Posts Tagged ‘History’


Has the Alternative Media become as manipulative as the Mainstream News Outlets?

As someone who has grown to be quite disgusted with the corporate and elitist nature of mainstream media outlets (MSM), I have found myself drawn to sources of alternative news. It wasn’t simply because they discussed subversive and thought-provoking topics, it was also because they exposed the blatant lies that MSM outlets espouse on a daily basis. It became refreshing to learn about subjects on politics, history and the economy that the MSM wouldn’t even dare to mention. It wasn’t necessarily the “sensationalist” conspiracy theories about Lizards that I was attracted to; as it was enlightening stories about international banking cartels, deeply suspicious foreign policies and the stealthy attacks on our democracy that drew me in. And one of the great things about the Alternative Media was that they operated outside of the LeftvsRight paradigm whereas the MSM are persistent in their divisive propaganda and bias to serve their establishment agenda.

But this once thriving community of alternative opinions and well researched journalism has transformed into a toxic environment that is full of hate, a lot of virtue-signalling and full of “headline-grabbing” material. Intelligent and rational discussions on immigration have descended into xenophobic and racist ramblings, important questions regarding security at Mass homicides has turned into ludicrous discussions about ‘dummies’ and ‘fake blood’. Some of these news outlets have even become gradually reluctant to discuss the financial and political scandals that occur at the very highest echelons of the elite society. These Media outlets such as Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos and  Paul Joseph Watson’s YouTube channels are a blatant example of this, as they often tap in to the negativity of a situation and bring out the darkness out of it without offering any clear solutions. It is unclear how this transformation of the alternative media has come about, I think it is too simplistic to blame this entirely on Brexit and Trump. Perhaps this is closer to our human desire to be controversial and to change ourselves into enemies rather than to be reasonable allies. History has shown a tendency for society to fabricate the truth in order to gain attention and popularity, back in Seventeenth century England a newspaper called Mercurius Bellicus tried to improve their readership by reporting on the execution of Charles I in 1648, a year before his actual death. The modern era does still offer some credible alternative news outlets that provide well researched and open minded conversations. The activist/writer David Icke and the Journalist – Richie Allen seem to offer balanced and insightful debate that does not rely upon the ‘cult of the personality’. Unfortunately both of these outlets have suffered from demonetisation on YouTube and have even faced smear campaigns based on unfounded hate crimes. 

The demise of the Alternative Media presents a bad path for the future of radicalism. The writer Asbjørn Wahl has recently claimed, that to solve our current social crises “any party of the left will need to have more radical alternatives, visions and solutions – very different from the political centre or the right“. How are we meant to deliver a true radical programme for the people, if our ‘alternative’ media have resorted to the same regressive and divisive rhetoric that is characteristic of Mainstream media outlets like The Daily Mail or the Daily Mirror? Being confrontational is something which should be encouraged for journalists, academics and politicians alike, as it allows us to challenge the status quo instead of being afraid to touch upon difficult topics. However this does not legitimatise the right to falsify information and to make the style of your reporting more important than the substance. If we have lost our grip on making Radicalism an ideology of integrity,  then it is down to us to ensure that our alternative, unorthodox and independent media does not fall down the dangerous path of the Mainstream Media.


This is actually a poem that I wrote a little while ago, it was my first attempt at mixing Science Fiction, History and Radical Politics together in a captivating way. I plan to make an entire saga of poems in the future based on Glitzy (Glitchy) Paradise. Whilst it is difficult, it is important to try and broaden our horizons when we write creatively; the process often make us stumble across something wonderful, disturbing or intriguing. In a world where people are often afraid to challenge their own principles or values, this can prove to be a valuable tool.



Can an historian be objective whilst also being politically active?

My previous blog posts have often mentioned the need for people to accept more political and social responsibility if they are to genuinely subvert a system that oppresses us. But more specifically, it is the idea of academic responsibility that needs greater evaluation. In the wake of a series of political “rebellions” (Brexit and Trump) in which the ‘expert’ was no longer to be trusted and that all sovereign power should be naturally diverted to the people, it is important to provide some brief clarity as to how this has come about. Much has been made about our political culture operating in a post-truth world but I see it only as a post-trust world where evidence and facts are either withheld, suppressed or falsified. In my opinion, this means the obligation for clarity and truth rests on the professionals who have the ability to inform the wider public about the knowledge they currently hold. Unfortunately it is these same academics who are have been accused of dictating their knowledge in a manner that can appear arrogant, self-righteous and elitist. It is no wonder that professors and universities are seen as tools of the establishment rather than tools of the people. The assault on intellectual behaviour does not stem from a resentment of an academic work ethic but from a belief that academica has withdrawn itself from the ‘working man or woman’.  Secondly, with the ongoing reports of universities clamping down on freedom of speech only emphasises the greater obligation for academics to give a better representation of academic life. My experiences with universities have mostly been positive, it was only 2 months ago that I had a good conversation with a university lecturer at Goldsmiths about the need for academics to expand their intellectual reach. We are starting to see this in video games and television shows, but much more work is required.


Is our Judicicary accountable to the people? Could we even regard them as academics?

There was an inspiring story in the news last week about an historian called Mark Curtis who is digitally publishing hundreds of declassified documents regarding the government’s shadowy international dealings from the mid 20th century onwards. These documents are already available for the nation to access but unfortunately the public are widely ignorant of this. Curtis is not doing anything groundbreaking. But by making the public more aware of this country’s history,  he is arming the people with weapons of information to attack the establishment. Whether, people will be receptive to Curtis’s efforts is a different matter entirely. (the media will certainly stifle any attempts for people to unite against injustice) But in an era where censorship is beginning to override political liberty we need to convince citizens that universities and academic insitutions can be our allies not our enemies.

Lately, I have been thinking about the sort of cultural advances we as species need to make if we are to overcome some of the global hardships we face right now. Since I decided to renew my poetic endeavours, I have recognised that there is an emotional and intellectual vacuum in our society. We have become a race that seeks quick solutions to deeply complex historical problems, a race that wishes to ignore the grey moral areas and rushes to the blacks and whites, a race that believes in replacing subjectivity with defined rules about how the world should be run. Writing poetry again has reminded me that there are few things in life that we can fundamentally reject; poetry has allowed me to recognise the fluidity of language, nature and history that resides beyond politics and foreign affairs. This is not to say that we should live in a world of little to no boundaries, but that we should embrace a world that believes in challenging unquestionable truths.

I also feel that this flexible world will be encouraged by the works in science fiction, I am not necessarily talking about the big blockbuster Hollywood movies we watch from time to time (most of those films end up reinforcing the same societal stereotypes that have led us to this position), but the sort of science fiction that considers what a truly radical future could do for humanity. More importantly, it is the sort of literature that could encourage us to envision a world where political structures operate far differently, it also emphasises the value of discovery with the way it can interact with controversial scientific subjects without the moral weight that a scientist may carry. Finally and vitally, it is this sort of creative endeavour which inspires the reader to imagine a future that breaks with conventions of the past. This process of questioning, challenging and tackling unknown realms has positive repercussions when it comes to our attempt to be politically radical; history has shown that some of the most momentous changes occur people have the willingness to break down their socio-political barriers. But one of the most interesting aspects is how a certain revival in fantasy and science fiction is motivating people to envision new possibilities. I have always felt it is easier to break down structures and deconstruct systems than it is to build futures, this is especially relevant in a world where revolution and reform has become fashionable and little thought has gone in to the actual process of change.

Politics: Fiction, Non Fiction & Depends on Point of View.

Could Science Fiction teach us something about Political Science?

Politically and historically, new visions and prophesies were used often used a method to break down traditional social barriers.  There used to be a time in politics when our political representatives use to believe in far-reaching possibilities for the future. The Fifth Monarchists of the 1640s and 1650s were the perfect embodiment of a how a hostile political period could produce such grand imaginations for the future. As the Civil war in Britain and Ireland raged on. They prophesied that in 1666, Christ would make his return and bring forth his fifth monarchy (the first four being the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman retrospectively). By modern standard, these views may seem slightly outlandish, but this was an ideological that was genuine and committed. I do not particularly wish for a revival of this sort of religious zeal but I do no think it is too much to ask for politics to include a similar level of principled integrity.


A Leading Fifth Monarchist – Will our next revolution need a religious nature?

The Three Body Problem is an important example of how science fiction (and science itself) can help us to envision new futures whilst we go through the motions of revolution.

The book begins with the Character Ye Wenjie and the devastating way she witness’ her father’s ( a leading professor) persecution during the 1974 Chinese Cultural revolution. Having been born into an academic and therefore bourgeois family, she faces the brunt of the revolutionaries’ wrath: her own mother betrays her father for the survival of her position and her life.  Because of Ye’s scientific expertise she was luckily recruited into a top secret military base which gave her a chance to redeem herself politically. Whilst monitoring the air waves in spaces Ye encounters what she believes is alien communication. She then proceed to send a response as an invitation for the aliens to invade earth and reform human society. She also manages to meet with and persuade a billionaire environmentalist to invest in the preparations for the aliens to visit earth. The novel then fast forwards to the future through the life of Wang; a nanotechnology professor. The professor then has some very strange experiences including hallucinations of glowing numbers and strange coloured atmospheres. He ends up working with a police officer called Da Shi to investigate the mysterious recent deaths of some scientists. He come across a mysterious virtual reality game called Three Body, and decides to participate. The objective of the game is figure out how to create a stable weather atmosphere on the fictional planet called Trilosaris; Wang eventually develops a theory based on the orbit of the three suns around Trilosaris called the Three Body Problem. Wang’s reward for reaching the objective is an invasion to the Three Body Society which is led by our initial protagonist Ye Wenjie. The Three Body Society was developed the virtual reality as a sort of playful experiment based on research from corresponding with the aliens. When Wang attends the meeting it is broken up by the police officer Shi and Ye is thrown in to custody. As Ye gives her testimony, the reader begins to understand the moral breakdown of Ye as she reveals how she callously killed her husband and colleague to suppress the knowledge of alien correspondence – we also reveal how her disturbing political past became the main motivation for her to invite the alien invasion. For the final section of the story, the novel switches to the aliens’ perspective as they first receive Ye’s transmission. They decide to meticulously destabilize Earth’s technological advancement for the next 400 years through the release of certain protons towards earth. This is done in order to ensure that when the aliens arrive on earth, they will face no detrimental hostility as they look to sustain their superiority over humanity. The final chapter of the novel features a reflective Ye as she admits that the world will never remain the same.

I felt that the book was a fascinating exploration of how humanity could actually respond to the prospect of alien intervention. The way in which the book contrasts the radical societal changes from the Cultural revolution with the psychological prospect of cosmic intelligent life is entertaining and stimulating. It examines the way in which historical legacies can make a drastic impact on how one perceives the world. Whilst this book was a great piece of creative work that broadened my mind I want to try and demonstrate how this book sort of is especially relevant in a politically unstable world that struggles to enter new ways of thinking.

There is prominent historical methodology called Whiggish History which asserts that humanity has been following a path of political, social and economic progress from its very inception to the present day. This book essentially challenges that mode of thinking, this is demonstrated when Ye decides to invite the Trilosarians on to earth because  Humanity has hit a huge obstacle which has ceased its ability to advance as a civilisation. Ye’s reasoning may be considered to be slightly extreme by some, especially if we consider the technological advances we have made in recent years however many current political commentators have stated about the cultural regression of society and how we have reentered the ideological arenas of the 70s, 60s or even the 30s and 40s.

The upheaval that preceded World War II and the need to to avoid repeating mistakes have cast a long shadow since Chancellor Angela Merkel was re-elected in September with no obvious coalition partner. While no-one is predicting a return to fascism, the unexpected threat of instability at the heart of Europe’s biggest economy has alarmed business and political leaders alike.


The German election of 2017 is eerily similar to the one in 1933. Is this really a mark of political progress?

It is true that fascism has evolved in complex and sophisticated ways but it is important to recognise that it is a regression to a political idea which has shown to be morally defunct and politically ineffective (in the long term). Furthermore, although Germany has attempted to break away from its the horrors of its political past, they still suffer from the ghosts of their national failures. In a way this has some semblance with Ye’s belief that humanity has reached the point where it will eventually become prone to repeat its historical mistakes. Her belief may stem from witnessing the human rights violations that existed after the Cultural Revolution, but it may also resonate with an idea that perhaps humanity has already peaked. Popular Culture in terms of block buster television shows are increasingly portraying a world where our new machinery will eventually lead to our own demise. Sci-Fi films like GeoStorm and Tomorrowland have already explored the difficult relationship between human responsibility, technology and the environment. I once heard in a lecture from Alan Watts(dated 1970) that humanity’s ignorance with the spiritual/natural and their adoration for the technological is akin to self harm, he once claimed that this age is for “The Misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and consequently, its eventual destruction”. It is important to recognise that the advance of science can radically expand to our world for new possibilities, but we must also be aware like Ye Wenjie of Mankind’s tendency to revert back to a state of such primitive political thinking.

Another important and thoughtful aspect that Three Body Problem touched upon was the ever-changing relationship between the subject and the state. Although Ye Wenjie was given the opportunity to work in her profession without political prosecution she was still effectively a political prisoner who was forced to abandon not her and her family. It could be argued that these suppressed feelings of shame, anger and injustice eventually exploded in her drastic decision to invite the Trilosarians to Earth. I have often felt that Ye Wenjie is the embodiment of the modern day populist; the subject who has felt ignored and deserted in a world that rapidly evolved around them. In many cases this could result in fear or docility, but it could just as dangerously lead to rage, resentment, the emboldened rise of the Far Right in Europe and the persistent and  continued support for Donald Trump is strong example of what cultural suppression can do for a nation. Furthermore, this also has repercussions for political radicalism. Many activists and commentators acknowledge that a huge moral awakening is needed if we are bring about genuine progressive change. However due to the fact that humanity has been in the dark for so long about the corruption and unethical standards of our political framework, are we in any actual shape to bring about the sort of large scale revolution that our society so desperately craves? Perhaps the political awakening of the last few years is too big of a shock to the human core for us to enact any sort of rational yet extreme challenge to the status quo. I think it is fascinating how The Three Body Problem uses a science fiction plot to unpick the entangled influence of political shocks on the human psyche, to discuss how our political history affects our capability to maturely confront society and also to explain our inability to morally comprehend our own political achievements.

Ye Wenjie

Ye Wenjie at Red Coast Base. Is Ye Wenjie’s political suppression symbolic of modern populism?

Finally, I believe there is a great sense of political irony within Three Body Problem. Ye initially calls for aliens to come to Earth and reform society but her movement eventually splits in to two groups. One that despises human nature and wishes for the aliens to eradicate mankind, and another groups that worships the aliens in some sort of godlike manner. The two groups eventually became symbolic of mankind’s desire to idolise everything or for its tendency for self-loathing. The Aliens were never meant to be some sort of political Tyranny but a race that could guide and raise the human intellect, the fact that the movement evolved into such a simplistic divisions was the Author repeatedly trying to show humanity’s lack of creative ability and its wavering sense of integrity given the fact that the movement had made such a big departure from Ye’s initial principles. Could it also demonstrate that sometimes our we have tendency to try and achieve revenge for political injustices that happened in the past without remembering the contextual included. For example, one might resent human society during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for its global complicity in the Transatlantic Slave Trade whilst also forgetting the organised and persistent abolition campaign that led to its end or the creation of the welfare state and the nationalised institutions that sought to protect the British populace should another world war ever occur. The humans that wished the Trilosarians to overrule them are just symbolic of that selective political feeling that resides in all of us, it is the knee jerk reactions that seeks quick solutions to complex problems.

Three Body Problem is a great work that draws from different philosophical, historical, scientific and political perspectives and attempts to use these to challenge our sense of primacy and superiority in this world. But I believe that the secret strength in Three Body Problem is its support of the art of discovery and the joy of possibility. We live in a world that attempts to be progressive but ends up being inadvertently regressive and we also face groups that use the rhetoric of change and revolution to mask their aim of restoring outdated and failed ideology. Change is necessary. But it must be meaningful and refreshing. Humanity has continuously displayed its ability to create ways of thinking, interacting and surviving. We must continue this trend or face path of stagnation and self-destruction.

Future Blog Posts

I am going to continue in this strand of thinking by discussing the concept of futurology and more specifically people in the past who attempted to predict the future. Some these predictions were politically motivated whilst other tried to be in their clinical in vision based on the contemporary state of science. I will try and examine all of these futuristic ideas and assess how accurate they were and what relevance they hold for our unstable political and social culture.

The discussions around Brexit, the remerging secessionist movements in Europe and Asia (Mainly Catalonia and Kurdistan) as well as the simmering feeling of socio-economic unrest that exists across the world has made me wonder at the sort of future people are envisioning for themselves. I feel that the minds of certain individuals are conflicted between several things, mainly; What we deserve, what we want, what we need, what we are entitled to, and what we actually receive. Once these factors have been harmonized, I believe we may move closer to the sort of peaceful utopia of solidarity that many people seem to crave for. Of course, the underlying question being, is this actually feasible? People may be asking the same questions of what we deserve and what we actually need, but the answers seem to differ greatly according the various political and economic groups that people belong to. Furthermore, there is a general feeling that citizens have been told by tyrannies of what they should and should not desire, this sentiment seems to be shared across the political spectrum; several so called “liberal left” institutions and “neo-conservative” governments have been at the spotlight of these accusations. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I believe that communication is central to addressing these concerns. This does not just mean just articulating your perspective clearly, it also means listening to others carefully so that debates and arguments can led to constructive outcomes. This may be a simplistic analysis of the current social mood, but perhaps the first stage of dealing with complex dilemmas is to begin with basic and accessible approaches.

Several historical episodes show that the creation of political utopias have often failed because there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of what people have been trying to achieve. One only needs to look at the successful and unsuccessful Russian Revolutions of the early 20th Century, or the English and French revolutions of the early modern era to see the lack of a coherent strategy after the ruling power was toppled. Our utopias will not succeed based on how beautiful or how great they look, but on our ability to compromise and interact effectively.

“It’s wrong to deprive someone else of a pleasure so that you can enjoy one yourself, but to deprive yourself of a pleasure so that you can add to someone else’s enjoyment is an act of humanity by which you always gain more than you lose.” – Thomas More – Utopia – 1516


Following on from my previous post, I have a new blog which will be dedicated to poetry and possibly creative writing. It will aim to subtly reflect my political and philosophical thoughts as well as matters on history, radicalism and current affairs.


I’ll be uploading some fresh new poems on to a separate blog in the near future. I have always wanted to revisit my poetic talents but I never felt like I could articulate my thoughts in a way that was coherent and that satisfied how I truly felt. Most of the poetry I wrote was mainly in my adolescent teenage years and was loosely inspired by the Romanticist poetry I learnt whilst studying English Literature at school. I have spent some time recently reflecting on how authentic I really was towards Romanticism; and although I believe I wrote in the style and in the vein of the Romantic Poet – particularly the ones who “renounced the rationalism and order associated with the preceding Enlightenment era, stressing the importance of expressing authentic personal feelings. ” – I felt that I did not capture the sense of social responsibility to inform and inspire other that is often associated with Romantic poetry. It would be great if I could bring an essence that back into my new poetry, although I do not wish to stifle my creativity by enforcing a particular writing style. Most of my poetry was written through a prism of typical teenage angst, which probably represented my narrow world view at the time! Since then, I have invested much of my attention towards current political affairs, historical research and a willingness to look at those things with a radical perspective, my poetry will touch upon those themes with hopefully the same level of creative enthusiasm that I had placed in my earlier writing.

In my opinion, the world we interact with is filled dark and disturbing imagery that can often bring out the worst in us. The media are often the culprits of this, but we also play our part by gullibly seeking political and historical information with a blissful ignorance towards the truth. Whilst I understand how important accurate research is, I believe that for our mental health we occasionally need to take a step back and view these issues in a more measured manner. Hopefully my poetry will reflect this.

I still plan on blogging about radical, political historical matters. My next post will discuss Irish political history and its global relevance regarding independence and cultural citizenship.

wilfred owen

Its hard to genuinely describe how I feel about this election. I’m excited, nervous, disappointed, angry, hopeful and scared at the same time. This election has come under the backdrop of a very strong swift to the right wing of the political spectrum. Populism has thrived under a sporadic wave of anti-establishment sentiment. This feeling, which has the potential of inspiring a new era of progressive politics that could challenge the very foundations of injustice automatically feels the opposite. Trump’s victory has given rise to an emboldened and camouflaged sense of neo-liberalism. Brexit (for the time being) could potentially provide the Conservatives with the ability to usher in totalitarian legislation which no voted for on June 23rd; Remain or Leave. Yet, despite this, Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of true Centre left politics has held strong, he has managed to publish a manifesto that stands by his economic principles and he has managed to garner support (both from experts and the public) during the process. The polls are narrowing and the prime minister incumbent is beginning to buckle under the pressure. Even the Tory-supporting Media are struggling to avoid criticism of Theresa May; her pledges to let those age with dignity and keep our nation safe have been torn to shreds under the scrutiny of the opposition, the public and the national media. Her weak leadership has been representative of why this country is broken and who so many are indifferent to our political system.

Jeremy Corbyn is by no means the perfect politician. He has occasionally demonstrated his inexperience at dealing with the mucky, business end of party politics and he is very reluctant to follow traditional party policy when called upon. Some may say this makes him naïve and undisciplined. But I disagree, why would a former Chairman for Stop-The-War suddenly jump at the chance to renew our Trident Program? And why would someone who commits to the idea of “a different kind of politics” want to engage in petty personal attacks? We need more a principled type of politics that speaks towards the  people and not towards a carefully structured agenda steeped in bureaucracy and thinly veiled insults. Corbyn may not have all the answers but he has the right approach.

In regards to the outcome, it is important to stress that this popular surge of progressive politics needs to continue whether Corbyn gets thrashed or wins by a landslide. There are too many examples throughout history where potential political saviors have come to the surface and achieved power only to fall back on all their promises; Trump, Stalin and even Oliver Cromwell all spoke of grand and radical changes which will benefit the nation, but it was only a matter of months before all those figures committed a war crime of some nature shortly after their election to the highest office. It is our social and political responsibility to make sure that the people we put in power speak for us and not for any special interests. That isn’t to say that we will always be successful in holding leaders to account, but we can’t stand idly by while our hopes and dreams are trashed away. The same principles apply if Corbyn was to lose. If Corbyn was to get obliterated in the election, this doesn’t mean that we should just give up our progressive principles simply because “they couldn’t win us an election”, the values we fight for are independent of any political party or leader. True change and true progress comes from grassroots collective action, we are the only ones who can genuinely enforce a “different kind of politics”. Tomorrow is the perfect time for us to express that.

“Don’t let Apathy policy the populace” – Flobots


sovereigntyWith the decision of the Scottish Parliament to approve another independence referendum, the formal decision of Theresa May to official invoke article 50 and the nationalist tone of the general election; Questions surrounding sovereignty and the ‘recovery of power’ are fully in play. The rise of populism throughout the world and the increase around nationalist feeling has made Scotland particularly interesting in their growing interest towards leaving the United Kingdom.

Scotland’s recent change in political mood has been born out of a supposed fear that Scotland will be “dragged” out of the EU despite the country wishing to remain inside the European Union (as was evident in last year’s referendum).  But what I find intriguing is how Scotland wishes to leave an union based on the principles of sovereignty but at the same time wishes to remain inside a European Institution that requires member states to pool their sovereignty.

I have seen instances of this in other regions of the world, where a country has ceded from its host nation, only to join another a larger union that requires some pooling of sovereignty. Western Sahara or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) became an unofficial independent region since 1975 when Spain retired its administrative power over the region following an uprising by the native West Saharan People (Polisario Front/ Sahrawi people). In 1979, the UN granted SADR the right to self determination and independence. There has been an ongoing conflict between Morocco and the West Saharan people for control within the region, with several protests and demonstrations resulting in fatalities. With this struggle for independence and sovereignty, it may be seen as a surprise as to why the Western Sahara are happy to join the African Union(African Union), an institution that advocates African states giving away their sovereignty. It may be said, that this was done for diplomatic reasons since the AU has historically recognised SADR. But recently, several countries are considering withdrawing their recognition of SADR, and over half of the member states within the AU may call for the expulsion of SADR from the Union. Why would Western Sahara want to join a Union that seeks to undermine the status and the integrity of its government?


Who has legitimate sovereignty over Western Sahara?

I believe that some comparisons can be made here with Scotland. EU law has specifically outlined the difficulty with which Scotland will face if it attempts to rejoin the EU after leaving the United Kingdom The conditions of admission……..shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State…….This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements’. This agreement will not be easy to conduct if the negotiations between Theresa May and European Union are anything to go by. The rhetoric from some senior European/Scottish officials have expressed the struggle that Scotland may face in attempting to rejoin the EU, MSP Adam Tomkins said ”

For all its moaning about Brexit, it knows fine well an independent Scotland would not simply step into the European Union. Not only would it join the back of the queue, but we now learn it may have to adopt the euro and tackle an eye-watering deficit.

“It’s time for the nationalists to be honest about Brexit and stop using it as a tool to agitate for separation“.


What are the true intentions for the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon; surrounding Brexit and Scottish independence?

I find it particularly interesting how Tomkins claims that the Scottish government are using the European Union to further their own nationalist agenda. One could argue that Western Sahara/Polisario are attempting to a similar path, in that their attempt to join the AU is less about supporting African unity and prosperity and more about strengthening their cause for self-determination. Is this a matter of political dishonesty? Or is it just a necessary feature of modern politics? What sort of an impression does this give to the African and European Unions’ idea of continental unity if membership is seen as a political tool to gain independence?

Although Western Sahara are in the midst of a violent conflict with Morocco, Scotland and Western Sahara both harbour criticisms about joining a corrupt institution. African Political Scientists, Okumu and Makinda have remarked on the scale of fraud and misconduct in the African Union “personal greed; the internalization of bad habits; weak government structures.; poor remuneration of civil servants. These facts have generated corruption from the local governance authorities, through the state to the African Union”. Interestingly similar comments have been made about the European Union and its ability to prevent the growth of corruption, political scientist Warner has actually claimed that the European Union has supported the rise of wrongdoing and misconduct. “Across the EU, corruption has been found to have occurred not just in the ‘old economy’ sectors but in new and supposedly competitive sectors such as telecommunications, with politicians getting kickbacks for steering contracts or making favourable arrangements for firms”. Is it a possibility that the prospect of economic growth may be more significant than the idea of sovereignty. Both Scotland and Morocco have expressed an interest in joining smaller regional financial organisations; Scotland are currently considering joining EEA whilst changing their relationship with the WTO. Morocco are following a similar path by joining the (ECOWAS) Economic Community of West African States as well as being a part of  the Arab Maghreb Union. Now both Scotland and Morocco both adopt a strong patriotic tone with their politics, with the idea of national sovereignty being paramount. But does their relationship with these small political regional organisations suggest a changing nature around our idea of sovereignty?


Are our perceptions of sovereignty changing?

As Political Scientist Dr Nat O’Connor discusses

Part of the explanation for the British vote to exit the EU is a reaction to the uncertainty and fast pace of change brought about by globalisation. The calls to ‘take back control’ and for the UK to be fully sovereign are a rhetorical expression of this malaise.

Yet, how many countries are truly sovereign in this idealistic way?

Once the government of any territory wants to interact—even in a purely transactional way—with other jurisdictions, there must be some level of co-operation, if not compromise, which represents pooled sovereignty. “

From my perspective, this entire argument over sovereignty rests on the notion over a paternalist state versus the right of the individual. It could be argued that a paternalist state is allowed to seek financial agreements if it supports economic growth for its citizens despite the lack of transparency or approval with its subjects. The ‘right of the individual’ argument will often stress however that the citizen has the right to be informed over every decision and that “the people” should be part of the ‘negotiation process’. The complexities surrounding these notions of sovereignty is about the definition of “the people”. Many prominent Brexit Campaigners have cited the 52% of those who voted to leave the European Union as an accurate representation of “the people”. What happens to other 48%? Are their political voices to be ignored because the result of the referendum went against their wishes by 2 percent? These questions have led me to believe that political representation is central to our differing notions of sovereignty. But it also alludes to some conflicting ideas that some British political parties have about sovereignty. Nicola Sturgeon often makes the argument that the SNP are the party to spearhead Scotland towards independence, using her electoral gain of 50 seats from the 2015 general election as a democratic mandate for home rule. However if we take a look at the figures from that election, one could argue that SNP are not wholly representative of the Scottish electorate. They may have claimed 56 of the possible 59 seats in Scotland, but they only claimed 1/2 of the possible votes from Scottish electorate, how can a party promote the values representation and sovereignty for the people when it benefits from a disproportionate and a flawed system such as First Past The Post?

proportional representation

Can the First Past the Post System claim to accurately reflect the voice of the UK electorate? If it does not, then are the British electorate truly sovereign?

I do wonder however whether it is possible that the SNP could  prosper the idea of an alternative left wing movement that transcends the traditional idea of sovereignty. As we have seen, both Morocco and Scotland believe that their political and economic responsibility reaches beyond their national boundaries. Furthermore, the SNP have claimed that the employment rights of Scottish citizens are so enshrined within the European legislation,  that it actually makes the EU a stronger guarantor of worker rights than the current Conservative government of the UK. Interestingly, whilst there have been criticisms of the Conservative government spending disproportionately on defense at the expense of education, health and welfare departments, a similar sentiment has been echoed in much of North Africa including Morocco. Tunisian politician Riad Ben Fadhel has stated that  “[There has been an] unusual level of expenditure on arms, instead of social budgets, with austerity still being widely implemented across the Arab world…with Moroccan and Saudi Arabian governments receiving military assistance from the US…”, but Fadhel also states that to combat this militarist agenda, north African states should attempt in “building a united left-wing political coalition in the post-Arab spring political environment.” Fadhel speaks in a similar rhetoric to many SNP voters in that he does not wish to ignore the national identities of countries such as Morocco and Tunisia but to remind us about the social responsibility we have to those who are vulnerable regardless of their citizenship.

These principles may not be entirely new as it has been argued that institutions like the EU were founded on a social democratic promise to protect ‘ordinary’ European citizens. But with the rise of left wing politicians such Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders as well as the growing leftist movement DIEM25, there seems to be developing political trend outside of the establishment to unify and transform global politics. I am not sure whether this will have the same impact as the populist right due to the facet seem to espouse and support the governments neo-liberal handling of brexit furthermore the mainstream media outlets tend to offer more coverage to right-wing administrations such as the American Trump presidency over of British left wing movements such Jeremy Corbyn’s Momentum.

Of course historically, the SNP have always celebrated their ability to pool sovereignty with the government of England  the union with England and Wales. The Act of Union which was signed in 1707 was in seen as a great opportunity for the Scottish middle classes to rise up the social ladder and enjoy financial benefits of a prosperous British Empire. An English traveller to Scotland by the name of Daniel wrote in 1726 that “the Union opened the door to the Scots in our American colonies and the Glasgow merchants took up the opportunity”. I could be argued that this mentality of Scottish nationalism is still inherent today, with many Scottish citizens claiming they enjoy the benefits of the UK’s economic reach across the world. Would it then be radical political step for Scotland to detach itself from the Union which could thus threaten the national identity of Scotland progressing as a state.



Can a cross border movement based on the idea of democracy beat a populist narrative based on the traditional idea of sovereignty?


It is clear then that sovereignty is not a black-and-white issue like it has been portrayed in the national media. Our perception of power and where it resides can often be contradictory and fleeting. But is dominates our political conversation to the extent that certain contextual issues such as military intervention, party politics, austerity can often be forgotten. It thus important that our voices and opinions on these issues are accurately represented by our politicians and the media. We often hear how the support for national sovereignty is reflected in the far-right support for populist parties, but perhaps we should look beyond these claims to the idea that something more powerful can transcend the traditional ideas of sovereignty.