Neal Ascherson is only half right when he says “that’s not how it works”. The bit that he gets right is an important observation about Scotland’s independence movement. The bit that he gets wrong is likely to be fatal to that cause.
He is right to say that independence is something to be valued for its own sake. For what it says about a nation and its people. For the potential that it brings within the grasp of those who aspire to better.
Independence is the thing. It is both normal and extraordinary. Normal if you have it. Extraordinary if it is denied.
Independence is the beautiful dream. The undying dream. The desire which, once wakened, never really sleeps. It is a knowing that cannot be unknown. The political consciousness that has once recognised the properness of independence can never revert to satisfaction with something less.
All of this is true. But it is only half the story. Of what use is a dream without the practical means to realise it? However worthy an objective may be, if there is no clearly viable path by which it may be attained then how might it inspire sacrifice and effort?
Where it all goes astray is when Neal Ascherson says,
“What isn’t true is the assumption that independence sinks or swims with the SNP’s fortunes.”
He makes the grotesque and quite incomprehensible error of confusing/conflating the spirit of the independence movement with its corporeal manifestation. Of course that spirit is unquenchable. But without the capacity to act in the real world of the British political system, that spirit is, by definition, ineffectual.
With a few thoughtless words echoing the sentiments of those who yet hope to eradicate that unvanquishable spirit, Neal Ascherson dismisses the SNP as its agent. We hold in our hands right now the lever by which we may prise Scotland from an anachronistic, anomalous, asymmetric and evidently dysfunctional political union. Neal Ascherson would have us toss that lever aside. And for what? For the plaintive hope that some new lever might sometime, somehow materialise out of a fog of fatuous political speculation.
I don’t accept the British nationalist propaganda machine’s contention, so casually parroted here, that “the SNP and their leader have been seriously damaged”. Far less that they are “holed below the waterline in ways which aren’t yet visible”. But even if it were to some extent true, what should we do? How should those imbued with the spirit of independence respond to this weakening of the agency by which their aspiration might be realised? Should we simply write it off and content ourselves with honourable defeat and the tenuous hope that maybe something will turn up?
Or should we fight? Should we rally in defence of this vital component of our movement? Should we do all in our power to buttress it against the onslaught from a British state in the desperation of its death throes?
Shall we be helpless? Or shall we seize hold of that lever and throw all our weight behind it?
Isn’t that how we “act as an independence nation”, rather than just a nation that dreams of independence?Views: 5163
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