One of the key working tools of a psychoanalyst is “counter-transference”. An analyst is trained to pay attention to what they themselves feel – because this is a reflection of the emotional state of the client they seek to help. We all do this. What else is empathy? We constantly resonate with the emotional state of those around us. Psychoanalysts undergo about a decade of training so that they can identify the feeling states caused particularly by the client relationship – so that they don’t get caught up with them and react to them.
Unfortunately I’m not a psychoanalyst and have no such training. And so, I’m struggling right now as an Englishman in Scotland. My emotional response to the SNP campaign is unpleasant. It feels like a cocktail of rejection and sadness, with an overarching self-righteous anger. I think that this underlying feeling is a resonance with what the “Nationalist” feels about the “English”. It certainly generates in me an equal and opposite emotional response. It’s why I’m pretty sure that Scottish independence (if brought about in this particular way) would generate an enormous English backlash.
These feelings do me no credit. They are difficult to live with and they isolate me from my wonderful Scottish friends and family. What is there, in lieu of a decade or so of psychoanalytical training? How should one deal with this negative internal state?
It happened that the New Testament lesson last Sunday was from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
So, thank you to the Minister of the Canongate Kirk – for reminding me that our faith is shared across nations and races.
Nationalism and Racism seek to divide us from each other. Resisting that is principally an internal struggle, but it’s a struggle that millions of us share and have done across generations.
I spent this evening with three vibrant and interesting people. Worth listening to. The debate moved between Scottish Nationalism, feminism and social justice. I lived through that shift in Britain from an integrated society toward a materialist “me” and money driven culture.
There is a frustration, almost a scream across many parts of the United Kingdom, raging against social inequality. The facts speak for themselves – since Thatcher and Regan – the rich have become indescribably wealthy, whilst the poor have become excluded. The argument for Scottish Nationalism that is based around the desire to create a new socially cohesive society is seductive.. There is a heavy burden – the cause of social justice that weighs on their side.
The argument is waged by politicians and the satanic ally they have called up, wittingly or not, racism pure and simple. Anti-English views are just that. Racist. All and any Scot who even jokingly or in aside to themselves justifies a nationalism on this basis is equivalent, in my view with the worst of the past century’s infamous racist leaders. All of them should consult their motivation in the privacy of their homes. Many will not be honest with themselves. To strive for independence on the basis of social justice as a cloak for racism is just despicable.
Is independence the ONLY route to social justice in the British Isles? Would independence promote social justice? If so – then it needs to be seriously considered. But what about a vote for socialism. This is the traditional, integrated and well trodden path which successfully confronted unadulterated capitalism. The conservatives won’t be in power in the UK after the next election if you believe the polls and history. Indeed they are not in power in the UK now except in coalition. Without Scottish MPs then most of the British Isles would have conservative rule for the foreseeable future. How socially responsible is that?
There are serious and heavy issues in the balance. On the one hand certainly the UK has significant inequalities, injustice and poverty which in an enormously rich nation are scandalous – indeed evil. On the other, a bail out by Scotland (which I believe would immediately become poorer) would only add to the tensions, conflicts and difficulties. And certainly, absolutely with utter certainty – if won by an emotional appeal to anti-English racism – would be set on a dark path.
Which is the path to a just and integrated society? It is more complex than the simply question that will be put on September 18th. For me however the name calling that the SNP indulge in is the wrong path entirely.
I have lived approximately half of my life in England and half in Scotland where I have married and brought up my family. There is an anti-English prejudice in Scotland which has never previously been reciprocated. I suppose this prejudice is not surprising given the history of enmity between the countries until James VI of Scotland united the crowns and introduce the concept of a Great Britain.
“English” to Scots is thus the archetype of “Enemy”. Indeed it is to some extent bound up with class – the English being identified, unreasonably, with being “toffs”. We all have prejudices. A key struggle of civilisation is to overcome and integrate them. I do not believe that on the facts we as voters in Scotland would break the Kingdom that James V1 United. I believe that the only way that this can be accomplished is to release and play up the ancient prejudice against “The English”, and this is indeed happening. Alex Salmond is a master at playing to the emotion of the crowd. My sorrow is that this in now stirring up anti-Scottish sentiment in our 60 million neighbours, cousins and previous friends. My hope is that we can quickly get through and past this episode without releasing the spectre of racism from the Pandora’s box that is foolishly being unlocked. It is not too late to put out this fire before it burns us all.