Fear and loathing in Lesmahagow: nationalists are on an ether binge

Fear and loathing in Lesmahagow: nationalists are on an ether binge

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 9, March, 2020

SOMETIMES we can only know in hindsight how significant events have been. Not just events but eras too. Crescendos of logos, ethos and pathos that follow one another. That there is something inherently wrong, that we are inherently right – until we are no more. Counterculture moments in Western history are seldom ones we can experience in the present, for we can only identify them from looking back – and they are rare enough that only a few grace each generation.

The counterculture revolution of 1960s America was one. In his 1971 seminal work of gonzo Americana, Hunter. S. Thomson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a rare chronicle of the Zeitgeist. The magic and brevity of it all. In his most famous lines he describes what could easily be us now discussing the 2014 independence referendum, to have lived through it and to see it again, looking back:

"Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.....

...There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…

And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

That steep hill in Las Vegas could easily be Calton Hill today, looking over towards the High Street of the capital of a nation that rejected independence. What an incredibly ordinary sight that is, though fear and loathing in Edinburgh is as high now as back then for one half of our nation is holding up that wave long after it should have broken. Too many of them are like hippies without inner peace. Too many of them pretend to govern us when they really desire and imagine they are here to rule over us. Too many are so called unionists. For too many in Holyrood the high-water mark is the highest they will ever go and could ever go. So they are determined to keep us all in our place in the hope we will keep them in theirs. 

In place of independence we have dependency. Worse, we have addiction to delusion. To hand over public funds and the power to change society to a bunch of addicts is the most monstrous incarnation of Western democracy I can imagine. They debate gender politics while their second in command lays himself open to the charge of grooming a child. They rage against the injustice of food banks when one of their own takes money from a foodbank. They indulge in the notion, as Effie Deans writes so eloquently, that their business is anything that is not their business, they debate what is not important while being incapable of running a whelk stand.

They criticise the Royal Navy for having aircraft carriers without planes (when they do, actually), while their attempt at building two ferries leads to a shipyard being nationalised. They declare a climate emergency and keep open a failing airport by subsidising cheap package holidays to the Med. They are beyond satire because satire requires humility and as we know they are not humble. 

There is however something worse. An irrational delay in discounting the effects of falling education standards, roads crumbling, hospitals without ventilation and sewerage – is accompanied by the instant euphoria of imaginary successes and the next fix, I mean referendum, around the corner.

We are not in Nirvana. We are suffocating in an ether den. What was once called the "sweet oil of vitriol" as it was distilled over sulphuric acid. ether is a powerful and unpleasant anaesthetic. There is no point appealing to the better nature of the SNP. There isn't one. Certainly not one accessed by reason. There is, as they say, no point to arguing with a drunk let alone telling them to sober up or quit the habit. Worse we have an ether addict who has no inclination to stop, no real hope of achieving their final goal of breaking up the UK. All they face with the help of sobriety are the lives of others that they fail. So what can be done?

Cold turkey. 

The one thing unionists can do is choke-off the ether. This means that when it comes to elections any opportunionists that puts the union on the ballot puts themselves on the menu. There is no unionist vote to split when all you are splitting is the drug supply the SNP so manifestly craves. They cannot move themselves on so we must move them on to end it all. They have to be removed from power – and their enablers have to be removed from power too. It is not a choice of one over the other. As the author notes in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,

"There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge."



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