Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Thoughts of Scottish Nationalism and pan-Saxonism

It's almost a decade now since the 9/11 atrocities. Perhaps the SNP victory at the local elections seems to be about as unrelated as any political event could be. Yet in my heart I do not think this is the case.

Maybe a decade is a long time to come up with something as trite as 'only by defending our best values will we prevail'. Yet it's the only moral I can draw from the ten savage years that have intervened. Christopher Hitchens described his response to 9/11 as a mood of exhilaration as everything he loved was pitted against everything he hated. I would disagree with the sentiments, but not the thoughts and certainly not his conclusions as to what course of action to take.

Still, maybe one should respect Hitchens for taking out American citizenship. Britain is if anything the chief political victim of 9/11. Whilst British soldiers are being killed and injured in Afghanistan because a group of Saudis massacred thousands of Americans, just look at what's happening at home.

I personally don't want to defend Britain's presence in Northern Ireland. I could make all sorts of far left arguments for this position, which would be good for self-righteousness but would be fundamentally dishonest. I just have to admit it's because I don't feel British. Whilst I tend to agree with David Lindsay on economics, the unborn and US-English relations, it is somewhat rare for me to agree on Britishness, but he does make an excellent point in saying:

'stretching from high letters and the theatre to football and horse-racing (in all of which fields England has significantly closer links to all parts of Ireland than to any part of Scotland).'

The simple fact is I'd be all for cutting off Scottish ties to Northern Ireland if only because I can't think of a more alien culture in either its Orange Order or Celtic Catholic tendencies. Like many Scots I'm of partial Irish Catholic descent. Like nearly all Scots of Irish Catholic descent I think my ancestors made the right decision in coming over to Scotland. Like many Scots of all denominations and none I think that any Irish immigrants of any denomination who want to take their bigotry with them should be forced to leave Scotland. How many people of any denomination wouldn't prefer to live in a secular Protestant social democracy than either a quasi Francoist Irish Republic or indeed Northern Ireland itself which contained the worst of imperialist bigotry and theocratic backwardness in one?

Some people may well object to my tone in saying this. But I wonder just what they think of our being sued for killing terrorists when spending a fortune on 'fighting terror'?

Furthermore, whilst 'British' identity takes upon itself a degree of responsibility for the thorny politics of Ireland, look also at Britain's relationship with Israel and England's ghettoised Jewish polulation, one of whom wrote about his 'pleasure' that a young peace activist was killed? The delightful editor who published the delightful Mr Alderman's views later attacked the reporter who wrote on the piece and then clarified:

'UPDATE: Ms Sherwood left me a voicemail after seeing my initial post below, complaining that she did not scream. And you know what, listening to the conversation, it's a fair point and I'm happy to change that. It felt like screaming to me as her voice was very loud on my phone. I've edited the post to take that out. I've also changed the post so that it's made up of verbatim quotes, now that I have been able to transcribe the conversation.'

After reading this, I checked The SNP line on Israel-Palestine:

"Things are going from bad to worse in the Middle East, and the EU as a whole continues to send precisely the wrong signals to the increasingly intransigent Israeli government. At least Mr Lieberman does not pretend to have any regard for human rights, where a number of his predecessors have pretended to talk about peace while all the while undermining any chance of a viable Palestinian state at all.
"The EU has to recognise that the Israeli government is not a partner in peace, it is the primary opponent of it. Until we use our collective economic and political power to bring them to the negotiating table we will only continue to watch things go from bad to worse"

Excellently phrased. How many English politicians would have the nerve to say that? How many English parties would have the nerve to post that on their websites?

The ironic thing is that they'd be too scared of the 'right wing media'. Ironic because the right wing media that whinges about a left that supports political correctness, multi-culturalism, ghettoisation, anti-Britishness actually uses these things as tools because they themselves are pretty ghettoised: upper middle class plutocrats who fear and hate the majority of the British population.

I've traditionally regarded myself as anti-nationalist because I find it so silly, that I should be proud that people living here might have worn nice clothes a millenium or so ago, or that I should somehow feel that I deserve some glory for Watt and Maxwell's inventions despite the fact I can hardly erect a clothes horse, or that I'd have kicked ass at Bannockburn despite having severe asthma.

I still do think that kind of nationalism is immensely silly. But I also think I was previously immensely silly to take Scottish values for granted and to assume that they are universal values. They are not values I share with Northern Irish bigots, they are not values that belong to Eire bigots, they are not values shared with any of England's many ghettoised populations, they are not values shared with America's Bible Belt white supremacists and fundamentalist Christians, they are not values shared with East Anglian uncle tom Atlanticists. Whether culture forms values or values form culture, the two are interconnected and subsequently I don't feel much cultural affinity for these people either.

Do I share values and cultures with the English as a people, when their national identity seems influenced by so many competing interest groups?

I really think it is up to them to prove it is the case.

To come back to the twin towers, I do again find it curious that Christopher Hitchens did sum up my feelings to a large extent. The coastal USA did make an invaluable contribution to Anglo-Saxon culture in the 60s-present. Whilst I agree with most left wing arguments about capitalist exploitation, it is the case that media consumerism did help to make African American culture more mainstream and to revolutionise music and culture and attitudes towards race (which were never as pleasant here as many nostalgic Brits like to pretend). It is also the case that the American film industry made many excellent and thought-provoking films. The American print industry provided the modern West with some of the most articulate criticisms of our government's action. And finally, and in some ways most importantly, the internet really revolutionised the modern world and spelled the death of mainstream political writing. It was this America that Bin Laden hated. It's this facet of Anglo-Saxon culture that we should feel obliged to defend.

Yet it is not one that we can defend by either being violent (dropping bombs, turning over civil liberties and human rights) or by bowing to numerous ghettoised populations or interest groups.

The simple fact is we can only defend our values if we use our values for defence. Our values were shaped in Ancient Athens, further refined in Ancient Rome, further refined by Christianity and further refined by modern Democracy.

I think in many ways the SNP does embody these values. Does any mainstream party in England? Does any mainstream party in the USA?

Could the SNP lead the way to more of a fracturing in the Anglo-Saxon world? Could geographical fracturing ironically lead to greater interactions as smaller more culturally homogenous states force themselves to appraise their values?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Rebel, Rebel

Tracey Emin out to prove she's no conservative at London retrospective

Sayeth Te Graun:

'After two decades scaring the horses with her drunkenness on TV and sexually explicit art Tracey Emin now risks becoming part of the establishment by dining with the Tories and opening on Wednesday a mid-career retrospective at one of Britain's most important galleries.

Well, almost.

Telling John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that she wanted her epitaph to be "fuck me while I'm sleeping" may mean she's not quite there yet.'

No? But what is 'scaring the horses'? Does that mean being embarrassingly puerile and boring? And as for being 'no conservative', if being boorish, vulgar and self-adoring for having money is in some way opposed to modern conservatism it's news to me.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Eye for an Eye

So, the high court of theocratic Iran has decided that the best way to punish a gruesome thug is to sink to his level and blind him with acid.

Repeat after me brave, western, snug, middle class self described 'opponents of religious tyranny' who use their computers to praise Christopher Hitchens and Johann Hari: all religions are equally bad, all religions are equally stupid, if you read the old testament there's lots of cruelty, it's only thanks to us that the Christians don't do this kind of thing, if we didn't whinge about prayer sessions in council buildings then Britain would be a barbaric theocracy as well, and only racists object to large scale Muslim immigration, and only racists make out that Turkey shouldn't join the EU, only racists and far right groups make out that there's any difference whatsoever between the tenets of Islam and any other monotheism.

Anyway, already we've wasted too much time on the subject when we know we're already right. Back to the important issue. Do you realise how much we pay in subsidies to kids travelling to faith schools?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Celebration Times Come On

Time for a Lib dem victory dance, don't you think? at least this clown that te Graun plucked from someplace thinks it is:
'In Scotland, the people dealt Labour a resounding defeat – because Scotland was a place where, if you didn't like the coalition, you didn't have to vote Labour'

Let's see, compared with the last election:
Labour won 37 seats, down from 44
Conservatives won 15 seats down from 20
Lib Dems won 5 seats, down from 17

The dems are finito. Why can't they just drink up and go home? The funny thing is, they can't even make their own mistakes. Timmo must have read someplace that Scotland was a solidly Labour country, when in fact Labour has a fairly weak presence North of the industrial Central Belt, so he decided that he'd adopt a bit of a swagger.

What really gets to me is how swiftly the dems have morphed into the caricature of itself that New Labour had become in the late noughties.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Mystic Greg

I guess it would sound arrogant and tautologous to say 'I thought I'd be right', but whoa Nelly!

And being smug about being right just wouldn't be fun if it weren't for a certain gent who (to quote Commissioner Dreyfuss in A Shot in the Dark) 'will go down in history as the greatest prophet since Custer said he'd surround those Indians':

"I'm just not seeing the levels of support for the SNP you're seeing in the polls. I'm just not seeing it,"

Thus spake Danny Alexander. And let's look at his boss. A man of genius I'm sure we all agree, who presciently warned his party not to turn left. As the big guy says:

"I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren't a receptacle for leftwing dissatisfaction with Labour. There is no future for that, there never was."

Well done sir, well done.

Seems my predictions held up pretty well. Labour didn't actually do that badly: clinging on to the industrial south. The SNP were snuffed in the Highlands. Their campaign literature helpfully told us who to vote for to get them out. Thanks guys. They tried to get us scared that our local rozzers would be subject to reform under the SNP. For all I know we have one of the best police forces on earth. But given that the Northern Constabulary showed such appalling criminal negligence in the 70s and 80s that they've made it into books on the paranormal, I'm afraid that I couldn't get too excited about the prospect of their being subject to centralised authority.

The Tories have gone from bad to dismal: the times when they could depend upon Morayshire Wing Commanders and Perthshire apothecaries are finito.

As for what's next, I think it's all up in the air. I suspect the urban south will still vote Labour in the General Elections. Central Scotland and the Highlands will have few alternatives but to stick with Alex for the time being.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Alia Iacta Est

So, voted SNP and yes to AV. Here's hoping that I've made the right decisions.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bohemian Threnody

Royalty, eh? I’ve heard that folks around them have been stoking up bad feelings by speaking of ‘common’ people. I guess I feel bemused both by the sort that use this word and the sort who are offended because such words as ‘commoner’ will never really apply to me. Not because I’m posh, but because I’m such a weirdo and I think that the hatred of the Royals is Caliban seeing his own face in the mirror or something. I can just imagine if for some reason William and Kate decided to pay me a visit just how flippin annoying I’d probably find them. Bet if I asked them what their favourite Byzantine Cathedral was they’d probably be puzzled. Maybe if I asked them what their favourite sedimentary rock is they’d be puzzled. Bet if I asked them whether they think The Rats in the Walls is better than The Call of Cthulhu… well, you get the point. I bet even if I asked them about one of my favourite historical episodes, the White Terror in Jacobin France the ignorant blighters would look blank. There’s me thinking it would be pretty cool prowling like a werewolf and taking out the Masonic republican Jacobins before they can create their cult of the supreme beings, and the Royal so-and-sos would have no idea what I’m on about.

But perhaps because Willo seems like a good natured sort and I feel no animosity to the guy. I am a fairly lukewarm monarchist, though I think they should be taxed far more heavily.

Still, for evidence that you don’t need to be a royal to have a stupid sense of your own self-importance, can I present Martin Amis.

Mart is writing an obitu- eh, tribute, or something, about his friend Hitchens, which is solid gold. He tries to portray Hitch as an existentialist warrior poet, an edgy outsider, a spare tyre Stavrogin, a BO Byron, but really makes him look like that boorish Cockney businessman that Harry Enfield used to act. But try telling that to Amis, whose definition of a rebel will spare you having to read Camus:

'This is the way to spot a rebel: they give no deference or even civility to their SUPPOSED superiors (that goes without saying); they also give no deference or even civility to their DEMONSTRABLE INFERIORS. Thus Christopher, if need be, will be merciless to the prince, the president, and the pontiff; and, if need be, he will be merciless to the cabdriver ("Oh, you're not going our way. Well turn your light off, all right? Because it's fucking sickening the way you guys ply for trade"), to the publican ("You don't give change for the phone? OK, I'm going to report you to the Camden Consumer Council"), and to the waiter ("Service is included, I see. But you're saying it's optional. Which? … What? Listen. If you're so smart, why are you dealing them off the arm in a dump like this?").'

Demonstrable inferiors? Demonstrably inferior to someone who thinks it's clever to write:

"Unkind nature, which could have made a perfectly good butt out of his face, has spoiled the whole effect by taking an asshole and studding it with ill-brushed fangs."

The only way that the people Amis mentions are in any way 'demonstrable inferiors' is that they have less money than he has. It is perhaps bitterly amusing that the self-styled 'bohemians' (i.e. spoilt public schoolboys) of yesterday are the most vulgar plutocrats of today, but it does make me feel there are worse things than royalty.