by Ciaran Healy
I used to be a ‘No’ voter, but not for any of the reasons you’ll read about in the Daily Mail.
I think we need a revolution, and when I say we, I mean humanity. And the reason I do is that we can meaningfully talk about humanity in a way that we’ve never been able to do before. The world has changed, the ground has shifted, and all the old structures and labels just seem so thin and worn out.
It’s not nations that we need to think in terms of – those are increasingly relics of a bankrupt way of cutting up the world, a way that is eroding in the face of the vast weight of global, social communication.
To me, starting a new nation now was the wrong battle. Nations, darling, are so mid-to-late 19th century. The change we need is not going to come from the top down. Politicians are not going to save us, and we either know that, or we should really start considering it, because it’s getting more obvious by the day.
But let me tell you why I have changed my mind. The short reason is because I’ve been impressed by the Yes campaign, and genuinely surprised by the toxicity of the No campaign.
Here’s my ‘No’ campaign, here’s how I’d run it.
“Hey Scotland. You’re thinking about independence. I understand. And you’re thinking about whether you can or not – let me tell you that in Britain, we know that you can.
You obviously can. You are not Kosovo. You are not South Sudan. You are a highly developed, diversified economy with strong natural resources, but more than that – much more. You are a fully cohesive civil society, a place with high levels of education, savvy, trust and, frankly, ambition. You are a hopeful place, but a realistic place too, and the idea that you would fail to make it as a nation is, frankly, incoherent.
But stay. Stay, and not because of tradition, not because you leaving would be a threat to those who still draw vanity from the idea of “Great” Britain, which is to say, the remnants of an English empire. Yes, there are people like that. Forget them, ignore them, and stay.
Stay because the future belongs to the brave, and the revolutions we need are cultural and global, not political and national. Stay – not because you can’t make it alone, you can. But because the bonds that link us are deeper than constitutional law. We are one nation, we have been for so long. Linked by blood, respect, hope, culture, language – brotherhood. We can do something together, we can face this new world, this new kind of world, and we can make it better, and be better ourselves, no matter the cynicism, no matter the cruelty, no matter the failings and no matter the falls.
But don’t stay because you’re scared. Stay because you choose to, and whatever you choose, know that until Scotland floats off into the North Sea, you will always be a nation, a people and a society that we hold in the highest possible esteem.”
This is not what the ‘No’ campaign has done. This would have been my ‘No’ campaign, and I hope that it’s not too dickish a thing to ask whether or not you’re happy I’m on your side now.
*strokes hands together like Monty Burns*
Because the No campaign has revealed something really quite striking about Britain. And it’s a sad thing, and I say this as someone who was born in Ireland grew up in England, went to University in Wales and now lives in Edinburgh.
Britain has become something that it is no longer moral to be a part of.
Perhaps it was coming on for a while. And there’s a number of ways in which we can look at it. But I think that the quickest way to get to the bone of the thing, we just need to go back to the kind of revolution the world needs.
Things have changed. The old structures – and identities, ways of being, moral virtues enshrined in tradition and national identity – are splintered and splintering as the solid ground they used to stand on liquifies and turns to fluid.
Liquifies under information flow, the internet, modern communications. Things move fast now, and the old rigid ideals of Britishness – even Scottishness – must either move with that flow, or be pulled apart by it.
And there is a very large part of English culture that refuses to move.
As these ancient identities, ancient moralities see the world slipping out from under their control, they panic, and do the only thing they can do.
They double down. They become more extreme. They become more desperate. They do terrible things. Let me give you an example.
The Iraq War – look, everyone, look how Britain is still a global power with it’s mighty army, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America, the moral leader of the free world.
Rendition, torture, a war run into carnage because of politicking, wishful thinking and self-delusion – and just the obvious lies that made it happen, and worse, the obviousness of the lie that it made Britain even one iota more relevant than it was.
France opposed it. America had it’s tantrum, and now, barely remembers. And not because they forgave France, but because they forgot, because things like that just aren’t relevant now. And What did we win? Our day in the sun? The assertion of our power?
Power has changed, the nature of power has changed. The world is shifting, static narratives of national identity, even religious identity, must flow with it, because they cannot fight it, and very bad things happen if they try.
Bad things like the real ‘No’ campaign. Terror, threats, fear. Amplifying every possible fear that Scotland might have, even in principle – and then inventing new ones, creating new obstacles where they do not need to be.
Fear, fear and fear. And it might be tempting to think – might seem beyond question – that Britain is trying to scare Scotland into staying.
But I think that the truth is far darker than that.
I think that what the ‘No’ campaign reveals about Britain demands independence.
The ‘No’ campaign is a campaign of fear for a reason that is so tragic it is heartbreaking to me to even write.
It is that Britain itself has become a campaign of fear.
Fear of moral collapse, shrieking from the Daily Mail – but not just the Daily Mail. James Dellingpole is probably the most effective and vicious opponent of climate change in Britain. He writes for the Telegraph.
The entire right wing has moved well away from being concerned with the health of the country. You see it in America with the Tea Party, and the profound influence it exerts over the entire right. In France, the National Front. In Britain, UKIP, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and Rupert Murdoch’s Times.
This has gone way beyond party politics. The supposed ‘Party of Business’ is itself considering, and indeed promoting, secession from the EU – a decision that would have financial ramifications for Scotland massively more damaging than Scotland’s secession from the UK, even in a worst-case scenario.
It’s not about business anymore. It’s about siege. The terror of an identity under siege, lashing out in fear at immigrants, the poor, Europe. And Scotland.
This is not going to get better. This is going to get worse.
The key political division in our times is not between left and right, but between the insane, and those with even a basic level of engagement with reality.
The collapse of Scotland’s right wing under Thatcher is starting to look like – if we can take this opportunity – an absolute Godsend.
Because the Yes campaign revealed something about Scotland as well. That this nationalist movement, amazingly, is profoundly open. Profoundly multicultural. Profoundly forward-looking.
It’s not about winning an ancient battle, and freeing an ancient land.
It’s about facing a future unhooked to the madness of those incapable of letting go of the past.
It’s about creating a future in a very different kind of world to the one that Britain cannot and will not leave behind.
It’s about saying that no, we will not be complicit in oil wars. We have our own oil, and we know how we’re spending it, and it’s not on megayachts, or nuclear weapons.
We’re spending it on wind farms, because we’re not insane.
I am much more right wing than many of my friends. I believe in the critical importance of free enterprise, as a necessary mechanism to open up the horizon of the possible, to allow a nation to change and move, to be opportunistic and dynamic.
But I do not respect punishing the poor, or exploiting the weak, because Britain’s story of national greatness is cracking under the weight of modernity, and they hunger for someone to blame.
The ‘No’ campaign speaks in terms of fear because the idea of Britain as a great and noble nation is dead, and it’s been dead for a while, and it is terrifying to look at that when you’ve built your life on it being true.
This isn’t about left or right. It’s about mad and sane.
Secession is sanity.
About Ciaran Healy
Ciaran Healy is an independent philosopher working from Edinburgh. He is also an unpaid member of the philosophy advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation.
Key elements of his work involve advancements to Karl Popper’s work on the philosophy of science, and using those advancements to directly chart the core of human nature itself. He has been working in this area for 18 years.
Ciaran’s work fuses the depth and transformational power of Eastern thought with the clarity and actionability of Western scientific precision, specifically centred on the core processes that underlie human suffering and delusion.
He believes that a broad focus is crucial to a philosopher, and his work also includes new perspectives on quantum mechanics, neuroscience, and evolution. He has a profound admiration for the research of professional scientists, and works to make sure he uses their work with respect and fidelity.
For Ciaran, philosophy is not some dry and abstract pursuit, but the visceral pioneering of the deepest, most intimate, and most powerful hidden truths of reality and human life. He works to open up new ways of living that transcend the pettiness and strife of human nature, and bring these to the world.
The work he does is focused on making deep truth so clear that it can — at least in principle — be used by anyone who wants to use it. He offers services in consultancy and philosophical investigation through his website, and a subscription service for those who want to ask questions.
Ciaran doesn’t understand why people don’t want to change the world, or make their lives better, or build a better future.
Well, he does, but he don’t approve.
Ciaran is a regular contributor to H+ Magazine. His articles include The Ones Who Change The World, Beyond Atheism, Transhuman Anarchy, Lovecraft’s Folly, and The Stars Above The Sea.
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