The International Writers Magazine: Repercussions
Thank you Alex
As Alex Salmond resigns, following defeat in the referendum, we English perhaps owe him a vote of thanks for shaking the tree of the oligarchy that rules us.
For once, the arrogant elite that stands above we common mortals feared the loss of their power. For once, they emerged from the shadows united, casting aside the pretence of disunity. All were there, politicians of the three parties, corporate leaders and the media, in tune and of one voice. ‘Better together’ was the cry, but better for whom, and who is included in ‘together’?
William Hague claims that Cameron did not act in panic when offering various devolutionary goodies without thought of the implications elsewhere in the Union. Pull the other one, William. Many a pin-striped trouser was filled, and Salmond’s threatening success was the cascara that caused it. Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and the insufferable Brown raced in to offer goodies if only the Scots would stay in the Union. Panic? The smell was almost unbearable if one didn’t see the funny side.
Thanks to Alex, our ‘democracy’ was revealed as the sham that it has become. The goodies were offered not on principle, but from fear of power being lost. The Westminster circus headed north to save the self-serving and self-perpetuating oligarchy of which they are the visible front. On this occasion other elements emerged from the shadows, issuing threats to impoverish the uppity Scots should they dare to break free: the press, bankers and other ‘businessmen’ revealing their common interests with the unholy political trinity. Another element, the Mandarins of Whitehall maintained a disciplined silence.
Blinded by hysteria, our ‘leaders’ did something that any sensible parent would have advised against. They offered sweeties to one child without thought of the effect on siblings. Now, they have awakened to the cries of protest. The Welsh, the Irish and, at long last the English, are demanding equal consideration. They too are insisting on some control over their future, some power to decide on how their earnings, or those parts taken from them in taxes, are spent.
Some consider this development as revolutionary, though it is little more than a reaction against the inexorable creeping centralisation of power to which Britons have been subjected for several decades. Once great cities such as Manchester and Birmingham retain only a small fraction of the tax generated in their area, while the bulk goes into the maw of the Treasury, that enormous black hole at the centre of our political galaxy. So, decisions on investment in regional infrastructure are made in Whitehall rather than by elected leaders on the spot. Reversing that centralising process a little is hardly revolutionary.
What Salmond has done is to resurrect a ghost that the powerful thought had been laid: that of national identity, and possibly regional identity. For many years now nationalism has been depicted as an evil, a curse from which all ‘civilised’ people should be freed. The Daily Mail’s Dominic Sandbrook in his attack on nationalism disingenuously identifies the urge with Hitler’s Nazi Germany rather than with a current example, that of the United States of America. Before we condemn nationalism in this way however, we should consider what the alternative is: internationalism.
The creed of internationalism that has been promoted for over a half-century has a hidden script much more insidious than the supposed link between nationalism and fascism. It is a creed that promotes the continuing centralisation of power into fewer and fewer hands, possibly moving inexorably towards world government, a world in which the governors would be even more remote than today from the governed. It is a concept that appeals to those professional politicians who see themselves as world statesmen, strutting the global stage free of restraint from the ‘little people’ who elected them.
Some see the creation of the European Union as a big step, but not the last, in making government increasingly remote from the ‘man-in-the-street’, for whom the powerful feel only contempt. There, we see the steady accretion of power in Brussels. We see our Prime Minister more interested in placating the German Chancellor than in satisfying the parochial needs of his people. The distancing of power from the electorate has already gone too far, and that is why almost half of the Scottish people turned out to vote for independence. Remoteness is also the cause of apathy that prevents people from bothering to vote in elections: they feel divorced from political decision making.
The reason why Alex Salmond in Scotland, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage in Britain are vilified as neo fascist or national socialists is that they threaten the established order and apportionment of power. Such leaders offer the people a brake on internationalism and the growing remoteness of power. They hold a promise of accountability to ordinary citizens, and they appeal to national identity.
Those who deride the concept of national identity need to offer an attractive alternative. ‘Citizen of the world’ fails to excite most people, understandably when one considers the state of that world. Such a title is no more than a fig leaf for individualism, and an individualism that values most people only as consumers.
Do we really wish to continue in that direction, whereby the world’s politicians pronounce from some enormous ‘parliament’, while real power lies with unaccountable international corporations. Salmond, Le Pen, Farage and others are nationalists, but to liken them to fascists is dishonest and foolish. They are not saints, but as politicians they are closer to the people they promise to represent. In my view, they deserve the opportunity to prove their worth, given the failure of the conventional crowd.
© Tom Kilcourse Sept 21st 2014
kilcoursetom at yahoo.co.uk
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