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When I feel you have my back. From an antizionist Jew to the left on challenging antisemitism

March 30, 2017 2 comments

17436035_1218953451550743_7199866630498237987_oOn challenging antisemitism by the left. What it means to me as a Jew with progressive values when Jackie Walker and Gilad Atzmon are being hosted in Glasgow this week.

Couple of things have happened in past few days in Glasgow to prompt this post. I actually found out about these in reverse order, but I’m starting with the easiest one to write about, Gilad Atzmon. My discussion and feelings about Jackie Walker being hosted by SPSC are down below.

Last night Gilad Atzmon played a gig at Tchai Ovna : a hippy/lefty tea shop in Glasgow. A friend casually mentioned it, after the gig had started. I was pretty wtf?! But by this time there was nothing to be done. So I’ve informed the venue of Gilad’s antisemitism and am, until told otherwise, assuming that they didn’t know of this beforehand. However they know now and if they book him again I will be more active against it.

I have only met Atzmon once – I went with a friend to a gig as he’s a really good saxophonist. My friend introduced me to him afterwards, and I was initially very happy about this, not just because the gig had been great. I like to meet other antizionist Jews as it can be a lonely path. At most Jewish cultural/religious events I avoid talk of Israel as I won’t lie, but also I hate confrontation and turning a spiritual occasion into a heated political argument. Jewish practise nurtures and calms me. Like doing yoga or whatever works for you. I feel at peace and nourished at this deep down level. I don’t know why it has this effect, but I don’t need to understand it to value it in my life, as it harms no-one else. I tend to have a separation between my different hobbies, interests, and choices. Those who also straddle intersections I often feel a connection and bond with as its exciting and useful for me to be able to discuss issues that relate to our shared intersections and I find helps me understand whats going on for me.

However the initial joy at being invited by Atzmon to sit and chat with him turned to confusion and then revulsion as he began denouncing what he sees as typical Jewish tribalism, as a superiority complex of being Jewish, and how Jews have brought centuries of persecution onto ourselves. After arguing for a short while (I have confrontation and find heated/aggressive verbal dialogue deeply unpleasant) I left. Subsequently I’ve discovered how antisemitic he is. To find examples I had a quick look at his blog and here are some recent examples:

an  arrogant yeshiva boy is subject to a historical continuum of harassment. Seemingly, Alliel didn’t bother to ask himself why is he chased and abused time after time by so many people in so many places.

Source: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2017/3/16/alliel-a-window-into-tribal-arrogance

“If I were a Jew,” [David Irving] said, “I would ask myself why it always happens to us?” At the time, I was a still Jew but I took up Irving’s challenge. I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw so I decided to leave the tribe and I stopped being a Jew.

Source : http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2017/2/16/exactly-who-is-it-that-is-in-denial

Although discovering that this alternative/lefty venue is hosting him shocked me, I don’t feel utterly powerless to challenge it. And that’s because over the years I have felt that many within the left will have my back when it comes to challenging antisemitism. It’s really moving to me to feel this. That especially within the Palestine solidarity movement but in the wider left I am not alone facing those prejudiced against me. It gives me a safety, and a courage. It gives me strength to fight alongside others against their oppressions knowing that they also have my back when it comes to antisemitism. It feels like we really can stand all together and be strong and united and beautiful and really bring about meaningful change to a world where all are liberated and free and safe.

So I feel deeply inside that if Atzmon again is booked to play this venue, that if I ask of it, others, not just Jews, will join me in publicly condemning them for giving this racist a stage. I feel secure in that and its incredibly moving to have that surety. Its just so beautiful and affirming and powerful and empowering.

Jackie Walker

[EDITED TO ADD : I have been told that she actually said she hadn’t heard a definition of anti-semitism she agreed with in the context of a particular workshop which was stating that criticism of israel was anti-semitic. Will update the text within this post when I know more but wanted to clarify that this is in contention as early as possible]

Sometimes antizionism is labelled antisemitism. Jewdas have a really cool primer on how to criticise Israel without being antisemitic and a longer piece discussing what antisemitism is and isn’t.

Last year Jackie Walker was in the media for being expelled and then reaccepted into the Labour Party on the basis of several comments she has made, in different formats, that many (including me) find problematic about Jewish people (which she identifies as also)

I consider “no platforming” an extreme tactic that should be kept for extreme cases where it is likely that a speech by someone will cause harm to another. In the case of Jackie Walker I disagree with her on very many things, and I do feel a bit threatened by her assertion (originally from known antisemites Louis Farrakan’s Nation of Islam) that “many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade” (source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/anti-semitism-row-momentum-organiser-jackie-walker-readmitted-to-labour-party-following-racism-a7053966.html ) as this is the kind of language that supports and promotes anti-semitism. However I am not calling for her to be no platformed.

For a wider discussion of things she’s said try hope not hate. In brief she has joined predominantly antisemitic calls for Holocaust memorial day to focus on other genocides, however it already does. Antisemites seek to minimise the Nazi holocaust and so she stands in particularly bad company, as well as being ill-informed in making this call. She has also said she can’t find a definition of antisemitism she can work with, which again is kinda weird – jewdas have a couple of good ones (linked above) and its really just a basic antiracist stance with basic knowledge of the historical and current slurs, smears and falsehoods used against Jews.

Again, to be super clear, despite this I am not calling for her to be no platformed.

I do find it hard to swallow though that the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are hosting her in Glasgow tonight. They claim she is “Accused of anti-Semitism for her anti-Zionist position” (source : https://www.facebook.com/events/376828286014487/ ) Which is just the inverse of zionist claims that all criticisms of israel are antisemitic. I am not in any way against her anti-zionism. Dismissing objections to her as coming purely from a Zionist standpoint is ridiculous and hurtful.

There are hundreds of excellent speakers about Palestine in the UK who are not tarred with her associations with antisemitism. It was not necessary of the SPSC to host her. It is provocative and divisive.

I have had over a decade within the anti-occupation, Palestine solidarity movement and I know that antisemitism and dismissal of such is a minority view. As I stated above I have felt that people have had my back. But what about someone new to challenging the Israeli occupation of Palestine? What if this is what they see – that being anti-occupation means supporting someone who has said what Jackie Walker has said only last year? She has not meaningfully retracted any of it, as far as I can tell, and I did go to look.

If this was more than an occasional one-off event I don’t know how welcome or comfortable I would feel within progressive movements. This kind of behaviour reinforces zionists’ narrative that we need a strong nation state because nobody else will be there for us. It chases Jews back into the hands of Jewish nationalism. Plenty of Palestinians are ready to condemn antisemitism and the movement purporting to support them should do the same.

ct-muslim-and-jewish-fathers-protest-with-their-children-video-20170131.jpg

Housework as self care; don’t create a second patient was never just about immediate danger

Tired of being tired? Chilling out and stepping off the hedonic treadmill contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Buying a product because the emptiness of the hedonic treadmill of consumer capitalism has in all probability exhausted you is like taking a cold drink because you’re chilly.

Ok, so this is obv just written from my perspective.

Today I had a scheduled “day off”. They don’t happen often – I’ve pretty much always got something on, between paid work (of which I’ve been doing a ton for past month or so in order to pay off London/India trip debts), activism, meetings/workshops/discussions, hobbies, supporting people in various ways, socialising, spending time with those who are important to me and more political activism. Past couple of months have been even more intense with Rachel’s anniversary, Pesach (for which I helped a friend with first night seder, and then hosted one for 8-10 people on 2nd night) and 3 house guests who each stayed 3-5 days. Looking back at my diary, there was just one day in April where I wasn’t busy for at least 8 hours, and on that day I was still up early and helping a houseguest get ready and go for his train. I ended up very frazzled by the end. I was even more unreliable than normal and was almost in tears from it all. I had so little time to myself, with almost constant human interaction, and I really do find that draining, even though I enjoy time with people.

Anyway, May has started much better. Had a fun Mayday, though after a few hours on Buchanan St, which inevitably included lots of people I was very happy to see and catch up with, I left the others for a precious few hours alone at home, before heading to Cristicuff’s election workshop, and then a fun evening in a local pub including my only adult karaoke performance; 3 of us dedicated “Tell Me Lies” to all those participating in the election, though we needed to clarify before we started that yes, that includes the SNP candidates, and no we were Anarchists not hairdressers! Saturday was busy with helping flatmate move out, and then big important conversations with a longterm lover. Sunday and Monday were 12 hour shifts in an unpleasant ward. So last night I really needed some fun so went to a couple of pubs with couple different groups of friends.

A lot of what I do can feel like “obligation” – even though I choose how I fill my life and have more control over it than most. Its partly because my long/medium term plans involve commitments to people/groups/activities. And partly because I wanna do all the things, dammit! And have lots of interests and people/communities I care about and want to nurture the connection with. But I do end up rundown on an overly regular basis. Am trying to do better with it. Get into healthier habits. Which neatly segues on to the point of this post :)

Along with all of you who don’t have an unproblematic relationship with yourself, I have problems prioritising things that only benefit me. And since I now don’t have a flatmate, that now includes housework. Not that I was great at it before, but I did feel an obligation to do all of our washing up every few days. However, what with recent busyness and whatnot, I’d got to the point yesterday where I didn’t have any clean crockery left, and my laundrymite was reaching for the ceiling. I just was doing everything else. So today, with the video chat companionship/dj’ing of a friend in a different city who was doing similar, I began tackling the housework. And as I did it, I realised that by actively choosing to nurture my nest, when it is only me who will be affected by it, I was telling myself something important: looking after myself is worth my time. I deserve a nice living space. I care about myself enough for that to be on my schedule.

Doc, still very missed and massive influence on my life, said, but tragically didn’t practice, “Don’t create a second patient”. As someone caring for the health of others, whether first aider or nurse – but equally valid to probably everyone be you a parent, friend, social worker, community organiser etc – your first duty to those you would help, is to keep yourself able to provide that help by not incapacitating yourself. In the street medic workshops where he first drummed this into us, the examples were those familiar to all those who know DR ABCDE, such as check for oncoming traffic or exposed live electricity wires before rushing to help. In this setting the dangers are all immediate ones that would acutely stop you from giving first aid, and add to the patient load of other firstaiders and emergency services. Early on I started thinking about gloves and other PPE in a similar way – if I’m ill because I did not protect myself than how can I help anyone else? And after Doc died, as the waves of grief induced anger coursed through me, I realised that he’d never actually applied that principle to himself properly either – as he rushed from disaster zone to international workshop, his life characterised by trauma, heroism and international travel, he might have been a PITA about his goddamned fresh grapefruit juice and organic meat (I really hope at least someone reading this got a chuckle of reminiscence from that!) he ran himself into the ground. And we lost a dear uncle, friend, trainer, carer and precious elder. By not taking care of himself properly, he (imho) contributed to his own death.

I don’t have some pithy ending to this post. It was just a lot of different stuff that ties together for me and I wanted to write down. Maybe others will have similar reflections. And maybe I’ll read this back over in 10 years when I’ve forgotten all this again. At the very least, I’m giving personal language to all of you who are in my life to get through my thick skull next time I’m being an idiot ;)

Reflections on how we ran the negotiations with uni management during Free Hetherington occupation

March 30, 2015 Leave a comment

I just wrote this as a response to someone asking for advice on running negotiations during university occupations. Posting it here for other’s information, and as a personal thing for re-reflecting on later. I possibly will expand on it later.

***

So I’m just one of the people that was involved in the occupation. There were some internal divisions about how to handle the negotiations and I was deeply on one side of the debate. Just to let you know that this is not a neutral response!

For most of the negotiations we insisted, and won, full representation by all the occupiers when meeting with the uni managements. this felt powerful and i feel was when we were at our most successful in gaining concessions. For example it was directly after a mass meeting with them, during which you could visibly see them realising how strong and united we were, that they agreed to let us have the Hetherington back, after forcibly evicting us that day. We had responded to the eviction by occupying their management suite and so we were in a position of some strength. However this was not an isolated incident of us gaining concessions and being empowered by our insistence on mass meetings. Gaining that as an initial demand gave us strength for our actual negotiations. It also gave us directly moral courage during the meetings, versus smaller meetings (I was involved with a couple before we began insisting that they meet with all of us, or none) where they could use personal manipulation and wear us down.

Towards the end, we (democratically decided by a vote, but i opposed at the time and still think was a mistake) agreed to the management’s demands that we choose a small team (4-6 – I refused to be a part of it) who would meet directly with management and negotiate.

Those negotiations ended up with very wooly sounding agreements. These were, again democratically by vote, agreed upon, but most of those agreeing were burnt out by the long occupation and “would have agreed to a cup of tea if it meant we could move on”

These agreements are posted on our wordpress somewhere. They were not kept to by management, but obviously after the occupation had ended we were in no position to force them to keep their word :(

Arbitrary mass arrests at otherwise positive #london2NYC #blacklivesmatter demo at Westfield shopping centre London

December 11, 2014 Leave a comment

***If you or anyone you know was arrested last night please make sure you’re in contact with Green and Black Cross (GBC) and attend the defendants meeting this Saturday, 13th Dec, 2pm in LARC, 62 Fieldgate St, E1 1ES organised by the GBC / LDMG who organised the legal support on the demonstration last night***

Joint statement by the organisers of the demo last night on the arrests.

***

This is just me scribbling something down because of the arbitrary nature of the arrests that happened at the end of the demonstration last night. If you want more detail about the earlier part, I live tweeted most of the evening, as did others.

It felt like a positive and strong and good natured demonstration. I spoke to lots of bystanders who were curious about what was going on, and they were all supportive once I explained we were there because of Eric Garner. People did not seem to feel threatened, as they walked past and through the demonstration, both whilst we were outside and inside the shopping centre. Although a couple of shops closed doors or pulled security grills over themselves, the vast majority did not. Nor was there any need to as protesters filed past them, singing out
chants, with spontaneous die-ins. I did not witness any scuffles between protesters and security or police. We entered the Westfield through an open door in the second entrance way that we got to, opposite the Christmas fair thing. The security guards and police were intermingling with the crowd. At one point a lot more police came down an escalator towards us and we all moved away from them. Another line formed, however a tall white man walked up to the line and the police
let him through, so I decided to also try to walk through in the same place, and the police let me through as well. Once through I saw that a ginger haired man was being arrested. I did not see him before, and they were putting handcuffs on him at the time I first saw him. I walked over and spoke briefly, and offered to put a “bust card” into his pocket, which he agreed to. He told me his name and I gave this name to a marked legal observer who was nearby.

The crowd continued through the shopping centre and at about 9pm we left Westfield shopping centre. At that point a lot of people left the demo, I presume because it was late and cold and raining. A group continued up towards the roundabout and the main road, above the bus
station. We walked along the road and onto the West Cross Route. At this location there was a concrete wall and the “pavement” of the dual carriageway. There was another die-in. Suddenly lots more police arrived, with heavier looking uniforms on, and in a sort of formation
that looked like they were about to make physical barriers and “kettle” people. I moved across the road and onto the roundabout to not get trapped. Most people managed to stay outside of the kettle. It seemed to me that it was often the more inexperienced and young protesters who got caught. I spoke to one man who’s 17 year old cousin was one of those who were encircled, and that previously she’d been with some of her friends.

The nature of the arrests seemed very arbitrary. It did not seem in any way led by intelligence, as alleged incidents were so much earlier in the evening. It seemed that those caught in the kettle and subsequently arrested were just unlucky, as most of us managed to avoid this by crossing the road away from the larger group as the police approached. There were no altercations or violent events prior to the arrests. We were a substantial distance from the shopping centre, which was where the alleged altercations happened, according to the media.

This just seemed to be about gathering names and addresses of some of those that were there, and attempting to intimidate folks from attending future demonstrations. And that’s shit – there were so many there last night who hadn’t been on a demonstration before, but were so moved by the overt racism of what happened to Eric Garner and Michael Brown that they came out to protest. And that’s the only way we’re going to see the changes that are so necessary. We need to support those that were arrested, so that instead of their overwhelming memory of last night is a cold, lonely night in the cells, its that the kind of solidarity that they were offering to the victims of racist policing, is in turn offered to them when they need it.

On squatting, homelessness and haircuts

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

When I was eighteen I moved back to London on my own, away from my parents and the small town in which I’d survived my teens. Working as an office runner for Saachi and Saachi in pre minimum wage days, the pay was terrible – all my coworkers were young guys still living with their parents. A platonic friend had let me stay in his spare room until I could find something better. That plan was shortlived – within a couple of weeks he’d acquired a new girlfriend, and she was not keen on me staying there. Refusing to give up on London so quickly, I spent a few days rotating amongst my new workmates’ sofas and then discovered by chance that there were a lot of squats out in East London, where folks were protesting the building of the M11 Link Road, so I headed over and ended up living there for a few months.

I lived in a few different places along the route, until I ended up in a big old shop which had been abandoned years before. The shopfront was huge, and above it there was a 2 floor apartment that would have originally been used by the shopkeeper. The flat looked to have been abandoned years before the shop itself, and had been reoccupied by pigeons. The squatters were taking a room each and doing the disgusting cleanup needed. I couldn’t face that though, and stayed in the shopfront, keeping my stuff out the way during the day and pulling out my bedroll at night. The original squatters were super sweet, and looking back on it, had probably seen my vulnerability as a young female, and so invited me in. We had communal meals, rotated tasks and talked about green politics, the state of the world, philosophy and history. I quit my shitty job at some point and threw myself into the campaign against the road, and against the Criminal Justice Bill which was about to become law.

To get to the shop from the rest of the protest site I would shortcut across a small park with some benches in the middle, always occupied by a few street drinkers. They felt threatening to me, though I don’t recall them ever even saying anything to me. They had unkempt shaggy hair and filthy old clothes and random bags of belongings. As I hurriedly walked past, they stank of stale sweat and alcohol. One evening I got back to the shop and, to my horror, was introduced to one of them, John, who was coming to live with us. I felt like me home was being invaded by one of the people I looked to it to escape from. The squatters had taken me in however, and though I felt really uncomfortable about this old alcoholic moving in, I didn’t feel able to say anything.

As I said above, though I really should probably have taken responsibility for cleaning out one of the rooms above, the stench and filth of years of being used as a pigeon loft had put me off. John however just got stuck in. Full of enthusiasm he carried out to the bins bags and bags of yuck, and began bleaching the surfaces, which I had to admire. I was out most days working on the campaigns, or skipping for food or whatever. John didn’t seem to notice how warey I was of him, and was friendly and welcoming when I got home.

One evening he asked me for a favour. Could I please cut his hair for him? He had scissors ready and insisted he trusted me, though I kept telling him I’d never done it before. His hair was below his shoulders, neglected from living on the streets. I had no clue where to begin, but he was kneeling on the floor expectantly, telling me he was sure I could do it. Ok, here goes!

It was actually easier than I thought it would be, and kinda fun! I quickly chopped off the ragtails, and copied what I’d seen hairdressers do, took chunks of it between my fingers following the arch of his head upwards, I shaped a close crop, leaving it a bit longer on top. It took a while, as I experimented and figured out how to not leave choppy steps, but sort of merge it all together. My fingers were covered in grease from his unwashed hair, but I figured I could wash them and they were still cleaner than his were after he’d been cleaning the upstairs rooms! Afterwards he was really thankful, and had a shower and a shave. I felt much more relaxed around him too. But for other reasons, a few weeks later I moved out as I’d found a new place.

***

A few years later I was at a demo in London. I can’t remember what about. A pleasant looking middle aged couple approached me, the man seeming really pleased to see me, but I had to admit to him that I couldn’t remember who he was. Well, of course it was John. Story was, after I’d left, he’d began a romance with the florist next door and now they were happily married. He’d spotted her and had wanted to smarten himself up, I presume hence the haircut! And then I learned even more. He had been much younger than I’d first thought, and had only been living on the streets for about 18 months. In a really short time he’d lost his job, and then his partner had left him and he’d lost his home and that was how he’d ended up out there. He was drinking because it was cold and miserable and suddenly he’d gone from having a half decent life to being outcast.

***

He thanked me, but never knew how much I had judged him. How much I’d just seen that stereotype of street drinker and hadn’t thought about how he’d ended up there, or how he might move on. The squatters who’d taken us both, and who knows how many others, were making good use of abandoned buildings, creating a home and small community that transformed John and I in different ways. For John it saved him from a brutal and probably short life on the streets. Though his eagerness to get his life together was what made most difference to him, as I can imagine others wouldn’t have found such a dramatic change. That he was relatively newly homeless must have helped – he didn’t yet have years of drinking and ill-health to contend with. I don’t know why the squatters invited John particularly in to the shop – maybe they’d already interacted enough to realise that it would be mutually beneficial. I was brought face to face with my prejudices, and also experienced communal living in a non capitalist environment. Squatting is now much more difficult due to laws brought in to target such terrible people. Did I mention yet how the building was empty, abandoned, given over to pigeons before the squatters moved in and transformed it into a home? That the only reason at John and I ended up there was due to poorly paid or insecure work?

Anyway, I didn’t want to end on a downer as to me this is a really uplifting memory. I’ve probably got some of the details wrong, but I’ll never forget the sensation of John’s greasy, matted hair as I snipped it off, nor the shock of the handsome, happy man he was just a few years later. :) Yayy for the squatters who took us both in and who put so their time and energy into creating such a great little communal home.

You did your best, now please take care of yourselves. Post #indyref love and hugs

September 19, 2014 1 comment

I’m sad for all my friends who feel so upset and disenchanted and have had their hopes for today dashed. I’m unhappy because Cameron et al get to be super smug and that they once again had it their own way. I’m not sad because of the actual result, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to offer all of you who are sad hugs, affection and that, as you have been saying all along, it didn’t end yesterday, whatever the outcome.

mountain-sunset-wallpaperTake some time out for yourselves to mourn and grieve a lost campaign. Take a break – most of you have been working on this for a couple of years and built up to a feverpitch in the closing weeks and days. Look after each other. Cry. But also go for walks in beautiful places. Share tasty and nutritious food. Listen to music. Have a well earned holiday. Encourage each other to rest and recover. You’re all awesome and I’m looking forward to working with you all again in the coming months and years and decades. There remains a world to win. But that can wait while you look after yourselves as human beings first. You are as deserving of a good life as the millions that your activism aims to help. And by taking care of yourselves you set a good example to all those new activists that have been brought in, about how sustainability is fractal and applies to the individual as well as communities and the world.

You all did your best. I’m not saying that as someone who was involved, but as a spectator, and therefore reasonably objective. This was one fight in the long war. I know it was one you poured your energy and hearts and minds and souls into for the past 2 years, and I know well how it feels to have done that, and lost. But there will be more. Because we have a world to win, whereas the ruling class can only lose. We will keep fighting. We will keep organising and surprising them as well as ourselves with our creativity and passion and energy and determination.

l-Puppy-HugsLet your compassion for others be mirrored in your compassion for yourselves and those you’ve been working with. Bake cakes for each other. Offer your shoulders to cry on, and then mourn together. Its ok. We’re all human beings and acknowledging that we’re hurting is an important part of healing.

You’re all awesome. I know we didn’t fight together this time, but we will again in the future. But just now, take some time out and goddamn rest! The struggle will continue. x

None of the above – why I spoiled my #indyref ballot paper

September 18, 2014 2 comments

ballot paperSo although I have been planning this blog post, and indeed what I would write on my ballot paper, for a couple of years, in the end I’m just hurriedly writing it late at night, and I scribbled on my ballot paper on the bus home on Tuesday night just in time to post it for it to be counted.

I could have written this any time, but as many of you know I’ve been partly avoiding those conversations, and the long drawn out attempts at conversion that follow. At least now its too late for you all to make me your target! Also, I’ve been hella busy the last couple of years.

One person, on finding out that I wasn’t going to be voting yes, half jokingly called me a sofa activist and explained that this was because I wasn’t part of the yes movement and therefore clearly was just one of those activists who sit on their sofa all the time rather than trying to bring about change. Happily for my ego, a couple of friends were there who told him that I was more politically active than anyone else there. Not sure if that’s true, but who am I to argue? ;) I’ve more frequently been accused of being a Brit Nationalist. Because everyone’s got to have a nationalism, and if I’m not Team Saltire I must be Butcher’s Apron instead? Kind of like when Glaswegian’s ask you which football team you support, and anything other than Rangers or Celtic results in a “No, but which one do you really support”. Or “What religion are you?” and responding Jewish has them ask whether I’m Catholic or Protestant.

Apparently #indyref has brought a new hope and optimism and wave of activism to Scotland. Apparently if I’m not voting yes its because I’m lacking confidence in Scotland’s ability to “do it ourselves”, “go alone” and “rule ourselves”. I need to be shown the economic facts and figures. What’s more I’m pro foodbanks and austerity. Because voting yes is the only way to get rid of these. In fact that’s why so many on the left deserted or diverted anti bedroom tax organising into yes campaigning :( However, as those clever folks at kittens explain, austerity is an inevitable and necessary strategy by governments within our current capitalist system. “Independence” as offered by indyref does not really free the people of Scotland from the logic of capitalism and that logic leads to austerity, no matter the claimed ideology of those in power. To me, jumping up and down about whether the government is in London or Edinburgh is about as important as whether it’s Labour, Tory or SNP; that is, it affects only details. It describes what sort of scraps we might get. Labour will still cut the NHS and bring in the bedroom tax, and take us into wars. And so too if the government is based in Scotland – its not the tories that are the problem but capitalism and representative democracy.

Another repeated argument I’ve had has been that a government in Edinburgh is easier for us to march on than one in London. That we will feel more empowered by being geographically closer. I lived in south london in one of the poorest areas in the UK for years, a mile or two from Whitehall; I promise that did not make me feel empowered! Organising in my communities, in my workplace, and taking action to directly solve our own problems is what makes me feel empowered, not hearing Big Ben toll.

The romantic in me would love a Scottish passport. And a yes vote would also piss off some people I really dislike, including but not limited to the leadership of all the main UK wide political parties, neofascists, the Daily Mail and Tory voters everywhere. Ooo, and the orange people. Definitely not forgetting them. :) But those are not rational reasons for making a decision.

The most compelling reason I’ve had to vote yes is because of migration. A Scottish government would have different demographic problems to a UK one, and that might bring in more xenophilic policies. There might be less attacks on asylum seekers, less ridiculous conditions on those wanting to come here. I spent many months considering whether I should vote yes for this reason. It was more plausible a probable outcome from a yes vote than that the UK would give up trident. However I was also weighing up other plausible outcomes from a yes vote, and one stood out very strongly – that corporations would have more power to undermine workers’ rights by blackmailing a smaller state that they would relocate south of the border otherwise. Salmond has repeatedly said he wants Scotland to be business friendly. And even if he’s not in power, that’s exactly what every party will do under capitalism. These conflicting issues, that of migration vs “business friendliness” meant that even when I just looked at what changes were plausible it did not give me a clear direction to vote.

I do not act to be awkward or different, I act despite this. Despite it being an unpopular choice. Despite the peer pressure. I have learned that the only approval I actually need is my own. I need to be able to look myself in the eyes and know that I acted in accordance with what I believed to be right at the time. I have in the past acted out of expediency. I have been convinced by others to put aside my misgivings and that the end justifies the means. That I should support something because it will lead to gains in the future, though it was not in itself something I supported. I was wrong. We have no way of accurately predicting the results of any of our actions, especially in something so complex as social change. There are too many interacting variables and unknowns, and unknown unknowns ;) … Rather than attempting the impossible and futile task of picking from what the possible outcomes are of my actions, instead I chose to align my actions to my principles and beliefs. In doing this I am not trying to manipulate others, or compromising for possible benefit ahead, but creating what I want in the here and now. I organise using direct democracy. And I do not agree to things that are against my principles because they might have a positive outcome in the future. When I look back, I am proud of those times I did what I felt to be right at the time, or at least refused to condone something I disagreed with. I am glad that I did not vote to accept the pitiful offer we at the Free Hetherington ended up taking – I was outvoted but I’m still proud that I took the position that I did, and that history showed to be accurate – the University management ignored all of those agreements in the following few months anyway, and we sold out Crichton Campus too. But that’s another, very long, post. I’ve abstained frequently on things, and often wanted my abstention recorded. Its part of being able to look myself in the eyes – I don’t vote for things I don’t agree with.

There’s a bunch of other things I’d like to write about here. About how Scotland is just older than the UK, but really has no more logic. Nationality is a social construct. That the yes campaign has actively harmed the class struggle, not just by diverting every activist and progressive campaign, but by encouraging cross class allegiances and obfuscating power relations. Despite claims that Scottish nationalism is not like UKIP’s brand, but “civic”, I’ve frequently heard talk of the “English”, whether non ethnic Scots should be allowed to vote, versus expat Scots. I’ve heard a lot about how finally we will have those like us in power – no, we will remain with the ruling class in power and their “ethnicity” is irrelevant compared to their role in governing us for capital. And this “If someone walks up to you in the street, and asks you to choose between a dish of shite and a dish of vomit, you wouldnae want to pick either.” (https://www.facebook.com/notes/jens-m%C3%B8lgaard/my-thoughts-on-the-referendum/10205136903610568)

I’m going to end with a quote from an awesome friend. Massive urgings to read the rest of her post.

A referendum isn’t direct democracy – it’s a question framed by those in power offering a choice they are willing to give, which of course is why it’s a question I don’t even particularly want to answer, because what they’re willing to offer is another capitalist state.

http://edinburghanarchists.noflag.org.uk/2014/09/referendum-rant-from-an-immigrant/

Whichever the outcome is, I won’t be too sad. As I said, a yes appeals to me for many emotive reasons. But a no is not bad. Whatever the outcome I’ll still be working with incredible people on projects that I do see as being the seeds of a truly better society. And I’ll know I rejected two options, when I disagreed with them both.