If you’re still here after I – rather baldly – stated my opinion that stopping indyref2 was the primary goal of the 2017 UK General Election, thank you for your patience. It’s about to be tested further.
I’d like to share a post-Hallowe’en Horror story with you. It’s a scrying, a divination, of one possible future. I don’t want it to happen. It needn’t. We can stop it. But for the purposes of a thought experiment, let’s gaze into Galadriel’s mirror at what a future happens when we let it. I’ve embellished it with some science fiction, horror, and fantastical elements.
Dare you ponder that which is story, and that which is real?
The Government of Catalonia declared independence. The international response has been overwhelmingly negative.
I empathise deeply with all those frustrated & outraged by this state of affairs. But if there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s one simple fact: the State Is Not The People. The State is a construct to serve the People: when it does not suit its purpose, then the People reserve the right to change their State, as enshrined in the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This was reiterated by the current UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order following the Spanish Government’s reaction:
The right of self-determination is a right of peoples and not a prerogative of States to grant or deny. In case of a conflict between the principle of territorial integrity and the human right to self-determination, it is the latter that prevails.
– Alfred de Zayos, professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy
It’s easy to be shocked at the sheer hypocrisy of the representatives of nations like Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and the United States to withhold recognition of a new state given they owe their entire existence to then-illegal measures – even more so for Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Portugal, who you’d think would retain some memory of why they’re not currently part of the Spanish Empire. For these nations to deny Catalonia the recognition their forebears fought, bled, and died for, is the height of cruel, merciless, horrible irony, even as they implore a government which has already sent tanks and truncheons and bullets to see the “force of argument.”
But we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of the bigger picture here.
On September 29, 1977, a decree was issued establishing a provisional Catalan autonomous government through an adaptation of the 1932 Statute. On October 23, 1977, the seventy-seven-year-old Josep Tarradellas returned to Barcelona after an absence of thirty-eight years; and on the following day, Suarez presided over an event in which Taradellas was installed as president of the Generalitat. Tarradellas was certainly not trusted by everyone, but nevertheless he was overwhelmingly perceived as the legitimate Catalan leader. Tarradellas was the son-in-law of the legendary Colonel Macia, the first president of the Catalan government, and he had proudly borne the standard of the Generalitat during a lonely and austere exile. Taradellas did not participate in the anti-Francoist opposition; he considered himself to be above parties, and to be the “spiritual leader” of Catalonia. In return for the re-establishment of the Generalitat, Tarradellas pledged Catalan loyalty to the monarchy, acceptance of the unity of Spain, and respect for the armed forces.
– Laura Desfor Edles, Symbol and Ritual in the New Spain: The Transition to Democracy After Franco
The past few days have been quite an eye-opener for me. For one, it’s a bit shocking to put a name to the people who would follow the Milgram Experiment. I absolutely understand the need for the Rule of Law, and conceptually, I can understand folk who might sympathise for the rights of democracy who nonetheless feel that this wasn’t the right way to go about it. But I feel that once violence enters the equation, all the authority of legality and law are forfeited. All of it. As I’m firmly of the belief that it is the duty of all independence supporters to support the right of self-determination of all peoples who seek it, I was already deeply sympathetic to the people of Catalonia long before we saw those horrible pictures and videos: this only seals the deal for me.
But just like in Scotland, there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye, and a little corner of Iberia could shape the course of a continent – even the world.
I wasn’t going to comment on a recent piece in an anti-independence newspaper which once again chooses to inflate a stushie into a stramash, ably deconstructed here. But I do have to comment on this:
“That march showed that elements of the Yes movement are no better than the White Supremacists who ascended upon Charlottesville or the yobs within the Scottish Defence League.”
At the same time as this, we had the former chief of Project Fear and the billionaire author & professional litigator both promoting an identical “Brexiters are copying the Yes Campaign” agenda to newspapers you normally wouldn’t associate with left-wing, socialist sympathies. This would be tasteless any time, let alone the anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum which still hurts every independence supporter to the bone. But to do it when the Spanish Government – the same Spanish Government who they so eagerly acclaimed as another reasonable voice against “separation,” & who then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron actively collaborated with to thwart Scottish Independence – is actively suppressing the Catalonian’s right of self-determination in a manner more reminiscent of mid-20th Century Spain?
Aye, it’s terrible when friends fall out.
Those 6 election results:
1992 (Clune Brae): 855 (47.4%). Elected (pre-STV system).
1999 (Inverclyde Six): 885 (56.3%). Elected (pre-STV system).
2003 (Inverclyde Six): 661 (51.3%). Elected (pre-STV system).
2007 (Inverclyde East): 2,122 (30.1%). Elected 1st round. 1st seat.
2012 (Inverclyde East): 1,607 (28.7%). Elected 1st round. 1st seat.
2017 (Inverclyde East): 953 (21.56%). Elected 2nd round. 3rd seat.
I try to be magnanimous. Really, I do. But there are times I wonder: do the people who campaigned for Scotland to stay in the UK truly have any conception of what we independence campaigners felt this time three years ago?
I’m sure some simply view it as another electoral victory, just like an election. Others may have an understanding, but don’t care: as long as they won, it’s ok. There are probably others who know all too well, and actually enjoy the fact 1.7 million Scots were utterly, completely heartbroken on the 19th of September 2017. Thus, even when they went from 53 pro-UK MPs to 3 less than a year later, the SNP have resoundingly & convincingly won the largest percentage of the vote in every election since 2014, they insist on reminding us: don’t forget, you’re still British.
Yet what of the people who truly made that possible – those ordinary Scots who voted against independence?
“My stories try to seduce the reader by disguising themselves as sensational entertainment, but are propaganda for democratic welfare-state Socialism and an independent Scottish parliament.”
– Alasdair Gray
How many stories have you heard where the Axis won the Second World War?
Even before the war was over, stories of the Thousand Year Reich were published: Katharine Burdekin’s Swastika Night, written in 1937, started the trend which has almost become a subgenre in itself. Some of the foremost science fiction authors of the age, such as Isaac Asimov, David Brin, Fritz Leiber, & Norman Spinrad, wrote tales on this theme; some books, like Robert Harris’ Fatherland, were adapted to film; one of Star Trek’s most celebrated episodes (written by Harlan Ellison) featured this as a poignant dilemma. This has lasted into the new millennium: Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle was adapted into a hit series, as was Len Deighton’s SS-GB. It is understandable for so much fiction to revolve around this supermassive gravity well in our planetary history given the way the conflict shaped so much of humanity’s consciousness decades later.
What if we go to a Point of Divergence further back in time: what if the Confederacy won the American Civil War? Again, there are dozens of books on that subject, a mockumentary, and a recently-announced television series from the showrunners behind A Game of Thrones. Naturally, it’s more an American phenomenon, but it remains the deadliest war in United States history, and all the more bitter for its internecine nature.
How about further than even that – what if the Roman Empire never fell? Going on the alternative history database Uchronia, searching for “Roman” yields 116 results (& another 77 for “Rome”) – that means 116 books, essays, or stories involving the Roman Empire or Ancient Rome. What if Elizabeth of England failed/was killed & the Spanish Armada triumphed? Searching for “English” or “England” yields 94/129 results; “British” or “Britain” 189 /153 results.
What about Scotland?