Archive | Essays RSS feed for this section

Party-Pooping and the Hangover Fear do not Help Us Get to Work | Nicky Patterson

24 Sep

The big Yes campaign party is now over. In the end we got a big turn out but didn’t get the present we asked for, and then some uninvited guests turned up to cause a rammy and the polis ended up wading in and making arrests. By now we’re all up the road, we’ve had a sleep, a cup of tea, a good scran, and a swatch through the social media chatter about who done what, and who done who… and we’re already planning our next night out.

Yes, there was an element of ‘blow-out’ to the referendum weekend. For some it was like an extended wake, where oblivion was much more comfort than abject reality. For others it was like an extra Twelfth of July, a chance to scream “No Surrender!” and “Nationalist Scum!” whilst draped in the old crown rag. For others still it was either a depressing or an affirming weekend (depending how you voted). For me, it was depressing – I voted Yes and like many others had invested a great deal of time, energy and spirit into the campaign, only to be bitterly disappointed by the result that I watched through one blearily drunken eye whenever I could get proper focus on the telly.

Walking about the southside a few hours later on Friday afternoon, it was as if everybody had heard that everybody else’s granny had died, and nobody knew what to say. There was a palpable mixture of deflation, confusion, and apprehension.

By some point over that fateful weekend, some springs of hope began to emerge… it is to these that I shall now turn, since my intention is to have them blocked up and barricaded. My belief is that the precious mineral water they bring forth is not healthy but toxic.

The first spring to appear (arguably… it was a hazy weekend as I say), was the Cavalier rallying of “The 45”, which seemed to be a sporadically emerging reactionary campaign to the referendum loss – “the 45” being the 45% of voters who opted for “Yes”.  Facebook groups, twitter hashtags, and profile badges began seeping to the surface. One such group describes itself (at time of writing) as:

We are the 45% who said Yes to independence on the 18th of September 2014. We will not disband, we will stay together, from left wing to right and all through the political spectrum, we will do so to keep the flame of political freedom burning bright in Scotland. To the ruling classes in London we say this: “So tremble Westminster in the midst of yer glee, ye’ve not seen the last of my people and me”

Now I wrote up a response to “The 45” on Saturday afternoon on my Facebook profile and received a fair number of rebukes. I’ve since seen a number of respected comrades post criticisms similar to mine, including Sarah Beattie-Smith from the Greens and James Toner from the Castlemilk community campaigns. I’m fairly confident my criticisms are appropriate and not misguided, so I am happy to reiterate them here, because “The 45” is for me the manifestation of the Hangover Fear.

Firstly, the campaign (and I maintain that it is a campaign despite some arguments to the contrary) has distinct nationalist overtones, and these are neither inclusive nor relevant to the current struggle against the corporate and political classes . The “45” reference is a clear association with the Jacobite campaigns of the 1700s, but these were distinctly different in character and aims to what we are trying to achieve. Therefore it simply isn’t clear how, under such a banner, non-indigenous or non-nationalist Scots (etc) are supposed to be included in this solidarity movement.

Secondly, there are also clear allusions to the style and rhetoric of the 99%. But this is ill-advised, is divisive and I would argue dangerous: for example, are we to declare the Roundheaded 55% as our mortal enemy? The 45ers against the 55ers? How are we to ever reconcile this fairly concretising figuration of our population? Such language and framing is absolutely not progressive and will only serve to pointlessly isolate the No voting population (the 55%), many of whom are in need of our solidarity and networking.

Thirdly, how exactly is a movement based on representation of 45% of the population supposed to grow (ie to 53%) without becoming a self-professing absurdity. It took an enormous referendum to determine the number in the first place, how do we keep tabs on growth and confidently assert that the 45% can win a majority?  It would be ridiculed by our powerful media owning opposition – the very forces which won the No campaign, and who are so expert in derailing opposition campaigns.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly; how exactly are the people across the rest of the British Isles supposed to participate and collaborate in this? After all we share a common enemy, we always have and always will until that almost mystical revolution comes round. Can our friends in England, Ireland, and Wales be as comfortable participating in this as they were in the Yes campaign? I don’t think so. I think this is too parochial and insular a concept for that, and it is therefore backwards and unhelpful.

Scrap it. We need something very different to this. We need what the broader Yes campaign was, but instead of aiming for independence we should be building and enacting the revolution across these islands. This itself needs to be done both as interest groups within a broader campaign (a la Women for Indy, National Collective etc) as well as local neighbourhood community forums and action groups all over the UK and the Republic.

As for the increase in party membership, something the 45ers are actively promoting, I say this: Party politics embodies everything that is wrong with our current system. We must reject it. These institutions are the Party-Poopers because they sap all the useful energy and of movements and campaigns to turn it into a televised parlour game for suit-wearing career-driven bureaucrats.

Consider for example, our possible options in Scotland for the forthcoming General Election: clearly the viable protest vote is with the SNP; but at the same time we cannot build the SNP (a capitalist party) for the sake of protest against the political system at Westminster – this is nonsensical. It is illogical because we will be building our future enemy in the same way that the US arms insurgents that it later faces in war.

So too is joining the Labour party, hoping to change it from the inside… This has never worked and Labour has never been a socialist party. Labour are the Party-Pooper extraordinaire, utilising the energy of socialists (or social-democrats if they have any energy?) and trade unionists to form big pin-striped concrete blocks of fuck-all.

Joining the Greens or the SSP (both parties I have been a member of at times in the past 15 years) is certainly astute and potentially useful; but neither have or will ever be able to effect real change in Holyrood (never mind Westminster where they are non existent), and therefore cannot effect real and lasting change in society. I do not discount the participation of Green and SSP members in campaigns that have been successful, but these forms of direct action have always included coalitions of parties as well as non-party groups and individuals. Thus the (radical) party per se hasn’t been the effective mechanism for change.

Instead we should unanimously seek to form local assemblies and in doing so begin to completely reject the traditional political system – this is the equivalent of supporting the local producer against the international conglomerate, the equivalent of playing to our strengths in games whose rules we govern and referee, rather than games they designed and control. You wouldn’t try and race Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone at Formula 1 with yer clapped oot 1992 4 gear Austin Metro – so why are we still doing that in a political sense?

Einstein thought that doing the same thing over and over in the hope of achieving different results was madness. We think Einstein was wise and we tend to quote people like him. We quote them… But we never actually pay heed.

In the “45%” (the statistic not the movement) in Scotland we can already identify the grounds for the rejection of the current political elite. And indeed the same sentiment exists all over these Islands. It’s up to us to grow that and build it and enact it – not to harp on about how we that voted Yes will “not disband”… of course we won’t but by Christ are we not wanting our friends from all over these islands to join us again as many did in ‪#‎indyref‬, anti-war, ant-cuts, and other broader campaigns?

Instead: we must organise neighbourhood-based community forums of activists which are autonomous and free from local party and council interference (some of the Yes groups and RIC groups were good bases for these).  In these we want to hold discussions and debates and demonstrations around global as well as local issues; network with neighbouring communities and communities abroad; deal with our (and our neighbour’s) bad landlords, bad employers, bad councils through pickets, strikes, and harassment; look after our neighbourhood, our neighbours, and especially the vulnerable; attack all forms of bigotry and oppression in our communities; build alternative centres for adult education – skill share, knowledge share, run workshops and raise consciousness; occupy land and buildings to meet needs as we see them, not as distant political office clerks see them; grow food, share food, steal food from supermarkets – resist and counter the growing cost of living against stagnant and declining wages; occupy the NHS; occupy our transport systems; occupy our local services and facilities; occupy everything we care about  they want (or would want) to take away; and so on. Force them, the corporate and political classes, into direct dialogue with us, instead of through the distancing, polarising, dehumanising, and alienating mechanisms they use just now (parliament, elections, Question Time on the BBC etc).

We knew either way (Yes or No) that we needed to start the new struggle, the new movement: the result doesn’t change that; it only changes the scale of the task: we need to organise and support from Wick to Portsmouth and from Cork to Newcastle, and beyond.

I’m starting a Community Forum in my local neighbourhood for these ends; there is also the Glasgow Solidarity Network and the Glasgow Madness Solidarity Network to offer these kind of things right now in our city. We know we need revolution, but that doesn’t just happen, we need to start building it today.

Let’s scrap the 45 idea and the Party and begin the real work. We can do it.


Remembering the Horror of 9/11 | Nicky Patterson

11 Sep


40 years ago today the CIA engineered a violent military coup in Chile led by the monster Pinochet.

Allende’s democratically elected socialist/Marxist government was framed as a severe threat to American democracy in its consolidating potential for communist Cuba – a small country that to this day remains under embargo as an enemy to the (almighty) USA.

Friedman, the disciple of Hayek, had been training young Chilean economists at Chicago in the necromancing arts of the shock doctrine.

The coup was planned as mass shock treatment to the Chilean people, and the new Chicago-trained economic doctors were instructed to rebuild Chile according to Friedman’s neoliberal discipline and undet Pinochet’s administration.

In the years that followed tens of thousands of Chilean people fled or were tortured, murdered, and disappeared as the awful shock therapy was administered in Pinochet’s cells and Friedman’s wards.

By deign of democratic accountability the people of the UK were complicit in these tortures and murders – Pinochet and Friedman were fully sponsored by Thatcher and her own vile administration. The “Iron Lady” once said that she had great admiration for the activities of Pinochet,  but that she doubted such tactics would be acceptable in the UK.

Today we should remember how fragile democracy truly is when it doesn’t suit the interests of the powerful ruling class. We should remember also the victims of anti-democratic mass torture and murder across the globe.

Unfortunately the more we learn about the methods of power consolidation by the ruling elites,  the more we realise that justice and fairness cannot be delivered by negotiation, but rather only by revolution can we prevent the savage rape of current and future generations.

Scotland’s Road to Socialism: an Exercise of Vision | Nicky Patterson

4 Jun

At the recent ISG organised launch of “Scotland’s Road to Socialism: Time to Choose”, audience members were prompted to participate in the exercise of envisioning their own idea of who, what, where, when, and why Scotland will be in the coming years.  This call-to-action, especially in light of the book’s own conversation, with the emergence of the Common Weal project, and with the subsequent publication of the Cuthbert Report on the Mismanagement of Britain (pdf), is both an invigorating and self-clarifying endeavour.

First off, I’ll outline the major principles that I expect Scotland to adopt in the forthcoming age of new-enlightenment; and then I will offer some of my own ideas which have generated some interest at various levels of low-key conversation.

The Cuthbert Report has made obvious the dysfunctions of the United Kingdom’s current political and economic machinery: to be frank, nothing more needs to be added – there is no plausible, coherent argument at a social, political, economic, or cultural level, to maintain the facility of Union: Scotland must become independent; we must become a republic; and we must create our own independent currency;  thus liberating us from the debilitating traditions of aristocratic and bourgeois command over land, resource, and capital.  The ecological-socialist argument maintains that such elements as these must be held in public trust – of stewardship, rather than ownership, of natural elementary resources such as land, water, oil, and so on; and ownership over the produced manufactures derived from such resources: crops, fuels, engineered materials, and so on.  These to be held and used, or sold for the mutual benefit of the people. On such a basis Scotland must provide for its citizens the access to these resources as well as the means of production that can satisfy basic, developmental, and advanced needs for the comfortable conditions that support life, purpose, and well-being.

From this basic, generalised picture, the characterisations of a society can begin to be formulated and it will be useful here to answer the oft-cliched five-faceted question of who, what, where, when and why… is Scotland? (from a visionary perspective).

Who is Scotland?

Scotland is, and can only be, the people that collectively co-operate to form the society of citizens that function within the historical parameters of the national Scottish region.  It is not a national identity, but rather a societal identity: Scots do not have to be born in Scotland, nor is it required to have ancestral ties to Scotland; a Scot is simply a person who lives, works, loves, and plays in Scotland.  Scotland has no national language: instead it is a celebration of humanity where the indigenous vernacular of the Gael can be heard spoken in the same environment as their Urdu or English speaking neighbours.  Scots are liberated from the insular-parochial hybrid of anachronistic British Imperial sentiment: Scots look outward to improve the conditions and relations of peoples across the globe; working to breakdown false barriers of race and class, whilst perpetually celebrating the diversity and flamboyance of cultural variety.

What is Scotland?

Scotland is the revolutionary and evolutionary framework of a society that fuses basic progressive principles with the endeavours of a confederation of people’s assemblies.  Scotland is the people, it progresses from the people, and it is accountable to the people. Participatory democracy is a core tenet whereby:

  • 3 citizens are elected for short determined terms, and by chance, to represent their immediate neighbourhood of up to 300 persons at an assembly of community representatives within their local municipal region;
  • these assemblies debate democratic pursuits against a second chamber of proportionally elected party representatives that offer an active and vibrant critical conscience to Scottish society, liberated from the constraints and obfuscation of intense corporate lobbying power, as well as the necessity to lead the issues – finally championing intellect over pantomine-performance;
  • referenda are undertaken on a monthly basis via simplified technological means;
  • the citizenry decide how budgets are spent at separated hyper-local, local, municipal, and national-regional levels;
  • decisions require a 66% majority to carry through both houses, making coalition, collaboration, and recalibration intrinsic qualities of Scotland’s vibrant democratic culture;
  • the energies of activists are maximised to the point of raising issues for debate or action from within the people, rather than vying simply to have issues addressed by self-serving political professionals.

Where is Scotland?

Scotland is, without being flippant, physically in the north-western region of continental Europe.  As such Scotland forms strong physical links with surrounding societies of all natures to offer collaborative and persuasive energies as appropriate to improve the conditions of neighbouring peoples – most especially our English, Welsh, and Irish neighbours with whom we have recently shared a tumultuous cultural history that will surely continue to evolve.  Scotland is also technologically integrated with the rest of the globe and must assert similar endeavours by whichever practical means as an international beacon of progress, justice and solidarity.

When is Scotland?

Scotland is of the now; liberated from the cultural anchors of the past, but with careful attention paid to any remediation that may be due to past subjugated peoples: for example the issue that much of Scotland’s accumulated wealth arose from the enslavement of African, and other aboriginal peoples, is an unhealthy stigma that needs to be healed.  Scots look for improvements in the current conditions and relations of the people; ever mindful of potential challenges to future generations; and ever conscious of lessons from the past. Scotland is progressive, inclusive , and universal, and discards the intrinsic sanctions of tradition that present an impediment to such just pursuits.

Why is Scotland?

Scotland has for too long been a bus-passenger on a predestined excursion to places that we are not wholly comfortable with:  independence has given us the ability to hold our own forum on what method of transport and what destinations we wish to choose. Recognising the deficits in democracy, culture, and economy that the Union with England had harboured, Scots have now renewed their self-esteem and evaluation of preferred achievements.  The reactionary stance of the UK toward immigration and internationalism was a hair-shirt to Scottish mongrelism, cultural diversity, and sense of common human identity in the plights of other peoples.

What Else?

The main point in all societal discussion must be that both human and systematic tendencies must be taken into account in all aspects of structural thinking. In many ways these two tendencies work in tandem, although there can be no doubt that the one came before the other, it is useful to evaluate each and thus be informed as to the likelihood of success, or failure of planned societal policy.  It is, for example, a human tendency to diversify whilst at the same time needing to coalesce with the same diversified interests in some meaningful and progressive manner; here collaboration, co-operation, and debate are all three very useful human instruments of collective assessment and employment of ideas that lead to progressive results without the dysfunctional sectarianism and opposition that hampers such pursuit.  What this means is that decision making, as well as idea creation cannot be conducted in the exclusive arenas of Parliament and Press as they are now, because just a couple of the systematic tendencies of these instruments are to be a) bureau-centric and b) influenced by charismatic authority; instead these processes must be democratised, universalised, and randomised.  At the same time of course, the human tendency to diversify leads to specialisation, which itself can lead to charismatic expression, and so Parliament and Press functional-facilitation cannot in any way be extinguished: instead these should be allowed full function, but only as secondary instrumentation to the new popular-democratic structure.  These simple paradigms can be applied to almost any societal instrument that is deemed to hold disproportionate influence over the people, and can be easily facilitated with some careful and objective evaluations.

These ideas are not of course consistent with our current experience of Scottish democracy, and it is also unclear how such ideals can be established in the current corpocratic mode of social, economic, and political functionality.  Radical solutions are therefore required.  One such solution involves the elementary acceptance of the above principles along with the deconstruction of current socio-economic dynamics in order to recalibrate the Scottish approach to life, employment, ownership, and citizenship.

The first major question is: from where will the time be afforded to adopt such participatory ideals?  Put simply, a 4 hour-work day is a viable economic paradigm that will obliterate unemployment, and also allow all citizens to fully flourish in other pursuits: community, the arts, caring for the vulnerable, intellectual discussion, scientific and technological development, and so on: Marx’s goal of a worker to all ends and none. Various thinkers of the past have put this forward as an achievable goal, most notably in recent British history Bertrand Russell did so at around the same time as John Maynard Keynes: with every technological advance the instrumental need to work long hours is becoming less and less prevalent – it is only because the ruling classes command the resources and capital that the necessity to work-work-work exists: in reality this is a collusion that the ruling classes present, and that the people fulfil through acceptance.  The collusion is so devious that it co-opts the people into producing more and more wealth stability for the ruling classes, whilst at the same time dividing their own interests further and further into individualised sentiments and pursuits.  Reducing the working week is a liberation ideal: affording and de-commodifying that most precious of human resources: time.

The second question leads quite naturally from the first: how can these principles be afforded? There is required here yet another radical restructuring of economic paradigms: whilst the monetisation of an economy is useful for the ends of exchange, it does not naturally follow that such an ‘exchange’ need exist between the collective produce of the people, and the distribution of such produce to the same people.  In other words, welfare provision need not be a monetised transaction; in fact its very essence as such frames welfare provision within the context of a capitalist structure whereby your means are earned by somehow ingratiating those individuals whom you have benefited  by your labours.  Here then can the case for a citizen’s dividend of mainly material requirements, but also with monetary distribution, be made (an adaptation of the citizen’s income).  There is no logical reason why collectivisation and universal redistribution of those most basic human needs – shelter, warmth, food, water, medicine, holidays, access to travel, access to information and so on – cannot be achieved without co-opting the people into the exploitative machinations of the capitalist superstructure.  Put simply, Scotland must put all feasible means of production into collective stewardship/ownership and provide for its citizens a comfortable life where work is not actually a necessity.

This liberation from the need to work will not, as the Right argue, extinguish productive endeavour; on the contrary it must surely lead Scots to pursue whichever endeavours they wish, and these can be so framed in a localised and monetised market environment, if they so wish.  Full employment then assures the protection of the people from exploitation and sub-standard conditions since they can simply cease working in such a fashion without threat to their vital means of sustenance.  Corporate models must be sanctioned against in favour of co-operative or worker-led enterprise: the introduction of income ratios of around 4:1 would work in favour of more equal reward distribution; the introduction of the Ecuadorian ‘Dignity Wage’ would ensure that those businesses that do adopt the corporate model must ensure base-workers are paid appropriately before profits can be distributed among the share holders; multiply into this a progressive tax system with much higher starting rates and Scotland can achieve the industrious, equitable economy that many on the Left have in mind.  Further to these economically productive employments, local projects such as community farming, community care, community maintenance and so on will likely arise naturally from the anarchic tendencies of people to look after one another – to bolster this however with some collective continuity, the proposal of a community-service programme for all 16-18 year old citizens, based loosely on the national-service programme, should be established as a conduit for initiating and engaging young citizens with the pursuits of community and citizenship through action and education (this, and many other points raised, can be described in far more detail if of any interest); these young people can then return to education more holistically adjusted to societal needs and opportunities: an end to disastrous career advice.

As an exercise this presents some of the flavour of a personal utopian vision of Scotland: it certainly needs criticism, and no doubt some revision before any further development.

Nicky Patterson: @NickyPatterson

Expanding the Scottish Independence Debate into the Common | Nicky Patterson

10 Apr

First off, I am an ardent supporter of an independent Scotland BUT please hear me out: for I am interested only in a fully informed public vote which can only be realised through balanced public debate.

My idea is of a progressive society formed on the pillars of:

  • a participatory and fully accountable democratic republic;
  • egalitarian citizenship based on collective efforts, risks, and rewards that are formed from the community level upwards;
  • a constitution that recognises the universal tendencies of human conditions and behaviours;
  • reversal of private ownership, and a new paradigm of communal stewardship of land, environment, and resources;
  • communal universal welfare provisions with a radical departure away from reliance of what Paul Krugman has called “sado-monetarism”.

With this in mind I have tried to identify political theories or movements with which I can associate mutual prerogatives: the Socialist-Anarchism and Communalism of Murray Bookchin seem to be the closest I have come across yet, and so I am a member of the Scottish Greens – but have become increasingly frustrated by a distinct sleepiness at branch level.  The alienating sectarianism of the Left is too messy and many look with increasing interest to the Left Unity movement. I myself will look to immediately become active within the Radical Independence Campaign.

In recognition of this then, I have struggled often to find common points of reference with my fellow citizens on which to frame a debate about Scottish independence.  For me, winning a Yes vote in September 2014 is just the first step toward realising a fairer and more equal society: the first step on a programme of power and wealth decentralisation that must develop even further than that: delivering true democratic ability out to the community level.

But the common citizen is not yet interested in such ideals or endeavours: for the contemporary Scottish citizen, the majority of political and philosophical debate is utterly superfluous to their familiar points of reference.  What I come across most are issues surrounding interest rates; currency; Bank of England; military security; road conditions; industrial dependency, and other such concerns.  Paramount among these is perhaps suspicion of the apparent SNP stewardship of the Yes Campaign and also their post-independence rhetoric which frames them as the de facto Scottish government (witness the dissemination of their in-house decisions and debates regarding Trident, Nato, the EU and so on) .

As is universally recognised throughout modern society, when a politician is addressed with an issue of really existing popular concern, their answer is invariably obscure, evasive, and fundamentally non-committal.  This is evidenced week-in-week-out in public broadcast forum discussions as well as, I’m sorry to say, Yes campaign launches.

Furthermore closed ‘debates’ are not efficiently helpful: true progress only arises from conflict and this means that townhall debates need to represent as full a spectrum of opinion as possible.

So here we have a triple issue of effectively obfuscating technical language from theorists (the forward looking visionaries) on one hand; and blatantly obfuscating new-speak and non-input from politicians (the retrospective apologists) on the other; and the final hand shuts out opposing (and therefore progressive) voices.  The public debate in my view needs to initially be between lay citizens who can argue and advocate without prosthetic or aesthetic vernacular.  This ‘public’ as in common debate needs to happen now and it needs to be consistently representative of all THREE camps: the Yes, No, and Undecided.  It needs its own place and its own space – free from the nonsense of jargon and bullshit.  It should be given as much broadcast and press coverage as we can collectively muster.

Once this form of public debate between the Yes, No, and Undecided camps has settled into the common conscience, then we can upgrade it with our suggestions of model futures.

Twitter: @nickypatterson

Which came first, the Press or the Reader? | Scott Steele

25 Jan

Imagine tomorrow you walk into your local newsagents, you’re met with two headlines;




Which of these would you regard as the most important? Which subject would readers regard as a huge story? To me it seems absurd to think the former would attract the attention of anybody before the latter.  Unfortunately newspapers (a term I use loosely) have become passive tools of entertainment, miles away from the informative resource of factual information that they were surely intended for.

Why has journalism turned into a vulture ridden industry where catching someone with their pants down is celebrated whilst global atrocities are passed over as though fictional?  How many people immediately turn the newspaper over to the back page to see which overpaid, moronic sports star has chucked the dummy out the pram, or flick straight to Page 3 to check if they share their star sign with Mercedes, 19 from Essex?

Journalists would argue that they chase stories and address issues that ‘the people’ want to read.  Are we, the general public, to blame for the comic style of the modern press?  Do we really wish to fill our heads with titter tatter gossip that might as well be sourced from the back of a toilet cubicle door?  Is this the era where our lives are so engulfed with personal importance that we wish to only be disturbed with interesting trivia that is instantly gratifying?  Lets us not be an ignorant generation!

It is clear that the mega-rich tabloid owners benefit greatly from the mass consumption of nonsense they pass out.  The Western Governments however, are even greater beneficiaries of the publics hunger for mass instant scandal.  Everyday politics lays dull and numb compared to viral Islamophobia and reproductive reality TV.  Referendums and austerity measures do not create buzz; sex and hatred sells.  Therefore the political powers can capitalise on the nation’s disinterest and continue to spread inequality and injustice.

Avoid tabloids; do we need the press more than they need us?!  With depleting newspaper sales due to the instant news updates availale at the touch of a button, the hunger for edgy stories has become so desperate that backing a story with substance has become a secondary priority.  I am in no way implying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to enjoy the lighter side of life; however when the only information you absorb is nonsense you are in danger of becoming desensitised to matters of importance.

On What Matters: The Indigestion of Modern Information | Nicky Patterson

19 Jan

This enormous tide of multi-platform journalism, blogging, and social comment is considerably overwhelming.

It is now 2013 and the dawn of open information, debate and democracy is in fact choking true social, political and economic progress.  The internet has no doubt, as Castells identified in 1996, enabled the “Networked Society”, as much to the benefit of Internationalist sensibilities, as to the detriment of both individual and collective endeavour.  What I mean by this is that we, in the Minority World at least – though surely beyond to a greater extent – , are enduring a gluttony of information that is over-burdening our digestive system: this over-indulgence is both intoxicating and seriously damaging to our societal physiology.

I imagine today’s common and collective organic on-line discourse to be like collecting one million clever souls in one enormous church hall, and then obliging them all at once to begin their enfetished soap-box rhetoric, either meant as inspiration, response, or reaction, well-meaning or no, but all none-the-less delivered at such a calamitous din (with all the echoes and reverberations expected of a church with an enormous capacity), and yet all recorded by but a single microphone: the end user, who is at once marvelled, encouraged, inspired, enraged, and subdued.

More tragically this often leads to the neutering of the end-user’s emotional and intentional engagement, which benefits none but the classes of power.

This is self-afflicted confusion, division and alienation: we are becoming a society of outspoken hermits.

There seems to me to be a conundrum represented by perpetual discourse that presents us, as contestants, with clues as to what might be important; what absolutely is important; what is evidence of what might be, or absolutely be, important; as well as the trivial, the gossip, and the humorous.  We, the contestants, endlessly play the game endeavouring to sort the might-bes from the absolutes and then make some distinct resolutions toward action, which are then themselves trumped by some new issue of urgency; itself awaiting usurpation.  In other words, despite the evident collaboration of intent achieved through social-media as seen in the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement (and we should accept the former as being successful to an extent, while the latter was impressive yet – though ongoing – has not achieved a definitive fundamental change), nothing of any great significance is happening.  Of course a great many localised projects have been launched and a great many social ills have been discussed, with perhaps some decrease in false consciousness and subsequent increase in awareness, but even with this leviathan of discourse, truth, and connectivity under the control of the people, we still wake each morning to the triumphalist marching songs of neo-liberalism, ecological suicide, sham-democracy, and genocidal cultural hegemony.

And even if we enjoy a lie-in, they are still marching in the afternoon… and in the evening.  In fact the sun never sets on the empire of inequality.

So let us be far more discerning in what we read, write and listen to.  We know that our political systems have hitherto mocked our collective functional impotency, so let us desist from indulging these pseudo-elected clowns with our attentions: they collectively represent a system: it is the system that is corrupt: let us address the system: ignore the menial daily inadequacies – they waste our eyes, our ears, our mouths, fingers, hearts and minds.

We want for collective direction and action: together we can surely devise a strategy to convene, plan, and revolutionise our societies?

The priority for you may be some noble pursuit: English revolution; American revolution; Equality for All…

For me, as a citizen of Glasgow, my main priority is securing a Yes vote in the 2014 Independence Referendum: separation from the dysfunctional machinations and hegemony of Westminster.  In this I see us in Scotland being able to break a workable rock from the quarry of the Minority World, and demonstrate (along with our Nordic cousins) how human beings can live, and give, and love, without exploitation of this planet or our sisters and brothers who inhabit it.

Twitter: @NickyPatterson

%d bloggers like this: