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Why I am voting to REMAIN in the EU

On September 10 2014, I wrote a post titled “Why I am voting YES to Scottish Independence.” You can read it for yourself if you like, but I am always encouraged when I look back on it to see that I completely agree with everything I wrote back then. That vote didn’t go the way  I wanted it to go and now, 21 months or so later, I find myself much busier (my Ph.D. thesis is due in on 30 September), a paid up member of the Scottish Green Party (I joined the day after the Scottish Independence referendum, on 19 September 2014), with another referendum coming up – this time on whether the UK should remain in the European Union.In the post below, I use some of my tweets over recent months to articulate my views on the matter.

Some people might think it is an oxymoron for someone to want Scotland to leave the United Kingdom, but yet want the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. However, I think that this view comes from the stereotypical assumption that anyone who wanted Scotland to leave the UK must be in some way a nasty flag-waving bigot who loves destroying cherished institutions that have existed from centuries – if this was the case, why wouldn’t the same uncritically (and this word is important) nationalistic people want to break away from another larger body?

First off, let’s get it out there – I do not like what the UK as an institution stands for. I don’t know that I ever really have since I have been ‘politically conscious’. This is not to say  I don’t like the people who make up the UK. Or ‘other’ nations in the UK. But, as an institution, the UK is not something I am proud of. The chance to reform the UK as a whole, starting from the ground up, was a large part of my wanting to leave the UK. Similarly, the prevalent attitude in the UK towards the EU as I perceive it is not something I like.

Personally, I am of the opinion that many of the ‘problems’ that UK citizens perceive with the EU are in no small part due to the regnant exceptionalist attitude, epitomized by the EU rebate negotiated by Thatcher, and David Cameron’s recent attempts at gaining ‘concessions’. The relationship that the UK currently has with the EU is not the one I want… but it’s better than the prospect of leaving. As Maggie Chapman, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party has recently much more eloquently put it:

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we must consider our current political context. In Scotland, and in the UK, a vote to leave will be a victory for the right. The momentum in this campaign comes from and sits with a right wing leave case that says we must shut our borders, that we must reinvigorate the Empire, that we must make Britain great again. That sends shivers down my spine.

It means going back to the days of the Raj, and a colonial project in Africa that was profoundly racist. And in the 100th anniversary year of the Easter Rising, which had everything to do with challenging imperial and anti-democratic monarchical power, we need to reclaim some of the collective solidarity of that century-old republican movement.

The right wing case to leave is the dominant narrative, presented by people who think that imperialism is the highest form of capitalism, and that that is a good thing. However much we might wish it not to be the case, siding with these people means siding with those who do not not believe that the world has changed since the 19th century. As an immigrant from post-colonial Southern Africa, that horrifies me.

On another note…

And

For me, the EU is about so much more than money. Money comes and goes, and in our post-Empire, G7, G8, G20, G-etc. privileged position, we really don’t need to worry about it. Whatever happens, the financial wizards will magic up some other money, or find someone else to exploit for it. But the EU holds us to account. We put in money – much less than we should, of course – and it comes back with progressive conditions. Protecting the environment. Protecting workers’ rights. Regenerating areas that badly need it. And so on. But even more than that, the EU is an international exercise in co-operation, flying in the face of current ideologies of ‘protecting one’s own’.

This altruism, as I see it, should extend to migrants – whether from the EU or not. And rather than picking on those who have left their homes to come to the UK to work, perhaps we should be blaming those in power – politicians, employers etc. – for the lack of jobs, the poor state of the economy, growing inequality, stresses on our welfare system etc. I’ve written before about the need to defend the ‘wrong-type of immigrant‘, so I shan’t retread things here. But, another point to make is that

Finally, I think the EU is great for Green causes…

Maggie makes the Green argument much better than I could in her post.

I’m not naive. Much as I know things might not have worked out for the better if Scotland left the UK, so too I know that remaining in the EU doesn’t automatically make things better. But the EU holds the UK to account. It holds the Tories to account. It holds London to account. It allows progressive legislation to be pushed through and then rhetorically blamed on an outside force – “Oh, we’d totally lift fishing quotas, but it’s that EU making us do it” etc.

Don’t leave the UK at the mercy of the Tories, UKIP and their ilk. Don’t turn immigrants into the bad guys. Please… if you have a vote in this referendum… vote for the UK to remain in the EU.

Damn those popular operas!

More random tidbits from my research today…

The following extract appears in Mayfield and Fountainhall: A Short History (1962), which gives a history of the now defunct Mayfield and Fountainhall Church in Edinburgh. The quotation comes from a 1900 report of the Psalmody Committee to the Deacon’s Court, and suggests that there might have been a problem with some Gilbert & Sullivan creeping in on the organ…

Damn those popular operas

Pan Drops and Bored Church-goers

I came across the following text when researching the history of my current research site. The author is referring to a street in Edinburgh called “Causewayside”, which is literally 2 minutes away from my residence. He is writing about life in the 1950s/60s.

Nice and poetic, no?

“Drifting from the factory of confectioner John Millar and Sons Ltd. was the tantalizing bouquet of boiling sugar, chocolate, fruit flavourings and, above all, mint, for this was the home of the celebrated Pan Drop, one of the most popular sweets ever to have been manufactured in sweet-toothed Scotland and a boon to bored church-goers throughout the land as they slowly sucked their way through many a long, tedious sermon, the air over the pews becoming more heavy with mint than piety.”

James Beyer, “The Land of Sweets”. Scottish Memories (April 2009), p. 34.

Image from scottishsweets.com

Image from scottishsweets.com

Its a Nice Day for a Scientology Wedding

Beth Singler - Technology Anthropology + AI Research

Scientology is in the mainstream news again with the announcement that a woman who wants to marry in a Scientology chapel has won a Supreme Court battle to have it recognized as a ‘place of meeting for religious worship’.  Five judges have over-ruled a 1970 ruling that prioritized veneration of a God in deciding what was genuine religious worship or not.  

Image

Good news for Miss Louisa Hodkin who gets to go through her choice of ritual in her choice of location.  

But what does this really mean for Scientology? Is it really a religion now?

This is a subject I’ve been considering in a paper that I am hoping to submit in the new year to a journal – it considers Jediism and the question of what is ‘really real’ religion and where we get our ideas about ‘realness’ from.  

In the case of Scientology this Supreme…

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De Certeau on the Sunday Assembly?

I recently read this passage from de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life and I enjoyed the thought that this perhaps speaks well to the Alain de Bottons and Sunday Assemblies of the world. What do you think?

Religiousness seems easier to exploit [than politics]. Marketing agencies avidly make use of the remains of beliefs that were formerly violently opposed as superstitions. Advertising is becoming evangelical. Many managers in the economic and social sphere are disturbed by the slow breaking up of the Churches in which lie the remains of “values” which the mangers want to recuperate and make use of by re-baptizing them as “up-to-date.” Before these beliefs go down with the ships that carried them, they are hurriedly taken off and put in businesses and administrations. The people who use these relics no longer believe in them. They nevertheless form, along with all sorts of “fundamentalists,” ideological and financial associations in order to refit these shipwrecks of history and make Churches museums of beliefs without believers, put there in reserve so that they can be exploited by laissez-faire capitalism.

 

From De Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven F. Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 180-181.

Here Be Dragons: the quest for academic credibility

Provocative thoughts from Mr Tuckett!

The Critical Religion Association

At the recent BASR/EASR conference at Liverpool Hope University I spoke about dragons. My paper was on the application of Ninian Smart’s dimensions of religion to the Nine Divines. The Nine Divines is the principle “religion” to be found in the Elder Scrolls video game series and it has no meat-world presence. My argument was that the Nine Divines as a religion met all the dimensions that Smart detailed and that there were no logical grounds upon which we should not consider it a religion of as much legitimacy or reality as any meat-world counterpart (i.e. Hinduism, Islam, etc.). In short, the Nine Divines is an example of what Smart characterises as an Imperial religion: a ‘relatively loose’ organisation ‘with cities and regions for instance having their own priesthoods and cults’ (1996:237).

There was a certain amount of ludicrosity to the whole affair, something I felt acutely as I did…

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Guillermo del Toro’s Paean to Horror

Amazing!

A Lively Experiment

Io9 had a great link to Guillermo del Toro’s Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XXIV” couch gag.

1. For those that are unfamiliar with The Simpsons couch gag, look here.

2. For those that are unfamiliar with Guillermo del Toro, head to Wikipedia.  Or you might just watch Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), or Pacific Rim (2013).

Del Toro is just about the greatest contemporary master of science fiction/fantasy horror. Sometimes folks call this “dark fantasy” but fantasy alone doesn’t account for the rich scientific worlds del Toro incorporates in his fairy tales. Regardless of what we call the genre, monsters are del Toro’s wheelhouse, and he’s doing them better than anyone right now.

[The only other contenders in SF/F Horror are David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and…

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Tim Minchin’s Uni Address

What a nice way to wake up in the morning

The Power of ‘Community’

‘to make general statements about ‘the Asians’, ‘the Jews’ or ‘the Irish’ reeks of disrespect, ignorance and even prejudice. Yet the same statements can be made to sound respectful and even solidary when uttered about the Asian, Jewish or Irish ‘community’’ (Gerd Baumann, Contesting Culture, 1996, p.15).

I Love my Big Brother

OMG! Someone with a family connection to the land-mass beside the one on which I was born has won I sporting event I care/know little about AND a lady who has married into the ‘world’s best-known hereditary monarchy’ is having a baby AND David Cameron has decided to protect my eyes (and therefore my mind?) from images (and ideas?) which he deems ‘offensive’… I love my Big Brother unequivocally.