohesion and integrity of the British state. As independentistas, our object is the dismantling of the British state. Of course, I assumed, British intelligence is over us like a rash.
Yet, for thinking this and for having the audacity to share this assumption publicly, cosy centrists like Hunter and Small have written us off as tinfoil hat wearing, bampot conspiracy theorists. In fact, anyone who has aired their “paranoid” suspicions regarding state interference in the independence movement has been gaslighted; we’ve been forced to question our own sanity and rationality in the face of those – even inside the movement – who consider themselves the enlightened moral guardians and sensible heads. The very thought of secret government agents messing with our heads on social media screams to them of delusional paranoia.
At first, when the penny dropped for Mhairi Hunter the other day that this is what’s going on, we conspiracists felt vindicated. “We told you so,” we said. But then a profound depression set in. It dawned on me – and no doubt a few others – that we are being led to independence by a political party the leadership of which may be entirely innocent of the strategies and tactics of the regime it hopes to dismantle. The SNP, as we all like to say, is the vehicle that will get us to independence, but if Mhairi Hunter’s opinion of lunatics like me is representative of the party hierarchy – then this is a vehicle with a designated driver without a driving licence. It doesn’t even appear to know the rules of the road to independence, a route that leads us to conflict with the British state. Whichever way we look at it, this is a most depressing thought.
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are being spied on by the state. When Jim Sillars said in mid-2014 he was aware of the arrival in Glasgow of British Army intelligence officers from London, we had every reason to trust him. Even if he was lying it would have been the truth regardless; if military intelligence wasn’t watching us and actively working to undermine our campaign, it wouldn’t be doing its job. That is the job of the secret services. The United Kingdom was the first modern state to set up a police Special Branch – in 1883 – with the express purpose of keeping close tabs on domestic threats to the security of the realm. We know from government records from the time that John Mclean, the Scottish socialist and independence supporter, was under state secret police surveillance from 1914 until his death in 1923. In 2010 a former Strathclyde Police officer, Donald Morrison, alleged that the lawyer, SNP activist, and anti-nuclear campaigner, Willie McRae, was the subject of Special Branch and MI5 surveillance, and said he was willing to sign an affidavit saying they were involved in his murder.
Since 2012, the Scottish National Party and the independence movement have come closer to defeating the British state than either Mclean or McRae ever did. Are we to imagine, then, that the British state has somehow changed tack, that it has decided to cut us some slack – that it is not surveilling and manipulating us?! Give me a break!
Technology and techniques have changed quite a bit since Special Branch was tailing Mclean and since MI5 was lurking in the shadows around McRae. With the use of data harvesting and metadata analysis, there is almost no limit to what the British state has access to, and we know it is interested in the activities of SNP politicians and independence movement activists. During the negotiations leading to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, it is well known MI5 bugged and wire-tapped the Belfast and Westminster offices of Sinn Féin. Between 1970 and 2007 British “police” were undercover inside the Socialist Workers Party. Environmentalist groups, anti-racism groups, and alternative political collectives of every hue have been under constant surveillance since the 1960s. Really, how politically inept does one have to be to imagine this has not been happening to “separatist” parties?
Even though the penny has dropped for Mairi Hunter, she still thinks this is not a problem. “They are wasting their time,” she says, “because one thing I can say for sure is that the SNP is impeccably democratic and law abiding so there is nothing much to find out by spying on us.” The assumption here is that these spies are instruments of justice, that they are the good guys out looking for the naughty behaviour of others. Something tells me that Mhairi still doesn’t get it. Special Branch and MI5 couldn’t care less how the SNP is governed – it’s not like the UK is particularly democratic. They don’t care about the law – these are instruments of the state with the ability to commit extrajudicial murder. The involvement of the secret service has nothing to do with keeping their targets good. Their sole interest is the defence of the realm, and they will execute this directive in exactly the way envisioned by Nietzsche and Kafka – efficiently and without a single moral scruple. They exist to protect the state, and they will do their job irrespective of the law, any sense of fair play or decency, and without a thought for who gets in their way.
Whether it’s the psych-ops developed, tried, and tested against the civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan of the 77th Brigade, or the blunter instruments of Special Branch and MI5, we must not be naïve – these are the dogs of the state. Their interactions with us are intended to distract, distort, and derail us and our discussions and arguments. They are in our midst to discredit us, delegitimise us, and destroy us – up to and including killing us if we become to much of a threat to the state. It is not merely a case of them looking for illegal behaviour. If push comes to shove, they will invent illegalities and provide the evidence. Power does what power does, and it is high time everyone in the respectable towers of the SNP was accurately informed of the nature of this beast.
15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group
17 thoughts on “Dangerously Naïve”
My mind went in to overdrive when I saw the Mhairi Hunter post. That visceral sensation of my mind instantly rewinding and plugging that level of political naivety in to so many past moments that at the time I assumed where just SNP missteps.
Sadly, it feels like you pulled your punches in this piece. This is a shame, this needed to be hard hitting: not just to warn of systemic dangers; but also because this moment is needed for support of those who have been belittled speaking up (I am particularly cognisant of the power imbalance between this cohort and members of the public they speak against)
I would encourage you to heed your own advice regarding the fight ahead. Unless you have erred – do not fall into self-deprecation because others are uncomfortable with your arguments. We should not be embarrassed about adhering to reason and open debate….and why should you accept their framing that you are at fault. Sure call attention to the disagreement or the forthright way you argue….but from the time I started following your writing, you have been nothing but logical and principled. Do not give them a free punch…even if you do it yourself.
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Thank you, Tom. I will take that advice on board. Many thanks.
Whilst I think that reliance on any god for your morality is questionable, especially the sycophantic ones that have come out of the Middle East.
I find it alarming and yet again confirming my suspicions that the SNP have never had their fingers on any pulse.
They were playing Westminster’s game in 2014 (and WM will always win that) and if it had not been for the wider Indy movement it would’ve been the landslide the state predicted.
It would seem no lessons have been learnt by the SNP and they’re still desperate to play London at it’s own game.
……within the SNP “office holders there is still the belief that postal voting was not influenced by the likes of what you are talking about, even after studies showing figures of 96% participation in Argyll and Bute. They still don’t get it. What to do?
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Absolutely spot on and if the SNP are actively discounting this then I would be looking at the discounters within the higher echelons of the SNP to see where their allegiance lies
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I saw a cartoon recently with caption that if it was a football match, all the SNP team would be in England defending England’s goals. I feel almost in despair that the SNP leadership thinks that if they wait to move for independence until after Brexit, the English government of the UK will play fair.
A petition if being prepared for the Scottish Parliament on their website for that Parliament to revoke the Treaty and the Act of Union. It’s not yet active. It will be advertised when it is active. Everyone in Scotland is urged to sign it.
Hunter and Small are 77 Brigade. They might not know it, but they are.
Let their action itself skewer them…all that inferring motive does is give them an out.
Its Mhairi Hunter’s post itself that is the most revealing (not any of the responses). I think it is one of the biggest self inflicted wounds for the SNP in recent years.
YES really needs to stop inferring motive behind people’s actions. Positive or negative. It rarely helps your cause. I have noticed YES too often jumping to assume the better of others because the other option is so dark its hard to comprehend. JUST STOP…YES has enough to do with out letting them off the hook – Now its time to just start banking the gift of others give you when they reveal their own flaws.
I have always known that Small and Mhairi Hunter were individuals who were more destructive to the Independence Movement because of their snotty disregard for the grassroots activists who are by far the biggest movement for Independence they know absolutely zero of these groups like the 77th Brigade never mind MChonnaie’s groups with UKIP and EDL members in Scotland Hunter and Small live in a ”perfect World”
There are units of secret intelligence, which utilise Scottish officers, posing as and acting like, independence campaigners.
There are unmarked vehicles monitor g Facebook livestreams and interfering with them.
There are UK placement and women in positions of high authority, throughout the civil services and local authorities.
Their job is to subvert, disrupt, delay and attempt to thwart, any parades, demos or other large scale public events which espouse ending the union.
Good stuff; I have to agree.
From almost three years ago: https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/8584/exclusive-edward-snowden-leaks-reveal-secret-scottish-spy-system
All the best.
Excellent piece. Nice to see Nietzsche referred to in political analysis.
Reblogged this on It's shite being Scottish and commented:
Adding a bit of hard reality to the politics of our times.
I have never been in any doubt that the British State is capable of any act that will ensure its preservation. Now is the time to hold this in mind, to remember that the road to independence is not about asking permission to hold another referendum, that democracy is a complex game we play to pretend power is benevolent.
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Gobsmacked that the SNP, indeed anybody, could be so naive that they don’t think there are being monitored and infiltrated. Ever heard of Echelon, this is the cooperation on electronic eavesdropping by the 5 eyes network of US Canada UK Australia and New Zealand which records every electronic communication from every country on the planet. This should be common knowledge.
I’ve said elsewhere (in response to one of your previous musings on being detained in Stranraer, I think), that before my family’s troubles in 2016, I had entered the UK seven or eight times, and each time breezed through immigration without breaking stride.
Then 2016 happened. I’ve always been outspoken about Scottish independence, but since the media spotlight, people have been polite enough to listen. I’ve also left the UK precisely three times since – twice when invited to speak in The Hague, and once to visit a sick family member. On return to the UK, I’ve been detained every time.
Every. Single. Time.
Draw your own conclusions.
As you say Jason, it’s depressing. I was aware that the SNP seemed to want to be seen to be the “nice” guys. I never thought that they were that naive to believe that the other side would always play nice in response. It’s the real world – it doesn’t work like that. I can’t believe that anyone didn’t realise the 77th Brigade were real or that the British state is capable and guilty of dirty deeds. Will it change them? I doubt it – and that’s the really depressing thing. They will keep gripping their bananas while the other side get out the machetes. No wonder people are begining to lose faith in them.
Well said Jason, and thank you