It is almost a month since we had the referendum regarding Scottish independence and we are no further regarding new powers for the Scottish parliament. The timetable, as set down by Gordon Brown, has been well and truly flung out the window and the post-referendum debate regarding further devolution and EVEL was poorly attended. The soon to be ex-First Minister Alex Salmond was quoted as saying in an interview for the Guardian:
Actually, I believe the thing I’m most pleased to leave behind is a highly politically engaged Scottish electorate.”
I think potentially more has been achieved by the whole issue of Scottish independence than mere political engagement. The Parliamentary Labour Party have been exposed as having little to none of a genuine left wing philosophy any more; the Green Party are fast becoming the new alternative party overtaking the Liberal Democrats and seem to be a political force who would keep their promises; Plaid Cymru seem to cementing themselves in the minds of the Welsh as a new radical vote; while all the same the Thatcherite power that is UKIP are convincing English voters they hold the key to genuine change. The SNP in Scotland are being predicted to come out on top in 2015 with a massive majority, potentially one large enough that they may hold great influence over Westminster in the coming years. Northern Ireland has even pricked up its political ears regarding its own path towards further devolution.
All the while this has been going on Russell Brand has released his new book, titled “Revolution”, and has been an ever growing figure within the eyes of the media having been spotted out marching for Democracy. Brand advocates that we have an immediate nonviolent revolution to overthrow the current system. This leads us to ask: what is the genuine alternative?
We live in a time of rampant consumerism, absolute corporatism and religious fanaticism. There exist governments who actively lie to their people to keep the rich in power and who create enemies for their armies to fight. This is scarily similar to the future that Orwell envisaged in ‘1984’. Our current system is outdated and runs on short term ideals designed to keep the powerful where they are those below blind to the problem. Our century is permeated by the attitudes of anti-immigration, Islamophobia and greed. In a time when the decline of organised religion is quite clear, it is clear we can no longer simply blame our problems on God or the power of the church. The Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made this quite relevant observation in his work, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, in the 70s:
“…the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
This is a quote that Brand uses very often himself when discussing ideology. This much is clear to me: the system we currently live under has effectively been in place since the conception of the modern banking system, which came into being since maybe the end of the 16th century and this system has not adapted to the evolution of the human mind. Thus our evolution has been hindered by the fact that we are chained in servitude to debt, an idea covered very thoroughly by David Graeber in his book “Debt: The First 5000 Years”, and the insidious consumerism and materialism that has grown out of this. We are a global, modern empire.
Yet all empires must fall. Assyria, Rome, The Mongols, Ottomans, Spain, France, Britain and now in the modern day: USA & Zionism. The human is naturally autonomous and as such must not be constrained by the ideas of nationality, race, gender, etc but instead must be able to pursue our search to alleviate suffering and increase happiness. This must not be done by hedonistic means, but instead by using the doctrine of co-existence and love. This change must be as Gandhi describe as taking the form of “being the change which you want to see”. From here we need spiritual teachers that can guide people along the path: Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh just to name a few. This is why change will not come in the form of structural change because we cannot change the structure of society until we change the structure of our minds. We must strive to be the best we can be.
I believe this is the revolution that Brand speaks of. He does not advocate violence or death but he certainly argues for change. We must embody the Taoist principle of the natural politic:
Those who lead people by following the Tao don’t try to override the world or use weapons to enforce their will. Using force always creates counterforce. Weapons often turn against the wielder.
If we can change ourselves then our view of reality changes and when our view of reality changes then political change naturally follows without any intention.
So to bring it around full circle: I support Brand’s idea of revolution because we certainly need it, but it isn’t, in my mind, a revolution in which people are going to take to the streets. I was disappointed that Scotland didn’t vote to leave the UK, but this was not the be all and end all, it was only the beginning. Salmond is correct in saying the Scottish electorate is now awakened. When you go to the polls vote with your head and vote for progression and for the politic that can facilitate your revolution. I can tell you now you won’t find that with the Conservative, the Liberal Democrats or Labour. You will instead find it with the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. Vote for them and free your mind.
Image: Ballot paper © www.CGPGrey.com