Independence First

By Jason Michael

Independence has to come first. The rights of marginalised people and groups are vastly important, but we can never forget that none of our rights will be safe while we remain under the control of Westminster.

Let me begin by saying I haven’t the foggiest notion what people mean when they tell me they are members of the “radical left.” The last time I had a discussion about this radical left was with an enthusiastic young PhD student who introduced himself as being “on the hard left,” and he did this while tucking into a bowl of marinated garlic and chilli stuffed black olives on a bed of kale and quinoa. He lived in a rented room in an up-and-coming gentrified area of town where landlords were busy evicting lower-income tenants on the pretext of “extensive repairs,” allowing them to double the rent. His local, which served only craft beer from its basement micro-brewery, was “established in 1901” while somehow only having been in operation for six months.

This guy, who looked confused every time I corrected him with “people” when he referred to “units of labour,” had adopted an entire set of acceptable positions on the rights of marginalised social identities. “Struggle was all about challenging the hegemony of the cis-gendered misogynistic and transphobic ruling class,” he told me before asking if I had ever heard of baklava. Revolution was about achieving the maximum amount of freedom for all, he’d say, then complain about the “lumpen” kids from the flats who called him gay for drinking beer from a wine glass on a sun lounger at the front door of his house. This was his hard left. “Is that right, aye?” I asked.

On Saturday night I was chatting online with Jordan Daly, the Huffington Post and Common Space contributor who wrote the piece on sending Wings packing, about the importance of keeping the independence movement together. What I said to him was that, for the Yes movement, independence must take priority “above all other social and political concerns.” He took issue with this: “Ok,” he replied, “I’m for Indy but not ‘above all other social concerns,’ esp[ecially] as a gay man.”

We were right back at those acceptable positions on the rights of marginalised identities – what has come to be known on the “new left” as identity politics. These positions have become so important to the radical/hard/new left that it now makes perfect sense for pro-independence identitarians, in the broader context of the independence campaign, to side with unionist politicians when they deploy this politics of identity as a weapon against other pro-independence activists. This, it almost goes without saying, is the very epitome of counterproductive.

Of course the rights of marginalised people and groups are important. The defence and the furtherance of those rights is not the exclusive preserve of Scotland’s unionists. Everyone has an obligation to defend the rights and protect the dignity and worth of his or her neighbour. That much is a given – or, at least, it should be. But my problem with the ideological package – those acceptable positions – of the new left is that it is replete with internal contradictions.

My PhD student friend will soapbox until the cows come home on the need for social and worker solidarity, but he’ll happily fuel the mechanisms that aggravate the structural causes of poverty by supporting the class war project of gentrification in the neighbourhood in which he has become a “coloniser.” Likewise, no doubt well intentioned people like Jordan Daly go to a default identitarian setting when it becomes relevant – even when that relevance is little more than political capital being used cynically against comrades in the Yes movement. It has become an ideological package that trumps even the principle objective of “the struggle” – be that the fight against the systems of capitalism and state neoliberalism or the campaign for Scottish independence.

Such thinking lacks the reflection of classical socialism. It becomes incapable of revolutionary praxis. Battling on the platform of identity rights to the harm of the wider independence movement, following the schemes of unionist strategists, is ultimately destructive because Britain will never safeguard anyone’s rights. Our struggle is against a Westminster establishment that is still up to its neck in political assassinations, foreign interventions for the purposes of bringing about regime changes useful to itself, and wholesale murder and human rights violations.

Britain is about money and power over the needs and rights of ordinary people. It has implemented an austerity regime explicitly designed to impoverish and kill the most marginalised and vulnerable people in these nations. How will becoming an unwitting instrument of Great Britain against the independence cause benefit Jordan Daly, “as a gay man?” It won’t.

When we say that independence has to come before all other social and political concerns, it is not being suggested that we simply ignore these other concerns. That too would be stupid. Neither is this a matter of “nation over individual.” That too is both stupid and dangerous. What we are saying in this – and this is important – is that no one’s rights will be safe, protected, or furthered so long as we remain in the United Kingdom. Hands up if you’ve heard of Brexit and the replacement of the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s all on the way.

All our noble leftist and identitarian ideas of rights are dead without independence. Separation from Britain therefore is the prerequisite for a fairer, more just and equitable society that we ourselves will shape. As I see it, as old-school socialism argues, there is a hierarchy of rights. At the top of ours is independence. All other social and political concerns – while never ignored – are secondary and auxiliary to this end. If we are weakening the struggle for independence by our squabbles over rights and ideas that can never be safe under London rule we are simply rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship.


The Religion of Identity Politics

032 001


Is this the End of Intelligent Debate?

By Jason Michael

Right wing neoconservatives like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos might annoy and frustrate us, but this doesn’t mean that they are always wrong. If we are prepared to listen to what they are saying we may get to see what we’re doing wrong.

It is no understatement to say that left politics are in crisis, not only in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but globally. Trade union membership is decreasing year on year, the parliamentary Labour Party is in complete disarray – in Scotland because it has effectively become a proxy for the right – and in culture more generally the left has come to be associated with the most puerile and whining identity politicking of ‘social justice warrior’ snowflakes. In the event that this short article causes any confusion let me make it clear to the reader that I deplore the arguments of the right and those of its recent ‘alt-right’ manifestation. I am both disgusted and frightened by the opinions of its leading protagonists, the likes of Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro, and Info War’s psychotic mouthpiece Alex Jones. Yet a broken clock is still right twice a day, and their perfect foil in the lunatic left is having the undeniable effect of making them sound like the voice of reason.

screenshot_2016-12-18-22-12-41-1 | Answering the questions to which the left has become deaf?

We stand back in dumbfounded shock and we wonder with genuine disbelief how Brexit was possible in a country generally considered a paragon democracy and civilisation. We are puzzled by the election of Donald Trump – a wealthy, supercilious and chauvinistic enfant terrible – to the most powerful political office in the world, and now we are faced with the horrific prospect of similar results in France and Germany. Our pandering to polite, half-baked notions of popular leftism; the sort that lauds Meryl Streep for singing afterthought swan songs about disrespect and violence and Barack Obama for allowing the State of Israel to get a symbolistic yet ultimately meaningless slap on the wrists at the UN, has put us in the position where the uglier elements of the political right seem to be making the most sense.

Ordinary working people, the bread and butter of the socialist project, have been and continue to be the greatest victims of globalisation and globalised corporatism. As the left has declined and retreated into ever fragmenting schools of exclusive and imagined politics of psycho-sexual identity, these people – the “I don’t care so long as you keep it to the privacy of your own home” people – have been forgotten and left behind by the left. They have become unfashionable. It was never Nigel Farage or Donald Trump who brought us to where we are now. It was those people, the ones we have left behind. Their grievances, like it or lump it, are real; they are struggling to find work that pays a living wage, they are finding it more difficult to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, and they are getting angry. Nothing was going to make us listen to them but their complete rejection of a worse than useless left at the ballot box.

It is into the void that the new right has stepped, and its spokesmen and women are answering the questions to which the left hasn’t even bothered to listen. Milo Yiannopoulos, the charismatic senior editor of Breitbart, isn’t wrong when he points this out to us. When people faced with the problems of feeding their kids and staying in their jobs ask awkward questions they are shunned and silenced with calls for “Respect” and “Safety” before the delicate little darlings – the fragile students of the kindergarten left – race off to their safe spaces. The language of the questions may well be rough and impolite, but this has always been the language of people who have not had the grooming of a university education or the benefit of parents who have had fewer financial worries. We have ignored them and we continue to ignore them, and Trump’s election confuses us.


SJWs Flip Out When Ben Shapiro Destroys Social Justice, White Privilege & Safe Spaces

032 001


Identity Politics: A Narcissistic Intellectual Disease

By Jason Michael

Identity politics are weakening the left at a time when workers’ rights and the traditional goals of the labour movement are under threat like no time in the past half century. It is time for us to grow out of this selfish and self-serving nonsense.

What was born from unreflective language within the radical street politics of the late 1970s’ black feminist Combahee River Collective in the United States and what was adopted by the academy has entered into the mainstream of political discourse. Identity politics – the fragile and needy positioning of the self, the subjective, and the individual experience at the heart of all public and political thinking – to quote Brendan O’Neill, has become “the only game in town,” and we all have to play it. This mode of politicking has successfully insinuated itself into a position in public discussion and debate where it is able to effectively blackmail detraction into silence by claiming rational, objective objection to be emotional, personal, and subjective slight.


Wikipedia.Org: Identity Politics

In its pretence to be the logical end of individualism it is nothing more than the complete opposite of John Stuart Mill’s ideal of the individual as a strong, free-willed person who is capable of engaging with and rationalising the world. One who introduces him or herself as a person who “identifies as…” rather than affirming “I am…” betrays an internal lack of self-assurance, wholly at odds with that dictum of individualism; “Man, to thyself be true,” that we find in Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. There simply is no truth, no objective reality to the whimsical and fluid cherry-picking of identities as though from a buffet. One either is or is not a man, a heterosexual, or a Catholic for example.

Identity politics – which has sadly become the mire of the new left – has two detrimental effects on real politics in particular, and we shall address these here. In manufacturing fixed identities from biological and cultural categories the identitarian re-orientates the nature of social tension; turning the horizontal or class-based struggle into a vertical or identity-based struggle that pits members of the same class against one another on the grounds of cultural, ethnic, or sexual difference. As these are fixed identities the new tensions – unlike class which can be transcended – become unresolvable. All that this does is transform what was one social hegemonic system into a plethora of reproductions consisting of increasingly more homogenous groups.

Arguably the greater tragedy is that identity politics erodes the boundary between the public and the private in its irrational quest to make the person the focus of politics. It is true that some amount of personal experience is pertinent in public discourse. Government debate, for instance, on the potential of Islamist terrorism in the State would benefit greatly from the experience of Muslims living in the State. Yet the constant requirement of ever more narrowly defined sexual and gender sub-groups for official validation has bogged the left down – at a time when class warfare is being waged as aggressively as it was during the Reagan-Thatcher era – in counterproductive narcissistic fantasies.

Sam Harris – The Religion of Identity Politics

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

032 001