Regular readers of the Random Public Journal will no doubt be aware of the personal crisis I have experienced in the aftermath of the last election. My desire to see the creation of a supermajority for independence in Holyrood was crushed. Once again the movement lapped up the honeyed promises of the SNP, and once again the SNP stopped talking about independence as soon as the election was over. This and the endless vitriol from gender critical activists online have driven me into a pit of despair.
On 18 September this year, the seventh anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum, a staggering thirty-four unionist-loyalist Orange Order parades will take place in just one city — Glasgow; one of two Scottish cities that backed independence in 2014. This of course is no coincidence. The Orange Order, in typical fashion — and with the consent of Glasgow City Council, intends to put on a triumphalist show of force to celebrate the victory of Britishness over Scottish independence and remind independence supporters of their place in the union.
Political internment is an instrument the British government has deployed against pro-independence and anti-imperialist activists since the mid-eighteenth century. In all of Britain’s former colonial and imperial possessions internment marks the transition between the two stages of state violence; between the official delegitimisation of anti-British aggitation and state-sanctioned murder and violent repression. Internment is the first sure indication the British state is losing the battle for hearts and minds, and it has long since lost that battle in Scotland.
This is how loyalism in Britain works. It does not need you to love it, want it, care for it. The super-rich British establishment has all the power because it has all the money. Democracy has no control over it because it controls democracy; it owns or has massive influence over the media instruments which ‘inform’ democracy, and so can rest assured nothing will change that it doesn’t want to change. And when it wins, as it always will, it will rub its triumph in your face. It doesn’t need you to like it. All that is required of you is that you know your place.
National belonging is not in fact native to the human condition. Nationalism is a psycho-political development with which both Wallace and Bruce were unfamiliar. When we ask how these heroes of our ancient past would react to Scotland today, we may have to prepare ourselves for the worst. Neither William Wallace nor Robert the Bruce would recognise their Scotland in our Scotland. They would not understand our language, that peasants elect other peasants to government — our democracy — would confuse them, and that we abandoned the Church of Rome...
Its quixotic readiness to go on crusade against every perceived wrong, hampered at every turn by its lack of maturity and inability to systematically think through some of the most basic tenets of civilisation — the presumption of innocence, for example — has turned it into a mob and created an environment in which unaccomplished yet entitled youths are readily masking their personal failures and inadequacies behind complex webs of manufactured and appropriated grievances.
This theatre of the culture war is global, but in Scotland it poses a unique and particular problem within the political discourse of the independence movement. As an internal dialectic of radical feminism, the opposing factions of the debate — the conversation in toto — constitutes, albeit fractured, a discourse or a Weltanschauung of its own; the worldview of modern radical feminism. This conversation, however, is happening largely within one constituent element of the Scottish independence movement (which is in itself a discrete Weltanschauung).
But there are other ways to communicate. As a Christian of the Catholic tradition, I have serious reservations about the more radical aspects of Gender Theory. I do not, for example, believe that sex and gender are fluid, and — if we must define the human person in narrow and reductionist biological terms (we are more than the sum of our bits) — I struggle with the claim that ‘trans women are real women.’ But trans women and men are real people.