Monday, 29 September 2014

Post-referendum, what next for the Scottish Left?

The Scottish left is divided but to some extent legitimately so. There is a stark divide opening between those with an Electoral focus and those with a grassroots focus.

The 45% movement represents the limited focus that   on independence  encourages. I do think a lot of energy from the newly politicised to the typical groups etc is being focused into the referendum even still and (as always) into the false promises of political parties. The referendum was never likely to touch the foundations of  the systems of oppression which exist within society. It was just a shift of government. I feel like it diverted a lot of energy which would've been better invested in a grassroots mass movement which is about direct democracy not parliaments, politicians or political parties and which aimed to change society on a very deep level. Whoever won the referendum, the fundamental issues would remain e.g. the irreconcilable conflict of interests between bosses and workers.

The fact is the referendum is over, the vote was no and I feel it is a complete waste of time to be focusing on it anymore. I was concerned during the referendum that it would draw people in and reduce their politics to the question of Holyrood or westminster and I feel that largely with exceptions that is what has occurred. It happened during the referendum and I feel that it is still happening now. My concern is that the referendum debate has co-opted leftists into dropping their usual criticisms of the status quo and buying into a na├»ve optimism instead of what has been  dismissed as "pessimism" but I would call  instead call realism(the realism of radicals)

I do indeed think the referendum is a black hole. The focus always should've been on building a movement at the grassroots in a non parliamentary way and  now MORE THAN EVER that is EXTREMELY important. I believe to suggest otherwise feeds a dangerous naivety and gives support to the false optimism of an independent Scotland, which was never likely to deliver what we needed anyway and at very best could only offer limited improvements IF they were militantly fought for at the grassroots.

I feel like the majority of political energy is not being focused in on grassroots direct action and movements such as 45%, the recount crowd, the numbers joining the SNP,SSP and Greens testify to that. The fact people knew more about a referendum demo and that a selection of that group would rather wave flags and present Scottish identity as oppressed and/or radical rather than transcend it( and also rather than attend a pro-choice march) suggests that the referendum debate has trapped some people into the narrow confines of nationalism. Again, I am not saying this is everyone involved in the Yes side but it does seem to be a problem affecting the newly politicised.

I am extremely angry that discussion is still focused on the referendum and that political energy is not being focused more broadly on the question of what kind of society we would like to have. I was reminded by a friend that for some people there is no other way to answer that question,than through Scottish independence.For me that is not a satisfactory answer and I am deeply critical of that position.

One consequence of the referendum debate has been that since political energy was channelled through the referendum, many people now suppose that Scottish independence is and was the only means of positive social change. They ignore direct action at the grassroots level and are even further invested in parliamentary politics. The referendum it would appear has very horribly backfired.

Politics is and should be, about more than the referendum. It was before the referendum and it should be after the referendum. As I've said before, I'm not critical of those who campaigned for a yes and did grassroots direct action alongside it. Most of my criticism is directed at those who only campaigned for Yes. But now given that the result was a no, I consider it pointless to focus on Scottish independence as a means to an end anymore AT ALL especially considering it wouldn't have been much of a means to an end anyway. If we're about building a society in which ordinary people are genuinely in control of their own lives, then we must begin to work for that and help encourage that goal  otherwise I think we're just moaning and crying over spilt milk.
 I maintain my usual criticism that representative democracy is neither representative nor democratic and cannot be made so. So parliamentary means are pointless.No politician cares about us. Direct democracy is the wave of the future.

We must forget parliaments and politicians and work to build a grassroots expansive radical movement which seeks to overturn the foundations of oppression and replace it with direct democracy. That  is it's true,  a longer and harder task for sure but a more worthwhile one.

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