The Lamont Doctrine: On Organised Pessimism and the Abolition of Politics

johann

Let’s get this straight: Johann Lamont was right, and Aristotle was wrong. Indeed, Jim Murphy’s much-maligned predecessor is responsible for two of the finest rhetorical expressions of socialist principle in recent Scottish history, and she should be recognised for it. In the United States of America the great civic buildings are often adorned with the epochal one-liners of renowned statesmen, and it would be a scandal if one day – maybe years down the line, but someday – the vast marble slabs of some new shining monument to human emancipation are not engraved with the utterly, unavoidably correct words: “We’re not genetically programmed to make political decisions.”

In 1968, Albania’s enigmatic Communist leader Enver Hoxha – who covered almost every square mile of his small, mountainous nation in thousands of disgustingly ugly concrete bunkers in preparation for the Soviet or NATO invasion of which he was terrified – had his name painted in 100-metre high letters on the side of Mount Shpirag. The most advanced sections of the international proletariat live in eternal hope that one day Edinburgh’s Salisbury Crags, or perhaps the side of Castle Rock, will become the rocky canvas for Lamont’s flawless four-word summation of an incontrovertible historical fact: “Nationalism is a virus.”

“We’re not genetically programmed to make political decisions”

Lamont’s disagreement with Aristotle is fundamental. In his Politics the great Macedonian wrote that Man is a zoon politikon: a political animal. The state emerges naturally as the highest form of association, for only it can enable citizens to live the noble, virtuous “good life”. It cannot just be an association: it must also be a community of virtue, held together by a profound sense of friendship which ensures that each citizen cares about their own virtue and the virtue of everyone else.

Of course, this is fascist garbage. Aristotle could only conceive of this state as “good” because the Athenian polis was the exclusive terrain of rich, slave-owning men. Woman in Aristotle’s ideal society was governed by the citizen-husband; the slave was the tool-that-speaks; the landless proletarii were little more than trash in the street. To include everybody in politics is ludicrous; it implies the kind of pure commonality of interest that would make politics unnecessary. Politics is the game of the oppressor and the friendly banter of the privileged; for everyone else it is simply warfare by other means. To suggest that humans are political animals is to suggest that the oppressed are not human.

In this context, to say that we’re not genetically programmed to make political decisions is just about the most radical statement that exists. It is an insistence on a “we” which stubbornly includes the oppressed, flipping over the cruel board on which the rulers play their games. It is, as a result, a demand for the abolition of politics entirely. Contra Aristotle’s fantasy, the state is a response to this demand, an effort to pre-empt and contain the brutal confrontation that will emerge when the oppressed insist on their humanity in the face of those who deny it. “The state arises where, when and insofar as class antagonisms objectively cannot be reconciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that class antagonisms are irreconcilable.” Johann Lamont was right, and Aristotle was wrong.

The Anti-politics of “Partnership”

Astonishingly, improbably, the leaders of the two largest political parties in Scotland agree with Lamont that politics should be abolished. The trouble is that they believe this has already happened.

In separate speeches on the 26th of February, both Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy advocated “partnership” policy-making, bringing together the contending interests of society to decide on the issues of the day. Murphy wants “the state and voluntary sector working together to tackle disadvantage together,” and hopes to bring trade unions and business into this sphere of mutual interest. Sturgeon similarly argues that a “strong economy” and a “fairer society” are “mutually reinforcing” rather than “competing”. Her “Invest In Young People” group brings together local government, industry, further education and trade unions, and she argues that education policy must involve things like “a closer relationship between industry and education, enabling courses to reflect what companies need.”

To do this, Sturgeon and Murphy must presuppose a space free from particular interests, a level playing-field where no side enters or leaves with a disadvantage. A space, in short, where politics doesn’t exist. So Sturgeon argues that “education underpins all of our efforts to create a fairer, more productive, more prosperous society,” and that austerity has “been bad, not just for many individuals, but for the economy as a whole.” Murphy laments that inequality is “corrosive to our social fabric. It undermines the basic precepts of our society.”

The plausibility of the partnership model is dependent on that plural term: the possessive our, like subject we and object us, hovering mysteriously above the fray, finding bizarre rhetorical constructs like “the economy as a whole” on which it can perch and sing its enchanting song. “We” depoliticises, and this is why the nationalist politicians of Scottish social democracy are so determined to utilise it. Against the reality of class conflict, it posits a world where decisions can be smoothly made in the interests of “all of us”.

But this noble goal is never realised. Once they arrive at the national border, politics begins again. The nationalist hope of a depoliticised “us” is a false one, dependent on a false “them”: for Sturgeon, a crude caricature of “Westminster”; for Murphy, whichever party is keeping a supposedly classless “patriotic” Labour Party out of power.

The Government of “Us”

To trace this logic of depoliticisation we need to turn to history. In the 18th century the art of government was in danger. For early-modern government, the sovereign guaranteed the rights of homo juridicus, the subject of right. But the arrival and expansion of markets spawned a new subject: homo oeconomicus, the self-interested and utility-maximising “economic man”. This man, at home in his market, needed the sovereign to stay out of things. But government, increasingly dependent on markets, still needed to govern to ensure that things were stayed out of. The subject of right and economic man could not be governed in either the realm of rights or in the realm of the market. A new realm had to be conquered.

Foucault identifies this new realm as civil society, and its chief cartographer as a Scot, Adam Ferguson, whose Essay on the History of Civil Society was an influence on both Hegel and Marx. For Ferguson, civil society is like the market, governed by the interplay of individual interests. But these are “disinterested interests”: sympathy, instinct, solidarity, and so on, binding individuals together in civil society. The invisible force of civil society allows the atomistic world of the emerging market to hang together.

But other disinterested interests like jealousy, loathing, and other less amicable quirks of the human psyche, provoke the civil subject to enlist “on one side of a tribe or community”. Furthermore, the market relies on this community, but simultaneously threatens to tear it apart. Something stronger, broader and more cohesive must be found to ensure stability. We find ourselves back at “we”: the nation, anchored in the state.

“Nationalism is a virus”

Ferguson expresses the governing logic of the modern state: nationalism. Because the economy requires humans that are selfish and economic, government is impossible unless they are simultaneously conceived as civil and solidaristic. The management and justification of this contradiction is the central task of governments and their intelligentsia. The internal tensions of every society, forever threatening to send heads thudding into baskets, need to be harnessed and externalised onto whatever is not “we”.

Tom Nairn wrote that “nationalism is amongst other things a name for the general condition of the modern body politic”. He analysed how this art of government spread, not from the rich capitalist countries to the poorer, underdeveloped ones, but from the latter to the former. In the long back-and-forth battle of uneven development, the nationalist cure for internal maladies of the modern state became a contagion, leaping from the economic periphery to the core and back again until it spanned the globe, undergoing terrible mutations in the process. Nationalism is a virus. It infects the oppressed, disguised as palliative care for a crisis-ridden political malaise from which they cannot recover so long as oppression endures. It is the general condition of the modern body politic, and the modern body politic is sick because we’re not genetically programmed to make political decisions.

The ruling class and their hangers-on say it can never be truly cured. Aristotle says we are political animals. Ferguson believes that civil society is in our nature. Nationalism relies on this naturalism, made explicit by Nicola Sturgeon at the David Hume Institute on Thursday: “a commitment to education is ingrained in Scotland’s history; it’s part of our DNA.” Common talk of “Scottish values” serves the same function. The egalitarian Scottish political animal must be presupposed to make governing class society in Scotland possible. Something fundamentally civil must float above the fray.

The civil sphere is the nation itself. It is that thing “in our DNA” that is assumed to exist beyond class and sectional interests. Jim Murphy calls for “a permanent Civil Society Council. A permanent forum where civil society can openly and without reservation, consider, scrutinize and challenge the policies of the Government.” Trade unions, businesses, think tanks, campaigning organisations and so on, are all welcome to take their seats in the powerless, reconciled vacuum of civil society.

Organised Pessimism

If politics existed here, tainting this sacred forum with all the power relationships which politics implies, then civil government itself would be impossible – until it became unnecessary. Every facet of the world would be warlike, unavoidably full of conflict, exploitation and oppression. Politics, if it existed (and thank god it doesn’t!), would require what Walter Benjamin calls “organised pessimism” – “mistrust in all reconciliation: between classes, between nations, between individuals,” until classes, nations, and any residual bourgeois conception of the individual have been swept away by a far grander “we” than those who love the game of politics could ever imagine.

Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy believe the nation transcends politics, that it facilitates the recognition of mutual interests where none would conceivably exist if it weren’t for the old lie of the national interest itself. The entire construct of the national “we” implies that if politics exists, it should be abolished, but it only implies this by assuming that it has happened already.

The intention is surely virtuous. But if politics does exist, it exists everywhere, and requires Benjamin’s solution. We know that politics endures, and that Johann Lamont was doubly right: nationalism is a virus, and it threatens us all because we’re not genetically programmed to make the political decisions which are demanded of us. In recognition of these facts we believe that the only way to eradicate the virus for good is by destroying its source. Politics must be abolished. Let’s call it the Lamont Doctrine.

Our critics insist that we must offer concrete proposals – how else could the nation benefit from our work? We will humour them this time, but our basic proposal is a general principle for political action rather than a particular action itself. A politics which can abolish itself is not so much about the depoliticized “us” as it is about the political “them”. It is about identifying who really holds power, and excluding them to the point at which we have fully included ourselves.  Identify the enemy, and develop and pursue actions which exclude them and them alone. Oppose any action which includes them. This is what it means to organise pessimism.

Rory Scothorne (@shirkerism)

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7 thoughts on “The Lamont Doctrine: On Organised Pessimism and the Abolition of Politics

  1. I shouldn’t get involved here again… But I imagine that an “Entrepreneurial State”, as advocated by the newest addition to the Council of Economic Advisor’s Marianna Mazzucato, is the exemplification of your fears, Rory. And that the idea that the steering classes of Scotland could get it together to publicly invest in far-sighted science and technology, and extract a clear fiscal return from that investment, is another example of the benighted “national consensus” about progress and development that you see as so pernicious about Sturgeon, Murphy, CommonWeal, et al. Staying with the CEA for a moment: Isn’t someone like Harry Burns, who draws strong “Spirit-Level”-style conclusions about equality and access from his term as Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, a useful person to have at a state level when shaping macro-economic policy? Or is ANY macro-level shaping of Scottish socio-economic strategy, responding to the pestilential Nordic consensus abroad in wrong-thinking Scotland, always going to be a mere accommodation with big-C Capital? What about land reform, which increases the regulatory power of the Scottish “state” over productive assets, and which (quelle horreur!) is part-motivated by a “nationalist” narrative about clearance, depopulation, utilisation of a country’s resource, etc? I am NOT suggesting that we jump presumptively to a “Team Scotland” approach – never have. Indeed, I have firmly aligned myself with the Scottish Green party when it comes to Holyrood politics. But I wish you and your brilliant young pals at Uncivil Society would put your efforts into figuring out how a Left-Green Syriza-style front could contend effectively for a determining representative stake in the next (or at least, the one after that) Holyrood Parliament, picking the best people and practices out of the expected (and deserved) oncoming implosion of Scottish Labour, forging a robust policy agenda that could indeed challenge the corporatism of a hegemonic SNP. Instead, it’s post-grad, sub-Zizekian pirouetting in posts on tumbleweed blogs. Therapy for you, Sunday afternoon entertainment for me. But surely a waste of your elan vital.

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  2. Where’s the actual *response* here, Pat? You haven’t actually discussed a single one of the points I’ve made here, many of which I would hope are largely *in line* with your own politics. Unless you believe nationalism to inhere in the human condition (and Nairn almost comes round to that position by the late ’90s), surely you can accept my rather sympathetic analysis of it as a rational, solidaristic and utopian response to the dislocating influences of the market – the heart of a heartless world, to paraphrase Marx on religion. And unless you believe oppression to be inevitable, ineradicable, even *natural*, then surely you agree that politics – the necessary organisational mechanism of an oppressive society – at least *ought* to be abolished? You imply as much, as I suggest: these “steering classes”, to use your favoured Habermasian lingo, must have some kind of forum in which to agree, and for their collective work to be as universally beneficial as you imply this forum must be free from oppression – from politics. My modest proposal is simply that these things will never be free from oppression until class society, patriarchy, white supremacy and so on are eradicated, and therefore politics must be about the appropriate selection of who and who not to exclude until this is achieved. Again, your entire political project implies the same thing – we can only include everybody in Scotland (in our new entrepreneurial state, which requires independence) if we exclude everybody in the rest of the world! Nationalism always needs a “them” – Westminster, or a “that” – the unpredictable “waves” of the world-economy, which we must surf. But your “response” is, as ever, wonderfully indicative of *precisely* what’s wrong with nationalism. The problem is not so much my analysis as my praxis – I’ve chosen to do something which doesn’t benefit the people, *our* people, and for that I’m condemned. It all feels terribly exclusive.

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  3. Good response, gives me something clearer to speak to… I am actually somewhat sympathetic to Nairn’s late 90s position, to the extent that he identifies nationalism as part of an anthropological continuum of group-forming dynamics in the human record (articulated most clearly in his tribute to Ernest Gellner https://www.opendemocracy.net/tom-nairn/prophet-redeemed). I would also note that we have had enough theoretical modifications of the strict nation-state-form in recent years – Castells’ network-state, Bobbit’s market-state, Bauwens’ partner-state – to allow us to be able to understand nationalisms in their adaptive, customisable plurality, rather than as “a virus” per se. Also, sub and emergent nationalisms as – potentially – “laboratories for democracy”, in the Louis Brandeis sense, is a possibility that always seem to evade you.

    But let’s stay at the species-being level for a moment. You’ll know a keystone of my own researches going forward is the “adaptive potentiation” of play in evolved human nature – play as the messy, experimental place where we test our often demanding relations with other complex, self-aware and imaginative humans. As Huizinga and Callois alerted us, law, science, philosophy and of course politics have their roots in the “game” and in “agonistics” (Laclau and Mouffe). And even under achieved and advanced socialist conditions – where the material starting-blocks of becoming an agent in society are higher than at any point in previous history – would we really expect that human difference, the Whitmanesque multitudes we contain and too rarely are able to fully express,will be “swept away by a far grander “we””?

    I go with Trotsky on this – quoted on page something-or-other of The Play Ethic.

    Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution (1924), Chapter seven, ‘Communist Policy Towards Art’.
    Under socialism… all forms of life, such as the cultivation of land, the planning of human habitations, the building of theatres, the methods of socially educating children, the solution of scientific problems, the creation of new styles, will vitally engross all and everybody. People will divide into ‘parties’ over the question of a new gigantic canal, or the distribution of oases in the Sahara (such a question will exist too), over the regulation of the weather and the climate, over a new theatre, over chemical hypotheses, over two competing tendencies in music, and over a best system of sports. Such parties will not be poisoned by the greed of class or caste. All will be equally interested in the success of the whole. The struggle will have a purely ideological character. It will have no running after profits, it will have nothing mean, no betrayals, no bribery, none of the things that form the soul of ‘competition’ in a society divided into classes. But this will in no way hinder the struggle from being absorbing, dramatic and passionate.
    ‘One can say with certainty that collective interests and passions, and individual competition, will have the widest scope and the most unlimited opportunity. Art, therefore, will not suffer the lack of any such explosions of collective, nervous energy, and of such collective psychic impulses which make for the creation of new artistic tendencies and for changes in style. It will be the aesthetic schools around which “parties” will collect, that is, associations of temperaments, of tastes and of moods. In a struggle so disinterested and tense […], the human personality, with its invaluable basic trait of continual discontent, will grow and become polished at all its points.’ http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1924/lit_revo/


    Now we’d agree here, yes? But I never see why a strong civil society/social democratic space, achieved at the level of a nation, cannot concievably – in your eyes – be the basis for this kind of human flowering? Aren’t the institutions and regulations that might guarantee the Trotskyist social-aesthetic utopia buildable at the national level? Aren’t they viable *national* ambitions, however globally their standards and practices are benchmarked?

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  4. I’m afraid that you might be more Trotskyite than me on this – I think conflict continues under socialism (what about racism and patriarchy, for instance? They’re not entirely dependent on capitalism), but in a far less comradely way than you suggest. Not only are old conflicts preserved, through an ideological lag or through relations of production and reproduction, in the body of the state and its society, but socialism will probably have an initially national character – the development of socialism is likely to be uneven, perhaps even more than that of capitalism. It would be utopian to expect the workers of the world to simultaneously unite and lose their chains as one great whole, abolishing all national and class difference in the process; these nasty odours of bourgeois society will linger, and it will be the role of socialist politics and an empowered working class to freshen the air.

    Now you might posit these things – these group tendencies – as *natural*, and you might find an anthropological basis for this, but in doing so you have to admit that they will cause *problems*; those “ideological debates” over the positioning of a canal and so on will cause some amongst the losers to feel like events are somewhat out of their control, and they’ll fall back on older group identities to re-anchor themselves to the world.

    The eurocommunists think they have the solution, of course. Mouffe and Laclau’s analysis is Schmittian, as far as I’m aware (my familiarity with them is admittedly limited, humble “sub-Zizekian post-grad” that I am, but I do intend to swot up) – they accept his postulation of an irrevocably partisan tendency in humankind: “there is always the possibility that this ‘us/them’ relation might become one of friend/enemy.” – but reject the fascist Schmitt’s insistence that it *will* be antagonistic. They say we can be saved from our sinful multiplicity by its institutionalisation in the elysian fields of agonistic democracy. I don’t share their institutional faith insofar as it might tolerate an oppressive and thus antagonistic social order of class, race, gender and so on – I agree with Trotsky that this must be done away with first!

    The trouble then seems to be the *construction* of this safe political framework, which requires genuine antagonism – the grit that forms the pearl, as it were – inspired by the yearning of the oppressed for humanity and their justifiable desire for revenge against their oppressors. I would take Trotsky’s speculation as a picture of communism, absolutely – but not of socialism. And I’m with Badiou on the power of the communist event; it acknowledges the human differences of which you speak but in *radically* doing so, in recognising these differences as simultaneously *equal*, it makes us *indifferent* towards them.

    Or in Marx’s terms (although he’s speaking about the development of the commodity), it “does not abolish these contradictions, but rather provides the form within which they have room to move. This is, in general, the way in which real contradictions are resolved.” They cease to be a source of struggle and become the substance of humanity. They are not yet abolished. If there *were* to be disagreement over these things, as you and Trotsky say, these would be motivated by a desire to agree again, not to eradicate or assimilate the opponent – or, as I would put it, a desire to abolish the *political* disagreement time and time again, every time it reared its ugly head.

    That’s actually quite far away from the position of Mouffe and Laclau, for they explicitly *reject* communism: “the search for a consensus without exclusion and the hope for a perfectly reconciled and harmonious society have to be abandoned. As a result, the emancipatory ideal cannot be formulated in terms of a realization of any form of ‘communism’.” But what else is that desire for improvement, which surely provides agonistics with its dynamism, than ultimately “the hope for a perfectly reconciled and harmonious society”?

    Bloch’s “warm stream of Marxism”, “comprehended hope”, is what I’m getting at here: it is the constant assumption (not unlike Habermas’ ideal speech situation-utopia) that there *is* a possibility of communism, regardless of its functionality, which motivates the oppressed to claim their equality with their oppressor rather than simply accepting their fate as divinely ordained – and the adoption of a rational, necessarily antagonistic means of doing so. So the point here is that anything simply agonistic built on antagonistic foundations will remain unstable, threatened by those who feel that there *is* something better, more agreeable, until it is done away with. The crucial political question is whether that doing-away will be done by the communists, who pursue ever-more inclusion, or the conservatives, who allow its degeneration. This contingency, which Mouffe insists on, is a *justification* for the communist desire to abolish politics, not a refutation of it!

    So we still need to find a neutral terrain on which to construct socialism, where these antagonisms can be developed and pushed forwards. It can’t be the nation so long as we are not “indifferent” to national difference – those who should be part of our politics live outside it, and we’d remain as we are now in an antagonistic relationship with them (in inter-state competition on the world market, at least); but more importantly the nation is a *response* to actually-existing antagonism which cannot neutralise those struggles which cross national borders. To do so we would have to come into mortal combat with the ruling class *within* our borders – a prospect rendered illegitimate by nationalist ideology! Perhaps you’re not more Trotskyite than me after all…

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  5. Fascinating to consider the distinction btwn “agonistic” & “antagonistic”. Antagonism as the struggle against capitalist relations; agonism as the multitudinous, capacious, generative friction between humans, released into their full and complex social being, by the taming-or-abolition of those relations. “Comprehended hope”, yes – but interesting that “prosperity”‘s etymological root means “a condition of hope”, too. The idea of prefigurative politics – be the change you wish to see – is often invoked for radical movements. But my hope for a Scots left nationalism has always been that it can see the national polity as a toolbox or platform for that prefiguration. Which takes me towards Unger’s revolutionary reformism, where a popular appetite for changing and tinkering with institutional forms in society allows for a constant surge of change *without* the need for giant crises to propel it. Which is also, yes, the vigorous “lifeworld” of civil society making the “system” ever more differentiated and responsive (Habermas). And I think we’ve been on this block before…

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    1. Thanks for your continued engagement, Pat. Will reply to both your posts in one – I tried to keep it shorter but I really do need an editor around me at all times for that…

      I’m not sure I’d accept the reading of “antagonism” as simply a struggle against capitalist relations – I don’t think I share your humanism on this, in the sense of that struggle as an endeavour in some way encompassing the “species-being”, as you put it, following the younger Marx. I suppose I’m with the mature Marx; antagonism as an ultimately zero-sum conflict, where one has to accept that “struggling against capitalist relations” really does mean going up to the CEO’s nice office and physically removing him from it, and that’s just for starters. Because all of our movement’s history shows us that if we don’t do that, then at some point during our “revolutionary reforms” they *will* come to our picket lines, our public squares, our campuses, our homes, and physically remove us from them.

      Antagonism means a struggle against people, not just “relations”. But it means more than that, because the power of those more obvious individuals (CEOs, etc) rests on the class which produces it – and then we’re talking about “nice guys” like George Soros, but also publishers (verso books: expropriated!) and so on. *All* these people need to have their property taken away! And I think these people need to be stubbornly understood as the enemy until they no longer have that material interest in keeping others excluded from their own humanity. Antagonism means a war between classes. Agonism really *cannot exist* at least until those contradictions are resolved.

      How can they be resolved by a civil society that can only be “agonistic” insofar as it must exclude those who would transform it into civil war? How can this civil society help us – do we simply persuade, through rational discussion and sly discursive manoeuvres, an entire class of people to *give up* the thing they rely on for a living? Or at a more basic level, not to attack us when we ask for more than they can afford to lose in profit? The ruling class has an actual *army*.

      Do we expect the political fallout of capitalist crises to end in our wee nation despite the continuance of class society at home and abroad? Agonism must be a *framework* for the steering of a given economy, and a society; for a public acceptance of that framework en masse you need to assume that that economy and society are not inherently crises prone, and that they include and benefit not just everybody they affect but also everybody that affects *them*, or else they will constantly face the kind of existential challenges that force real antagonism back to the surface. No state can plausibly hope to safely navigate an uncontrolled global economy forever.

      It’s the stubborn existence of classes, and a world-economy without some form of (even federal) world-government, rather than simply Westminster or Wrong Ideas, which always *obstructs* the kind of politics you want. I see no short cuts! I suppose this all comes down to “taming-or-abolition”. “Taming” does eventually need to result in abolition – if you’re stuck in a room with a lion and the lion has a full stomach, maybe you can tame it briefly, until it gets hungry of course, at which point abolition is your only option. But the modern capitalist lion doesn’t have a full stomach, and there’s little to suggest modern capitalism can fill it – it’s always hungry! If we try to tame it we’ll get eaten.

      Now, I’m sure this all fits with your conception of us as having second-international-era social theory, etc. But the most worrying lesson from the second international is surely the example they gave us of what happens when the nation becomes the model for socialism – as we enter another period of frightening geopolitical and world-economic turbulence, is it really wise to place our hopes in the saltire? It’s hard not to think of the Red Flag:

      It waved above our infant might,
      When all ahead seemed dark as night;
      It witnessed many a deed and vow,
      We must not change its colour now.

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  6. Though there’s more… I’m not essentialist or naive about the “nation” as “neutral terrain on which to construct socialism”, as you put it. I’ve been a semi-religious reader of the NLR for the last 20-odd years precisely because it’s vital to conduct any left-national politics in Scotland with a full awareness of the world-system it may emerge into as a “state” of whatever mode. The Yes campaign I think “prefigured” that healthy agonsitics I am promoting – our diversity around tax, energy, NATO, monarchy and other matters hardly police-able by the SNP. Would the next struggle after a Yes vote have been that of a left-green bloc against the elite-tickling of Salmond, Swinney, Robertson? Of course. All the more reason for “politics” at the Scottish-national level to retain their primacy for the green-left – given the potential incorporations and blandishments lying in wait for a YeSNP Bloc at WM. I understand your desire to keep a Scottish politics focussed on working-class empowerment and benefit – to the extent that a strong and future-minded labour movement is needed to manage the coming wave of automations and global trading shifts (Andre Gorz’s hour may be upon us again – and I may come to your objection to citizens income presently, in this context). But to think this simply can’t inform the strategic direction of Scottish govt policy, in some structurally disabled way, just seemed to be a regrettable limiting of your intellectual reach and agency.

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