I lived in Scotland for 3 years as a youngster. I admire Scottish history, culture and people. Does that give me a right to join the waffle-filled, agonisingly repetitious but incredibly confusing debate for Scottish independence? Probably not, no. But, I will anyway, cos yolo etc.
Like many people, I’m finding the whole discussion a bit bemusing. Though not quite as bemusing as that patronising BT lady mind… Christ…
Ok, so you may get a few paragraphs through this and think I’m encouraging a No vote, but I’m just going through the houses of thought to get to my… well… most probably unhelpful position.
If you’re too influenced by pop culture and it’s immediate gratification and you demand a succinct concluding sentence instead of a meandering verbose blog, here’s the short answer: I’d vote Yes, probably. But whatever happens folks, let’s make sure we don’t all sink back into apathy after this vote, it’s only then that we have to rise and demand a progressive Scotland. The outcome of this vote could be the catalyst that emboldens the discontented public throughout the rest of the UK and finally provokes a strong call to rid us ALL of the outdated and insular values of the conservative government. There, that’s my short answer.
For those of you who still value thinking out loud and don’t require your reading content to be truncated into a snappy spunk-on-demand headline… let us embark.
A little helpful tool of thought I use is to begin by looking at the situation on a larger scale; a detached scale. Remove oneself from subjectivity as much as one can, this can sometimes bring new light to a problem. In cases like these I usually ask myself the simple question “how would intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms look at this?”
Well, I think they may believe the whole thing to be a peculiar charade. Independence is of course very important to all of us (congrats Rou, platitude of the day there…) But just how much independence will this referendum bestow on the Scottish people? Let us analyse what independence means in this context because in our current system, are we not forced to delegate all major decisions to elected representatives – who, let’s not forget, are funded by big business? And those elected representatives are they even fairly elected?
Every politician is bolstered by generous sums of money from profit driven companies. So real independence is not going to come from making the surface area of a governed state a little smaller. Unfortunately those elected will still be of the same ‘stock’ by default, as they’re still participating in the same ‘game’. The financial support from big business will always muscle public interest to a position of mere secondary importance. As ever, money speaks and independence… weeps. Or something.
This notion that Yes voters speak of, of “getting rid of the Tories”, or of “not being governed by London” – I can completely sympathise with wanting to govern one’s “own land” but this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny as no matter how you glamourise Scotland, there simply ARE plenty of Tories who could get into power and act JUST as ruthlessly and disgracefully as all those from the political cesspit that is London. So I think our voyeuristic extraterrestrial friends may actually snigger at the foolish use of the word ‘independence’ here, at least on the personal point of view, this vote for ‘independence’ may be nothing more than a nice gesture. Within this system we will always be ruled by the short sighted whims of big business. This all sounds very stark and pessimistic but that is the nature of the capitalistic system we currently employ. And remember it IS just a system of global trade and organisation that we employ, there ARE relevant alternatives now thanks to technology and new insight.
So what can we get out of this (slightly semantically exaggerated) vote for ‘independence’ then? Well, an ‘independent’ Scotland could begin to think and act differently, it could start the battle to finally re-organise society, to create a better life for everyone and not just those at the top. One can envisage Scotland aligning itself on a new path that better resembles the Scandinavian countries that share so much success in terms of public health, happiness, low crime, social equality etc. than the current policies of the UK. It is a possibility, if the right people get in charge.
Before I get into all of that, I will just digress momentarily and move outwards from the argument even further as this debate has unfortunately started to trigger little pockets of fervent nationalism on both sides of the border. So therefor it is of great importance (for perspective’s sake) that we spend at least a little time on the actual philosophical concept of countries.
The concept of carving up this small celestial rock we call Earth into segments has long been questioned by some of humanity’s finest minds. And due to the division and petty hatred it causes I side with Socrates, Seneca, Einstein, Paine and countless others in their disdain for country states. I’ll elucidate their thinking with 3 main points.
1) Bob Dudley, the Group Chief Executive at BP said recently that the point of a country is to create a strong economy and stable environment for business… that’s right, forget humans, forget the other species we share this planet with, forget our biosphere etc. The concept of countries is to aid business. Trade. Capitalism. Not for humanity. And not for our biosphere.
2) Vehement nationalism or patriotism has long been the fishhook that has led us into countless wars. Big up one’s ‘in-group’ and demonise the ‘out-group’. “We over here are great! Them over there are horrid!”. This is actually the philosophy of the chimpanzee, a species that thrives on intense xenophobia. A philosophy of fear and of never ending revenge or blood feuds. Countries work to divide us, to stop us truly working together and to stop us realising the reality that we only have one planet and we need to use it wisely, for the common good.
3) The temporary borders that define countries (yes temporary, look at any time lapse video on youtube of empires and their borders over the centuries) are defunct. Fish don’t recognise borders, neither do Birds, fuck it, NATURE itself doesn’t bloody recognise borders! Neither does disease, nuclear fallout or climate change, so why should we structure our societies in a way so out of touch with our existential world?
We are one human race, one family, living on one small floating rock, as it glides through space. We only have one chance to make this work. Let us stop being petty slicing this world up and pretending our actions don’t have global influence. All the problems we face now are global problems. The ritual of labeling and organising ourselves by the region we were born in should be banished to history.
I realise nothing I’ve said so far may have actually helped you decide what to vote. It could very well be dismissed as philosophical waffle and not of the realistic here & now. So as a treat for getting this far I’ll now try and be more lucid…
Sticking with philosophical techniques of thought though, another good one to try is turning the question backwards. George Monbiot makes the great point of posing the question of independence the other way round; Imagine a situation where an "…independent nation is asked to decide whether to surrender its sovereignty to a larger union. It would be allowed a measure of autonomy, but key aspects of its governance would be handed to another nation. It would be used as a military base by the dominant power and yoked to an economy over which it had no control." This gives us a strong new perspective.
The No vote mainly relies on economical worries for Scotland and some may very well be relevant: a drying of the funding for it’s universities and tax rises to fund it’s social needs are just two possible bad outcomes. But it does seem that many other of the fears brought up are just scare tactics.
Whatever happens, the most important factor is that this debate triggers people out of apathy and into demanding a Scotland that leads us sustainably into the future. Germany is the leading light in photovoltaics and solar energy. Scotland too could lead with wind, wave and tidal energies breaking free from the monotonous “is there enough oil to sustain an independent Scotland?” non sequitur.
Scotland could take it’s chance to get rid of it’s feudal landowners, to de-privatise the NHS and fund healthcare and education properly instead of renewing trident and funding the ideals of a cold-war Britain and the military industrial complex. But perhaps most importantly it could install a properly representative voting system.
Edinburgh’s old 18th century name was “the Athens of the North”. A city of enlightenment, a city that reflected the potential of the whole country; effervescent culture, architecture, science, art, philosophy.
So, my dear Scotland, take these lasting ideals of ancient Athens; demand a true representative democracy, demand moral values that are in relation to the natural laws of the world, demand respect for the beautiful landscape you’re so lucky to inhabit and give the finger to anyone wanting to exploit it.
Independence may not only do Scotland a great good but it could also help spark the rest of the discontented UK into demanding a fairer and more progressive British Isles altogether.
Indulge me for a second in a wee thought experiment… warning though, it ain’t a nice one, it’s not one of those 'imagine yourself on a beach, the hot sun on your face and the cool breeze in your hair…' ones. Ok here goes…
As a functioning mindful and moral person, would you allow your daughter… (it’s not overly difficult to imagine having a daughter if you don’t already. I personally don’t, but I reckon if I multiply the feeling of love and guardianship I have for my cat… by about 1,000,000 maybe I’d be about halfway?)
So, onwards (and brace yourself). Would you allow your daughter to be held down, have her clothes stripped off, and then have her clitoris and labia sliced off? Then have her vagina sewn up? (often, only to be hacked open again later in life by their self-serving sexually deprived ‘husbands’). Seriously just imagine that for a second…
Now I suspect, if someone even did so little as go near your daughter’s genitals without a medical reason, you’d probably be looking for the nearest heavy object to smash over their fucking head. The very sad truth is though, we still live in a world where people submit their children to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In some countries up to 98% of women are subjected to this utterly horrific, archaic tradition. One wouldn’t have thought it would happen in the UK though right? Wrong. Unfortunately it is estimated that 66,000 girls are at risk of this despicable act in the UK (including 24,000 under 15s). And woefully, despite three decades of laws against FGM in the UK, there is still yet to be one single prosecution.
Perhaps at this point you may pause to ask yourself, why on earth do people do this?
Female Genital Mutilation, (historically sometimes called female circumcision) is traditionally seen as a rite of passage carried out to keep girls “pure” before marriage. It is an attempt by sickeningly depraved and putrid men to control women’s fertility and sexual desire. A brutal and primitive ‘final solution’ to male jealousy and chauvinism.
People may complain that we live in a divided world and we must do all we can to encourage multiculturalism. Yes of course we should, but what we are talking about here is not multiculturalism, it is barbarism.
One cannot make the blanket statement that we must be tolerant of all cultures without any scrutiny whatsoever. As moral beings we are endowed to approach all matter with the educated, logical minds we are lucky to have developed.
There are no positive reasons to sever girls genitals depriving them of a healthy sexuality and destiny. The physical & psychological affects are only of negative extremes; gruesome pain, sexual debilitation and lasting emotional damage. (Not to mention possible urinary tract infections, infertility, complications in childbirth, severe pain during urination and menstruation.)
Now fellas, if you’re having trouble imagining the magnitude of this repulsive act, I’d say it’s comparable to having your ‘bell-end’ chopped off. Obviously in reality the closest comparison would be to the religious tradition of male circumcision, which is of course just as bewildering and disgraceful but perhaps not quite as malevolent as the circumcision doesn’t take away ones own sexual confidence & ability.
FGM is an utter disgrace and must be stopped, this is 2014 not the middle ages. It has hidden under the protective veil of religion for too long, even though arguably it is not sanctioned by any religious text!
The act has been left to continue into the modern age without criticism. We have remained silent through embarrassment, confusion or whatever means for too long. A tolerance for other people’s beliefs is commendable, but when other people’s beliefs culminate in child abuse we must exchange our reverence for abhorrence and we must put a stop to it.
- Support Action Aid’s #endFGM appeal:
1. Take a photo of yourself making a diamond shape with the words #END FGM written on your fingers. Make sure you can read it.
2. Upload it to Instagram with #endFGM and tag in @bollockstopoverty.
- Sign a petition: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/52740
- Write a letter: 28toomany.org suggests writing to local MPs to demand the Department of Health invests money into the statutory reporting of the issue and the Department of Education includes FGM as part of sex education in schools.
- If you’re worried about a girl you know: The NSPCC dedicated free 24-hour helpline: 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donate: actionaid.org.uk
I’m really trying to get into the mindset of these 85 people who are richer than the whole of the bottom half of the world’s population.
I just don’t get how one can be so self-obsessed as to think that that’s acceptable… or worse, a cause for praise.
The knee-jerk defence of this situation seems to be something along the lines of… "Look, they’ve worked hard and earnt their success, who are you to criticize them?".
This statement includes two preconceived notions.
1) That these people worked hard.
I wonder if that is true? I wonder how many simply inherited their family’s wealth? (And infact worked very little). I wonder how many worked as hard as a neurosurgeon? As a paramedic? As someone at the forefront of nanotechnology? Or cancer research? I wonder how many worked as hard as a kid in a cotton field in Bangladesh?
I also wonder what it was they worked hard at, was it maybe for banks? Or another area of the corporatocracy that doesn’t produce anything tangible? Did they create anything? Did they do anything worthwhile? Did their work contribute to, or benefit society in any way?
2) it also relies on us having the same definition of success.
Success is simply achieving a goal. So if success is becoming 1 of 85 humans who are richer than half of the population of this planet, then I must ask, what was the point of that success?
Has their success benefited humanity? Has it helped the plights of our species? Or any other species? Has it improved our environment? Our biosphere? Has it widened humanities knowledge or perspective?
If it hasn’t, is it really success? Perhaps it is better defined as self-absorbed, sociopathic historically irrelevant behaviour?
Behaviour celebrated and looked up to in our society. And worst of all, a type of wealth without conscience wished for by others.
Just thinking out loud here that’s all.
Hate that I have to write about this subject here and pollute my otherwise rather upbeat & chirpy young blog page but after failing to fit what I wanted to say within the confines of a tweet I’ve decided to ventilate here instead.
As of today we all feel pure abhorrence for Ian Watkins and the ‘mothers' involved in the horrible stories coming out of his trial. (I use speech marks around the word 'mothers' here as we must ask the question do these women still qualify to be labelled as 'mothers'? Surely with their disgraceful actions they have rid themselves of the title of a female harbourer of young human life.)
But instead of the immature calls for death wishes I see disseminate through twitter can we not please focus our efforts on coming out of this dismal situation in a direction that would benefit society?
With his death, all we would see would be a simple case closed; end of; “the cunt got what he deserved” kind of thing. I.e. No one would objectively benefit from this situation.
What we CAN do however, (yes, whilst locking him away) is psychologically analyse the man thoroughly to seek some answers as to how and why a human can comfortably commit such atrocities.
Was it not just a cocktail of drugs but also perhaps some childhood trauma that brought on the propensities for a man to act like this? Causality must be taken into account and examined rigorously. Simply, we must find out what makes a human act this way. The more empirical evidence gathered on this subject the closer we can become in preventing further similar cases.
If our prison systems concentrated on gaining knowledge about the human condition and the human mind we might be able to stop cases like these happening in the future. (because whether we like it or not this is not some isolated case)
Future prevention > simple ‘justice’ or ‘vengeance’.
But if you’re one of the troglodytes calling for him to be hung or given lethal injection I’m sure this will all go over your head anyway.
Climate change deniers… Climate science contrarians…
…Whatever you want to call them; dem folks dat refuse da evidence for climate change and its anthropogenic nature, basically.
I’ve met a few and never really know how to deal with them.
I try presenting them with the latest clear and concise evidence, like the basic data in this easily watchable video…
…But 9 times out of 10 these are the stubborn folks that just plain don’t like science fullstop, they don’t accept the evidence regardless of its weight.
(I use the word ‘accept’, as ‘belief’ doesn’t come into it and shouldn’t be applied semantically in this context. You can chose to ‘believe’ the evidence or not to, it doesn’t change the fact that the evidence exists and is a fact in reality. By all means create and ‘believe’ in your own reality…)
They like ‘freedom’! The free market, capitalism, competition!
They don’t like immigration or gays and think that security is increased by profiling.
They’re convinced that global warming is a scam to boost scientists’ salaries and increase governmental control.
They want more energetic drilling for oil and gas.
They think climate change is false ( / ‘natural’ depending on how extreme their views are) and the 325 million people affected by climate change each year should just ‘man up’…
But you know what, that’s ‘cos these are usually the same folks who reckon the sooner it all goes pear-shaped, the better, ‘cos then they get the Second Coming and they can hang with their boy JC (chugging bud lite whilst watching the rest of us ‘fools’ burn supposedly?)
You have no more chance of convincing someone like that the reality of anthropogenic climate change, than you have of getting them to put the greater good of the world over any of their personal unfounded, archaic and destructive ‘beliefs’.
So there just ain’t no point even entertainin’ ‘em with the conversation. (please excuse/ignore/rectify the double negative in this sentence. thx)
But let me tell you this, all y’all climate change denying fruitcakes; if indeed, your boy JC did decide to stop by for another ‘oliday (somehow not put off this destination by all that torture and crucifixion that plagued his last trip) it’d probably take all his hallowed temperament to continue turning that other cheek of his and not instead give you a sweet JC 360 piledriver*.
(* Jesus Christ’s much feared finishing move).