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greengalloway

As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fields, Factories and Wind farms-order now


Fields, Factories and Wind Farms.
Available for £5 including  post and packing from Radical Independence Dumfries and Galloway

And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars. "And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."  
                    Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Early last year (2013), Lucy Brown got in touch to ask if I would be interested in joining the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) in Dumfries and Galloway. Lucy had been reading  and enjoying Greengalloway with its eclectic mix of local and countercultural themes. I thought ‘Why not?’ and said yes.

Over the past 18 months, as well as giving several talks to RIC meetings locally, I have written many posts for the Radical  Independence Dumfries and Galloway blog. ‘Fields, Factories and Wind farms’ is a collection of edited  -by Kevin Witt- highlights from these talks and blog posts plus (last article)  a talk I wrote for an academic conference on contemporary anarchism . A version of the same article also features in ‘Tales from the Punkside’.


I had a test pressing of ‘Fields, Factories and Wind farms ’(the title is inspired by Kropotkin’s ‘Fields, Factories and Workshops’) to read over the weekend . Although it is rather random collection of articles, a few connecting themes began to emerge.

One is a very broad theme which starts from the origins of feudalism in Scotland 900 years ago and winds  through  political/ religious conflicts over the divine right of kings to the Scottish Enlightenment and the Age of Reason and ends with the dramatic transformation brought about by the Lowland and Highland clearances and the industrial revolution.

This theme then becomes modern history in the 1970s. The radical politics and counterculture of that era inspired and influenced me as a teenager but were blocked and reversed during the 1980s and 90s. Marxist geographer David Harvey has described this era as a ‘neoliberal counter-revolution’. This is where  things become confusing. Many possible futures seemed to come to end with the election of Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1979. Were these unconnected futures, or was there an underlying logic behind them?

At the time  I did not connect the failure of a proposal for Scottish devolution with the failure of the radical technology (proto-Green) movement. I did not connect my interest in the Do It Yourself ethic of punk with the closure of a factory I had worked in due to Thatcher’s economic policies. Even in 1990, when anti-Poll tax protests in London where I was living turned into riots, I did not notice that in Scotland they did not.

Only now by reading back through the articles in ‘Fields, Factories  and Wind farms ’ can I begin to see the connections between  Harvey’s neoliberal counter-revolution and my ‘broad’ historical theme. It is in this context that references to Hegel’s theories of the state start to fit in. Hegel anticipated the emergence of rational states 200 years ago. So far, no such state exists. We live in a world of irrational states pursuing economic gains at the expense of a sustainable future.

Although I only mention it a couple of times, the prime example of irrationality is the failure of states to respond to climate change. This failure is intimately linked to the dominance of industrial capitalism and has been since coal replaced renewable sources of energy 250 years ago. Oil is the main energy source today. Without it the whole machinery of modern life would collapse into chaos. But then it  will anyway thanks to climate change.

The Radical Independence Campaign’s slogan is ’Another Scotland is Possible’. Although RIC is determinedly  non-nationalistic, only voters in Scotland have the chance to choose a different future this September. Even if there is a Yes vote, James Foley and Pete Ramand have made it clear in their book ’Yes- the Radical Case’  that the struggle for another Scotland will be long and hard.

The first Stop the City  protest  took  place  31 years ago this September. One of the organisers was my future wife. She was 21, younger than any of our children are now. She was already a veteran of the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp. In the booklet I quote Rich Cross on the event.

Called on 29 September 1983, to coincide with the quarterly calculation of the City’s profits, protestors were encouraged to take part in a ‘carnival against war’ and deliver ‘a day of reckoning’ for the warmongers and racketeers of the Square Mile. Around 1500 anarchists, libertarians, punks and radical peace activists descended on the City to occupy buildings, block roads, stage actions and swarm through the streets.
Cumulatively these efforts were designed to snarl up the operation of the capital’s financial hub. In an analogue era, long before the City’s ‘Big Bang’, when files and paperwork still had to be physically couriered between companies, the impact of mobs of unruly demonstrators filling the City’s narrow streets could be dramatic. Estimates differed, but the occupation of corporate space interrupted scores of monetary transactions, and drove down the day’s profits. The cost to those demonstrating was significant too: more than 200 arrests at the first STC; nearly 400 at the March 1984 event; and close to 500 in September 1984.

The Stop the City protests are all but forgotten now. ‘When ideology becomes absolute,  the thought of history is so perfectly annihilated that history itself can no longer exist.’ and ‘The spectacle, as the present social organization of the paralysis of history and memory, of the abandonment of history built on the foundation of historical time, is the false consciousness of time.‘ [Debord]

It was against the forgetting, the annihilation, of such histories and the false consciousness of time that I began writing Greengalloway in 2005. The talks and essays in ‘Fields,  Factories and Wind farms’ are a bridge between my anti-Spectacular writings and  current events in a Scotland which the UK’s constitutional experts say  ‘was extinguished as a matter of international law’ by the Union of 1707.


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