Tag Archives: greens

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.

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