Thursday, 7 September 2017

Andrew O'Hagan

Good lord, a real shot in the arm for the Nationalist Project - the esteemed Andrew O'Hagan, novelist, announced at the Edinburgh Book Festival that he's noo all for separation.

But from his speech, how do you square this -
"I have never believed writers should have anything to do with governments, and should never hitch their intellectual freedom to the shifting agendas of political parties, or the careers of those looking for votes.
I believed Alexander Solzenitzyn, many years ago, when he said that governments should be nervous of writers because each writer is a government in himself. The egotism of writers and that of politicians could scarcely be more different. What politicians want is power and what writers want — if they’re any good — is the truth beyond the facts, and to increase our capacity for wonder."
 and this - 
"If Mr Salmond had thought more about the currency question and less about how to unfurl a saltire flag over the Centre Court at Wimbledon, we might be standing now in the independent republic of Scotland"
with what follows in his own speech?
It's a quite remarkable imaginative tract, but that's all it is. Looked at rationally, it's all too easy to condemn it as a mass of woolly thinking, with huge dollops of romanticism. I don't expect O'Hagan to think about the currency question, but if he sets himself up as a seer and a leader we might expect that he at least gives it a bit of thought.
Enough of that, let's have some nuggets!

In my view, in the Internet of Things, Scotland is due to become one of the world’s strongest digital republics, a place whose institutions are daily enhanced and purified not only by the life of the country but by the life of all countries. We could one day be part of a neural network whose strongest boundaries are decency and goodness. The laws of Scotland will one day be both discreet and universal; right for the people of Leith, augmented by brilliance, and right for the people of Calcutta, restored and revised every minute in according to what we know and decide. 
That'll be a hard one to get through the Holyrood sub-committees - decency and goodness! Bless!

Scotland, your Scotland, is in the earliest days of a digital renaissance, when its greatest thinkers — David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson — are redeployed to address the questions of rights and responsibilities in the coming age of artificial intelligence, and where new thinkers, as yet unborn, will address what it means to be a Scottish person with Scottish instincts in a world of code and algorithms and digital money, in an endlessly open society of nations, Scotland teaching the world perhaps how to author a new Gettysburg Address for Peace; showing the globe — with historical examples — how to author a Vindication of the Rights of Robots.
 Look, I'm going to stop there - the above is just lovely but as close to meaningless as it's possible to get. "Scotland" can author a new Gettysburg? If it's possible for a nation to author speeches (I'm not clear about that) then what exactly is stopping us now? You want to bring back a border across an island to errr become endlessly open? As for Scottish people, with Scottish instincts ... so very inclusive, dontcha think?    

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