2011 was a momentous year in world politics. It began with the Arab Spring then the civil war in Libya where NATO entered on the side of the insurgents. These events were then added to by an environmental disaster in Japan and a major nuclear accident, which has on-going repercussions. The new year has opened with a bang and the serious debate on Scottish independence has arrived in an explosive dialectical example of quantity changing to quality.
The SNP had committed to holding a referendum on independence in the second half of the parliament but in a surprise move, Cameron has attempted to force the issue. He wanted a referendum held before the end of 2013 and insisted that there should be a single question on the ballot paper. Alex Salmond however is having none of this and as we go to press he is clearly winning the argument.
A yes vote in an independence ballot would have monumental consequences both north and south of the border and as this would be the break-up of a 3 centuries old union, huge implications internationally. We now know that there will be a referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014 and there will be intense discussion during the two and a half years leading up to this.
This magazine will be firmly in the yes camp but we will be looking forward not just to an independent Scotland but for a complete break with the neo-liberalism of the Westminster political regime. We will want to vigorously combine freedom from Westminster with freedom from the rule of finance capital. We will want to include in the debate, the kind of Scotland that we want to see and the direction that we want to travel will be towards a democratic green socialist Scotland.
In 2011 we had the start of the Euro crisis, which persists within a general crisis of world capitalism. Many issues such as the direction of new regimes in North Africa, from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, are still works in progress. Further east, the developing civil war in Syria and the stability or otherwise of Iraq will come to our attention for sure in 2012. We also saw the initiation and global spread of the occupy movement.
Closer to home we saw round one of what will be an intensifying battle between the government and public sector unions, leading to a massive show of solidarity in the November 30 day of action. In South Africa we saw another chance to get clear commitment from world governments on climate change but failed again to get what the science says is a necessity: a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Binding decisions have once more been postponed.
Lying around the corner is the escalating standoff with Iran over enrichment of Uranium. It is not possible to rule out US or Israeli air attacks on the Iranian facilities and this would be very dangerous, measured against the need to avoid new wars and wars in which nuclear weapons might be deployed.
Meanwhile the re-unification of the Scottish left seems to be no closer in prospect and as a project that this magazine has always claimed to promote, we may need to look more closely at the obstacles that are preventing any progress. We’ve already suggested that the first opportunity for a new initiative might be if we can encourage the coming together of anti-cuts candidates for the Scottish local elections but there is little time before these are upon us. Some novel ideas and approaches may be necessary beyond that.
Readers will note that this issue contains a new feature, which integrates the DGS facebook page with our home page. Any facebook updates can now be read using the scroll bar. You can make comments on any thread without having a networking account if you email them or place them in the open forum, so long as you make clear which DGS facebook thread you wish to comment on. The facebook page means that we are now effectively heading a political network across Scotland and beyond.
You may also notice that we have some new contributors who have put some excellent effort into this edition. My vision for the future would be to see a strengthened electoral board and a continuation with the new system of rotating the principle editors. This way I think encourages more participation and a more collective approach. Electronic democracy is not a fetish of mine; it is rather a natural progression in the employment of technology. I think it could add something valuable to our governance, without adding to our carbon footprint and it enables those in remote locations to be fully involved.
I’d also like to see a move away from an insistence on bank direct debits, in favour of smaller annual contributions. We need money to cover our web hosting fees and some for promotional work but we are not a political party and have no plans to pay salaries. Potential new sponsors may not be eager to hand over their bank details and increased support by new people will develop by allowing them to become part of the project with a modest donation. The world has changed and the much more intense communication means that people are much more discerning about which causes they support. Barriers must be minimal because there is much less inherent danger of people wasting their time or ours.
Hard copies of full editions and individual articles will hopefully become available in the near future (as pdf files) and we need to decide on what basis these might be distributed, whether these should be entirely free of charge or for a small fee. This falls short of the aspiration for a professionally printed hard copy but it could serve a similar purpose.
Finally I have enjoyed compiling this edition and hope that I will be able to do so again in the future. Though it has admittedly been hard work it is a privilege to have the chance to do this. According to plan the editor for DGS 18 will be Graeme McIver, who I’m sure will be well up for the task. Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to write articles and assist in other ways.