Saturday 12 September 2015

Only losers march

When I was a student rather less than 10% of the population went to university. We had full grants, housing benefit and dole during the holidays, yet still we found things to complain about.  

I’ve only ever been on one march in my life and I can’t even remember what we were marching for, or was it against? But, no doubt, we who had so much wanted even more. I remember however, that all the signs that people held had slogans written by the Socialist Workers Party and it was members of that little band of revolutionaries who led the chants that the march made.  How many MPs did that party have back then? How many do they have now? Yet they ran the march even though hardly anyone else on the march would vote for them. I’ve never been on a march since.

How do you plan to mark the anniversary of the independence referendum? I don’t plan on doing anything. Some losers I understand plan on holding a march. This is something I learned long ago. Only losers march. They march precisely because they can’t get their way via the ballot box.

The socialist workers are no closer to their revolution, because the people as a whole will not vote for it. People never vote for revolution. But extremists can still take over marches and they can lead the crowd to shout their slogans. Individuals lose their individuality in the crowd and so can be easily led. That is the scary thing about crowds.

The Scottish nationalists lost the only vote that mattered. That was their best shot. The price of oil was still high and so their promises had a certain plausibility amongst the faithful and those who didn’t care too much about the detail. But now, in the end, the nationalists are left with the argument Scotland would be poorer, but at least we’d be independent. That’s quite a tough sell and when people leave the crowd for the privacy of the ballot box it will be harder still.  It’s for this reason that the dreams of independence have been kicked into the long grass. How long can you maintain the mood of the crowd? How long can the vanguard whip up the passions of the followers before they start to drift away? How long before the marchers recognise that it’s too late, that indeed it was too late a year ago?

This is the problem faced by the SNP. Do they go for broke when passions are high or do they wait? The problem is that even if they tried to stage another referendum, it would be easy to delay it. We’re already going to have a referendum on the EU sometime in 2017. Another indyref can hardly happen before then. The SNP still face the problem that they have to ask permission of the UK Government. The concept of asking permission implies the concept of them being able to say no. If someone can’t say no, I hardly need ask permission. But the UK Government could always say “Not yet, Nicola, four years is not a lifetime”. This could all end up in a wrangle, but that too will take time. How long before whatever court decides these matters decided. How long would it be before we found out that we could have another legal referendum? If on the other hand we had an illegal indyref or an advisory indyref, what proportion of No voters would vote? It would be very easy indeed to make such a referendum less than democratically legitimate. A 100% vote for independence would no more lead to independence than a 45% vote. But this is all beside the point there isn’t going to be an indyref next year, nor for the next five years. The case for independence is worse. Much worse. The SNP would lose. They know this. And that really would be game over. Meanwhile we all get on with our lives. Passions fade. The crowd thins out and eventually goes home. Soon there will be no more marches.

But at the moment with passions still high, perhaps higher than they were a year ago, there has to be an outlet. And so they march. Why do they march? Who are they trying to persuade, those within the crowd or those without?

I think it’s all part of the group mentality that goes with nationalism. You can’t be an individualist and a nationalist, the two don’t go together. Rather nationalism is about the crowd. The individual loses his individual identity in the group identity and it’s all subsumed in the National Collective. Someone thinks wouldn’t it be great if I could stand on my own two feet. The ideas of self-responsibility and personal independence are ideas we all feel and are part of growing up. But look how these ideas are changed by nationalism. It’s not about personal responsibility it’s the responsibility of the country. It’s not about personal independence, it’s about the independence of the group, the country. Within that independent country, I could completely lack self-reliance, I could lack any sense of personal independence as nanny Nicola looks after all my needs. It’s always easier to let the group do things rather than do them yourself. If you really want independence, don't depend on anyone else. All of this have this in our power. It doesn't need a referendum. But no, people don't want this sort of independence. It’s for this reason that they subsume themselves in the crowd. It’s for this reason that they march.

It’s the crowd that marches to the jail when Atticus Finch is guarding the man they want to lynch. It’s only when Scout talks to one of the crowd as an individual that the mob begins to see itself as individuals and then they begin to disperse. This is our task in Scotland. We must break down the crowd mentality. We must appeal to the individuality of our fellow Scots. Maybe then they will see themselves as individuals again rather than simply part of the group. Maybe then they will really be free. 

It worries me deeply when a political organisation wants so regularly to form crowds. A crowd is capable of actions and thoughts that individuals are incapable of. No individual would stand in front of Jim Murphy and shout such hatred, but as part of a mob it’s easy.

It’s only because the cybernats feel that they are part of a crowd that they can behave online as they do. Those nationalists who are influential in cyberspace know that they can send a mob to intimidate and insult. They only need to highlight or retweet something I write for a mob to descend. People I’ve never heard of suddenly start saying vile things they would never say to me if we met on a bus.

The danger of crowds is that people stop thinking for themselves. They pay the guru so that he can tell them what to think. They follow the crowd and do what the crowd does. But the crowd is easily led and it does not have patience.

Scottish nationalists are marching because they lost and they fear they will always lose. If independence were inevitable there would be no need to march and no need to keep telling me that it’s inevitable. “We will bury you” cry the Nats. Will you, or will it be the other way round? Khrushchev thought it was inevitable too. Nothing is inevitable. Much can happen in a week, let alone five or ten years.

There is something anti-democratic about continually marching. The Socialist Workers wanted an influence they lacked at the ballot box. So too Scottish nationalists want to pretend their cause is more popular than it is. They are fundamentally poor losers. They would have reacted with fury and worse if we had behaved as they do now in the event that the Pro UK side had lost. If we had sought a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, there would have been cries of treason. At that point we really would have seen the power of the mob unleashed.

I don’t march. I don’t like this method of persuasion. It’s the same mentality as mass pickets, which seek to prevent each individual from choosing for himself, but rather seek to intimidate. It’s the same mentality as when a vote took place in the open air and everyone had to stick his hand up. It’s quite hard not to stick your hand up when everyone else is doing so.

I don’t like crowds. I want no part of this. Why come out in crowds if you only want to persuade. Persuasion is best done by individuals individually. It’s only me that writes. I’m part of no collective. Only individuals can read what I write. Crowds read nothing but the signs that are handed to them to carry. Sometimes they don’t even read the signs. They just carry them.

We have no need of marches, especially those that seek to overturn so soon the will of the people. But it doesn’t matter. Only losers march. They keep marching because they remain losers.

Meanwhile the winners quietly go about their business. Perhaps we will share a moment of quiet celebration to mark the day.

Pro UK people don’t need to make a noise and we don’t need to be part of a crowd. We don’t march, because we don’t need to. We’re part of the UK and we don’t lose, we never lose in the end. History always shows this even when times have been much tougher than this. This isn’t tough at all. We’ve seen off worse than a lot of marchers who celebrate what they do best. They lose.