from a room in Glasgow by James Kelman

I should lay my cards on the table: I did not vote in the last UK General Election. Nor the one before. Nor the one before that. I never take part in any UK elections. I enjoy a game of charades now again but preferably with my grandchildren.

It is presumed that those who hold my position have no politics. People say: But you must vote! Men and women died for your right to take part! This can be true or false, depending on the argument, but such statements typically indicate an ignorance of radical history. Anti-parliamentarianism is the forgotten strain of the socialist movement in Scotland. Most people know nothing of this. They wait until somebody like myself stops talking then they switch topics. Those who hold views similar to mine are isolated unless directly engaged. Popular history focuses on obsequious warriors in tartan kilts who idolise chieftans and monarchs, lay down their lives for these glorious leaders, and consign for eternal subjection their children and children’s children.

There is an irony somewhere, given that the Scottish Enlightenment is premised on the inherent value of the individual perception. Young people were encouraged to ask questions. Nowadays they learn intellectual deference if not obedience; our education system has lost its own foundation, in favour of the Anglo-American model.

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