Scottish Referendum, 18 Sept 2014

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Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2014 10:06

I think it was actually pretty cynical of the Yes campaign to run on a platform of 'hope', when it was patently obvious just how threadbare and incoherent their proposals actually were. What possible 'hope' could actually be found in Salmond's vague promises of "we'll sort it all out afterwards, honest". In reality, the fact that 43% voted for a blind step into the darkness shows just how desperate people are for change and to break with conventional politics. I suppose I'm probably with the majority, who wanted both Salmond to lose (almost everyone I knew voting 'yes' swore blind they'd never vote SNP) and Cameron to lose too (the damage to his reputation is possibly fatal, we'll see).

Anyway, now is the chance to demonstrate whether the notion of Yes being a social movement for change was merely deep-fried flatulence or a wee dram of substance. wink

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ocelot
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Sep 19 2014 10:53

In the short term the layer of activists (especially those not previously engaged in politics) highly engaged in the Yes campaign will crash and burn. The sudden release of the adrenaline of "one last push" overdrive always leads to collapse, even after victory. After defeat it's compounded by despair, depression, rage, etc. There will be the usual bitterness and recriminations and so on. So the plaintive notes from that camp to "let's keep the momentum going", are completely in denial.

Medium term there may be some coming together of non-trot activists who cut their teeth in this campaign, but I wouldn't bank on it. Massive movements like the anti-poll tax movement can easily disappear without leaving anything behind, in my experience.

So in my opinion, Paul Mason's point 6 in his 10 conclusions from the #indyref blog post, is wildly over-optimistic. (Like my opinion about the outcome of the referendum itself, I would of course be delighted to be proved wrong, but I don't think so.)

However some of his other points are of interest, e.g. this one

Quote:
5. This is just act one in a political drama. Next come the conferences then the election, then the Euro referendum. In all of them the plebeian anger and energy unleashed in Scotland has the potential to happen in England too. I’ve commented before on how potent the Dan Snow/Eddie Izzard thing was, so it may not only be UKIP that benefits – and I am not just talking elections here. Politics is about more. Yes, weirdly, prefigured what the Euro-out campaign could look like in 2017 in England.

The EU exit referendum will be a big deal and UK anarchists and communists need to start thinking about how to relate to it sooner rather than later, I'd say.

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Sep 19 2014 11:09
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
I think it was actually pretty cynical of the Yes campaign to run on a platform of 'hope', when it was patently obvious just how threadbare and incoherent their proposals actually were.

I'm not sure how you guys actually do your organiser training, but the idea that it's possible to run a campaign for change from the status quo, based on despair is just weird.

I'm ok with you criticising the arguments used by the Yes campaign as being cynical, but not the idea that the hope itself, however confused or based on illiusions, was insincere. Your confusion of the cognitive and the affective seems to be really common on the ultraleft-austic spectrum and is a major weakness in our movement, imho.

The materialist understanding of history recognises that not only can there be a disconnect between the stated reasons for a collective effort and its underlying drivers, but that this is often the case. Often the underlying drivers and the probable limits of what's immediately possible are so uninspiring that grandiose illusions like "freedom" (which is really just another word for hope when you look at it closely) are enlisted.

The difficulty for our politics is that we need that divergence between what people think they're fighting for and what they're actually doing to start to converge, if we are to have a hope for a society of social relations that are consciously designed and controlled by social participants, rather than the other way around. Achieving affective/cognitive convergence is a non-trivial political task. But you don't even have a chance of beginning that process if you remain on the nerd-level of "your argument is logically invalid, therefore your politics are of no concern to me".

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2014 11:38

OK Ocelot, I think you're insulting me, but it's not entirely clear, since you're quite keen on excluding people via technical jargon on occasion, which is a real pity, since you have some real insights on most geopolitical topics. It's also pretty unwise to band terms like 'autistic' around, especially if they're couched in such elitist language that the meaning becomes obscured. I'm not playing the anti-intellectual card here, I'm well-educated and I consider myself eloquent and verbose, but I lack the basic grounding in psychology to understand how the distinction between cognitive (logic?) and affective (emotion?) renders my comment 'weird' or apparently contemptible.

I should also be clear that I can't really be considered a SF member anymore, since I'm abroad a lot and I've totally fazed out any sort of 'activist'/building activities. I still do workplace organising as and when it falls on my lap, but I reject the sort of positivist, universalist, 'youcandoitputyoassintoit' attitude adopted by some vocal SF members.

Aaaanyway, I'm not entirely sure what my crime is here in criticising the manipulations of the Yes campaign in deliberating stoking notions of a radical social democracy (and more) in an attempt to garner support. Interestingly, the evidence seems to be that this was a tactical error, since they didn't win many voters with this device and it turns out that Scotland isn't really that much to the left of England (which much be pretty disappointing for one particular member of the Novara/radical freelance journo crew in London, who recently got a tame as fuck commission to write about how he's moving to Salmongrad wink ).

I maybe burnt out, sick of leftists, etc, but I am coming round to the view that a sense of despair in the status quo, alongside all of the political manoeuvres which attempt to plug its obvious contradictions and tensions, is perhaps the surest route to a movement to change the present state of things, at least on a macro level. I certainly don't think it's the anarchist/whoever's role to try to assist the crew of the Titanic by restoring people's hope in derelict institutions such as parliamentary democracy, the state, justice, trickle-down, etc. I don't exactly see how this conflicts with your post.

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Gepetto
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Sep 19 2014 13:39
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
It's also pretty unwise to band terms like 'autistic' around

It's like kids using 'gay' as an insult.

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Auld-bod
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Sep 19 2014 14:21

Within an hour, our great leader Cameron, started to wriggle out of his devolution pledge to the gullible Scots. Politicians are as reliable is a chocolate watch, though at least you can eat a chocolate watch, unlike these unwholesome parasites.

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Serge Forward
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Sep 19 2014 14:46

So no Class War celebration party then?

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Red Marriott
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Sep 19 2014 15:07

No, they'll obviously be assessing how to deal with this terrible setback for both the working class and that classless entity "the Scottish people", as they failed to heed Class War's line;

Quote:
"We anarchists oppose the state in general but we do support ... small nations to have a right to break away from the main body politic ... anarchists should support the right of the Scottish people to become independent..."

I guess, by their analysis, the "No" vote betrays a lack of class (and national?) consciousness?

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Sep 19 2014 15:11
Gepetto wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
It's also pretty unwise to band terms like 'autistic' around

It's like kids using 'gay' as an insult.

Disagree. It's meant to be descriptive of the particular condition of over-literalism and over-reliance on the purely formal aspect of communication by analogy to the problems that high-functioning autistic spectrum people have in interpreting people's emotional signals and other non-cognitive/semantic feedback. As an analogy for the problems that certain groups (not just political ones) have with understanding people and communicating effectively, I think it has value. Of course I accept that people tend to jump on you for being politically incorrect for using what is still predominantly seen as a disability as an analogy, but frankly I don't care. It's useful shorthand for an identifiable condition.

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Sep 19 2014 15:41
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
OK Ocelot, I think you're insulting me, but it's not entirely clear, since you're quite keen on excluding people via technical jargon on occasion,

It's not intentional, it's just an unfortunate aspect of the way I write when I'm thinking aloud (or through the keyboard to be precise). Obviously when I'm preparing texts for publication that means I have to edit stuff to use plainer language and purge the unnecessary phrasal tics. But on a forum I'm basically too lazy (or don't really have the time).

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
I'm well-educated and I consider myself eloquent and verbose, but I lack the basic grounding in psychology to understand how the distinction between cognitive (logic?) and affective (emotion?) renders my comment 'weird' or apparently contemptible.

What I found weird was the proposition that you can build a platform for any kind of change that doesn't involve hope.

That stands separately from my speculation that the source of this (in my view, obviously) bizarre idea is in confusing the cognitive content of reasons given - i.e. the "logic" of stated reasons - and the affective drivers for people doing stuff - i.e. why they care about some cause, what it means to them "emotionally", why and how it moves them. People can do the right stuff for the wrong reasons and the wrong stuff for the right reasons. So its important to look at the whole of what's going on with them, rather than just analysing whether their stated reasons are correct, in abstraction from how they connect to underlying fears, hopes, desires and real intentions, expectations, etc.

Politics is about people and people are psychological beings, so it seems weird to me why anybody would take months to read Marx's Capital and not take 10 minutes to read a bit of wikipedia on the ABC ( Affect/Behavior/Cognition ) of psychology. Seems like a worthwhile investment to me, but anyway...

[ For the record, the difference between emotions and affects, as I understand it (certainly as I use it) is that emotions - happiness, sadness, anger, boredom, etc - are named and recognised (both culturally and individually) states. Whereas affects are the raw material components that make them up and affect you without you necessarily being conscious of their operation or being able to name or describe them. ]

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Aaaanyway, I'm not entirely sure what my crime is here in criticising the manipulations of the Yes campaign in deliberating stoking notions of a radical social democracy (and more) in an attempt to garner support.

I specifically said I didn't have a problem with you (or anyone) criticising lefty Yes campaigners arguments for being cynical, shit or, indeed, counterproductive (e.g. arguments that implicitly accept "capitalist realism" in economic terms - like wealth coming out of an oil well). My problem is what you repeat here:

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
I am coming round to the view that a sense of despair in the status quo, [...] is perhaps the surest route to a movement to change the present state of things,

Which seems nuts to me

ajjohnstone
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Sep 19 2014 16:09

3000-plus rejected ballots out of 3 and a half million cast.

85% turnout v a 15% abstention rate (being generous)

A 95% electoral register even in those so-called "lumpen-proletariat" schemes

Seems that the SPGB and the anarchist movement have their work cut out to connect with our fellow workers

I am reminded of something James Connolly is credited with saying...to paraphrase..."Try stopping the workers from exercising their vote"

Particularly if the believe their individual vote can indeed change things they deem important.

Scallywag
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Sep 19 2014 21:39
ocelot wrote:
In the short term the layer of activists (especially those not previously engaged in politics) highly engaged in the Yes campaign will crash and burn. The sudden release of the adrenaline of "one last push" overdrive always leads to collapse, even after victory. After defeat it's compounded by despair, depression, rage, etc. There will be the usual bitterness and recriminations and so on. So the plaintive notes from that camp to "let's keep the momentum going", are completely in denial.

Their arguments might be cringe worthy sometimes, but they definitely had the better of intentions and I do feel sorry for them after all the effort, struggling and protesting that went into their campaign which was we have to acknowledge for them at least a desire to have a better society and control over their own lifes only to come to this defeat.

A lot of people might feel despaired, devastated, depressed, angry, lost and confused about this, and they might now give up with politics all together.

The potential I think is there though to draw people to anarchist politics, but we need to develop a strategy for engaging with people without seeming like cynical unionists.

Most of my family voted Yes and can't understand why I didn't vote. I am not good at vocalising my views and I don't want to seem elitist and argue with them, so the best I've done is post some things on facebook from an international class struggle percpective and hope that they will take an intrest in it. That didn't seem to work though and I don't really feel comfortable posting views on facebook anyway.

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Sep 19 2014 23:32
Red Marriott wrote:
No, they'll obviously be assessing how to deal with this terrible setback for both the working class and that classless entity "the Scottish people", as they failed to heed Class War's line;

Quote:
"We anarchists oppose the state in general but we do support ... small nations to have a right to break away from the main body politic ... anarchists should support the right of the Scottish people to become independent..."

I guess, by their analysis, the "No" vote betrays a lack of class (and national?) consciousness?

I actually had to stop watching that about 9 seconds in (where he says the bit you quoted) because it made me want to stab myself in the fucking eye.

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Sep 20 2014 00:00

Sorry, should've had a trigger warning. I dread to think what would've happened if you'd watched much longer. That anarcho-nationalism is pretty toxic gear.

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Sep 20 2014 00:59

So this shower of shite will presumably be getting a stall at bookfair. What utter toss. Think I might give the whole thing a swerve this year.

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fingers malone
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Sep 20 2014 07:06

There's reports that last night unionists were going round the centre of Glasgow with union jacks singing Rule Britannia and attacking people.

Scallywag
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Sep 20 2014 11:16
iexist wrote:
What I'm worried about is a rise in anti English sentiment. Like, "we lost the referendum because of English people moving to Scotland, or the already present myth of vote tapering. Right now Scottish nationalism is "tolerant" "left wing" nationalism, but what about in five years? If noting improves and the left stays weak? How long until we see some EDL or BNP style Scottish nationalists?

Well from what I've experienced there is still a lot of intolerance in Scotland, there is opposition to immigration, prejudice towards people from Africa and the middle east (especially Muslims) and there is still the hostility towards 'benefit scroungers'. So the usual scapegoating is there and it's really just as reactionary as down south.

I think perhaps younger people involved in the yes campaign might be more tolerant, more international, perhaps even more 'socialist' even if they are still being deluded with nationalism. In older generations though It seems to have a lot more to do with patriotism, and protecting our culture, our traditions, our family values and being a stronger wealthier nation.

At least this is what I've seen. My sister and her friends are yes campaigners and they are very tolerant, leftist and they want a better society for everyone. My parents though and my grandparents are just pure reactionary. They dislike 'benefit scroungers' and they also dislike immigrants. They blame them for 'taking our jobs', view them as a threat to our culture and dislike them further because they get free NHS and special treatment on the housing list apparently.

Yeah I think there is a real possibility of a far right Scottish nationalist movement developing especially now with the failure of the 'left' attempt to gain independence. I find it difficult to see it being a movement that would get a lot of support though. I can't see people backing a far right movement up here, but it is worrying though.

fingers malone wrote:
There's reports that last night unionists were going round the centre of Glasgow with union jacks singing Rule Britannia and attacking people.

Yeah it's crazy. They won and there still making trouble.

Scallywag
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Sep 20 2014 10:54
ocelot wrote:
The EU exit referendum will be a big deal and UK anarchists and communists need to start thinking about how to relate to it sooner rather than later, I'd say.

And what should be our position?

If we said that we should vote to leave, because of 'anti-imperialism' we would be contradicting ourselves with our stance on the Scottish referendum, and also supporting British nationalism.

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Sep 20 2014 11:10

What the anarchist movement really needs is more governmental stuff we can all vote on, another electoral bandwagon to jump on. Bring it on.

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Sep 20 2014 14:47

Clashes in Glasgow last night:
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2014/sep/20/fights-glasgow-his...

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 21 2014 13:18

Not being a dick here, but since Glasgow has a reputation for alcohol-induced street brawls, how significant are these clashes? They actually seem pretty minor, and largely a mirror of the Celtic-Rangers legacy.

I mean, in one of the pictures I saw, a young lad was kicking someone on the floor, except he had curly, scraggly hair, a Harrington jacket and a Jim Morrison t-shirt, which doesn't fit my stereotypical image of a Scottish unionist/Rangers fan. He looked much more like a student demonstrator from 2010 in fact. Am I cruelly stereotyping here?

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Sep 21 2014 13:51

What the person was wearing or if they were football casuals is hardly significant. Does it matter what people wear when their frontline are making 'seig hail' salutes?

From both social partnership campaigns the real negative significance lies in the potential drawing of working class sympathy and engagement to create a militant nationalist cross-class face to politics on these islands.

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Sep 21 2014 14:07
Auld-bod wrote:
Within an hour, our great leader Cameron, started to wriggle out of his devolution pledge to the gullible Scots. Politicians are as reliable is a chocolate watch, though at least you can eat a chocolate watch, unlike these unwholesome parasites.

Nah we could totally eat them as well.

Scallywag wrote:
ocelot wrote:
The EU exit referendum will be a big deal and UK anarchists and communists need to start thinking about how to relate to it sooner rather than later, I'd say.

And what should be our position?

If we said that we should vote to leave, because of 'anti-imperialism' we would be contradicting ourselves with our stance on the Scottish referendum, and also supporting British nationalism.

Quite right: the consistent attitude to take would again be "who cares, what matters is working class self-organisation"

Scallywag
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Sep 21 2014 18:34
Steven. wrote:
Quite right: the consistent attitude to take would again be "who cares, what matters is working class self-organisation"

My only concern with 'I don't care' means that we are not seen to do anything for the working class and struggle is co-opted again.

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fingers malone
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Sep 21 2014 22:03
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Not being a dick here, but since Glasgow has a reputation for alcohol-induced street brawls, how significant are these clashes? They actually seem pretty minor, and largely a mirror of the Celtic-Rangers legacy.

It isn't a shock, sectarianism in Glasgow is a major problem and has been for longer than I've been alive, but it's still horrible. People were getting attacked by a whole load of violent unionists waving union jacks and were terrified. And it's not just from football. Sectarianism is a real political thing.

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Sep 22 2014 14:59

fingers malone #120

‘…sectarianism in Glasgow is a major problem and has been for longer than I've been alive…’

It invades every part of Glasgow life. The family who lived down the stairs from me disowned their son because he married a catholic girl. In the factory where I worked the Communist Party disciplined a number of members who were shop stewards, as they did not vote for the Party’s ‘slate’ when a ‘left’ steward standing for convener of the T&G was a Catholic. I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture.

edit: deleted - changed my mind!