Irreconcilable differences

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Sometimes it’s the little things that get to you. The memory from yesterday’s demonstration at Perth Concert Hall that is most vividly imprinted on my mind is one of those little things. From what Police Scotland deemed greater than egg-pelting distance, I was watching members of the British Conservative Party (North Britain Branch) as they filed into the building where they would be among the select few privileged to participate in the process of choosing the next British Prime Minister to be imposed on an evidently unwilling Scotland. As they followed the route reserved for them many seemed to hug the Concert Hall’s curved glass facade as if unsure the steel barricades and serried ranks of police officers and security guards were enough to protect them from the crowd gathered to protest against everything these staunch Tories stand for. As I watched, I couldn’t help wondering what kind of people they are, these Tories. What manner of person is it who could think the exercise in which they were engaged was normal and democratic? What goes on in their minds?

As if responding to my perplexity, a tall, white-haired, bespectacled gent in full country-casual regalia of tweed, cavalry twill and brown brogues turned to regard the protestors just before he passed through the heavily guarded doors. The expression on that bastard’s face is the image that has stayed with me. Brief as it was before, with a despairing shake of the head, he returned to the business of being part of the divinely-ordained ruling class, that glance conveyed a contempt and revulsion so profound that it hit me almost like a physical blow. There was real hatred in that look. It may have been just a fleeting glance but it left no doubt that this Tory considered me his enemy. My lizard brain responded as nature intended. Hate begets hate. In that fraction of a second I was filled with the urge to beat that look off his face. His entitled outrage had to be at least matched by my righteous anger. They coexist. There cannot be one without the other.

That moment of visceral antipathy passed ─ for me, at least. Rationality returned. Of course, I was not going to rip that guy’s eyes out. But even with all of them intact we are never going to see eye-to-eye. There can be no compromise. There is no compatibility. No possibility of consensus. To employ the vacuous cliche, we cannot simply ‘agree to disagree’. This is not merely a difference of opinion. It’s not just a conflict of ideologies. It is something much more fundamental. We live in different worlds, the Tory and I. Were my own mental map of the world to somehow be instantaneously replaced with his, I would be totally lost. I wouldn’t recognise anything. Nothing would be familiar. The inside of his head is a place that is totally alien to me ─ as mine surely is to him. However much we may have in common, we share nothing. If his entitlement is to be preserved, I must be subjugated. If I am to avoid subjugation, he must be stripped of his entitlement. Until one or other of these things happens, there can only be constant conflict.

Unionism / British Nationalism is but one aspect or manifestation of the sense of entitlement to which I refer. Most Unionists or British Nationalists are Tories and most Tories are Unionists or British Nationalists because both are rooted in the same worldview and the mindset that derives from it. There is no such thing as a typical Tory. They can’t be identified by appearance. Outwardly, the people entering Perth Concert Hall yesterday were as varied as those prohibited from even getting close. Although the demonstrators were definitely more colourful. What distinguishes one from the other is their attitude to other people and society as a whole. If I was forced to use a single term to illustrate this difference that term would be social conscience.

What was separated by the barriers and police presence at Perth Concert Hall yesterday was not two opposing viewpoints with the possibility of some middle ground where minds might meet, but two states of mind which are totally incompatible and completely irreconcilable. One side of the barriers was awash with social conscience. The other side was a desert by comparison. Which will prevail is not at all clear. But I know where the power lies.

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19 thoughts on “Irreconcilable differences

  1. You may well have a “lizard brain” that “responded as nature intended” to the look of disdain and displeasure that the countrified individual entering the hall displayed towards those protesting.

    However, although the self-entitled gent that engendered that reaction in you looked similar – attire aside – to other ordinary mortals you might find that beneath the outward skin lies a another reptilian epidermis covering a body through which ice-cold blood flows.

    At least you’re human!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nail hit on heid. There can be no compromise. And the cultures fall neatly into two camps of the indy conflict. Britnats vs Scotnats. There is no common ground. Scotland will be a free and soverign state or amalgamated into England. No point in appealing to soft Nos to change. They will revert to type as soon as the first Project Fear trumpet sounds. Let’s get on with it…Scotland Free or a Desert.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. If we don’t “appeal to soft No’s”, how do we win Independence? Without them moving into the Yes camp, any referendum (whether the Scottish Govt’s or Peter’s) will fail. I’m convinced the malcontents are “up for the fight”. I’m just not convinced they’re bothered about whether it is won or lost …. so long as they get the fight. I want a fight we can win.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Maybe not diehard, but certainly Unionist. There are two main potential sources for the additional votes we need ─ non-voters and those beginning to have doubts about the Union. The same strategy works in both cases ─ get them angry.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I were discussing this very topic this morning. The divide is simply too wide. As you say: different worlds. I have to say that I have met decent Tories who really believed they were doing what was best for them, and I do think that there are different strata, but, in the end, the policies they support and force on the rest of us are killing many of us. There is, to my mind, absolutely no excuse for lack of self-awareness unless you lack the faculty to be self-aware – and we all know that many are born without that faculty or learn it or develop it. We also know that some form of mental/neurological impairment is the foundation. We have to forgive these people.

    What we should never forgive nor even attempt to understand lest we be caught in their snare or if we look back in historical terms and understand it from a purely historical viewpoint and have nothing invested ourselves, are those who know perfectly well that they are b******s, parasites, bloodsuckers, I’m All Right Jacks, but simply do not care. Then, there are those who own huge parts of Scotland and want to keep it. Some of them at least have the self-awareness to know that they are on a shoogly peg, but I can understand them too, because, if an estate, for example, had been in my family for hundreds of years, I’d not want to lose it either.

    It is those who, in either a small or big way, are completely in control of their faculties, have a life that is well above that of the average person, yet who always want more and will happily watch as less fortunate people are deprived of the essential of human existence, and have no pity, no soul, no human feeling for those less fortunate, but who view them as prey, as fodder, as theirs to exploit and strip of all humanity. This happens right across the board, and not only with Tories, as we are all well aware, but the Tories are at the very apex of this dominant philosophy that, every so often, ends in great tragedy for the very simple reason that they never see the tipping point coming an are always caught unawares and on the back foot. They truly believe that other humans can be pushed to the limit of, and beyond, endurance.

    Liked by 10 people

  3. I’m really annoyed at unionists (of all varieties) continually harping on about how “divisive” the Scottish independence movement is. Is this an attempt to control the moral high ground by portraying us as the divisive ones? Well, it takes a minimum of two groups to make a division, and one side of the division calling the other out as “divisive” doesn’t really cut it IMO. So why do they do it? Serious political/ constitutional divisions often come about as a result of external (colonial?) influence. As a supporter of Scottish independence, I feel labelled by the UK media (and many unionist scots) as “divisive”. It’s like we are the bad ones. TBH I’m not sure the best way to respond. How do you respond to someone who has already made up their mind that you are “divisive”? Is it worth responding? It does concern me that people who have still to decide Yeah or Nay may be listening to this “divisive” guff.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Aye. The whole ‘divisiveness’ thing is an example of the propaganda tactic of taking something normal and turning it into a stick with which to beat ‘the other’. Division is the very nature of human society. We could argue that it’s the very nature of the human species. It is how we deal with division which is important. Despite its flaws, democracy is the best method yet discovered.

      The propagandist takes this very ordinary division and associates it with conflict so as to justify denying the democracy which is intended to prevent that conflict. If that doesn’t make sense, the propagandist doesn’t care. Propaganda doesn’t address its target at a rational level. It plays on the base instincts and urges bequeathed to us by evolution.

      Another example that will be very familiar to you is the ‘uncertainty’ which the No campaign played on so successfully in the 2014 referendum campaign. Obviously, there is always uncertainty. It is a normal part of life. The trick that Better Together pulled was to take the uncertainty that everybody is aware of and associate almost entirely with the idea of independence. The propagandist portrays the ideal of life without uncertainty or division as the normal which is being denied to us by the independence campaign.

      Our mistake – the Yes campaign’s mistake – was a near complete failure to understand and effectively counter the No campaign’s propaganda. In fact, we made matters worse by appearing to accept responsibility for the uncertainty. We took it on ourselves to try and end the uncertainty. We tried to provide definitive answers to a barrage of questions which have no definitive answers and so amplified and exaggerated the doubt triggered by those questions.

      The real tragedy is that none of the lessons of that first campaign have been learned. Sturgeon seems determined to emulate the first Yes campaign as closely as possible. Which means making all the same mistakes again.

      You will hear a lot of people say that our opponents won’t be able to use the same lies and smears again because they have been proved to be false. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! This is a tragic failure to comprehend that truth has little bearing on propaganda messages. The lie that is told to trigger doubt in some minds – which is all Better Together had to do – will continue to trigger doubt in the lizard brain regardless of what people know in their rational minds. People don’t vote on the basis of what they know. They vote on the basis of what they feel. The No campaign made people feel doubt about independence. They will do precisely the same again. They’re doing it now. And, led by Nicola Sturgeon, the Yes movement is still helping them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Was on board with Peter’s argument here till the inevitable Sturgeon stuff at the back end of it. You do not know what Sturgeon/SNP will argue in the upcoming campaign. You only have your opinion/bias/fears of what line they might take and the lines they might eschew. Your comment above was pretty much spot on till you sullied it with an unnecessary “divisive” (sic) tack.


      2. I don’t think failings in 2014 was the fault of the YES movement, but of the politicians we relied upon, mainly in SNP who were way too timid to hit back as they shouldn’t have done.
        Always far, far too polite, lest they be seen as “aggressive”, all the while, the anti Scottish side were outright aggressive, and telling barefaced lies the whole way thru.
        We have examples of that right now, with MP Truss once again going unchallenged on her deliberate lies about promises of “Once in Generation” deals for 2014.
        She has not been challenged on that. And she must know it is a lie, and one she dares to now embellish, as being the basis for “allowing” the 2014 Vote.
        In fact, pro Independence politicians have themselves to blame for their abysmal failure to shoot that one down both at the time, and since.
        And yet the only one actual promise made to Scotland in 2014, was that we would not be taken out of EU, via English votes. We would stay in Europe.
        What has Madame Truss to say on that particular promise, that didn’t last 2 years?

        And again, we witness their attempts to portray the pro indy demo against the tories at Perth the other day, as some kind of baying, out of control “mob”, and helped along very nicely by bitterly anti Scottish Media outlets, such as The Glasgow Herald.
        Sure the James Cook thing was unfortunate, but it was very, very minor, but has been blown sky high by the Media.
        That same Media, BBC especially, that was happy to lie about the anti Scottish demo and attacks by mainly “Loyalist” types at George Square the day after the Vote in 2014.
        BBC journalists like to forget that bit, or at any rate, play it down.
        And we do note, there was not as much outrage in Scottish Media, when the Speaker of England’s Parliament showed the most appalling and actual naked aggression against the 2 ALBA MPs in House of the Commons, other month.

        So if the tories want to girn off, and BBC wants to girn off, and The Glasgow Herald, et al, let them condemn the English Speaker first, ‘else having given their acceptance to that outagious example, they can hardly complain if a few pro Independence folks get themselves a little carried away.
        But it does show the brazen hypocrisy of the other lot, and that at demos of this kind, YES supporters have to be mindful of such tactics, and don’t give our enemies ammunition to use against us!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is the fault of the Yes movement that it failed to question the strategy and tactics deployed by the politicians. But I’m not concerned with blame, other than where apportioning blame may serve to teach us something useful. What I am mostly concerned about is learning the lessons of the first Yes AND No campaigns. That is emphatically NOT happening. And this time the bulk of the blame rests with the Yes movement. Because we knew the SNP had failed to do any meaningful analysis of the 2014 campaign. We know they drew no lessons from it. We know they are intent on pursuing exactly the same strategy and tactics. Or at least, we know that they have told us that’s what they intend.

          The Yes movement had its chance to change things at last year’s election. The CHOICE was made not to bother ─ because it was difficult and there was more fun to be had doing other stuff even if it could do nothing for Scotland’s cause.

          It doesn’t matter if demonstrators “don’t give our enemies ammunition to use against us”. Our enemies will just make ammunition. If you play by their rules, you ALWAYS lose. Because their rules will ALWAYS prevent you from doing what needs to be done while leaving them free to do whatever it takes.


          1. “Or at least, we know that they have told us that’s what they intend”.

            Could you give us actual evidence of this? Or are we just to take your word for it as usual?


            1. You could try paying attention to what’s reported in the media and via the party’s press releases etc. Of course, if it is not a single, simple, explicit statement such as politician’s NEVER make, it won’t be comprehensible to you.


  4. “We live in different worlds”

    Yes, and Frantz Fanon described colonialism as just that, “a Manichaean world”. In colonialism it is only the “colonizers values that are sovereign” but, and its a big but, there are “no human values in colonialism”. As Aime Cesaire put it: “between colonization and civilization there is an infinite distance”. What you describe here, Peter, is a native people forced between “two psychical and cultural realms”. The dominant cultural realm of the oppressor represents the racism embedded in colonial rule.

    Liked by 5 people

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