Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Compassionate independence - should we be bothered?

As 2013 comes to a close, a gathering question for the year to come. 

Independence for Scotland: why bother?

2014 will bring all the same problems of brutal war, corporate rampaging, economic austerity, mass poverty and climate calamity. Amid all these global crises, what possible case can be made for a small entity like Scotland seeking separation? Isn't it so parochial? What's the point?

Well, here's a useful motive to consider.

Independence is not just about being 'free' of an England, a United Kingdom, a Union, a parliament, a flag, a national anthem and all the other ersatz iconography of statehood - those political fixtures and fittings which help maintain the elite artifice of 'togetherness'.

It's about seeking the compassionate society. 
In practical terms, it's about finding another direction, using this rare opportunity as a potential opening to real political, economic and social alternatives; a small but bold effort to craft a meaningful 'state' of release from harsh market life and the deepening vicissitudes of neoliberalism that lock human beings into a lifetime of worry, servitude and dependency.

It's also, however seemingly token, a way of advancing viable alternatives to corporate-driven warmongering, deranged nuclear weaponry and climate-killing policies. 

But isn't this all so overwhelming, beyond our reach to do anything about? Why even think there's any point or purpose in supporting independence to such effects? Why bother?  

This encouragement to apathetic resignation and dutiful acceptance is an essential part of Project Fear. Rather than lamely ask 'why bother?', why not welcome the chance to act, to care, to be compassionately bothered?

We've seen much media-fuelled fearmongering over 'issues' like borders, currencies, the 'loss of identity' and so on. Bother to ask yourself: are these really such insurmountable obstacles, unresolvable situations or terrifying scenarios? Are such changes and modifications likely to create chaos and anarchy?

Not only is this kind of 'debate' intended to frighten and perplex, it's, like so much ruling-class narrative, meant to disempower, to crush the public's expectations and hopes of a better society, any wished-for fuller existence. As Chomsky so often says, it's about authority reinforcing the vital notion of political helplessness.

All of which fuels our insecurities and fears of upsetting the status quo. Even many of those proposing independence are stuck in this narrowly-mired 'better together/apart' exchange, fixated on often petty minutiae.

What's never discussed here is the idea of independence in pursuit of the radically compassionate 'state'.

This is not just about promising things like better childcare and pensions. It's about finding a whole new moral engagement, about trying to construct the happier, healthier, enlightened community, something much more progressively ambitious for our children, old folk and most vulnerable, something which bothers about true compassionate interventions both within and beyond Scotia land. 

Beyond the bulk of White Paper policies and transitional arrangements, it's also an opportunity to promote and write our own constitution, rather than leaving it to a political class still potentially beholden to all those 'neoliberal realities'.

It's worth remembering here that all the major establishment institutions - financial, political and media - are very bothered about the prospect of any such alternative model, hence their vociferous opposition and spin. 

As more and more are battered by austerity and a rigid financial governance underwritten by the City of London, the question thus becomes: can we really afford not to be bothered?    

Greatly bothered by imperialism and capitalist denigration of society, the legendary Scottish internationalist John Maclean was also still bothered enough to support an independent socialist Scotland. I'm with Maclean.

Vote 'no' in 2014, if you please. But don't do it on the spuriously-spun 'worries' and siren claims of Project Fear.

And if you vote 'yes', please do so in the serious hope of building a politics of compassion, a state of mind, a state of kind, which cares primarily for people and planet rather than flags and anthems.

A happy and compassionately bothered new year to you all.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Happy New Year! to you too, John H.

Rose said...

A lovely NY offering John - thank you. Eloquent as always and a timely call when the darkness seems all around, to lift our eyes and scan the skies for streaks of light.
It's good as a non Scot to be reminded that the matter of SI should be about more than just geography and who gets what; all sane people have a stake in contributing to the kind of society you describe. Power to your elbow and HNY.

John Hilley said...

All the best to you, ifthe.

And thank you kindly, Rose. Yes, the case for independence is presented here as a useful civil opportunity, but it's, as you so rightly suggest, a universal endeavour towards the better, compassionate society. Whatever unfolds in Scotland, I hope it stimulates a wider realisation of the need for independence from grasping neoliberalism.

Happy New Year to you.