I am saddened by the No-victory in the Scottish independence referendum. For many years I have been campaigning for a fairer society and world, trying to shake people from their states of complacency, obliviousness, apathy or hopelessness, and to alert them to the horror and ruthlessness of what is variously called neoliberalism, hypercapitalism or ‘free-market’ capitalism.
An opportunity missed
It seems my comrades and I failed to inform and motivate enough people to take advantage of an historic chink in neoliberalism’s armour and to vote Yes. While Scottish independence would not, in itself, have guaranteed escape from neoliberalism’s clutches, it would at least have been a first step to freedom, which is, of course, why all the forces of neoliberalism were ranged against us, using all the tricks at their disposal to bludgeon the masses into voting No.
Note the quotation marks I used around ‘free-market’. This is one of neoliberalism’s biggest lies – that the markets are free. As anyone who takes the trouble to look into it will discover, they are rigged, in favour of the super-rich and multinational companies. (Search, for example, ‘transfer pricing‘ or look at the World Development Movement’s interactive graphic, demonstrating the links between the UK government, financial institutions and the fossil fuel industry.)
‘Free-market’ is but one example of the deceitful terminology used by the proponents of neoliberalism to brainwash and control us, exactly as Newspeak was used by INGSOC to subjugate the people of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984. Just as ‘free-market’ means the opposite of its superficial cuddly, sunshine-and-happiness connotation, so do the terms ‘defence’ (Ministry of Defence/defence force) and ‘together/togetherness’ (Better Together).
The oxymoronic nature of ‘defence force’ needs little explanation, what with the mass-murders perpetrated by the US-UK military-industrial complex in Iraq and Afghanistan and this complex’s unconditional support for child-murdering, ethnic-cleansing Israel. Since WWII how often have the UK and US ‘defence/defense’ forces been used to legitimately and unambiguously defend their respective countries against attack?
The Newspeak credentials of the phrase ‘Better Together’ are best understood with reference to the obscene increase in socio-economic inequality in recent decades (is one human being really worth billions of pounds more than another?) and the societal divisions this causes: the scapegoating of relatively powerless minorities, the breakdown in trust and the increased lack of empathy. (You’ll find plenty of evidence for this linked from my toolkit.) By Scotland staying ‘together’ with the neoliberal UK we are sustaining and financing this massive force for global division and conflict.
The parallels with 1984 do not stop with Newspeak, of course. Here are some other examples:
- WAR IS PEACE (We are constantly told that this war, that war and the other war are necessary to defend peace, ‘our values’ and ‘our way of life’. In reality, war is largely a means of expropriating natural resources and public goods for private benefit.)
- The frequent flipflops between countries with which Oceania is at war/peace and the eradication of the memory/knowledge of this from popular consciousness (The Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi…)
- The need for a hate figure. (No explanation required.)
- FREEDOM IS SLAVERY (In fact, debt induced through, amongst other things, the instilled belief that we need and should have the ‘freedom’ to buy various consumer goods and material markers of status, traps most of us in economic servitude: our ‘freedom’, to buy essentially meaningless trinkets, traps us in slavery.)
- IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (Our ignorance is their strength.)
- BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU (The monitoring of our internet use, emails and mobile phone communications, pervasive video camera surveillance.)
- Pornosec ‘which turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the proles’. (No explanation required.)
- The Lottery (No explanation required.)
- The constant economy drives. (= austerity)
Triumphant No-voters, as you smugly sip your Victory Gin, please read 1984 and compare it to the world we live in: the book was supposed to be a warning, not a how-to guide!
Then, if your conscience troubles you at all, join us, the broad movement of environmental and human rights activists (one example of which is the Radical Independence Campaign), in campaigning to make the world a better place. You will be welcomed, and possibly forgiven, by a diverse group of dedicated and imaginative people.
Remember that if your eyes have been opened by something we have written, said or done (and I include George Orwell as one of us), it is possible for you to open the eyes of others, and if enough of us can see clearly, we may yet win.
BIG BROTHER, WE ARE WATCHING YOU.