In 1967 an unprecedented social phenomenon swept across America, Canada and Europe. The Summer of Love changed politics and culture in the West forever. It was the dawn of a type of youth power that had never been seen before. Young people had never gathered in such huge numbers as they did that summer. Their new-found liberty and the changes they made to traditional social values echo into and throughout our modern society. They wrote music and poetry. They campaigned against nukes. They fought to end the Vietnam War. They were no longer afraid to challenge old establishments and conservative ways of thinking. That very year the Scottish independence movement also made its first major breakthrough when Winnie Ewing was elected as a Member of Parliament for Hamilton. In that one year, Scotland and the world had changed for ever.
Of all the eras in modern history I used to imagine that time to be the most exciting. But there is no place more revolutionary and no time more exciting than here and now in Scotland. Of all the eras I would choose this one. Of all the places to live I would choose this one.
We now know the date of the referendum. Scotland votes on the 18th of September, 2014. It’s right at the end of the summer season, and that gives us the chance to create a 1967-esque, cultural, revolutionary summer – our Summer of Independence. There can be music. There can be art and poetry and even sun if we’re lucky. Every summer, Edinburgh is brimming with artists and performers from all over the world. We’re already half way there. This is a bright, international city in a bright, international country. Edinburgh is not only ready to be the capital of a nation – it’s crying out for that status. In our Summer of Independence I believe Edinburgh will be one of the most vibrant and exciting places to live on the planet.
Imagine the possibilities for outdoor gatherings, public art and live music all over Scotland. Imagine an independence movement with a festival atmosphere. We might have an efficient online presence but we need to go outside and share our words and ideas with other people. Just as the 1967 Summer of Love broke down unbreakable social barriers, we can do what so many people tell us cannot be done. As the saying goes, those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people who are doing it.
It is popularly thought the summer of 1967 was first inspired by the Beatnik Generation of poets. Leading this generation was Allen Ginsberg – poet, gay rights activist and one of my heroes. In this modern debate I am reminded of his poem ‘Howl’, lamenting the younger generation being left behind by an old-fashioned government, and an establishment intolerant of difference or change.
This, again, is the establishment we face in our fight for self-determination. We cannot afford to leave another generation behind in the grasp of an unsympathetic, unelected London government. We have to grow up and do it ourselves.
2014 will be our Summer of Independence. National Collective will be laying the foundations in collaboration with our Yes partners, and we hope you will join us. But for the moment, here is a reading from Allen Ginsberg.