Siol nan Gaidheal



"It should seem therefore, to be the happiness of man to make his social dispositions the ruling spring of his occupations; to state himself as a member of a community, for whose general good his heart may glow with an ardent zeal".

Adam Ferguson; An Essay on the History of Civil Society, Edinburgh 1767.

The notion of Culture has gathered a wide variety of definitions. The word is often specifically used to convey the idea of the art forms of a particular people or sometimes more broadly, the leisure and social conventions which mark out a human community as differing from its neighbours. Cultural forms are often celebrated as things which manifest the uniqueness of a people. Culture is often defined in terms of the past of a people when the order of things, it is felt, described an idealised setting. Thus, the idea of culture has sometimes become burdened with myths and stereotypical motifs.

In the concept of Culture which we in Siol nan Gaidheal seek to advance, we recognise the difficulties which the word inherits from its past misuse and abuse.

Rather than freshly define it, we would instead rather define the elements essential to it and hence demonstrate a relationship between those elements. In all this, we hold to a theory of culture as a process, nebulous and yet quite tangible. The process concerns that set of perceptions, arrangements and behaviors which allows us, as a species, to perceive order in our environment. It is the means by which an individual may become whole by participation in Society. It is through the cultural process that society achieves structure. Thus, crucial elements of culture could be said to be the individual and the society within which he or she participates. However, it would be more helpful to the understanding of our idea to consider the individual as the agent of culture and society as the context of culture. The purpose of culture in our postulated process is to allow the individual to function fully within a healthy and functional society. The energy for the process is drawn from the range of basic drives which power human activity and the instincts which colour human perception. Indeed the most fundamental human drive would seem to be as concerned with a strong social tendency as with individual survival.

All human activities arise out of our basic drives and instincts and although they have reached levels of elaboration which would render them unrecognisable to the representatives of our species who first emerged from the canopy in some long distant time, we have the means to unravel the greater part of the circuitous route which has delivered us from then to now, in terms of language, religion, politics, means of exchange, agriculture, manufacture, education, health, defence and the whole spectrum of human activity. Consider as an example our earliest ancestors tackling illness with a purgative herb and an incantation; developing by long process to the circumstance of a modern hospital. We identify all these areas of culture as being clearly concerned with the basic drives which arise from our biological nature as a species and as being directly descended from the earliest and simplest solutions; adapted with changing environmental conditions, increase in our own numbers and that constant advance by accrual in human living conditions [progress?] which we identify with modernity. These three elements of culture; environment, demographics and technology, when cross-related to the elements which we locate in the conceptual areas of human activity, provide warp and weft to the fabric of culture.

In Siol nan Gaidheal, we call these thematic areas the DYNAMICS of culture. We identify them separately in an attempt to break down the overall process for the purpose of inquiry but we recognise the futility of any attempt to define absolutely, any part of such a process and we observe the inter-relatedness of all the separately conceptualised dynamics.

For us, culture is the means by which human beings are conscious of themselves. It represents the model by which basic drives are tempered to yield socially pragmatic behaviours and customary forms. It remains the means today, as it was in the beginning, by which people make sense of their whole environment.

We believe that our theory of culture can inform the current state of our country in a purposeful way. To elucidate, while culture may be unduly influenced by intrusions of any kind, it follows from our understanding of the process, that people, left to their own devices, will produce solutions which are in reflection of their own specific nature and priorities. Thus, the Scottish People, when contriving any sort of arrangement for themselves, will throw up Scottish solutions to Scottish questions, so long as they are allowed to work things out for themselves.

Further to this, culture is not something static which we are called upon to defend. What we must defend is the context of culture. If we should prove able and willing to defend our cultural context - in our case, The Scottish Ethnic and Cultural Community within its clearly defined National Territory - then our culture will develop as a constant, on-going process, in keeping with the nature and priorities of our people. Seen thus, the notion of "Democracy" (though named by the Greeks) is intrinsic to the idea of culture to which we ascribe. It has often been cited by Scots that democracy is integral to our nature as a people. Whilst endorsing this celebrated observation, we would nonetheless claim that democracy is implicit in all culture. Our culture is, of course, special to us because it uniquely reflects us as individuals and as a people. However the process is shared by our entire species. It follows that cultural action on behalf of the Scottish Ethnic and Cultural Community may offer encouragement to other peoples in similar conditions of colonisation (whether overt or covert), which condition, in these terms, could be described as crass cultural intrusion. Thus, also intrinsic to our postulated theory of culture, once this is restored to the legitimate control of the community, is the agonizingly misty condition known as "Freedom".

It is the contention of Siol nan Gaidheal that only a naturally developing Scottish Culture reflecting the integrity of the Scottish People will yield a valid democracy and with it, a true freedom (individual and national). Siol nan Gaidheal asserts that the key ingredients of such a healthy cultural situation will involve the control in every area of our culture being only in the hands of Ethnic-Scots and with the locus of control remaining firmly within Scotland.

We would never condone therefore the inclusion of aliens in any of the institutionalised areas of our cultural process - Education, Health, Defence, Politics and so on. Nor would we endorse the pooling or sharing in any measure, of our National Sovereignty... for the same reasons of cultural integrity which, in the final analysis, guarantee nothing less than our very existence.

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Far from rendering the concept of nationality irrelevant, globalisation will over the decades to come face a necessary if initially localised reaction to its inescapably sinister project of uniformity and conformity. The naive not to say blind espousal of the global village project by liberal orthodoxy in the West can only make the designs of faceless multinational capitalism (we do not use the term in any pro-Marxist acceptation) all the more feasible and indeed likely. Conspiracy theories aside, it is self-evident that mass consumerism and the attendant “lifestyle” dependency instilled in dumbed-down TV, video and film-obsessed societies continue to require of people and countries that they forget about inconvenient and supposedly unfashionable notions of local difference, identity and self-reliance.

In a global market-place, the mercantile, financial and consumerist imperatives which constitute the lifeblood and on-going dynamic of big business interests rely for their realisation on the mass cultural levelling of populations valued exclusively in terms of monetary return.

Thus ethnic and national differences whether linguistic or religious represent obstacles to the smooth running of McWorld. Efficiency in the “accessing” and then enthralling (in every sense) of loyal global customers comes with the calculated erosion of such extraneous and diversionary loyalties as national languages, non-materialist religions and ethical traditions, age-old vestimentary or architectural practice and indigenous intellectual proclivities. “Conform, conform” is the mantra of the global village. The refuseniks and deviants of this culturally apocalyptic world will be those who continue to assert the value of difference and of ethno-linguistic identity and separateness. While some commentators call the levelling processes at work in the world today “Americanisation”, it would perhaps be more relevant to talk of the logic of Big Brother consumerism which to be fair is viewed with increasingly strong suspicion even in America, where identity politics are foreshadowing the cultural and social conflicts of tomorrow’s uncertain, rootless and chaotic world. The passage from the modern to the postmodern world coincides with the abandoning of rooted humanistic culture and the espousal of illusory posturing bought on the back of manufactured fashions.

The cult of image and superficial material-based identities which amount to little more than lifestyle options are the twin manifestations of what eminent contemporary thinkers have identified as the culture of the surface, the superficial, the easily accessible, the user-friendly, the convenient, the bite-sized, the pre-packed, Disneyworld, have-a-nice-day pseudo-culture of universal inanity.

Nationalism in this context is the crucial antidote to the global monolith, that nightmare scenario of a consumerist lowest common denominator, where the monolingual monocultural monotony of unidimensional idiocy constitutes the norm from Los Angeles to Tokyo and from Edinburgh to Cape Town. Nationalism (and manifestly not Imperialism which is its natural opposite and which the apologists of union and uniformity seek, continually, to equate for their own ends) is the human parallel to ecological activism. Just as biodiversity is essential to the integrated health of the world’s combined ecosystems, so the assertion and protection of human cultural communities in their individuality and distinctiveness ensure their mutual prosperity and respect. The loss of one animal or plant species impoverishes the habitat which nurtured its evolution, it also contributes to the slow sterilisation, desertification and the ultimate viability of the world’s biosphere. The comparison with national cultures and identities in the realm of humankind could not be more apposite. We mock and condemn nationalism at our peril, seeking to defend the human inheritance of a thousand generations of ethno-cultural communities is nothing if not the guarantee of our own survival as a diverse, multi-dimensional species.

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