PAPER ONE IN THE 10 PART BAIRD SERIES

Determinants of Independence 1. Culture Historically the Scots have suffered more than most from a heavy dose of British Anglophone cultural imperialism, also known as cultural colonialism. Cultural imperialism involves an unequal relationship which favours the more powerful, in this case Anglophone,‘civilisation’ and its culture. In any colonialism project the main divide between the ruling hierarchy and the native is inevitably cultural and linguistic, language forming the basis of culture. Where powerContinue reading "PAPER ONE IN THE 10 PART BAIRD SERIES"

PAPER ONE IN THE 10 PART BAIRD SERIES


Determinants of Independence

1. Culture

Historically the Scots have suffered more than most from a heavy dose of British Anglophone cultural imperialism, also known as cultural colonialism. Cultural imperialism involves an unequal relationship which favours the more powerful, in this case Anglophone,‘civilisation’ and its culture. In any colonialism project the main divide between the ruling hierarchy and the native is inevitably cultural and linguistic, language forming the basis of culture. Where power lies is the pertinent feature here and power over Scotland clearly does not lie in Scotland, far less with Scots language speakers, the latter now a minority in Scotland due to the national Scots language neither being taught nor given any statutory authority.

Many Scots today appear to exhibit Schiller’s “packaged consciousness” whereby the British msm creates, processes, refines and presides over the circulation of images and information which determines beliefs, attitudes, and ultimately the behaviour of Scots pertaining to their very identity itself. Scots have been fed a concentrated British Anglophone cultural ‘package’ for such a long time it is little surprise that some Scots today hold to a British and hence Anglophone ‘national’ identity and buy into the notion of British exceptionalism, and with that comes an implied Scottish ‘inferiority’. 

The native bourgeoisie under cultural imperialism and colonial domination tend to ‘mimic the colonizer’, according to Albert Memmi, in an effort to progress socio-economically and to maintain their status and privileges, in the process casting aside and denigrating their own supposedly ‘inferior’ culture and language. Colonial schools (private fee paying) and elite universities further the segregation process along, with the top jobs often reserved to such groups, according to the Elitist Scotland report. Advertising most of Scotland’s top administrative and commercial posts primarily in the imperial metropolitan capital’s press represents another feature of colonial reality, hence Scotland’s mostly Anglophone meritocratic elite today. 

A consequence of this ‘cultural conditioning’, suggested Scots language expert Dr. David Purves, is a deeply entrenched feeling of Scottish inferiority which we know as the Scottish Cultural Cringe and a ‘schizoid national psyche’ resulting in a people lacking in confidence to run their own affairs.

Depriving a people of learning their own language, Scots in this case, is a common feature of colonial oppression, which facilitates another ‘power’ ruling over them and also serves to divide a dominated people. Frantz Fanon claimed that the desire for independence and nationhood can only derive from our ‘national consciousness’ which is dependent on the national culture and language that necessarily gives a people their national identity. Indeed, the struggle ‘to re-establish the sovereignty of any nation constitutes the most complete and obvious cultural manifestation that exists’

The aim of assimilation in colonialism is therefore progressed by denigrating a ‘peoples’ culture and depriving them of their language in an effort to replace their national culture and identity and diminish their desire for nationhood or independence. Any quest for independence is ultimately a fight for a national culture which means the struggle is therefore primarily dependent on culture and national identity rather than political ideology, ‘for liberation is a cultural phenomenon’.

Gramsci’s theory of ‘cultural hegemony’ reflects here the ruling class order maintaining cultural control and usage of that control as the primary tool by which they – the ruling class -keep itself in power. In Scotland this cultural control is maintained by what Scottish folk singer Dick Gaughan called ‘an illusion of culture’, and the idea or rather fantasy that there is one ‘British’ culture which is shared by one ‘British’ society within one ‘British’ nation; the foundation of this illusion is language, the English language. This cultural illusion, which is an artificial political construct, extends to music and the arts, though its basis is language, and specifically the English language, reflecting an Anglophone cultural hegemony controlling Scotland and its institutions and forming its ruling establishment. The British State has in effect built a ‘racial separation wall’ and a racial entity that can exclude others, such as Scots language speakers, under a mantra of the importance of the elevated Anglophone culture in which language plays a decisive role. Colonialism, after all, involves racism, prejudice and worse.

Those Scots of indigenous culture and identity for whom the Scots language remains predominant, naturally form the bulk of the pro-independence vote in Scotland, much as indigenous language speakers in many former colonies sought secession. The anti-independence ‘No’ vote, on the other hand, which is enhanced through an irregular and non-reciprocal residence-based franchise, is to a large extent Anglophone. The latter emphasizes and reflects those primarily holding to a British national identity and tends to be made up rather differently and will be substantially boosted by ongoing uncontrolled demographic change and may now perhaps comprise people mostly of non-Scottish indigenous culture and heritage, language, and identity. All ‘peoples’ in self-determination conflict are linguistically and hence culturally divided, reflecting the natural desire of an oppressed people to reject and fight against what the UN calls the ‘scourge’ of colonial domination and (cultural) imperialism.

The cultural capital of Anglophone elites therefore differs from that of indigenous Scots native speakers in Scotland, the latter now mostly comprising the working class, which in itself is no accident in a colonial dominated society reflecting structural inequalities. The Scots are a people who remain subject to an ‘alien’ culture and language that is imposed on them which is not their own and which makes them, and is intended to make them feel inadequate and inferior, hence the ‘Scottish Cultural Cringe’. This also provides impetus for the mainly bourgeoisie segment of the native population to opt for greater assimilation and in the process to cast aside their own culture and language. Outcomes here reflect the imposition on Scots of what Professor Michael Hechter termed an ‘ethnic division of labour within the UK internal colonialism model’. This process is referred to by Bourdieu as ‘enculturation’ and is an inevitable and intended outcome of cultural and linguistic imperialism.

The ultimate aim of cultural imperialism is therefore to remove and replace the natural national culture of a colonised people. According to Frantz Fanon, ‘cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality’, implying that once national sovereignty is forfeit, the national culture is surely going to follow suit. In terms of colonial and cultural domination, the Scots are therefore culturally and hence ethnically oppressed, giving rise to the psychological condition we refer to as the Scottish Cultural Cringe (the scientific term for which is internalized racism) and a negative feeling of inferiority amongst Scots which also results in a range of associated long-term adverse health impacts. This condition, which is closely connected with prevailing societal inequalities, lack of attainment and under-development of the Scottish people and nation, is imposed by and embellished through adominant Anglophone cultural hegemony. 

Scotland therefore needs to halt the ongoing ‘symbolic violence’ inflicted on its people by a British Anglophone cultural and meritocratic elite and allow Scottish culture and the Scots language, which collectively form the basis of Scottish identity and hence national consciousness, to develop naturally and respectfully and without undue external influence and domination. In this regard independence is necessary because, as Fanon reminds us,‘national sovereignty and independence is the only guarantee of national culture.

Scottish national culture therefore represents a key determinant of Scottish independence.

COMMENT

This is the first paper from Professor Alf Baird setting out the key determinants of Scottish Independence. I am delighted to be publishing them all on the Yours for Scotland site with one article each week, published every Sunday. The idea is to broaden the case for Independence and to allow Independence supporters to be well equipped for marshaling our arguments for Independence and able to explain both the need and benefits of such a move. Please share these papers widely.

I AM, AS ALWAYS

Yours for Scotland

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