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Imagine A Country - Edited by Val McDermid & Jo Sharp - Canongate Books Ltd 2020

Updated: Jun 29, 2021


At a point momentum becomes unstoppable - I Suppose it could be something like an old fashioned runaway train, unstoppable only in so much as there is sufficient fuel to keep it going and enough track to provide it with stability. Does the vision of Scotland as an independent self-governing country have that unstoppable momentum?


The energy supply for Scottish independence momentum comes from 2 sources - world political events and the people craving independence. From the former no one can be really quite sure just how much energy this generates - it is unquantifiable - but for the last decade or so with a starting point of the 2008 financial crash, the social and economic turmoil that has prevailed in western democracies has provided fuel a plenty and even when the defeated referendum in 2014 seemed to have reduced the flow, Brexit, Trump and, dare I say it, COVID19, have simply provided more injection. And at the same time, the other source "the independence-rs," have continued to keep energy flowing from their side; not at any point phased by the prospect that the cause would slow. The fire burns brightly, brighter than ever perhaps, and whatever your view is on the idea of an Independent Scotland (I avoid to use the word "side" and use "view" because this is not a contest - independence can only be achieved via consensus) it is inescapable that there is a at present an almost inexhaustible energy fuelling the independence momentum.


The idea of Imagine a Country was conceived by two people who are quite openly part of the driving force behind Scottish independence. This book is quite simply fuel for maintaining that vision. It is unashamedly part of the "yes" manifesto.


This collection of essays by nearly 100 different voices - academics, writers, scholars,comics, artists, actors, journalists, is just the continual fuel injection. Each contributor has been invited to write a short essay on how they imagine the social and political landscape of an "implied" independent Scotland would be. It is NOT a book about becoming Independent but about a post-independence future. And reading it during the current "lock down" from the corona-virus outbreak its easy to see that its resonance breaks free from the narrow definition of just Scotland and invites us all(Scottish or other) to think about what sort of future we could envisage to ensure humanity prospers.


The book is conceived by "progressive" intellectuals and the contributors have without doubt been carefully chosen to ensure that those progressive political themes are the ones projected. The same themes are repeated many times and the repeated vision is, first and foremost, an all inclusive system constructed around gender and racial equality, land ownership & distribution, greener ways of production that will protect our fragile environments, unfettered access to education at any time, free mental & physical healthcare and shorter and more productive working lives. In every essay the overriding call is that human liberation and happiness resides in a well educated, caring and sharing society. As the World shudders to a halt with the virus attack in 2020 we are all perhaps in the right frame of mind to think about "imagining a country" with better governance and which does allow us to live without fear. So if you do not feel concerned by the "Scotland" debate simply replace that with your own "country" and the book will still work and provoke. Those that do believe in the inevitable creation of a Scottish nation also believe they have new opportunity( a tabular rasa ) to rethink and re-create a new progressive and above all happy nation. Isn't that perfect fuel?

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