The above image (originally courtesy of Imaginary Foundation) and phrase ‘The Beginning Is Near’ is one which has been cropping up here and there online for a while now, and is particularly focused on in this Forbes interview with filmmaker Jason Silva.
The sentiment of this image and the interview with Silva are inspiring. It provokes excitement over our human potential and sparks the imagining of new possibilities. As Silva quotes of Imaginary Foundation:
“It’s our job as a species to imagine all sorts of delightful futures, pick the most amazing possibility and pull the present forward to meet it.”
It feels like the phrasing however misses out on something important. By ‘near’, it envisions some nearby ethereal future point over which we currently have no control, and are constantly in wait of. It omits that we are the present architects of our own change, and that the process of architecture is happening around us now. By implying that the ‘beginning’ is outwith our control, it puts us on hold. All action springs from spontaneity and to create good we need spontaneous acts of good will and positive change. Instead of looking over the wall we need to break through it to the other side.
When we look to translate that action into good results, we need to examine what has previously proven successful and look at ways we can reinvent those methods. Of all aspects of humanity, culture and the arts are one of the very few which have consistently produced exponential worth to the world thanks to radical experimentation.
Culture deserves a say in politics because it serves as a great example of what is possible. When you see the confidence of a close friend boom as a result of creative endeavours, or you see a creative group come together to achieve amazing things for their community (things even global economists would be impressed by), or the empowerment and inspiration art and creativity provide to people, young and old, across the globe, you can in no way deny that culture has not earned a platform on which to help model a better world.
So when we see the way that nations like Scotland are artistically flourishing (evident in the consistent quality of our grassroots music, the world class standard of our literature, the success of recent Scottish films despite domestic underinvestment, and in many more areas) we see a model which can inspire us to greater achievement in all of society. The enacting of self-responsibility through our culture and from there through our political system is both immensely brave and incredibly important.
There are risks in going independent. There are huge risks. But there is nothing so worryingly unpredictable about Scotland going independent which is not already unpredictable in the post-industrial era and indeed in any 21st century society (noting importantly that the economic potential for a strong independent Scotland has been made). When it comes to a political risk such as this, what we tend to do is look to other countries to see what we could possibly become. But the thing is, we will never be another country. We will only be us; and what this country is and what it becomes is not reliant on the circumstances of anywhere else, it is reliant only on the decisions that the people who live here make for our society based on the resources that we have.
When we live in a relatively well off society, it takes a brave individual to imagine and suggest another possibility, a possibility where we can build and live in a society which serves better moral ends than those of the elite who run us now. We need to remind ourselves that a better Scotland and a better world is possible. A society where we don’t settle for fine but fight for good instead; a society which serves the good of humanity and the environment and governs itself in a fair and socially just way instead of settling for elite rule and class oppression. A society which never lets a child or adult go hungry, and stands up for this basic right across the world.
We have the chance to take power into our own hands and accept and challenge our own mistakes, whilst never giving up the fight for a better world. We can develop and create a new politics which is not just more accountable to the people but in fact a politics of the people. We can champion individual and press freedoms as a means of demanding better of ourselves and holding to account those who seek to rule.
If unpredictability is what we are worried about then let’s worry about the unpredictability of politicians we never voted for running our lives. Let’s worry about CEOs monopolising our economy without any sense of social responsibility, or energy giants with eyes for numbers and not sustainability. Whatever political problems we face in an independent Scotland we can deal with in exactly the same way any democratic country deals with its problems.
We can say no to a system which exerts unearned and unjust power over the weak, we can imagine a better Scotland and we can fight to make it happen. The state of the rest of the UK, and particularly the working class across it, will still be as important an issue in an independent Scotland as it is now, because rUK will still be our brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, Tony Blair and New Labour severed the only means through which we were once capable of fighting for good in the wider land. We could cling on to the dying romantic ideals of nostalgic institutions, but there comes a time when we need to say enough is enough and deal directly with the problems around us. The solidarity we hold with our friends and families across the border will not weaken if we say no to elite Westminster rule. The idea that it would is nothing short of absurd.
And we don’t have to wait until 18 September to act. We can do it every single day until then, and we have a duty to carry on every single day afterwards. The decision of independence lies in our hands, we are in charge of our own futures and we determine our own lives today, however unpredictable or risky it might seem. We’re daring to imagine better and we’re refusing to settle for fine. We can say no the self-serving elitism of Westminster by being good to each other in society and in the economy, locally and globally, and by refusing to accept the cynical lies peddled at us about the ‘necessity of austerity’ or how our vital public services are being scrapped in favour of a less regulated and taxed private sector ‘for our own good’. In the face of adversity we can refuse to stay quiet.
A new Scotland doesn’t begin the day we go independent. A new Scotland is born every single day. The beginning is now.