Our aim is to shift prevailing discussions on ‘Security’, away from , toxic militarism and patriarchal dominance that lead to environmental degradation , and instead to discuss real threats experienced here in Scotland – naming them and providing impetus for change.
While extinction rebellion was bringing the climate crisis to the world’s attention via non- violent direct action, a group of just twenty folk from Scottish society – academia, Scottish Parliament, community and single issue organisers – were putting their heads together to think about what real lasting security could mean in Scotland. This was a three day informal seminar, called Secure Scotland which took place at the Allanton Peace Sanctuary near Dumfries, and while some of us would otherwise have been protesting with XR , the same need to galvanise for urgent change was the real driver for this event.
The provenance of the idea was a conversation between a few individuals who had all worked for the YES movement before 2014 be
cause they had seen an opportunity to start again, to build a Scotland that could look after all its citizens, welcome newcomers and act as a progressive influence and be an advocate for global peace. None of us bought the notion of ‘security’ created through violence and dominance, and independence could provide transformative energy policies and ensure sustainable homes, education, food and welcome for everyone in Scotland and rid us of nuclear weapons, arms dealers and transnational corporations. The Rethinking Security network agreed to facilitate and the seminar was funded by the Schiehallion Trust and others as a pilot project for Scotland.
The discussions showed that steps are still in place for moving towards this ideal future Scotland, and there is no shortage of ideas and the skills necessary to implement them. There is amazing and creative action happening in areas as diverse as food security and sustainability, or countering militarism in schools and communities. Defence diversification planning is recognised as vital, along with campaigning on the negative impact on our safety and security of arms sales, whether this is through highlighting the effect of fuelling conflicts outside Scotland or responding with practical measures to the austerity imposed on Scots to pay for wars.
There are plenty of individuals and NGOs advocating ways to eradicate child poverty and other positive social action who are
working through civil society and cross party action at parliament and local authority levels.
The discourse around ‘security’ is the most significant stumbling block when it comes to the climate emergency,Trident, and the effects on Scotland from transnational corporations. To change the discourse, governments must learn to face the real risks rather than adopting a rhetoric that increases those risks. The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in 2017 was achieved because of the participation of civil society, and the refusal to abandon the humanitarian arguments for its adoption.
There too, the powerful claimed a special (or racist) understanding of ‘security’. The treaty that was won was the first nuclear disarmament treaty to recognise the disproportionate impact on women and girls and to call for their inclusion in negotiations.
The Secure Scotland seminar concluded that it is imperative that we recognise that the UK (along with other governments) are applying the term security to privilege national security over the interests of people here and in other countries, through dominance and control over perceived immediate physical or military threats, without any actual definition of what it calls ‘the national interest’ or any long term plan or objective. This gives rise to policies that are ineffective, toxic and oppressive in complex ways that work across different affected groups and create distraction and inappropriate blame . All of this is predicated on patriarchal and profoundly undemocratic principles. The cultural, political, material and environmental opportunities to do better in Scotland are often disregarded, because of th
e myth of ‘security’ requirements, so those participating hope to take steps to highlight the opportunities and do what we can to redefine security and next steps will be identified when the information we have obtained is collated.
Secure Scotland does not aim to distract anyone from valuable work they are already doing. The fact that Scotland, even without having yet achieved independence, has an accessible parliament, effective alternative media, a recognisable cultural identity, a work ethic that includes being the change you want to see, and since there are only 5 million of us, we can talk to each other. Extinction rebellion is alerting everyone of the action that’s needed for the climate, and its time to call out the real requirements for our security and our survival.
Following the seminar, the actions and the reaction,of the XR protests were described by Chanel 4’s Alex Thomson saying “Nonviolently arrested total is now over 1000. We have not seen anything like this from a protest movement in London. Uncharted waters. Police wrongfooted. Party leaders lost.”. Seems like real movement starting, and this urgency is needed in every area of our efforts for Scotland. The Doomsday clock, set by the atomic scientists is at 2 minutes to midnight with life on the planet at risk of extinction from the effects of climate change and nuclear Armageddon. Governments, including the UK Government, are choosing that as our future, and no future at all for our children and our grandchildren.
Greta Thonberg, 16 years old and from Sweden, spoke for us all in her address to them, “I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.” Some people are saying that she should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, but there are those who think it is our attention and respect she should be given, and a far better prize would that be her words are acted on. Find her full speech easily on you tube, face-book or in the Guardian. Secure Scotland is one of the ways to equip and connect more of us to fix it. If you’d like to know more, who is involved and read the full report on the seminar, please email email@example.com.
Janet Fenton April 2019