In his short story, The Nummer 14 Bus, James Robertson evokes the daily struggle played out on a bus ride through Scotland’s affluent capital. It could be a bus ride in any UK city.
Inequality in Scotland is on the rise. “It seems likely that more radical changes, such as significant redistribution of income, labour market reforms and major investment in deprived areas, would be needed to bring Scottish inequality close to Nordic levels.”
‘If a future UK – or its consciously uncoupled constituent countries – is to transform itself into a democracy, then it’s imperative that the rules of that state are written not by the politicians of any one party, but through a process which itself is seen as legitimate, democratic, and plural.’
In Part 3 of his essay the author urges an end to utopian thinking: ‘Should we condone people like my father who yearn for Utopia and who believe we should give planned perfection one more try? No, these people are endlessly sailing their boats towards a non-existent goal and are making themselves and the rest of us unhappy.’
‘Two years after the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s book, I see a resurgence in Utopian thinking in many countries and fear we could be on verge of taking a collective voyage to nowhere once again.’ Part One (of three) of an essay on utopia, millennialism, freedom, society, human nature – and Scotland.
‘Marx therefore helps us make sense of modern power relations after all. Then, as now, there is no contradiction between capitalism and crisis: it is a process of historical development and economic transition within the system.’
‘When the UK government reneged on the Child Poverty Act 2010 with its goal of eradicating child poverty in the UK by 2020, Scotland dissented and set about introducing an equivalent goal for Scotland.’
The long term-aim must be to return to a society where houses are viewed as somewhere to live, not as vehicles for accumulating wealth. This can’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. The task involves taking on the unholy alliance of private developers, banks and – most difficult of all – ordinary homeowners, many of whom now view ever rising house prices as normal and just.
‘(McGarvey’s) aware that many on the left will see this as a cop out but he’s ready with his reply. Of course, the left must continue to argue and campaign for structural change, he tells us, but no real change can happen unless poor people begin to feel powerful in their own lives.
So much of McGarvey’s analysis comes from personal experience, not from theories and books…it has a freshness which reminds me of early Enlightenment thinkers: Carol Craig reviews Poverty Safari