The purpose of the heart

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By Paul Kavanagh

We’re told the independence campaign is a battle between head and heart, at least a lot of folk in the papers and on telly seem to think so.

Usually, it has to be said, it’s those of a Nawish persuasion who see themselves on a self appointed mission to blind the bravehearts with a facsimile of logic.

By Paul Kavanagh

We’re told the independence campaign is a battle between head and heart, at least a lot of folk in the papers and on telly seem to think so.

Usually, it has to be said, it’s those of a Nawish persuasion who see themselves on a self appointed mission to blind the bravehearts with a facsimile of logic.

Yes supporters counter with logic of their own, and before you know it the debate has descended into an exchange of sterile spreadsheets and legal papers rolling back and forwards in front of the glassy eyes of a population who’ve lost interest and have gone off to have a laugh at Rory the Tory’s – did you know he’s Scottish? – attempt to build a big pile of stones on the Border as a symbol of unity. Even though I’m a supporter of independence, I’d be quite happy to donate a big heavy rock to Rory’s wee project, just as soon as I get the Freepost address.

But madcap rockery schemes aside, for people who are not versed in EU law or the intricacies of currency unions, which is to say just about everyone, the usual media driven debates have as much meaning and significance as an argument over the carrying capacity of a pinhead of dancing angels. They’re not going to help you make your mind up how to vote in September.

Logic is a useful tool, but unless it’s grounded in a recognisable reality and people without degrees in constitutional law or currency regulation can follow the links, the chain of logic leads straight to the door of an angel disco whose bouncers refuse you entrance.

A chain of logic is only as good as its weakest link, and the No campaign’s links rusted through long before an anti-independence argument was suspended from it like a shiny disco ball. This weekend the European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker yanked on Westminster’s eurochain and their glittery disco ball of lies came crashing down onto the angelic dancefloor. Which was a lot more entertaining than Strictly.

In case you missed it, Scots are the special ones, according to the EU. José Mourinho eat yer heart out. Speaking to the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, officials from Juncker’s office have confirmed that an independent Scotland’s application for EU membership would not be put at the bottom on the pile below Serbia, Moldova and Turkey.

Juncker’s office have said that Scotland would be a “special and separate case” and would not have to go through an application process which is designed to ensure that new member states are in compliance with a raft of EU legislation and provisions which Scotland has been in full compliance with for the past 40 years. Juncker’s spokesperson went even further, adding that the EC president was “sympathetic” to Scottish membership. It’s payback time for Davie Cameron’s opposition to Juncker’s presidency.

This is what Yes supporters have been arguing for quite some time. There’s a point to an EU application process, and the point is to ensure that new member states are in compliance with the foundation treaties of the EU and conditions of membership. Scotland’s already doing all that. We are in full compliance with EU rules and have already passed our EU driving test.

Scotland has been successfully motoring down the euroroutes for decades. We don’t need to sit the test again just because we’ve ditched Westminster’s gas guzzling rust bucket for a compact and more environmentally friendly model, and it ought to be fully established by now – at least to everyone outside the Unionist parties and their pals in the media – that it is against EU law to expel Scotland for having an independence vote.

On the shiny disco ball in Yes Scotland’s dance, open to all, Scotland will be applying for EU membership in its own right from within the EU. The No campaign’s threats of vetos or delays are irrelevant.

The No campaign has a big problem, as there is little in the way of emotional support for the Westminster system in Scotland. Those aspects of “Britishness” which appeal to most in Scotland are cultural and personal, and include Ireland and the Irish as much as England or Wales. For Scotland, support for the Union has always been conditional, it depends upon the Union being seen to be better than the alternative.

It’s difficult to make a positive case for a Union which can’t offer its citizens anything better than workfare and wonga loans, so the Unionists must base their emotional appeal upon fear. Fear can be generated by bombarding the voters with “facts” and chains of logic whose weak links are buried under a mountain of irrelevancies and appeals to authorities which on closer inspection turn out not to be so authoritative after all.

Although political campaigns claim to be based on logic and reason, humans are not logical beings and our actions are not driven by logic. We are intensely emotional beings who are capable of logic. That’s not the same as being logical. The purpose of human logic is not to determine our goals. Logic serves to determine the course, not the destination. The destination is where the heart lies.

As Hugh MacDiarmid pointed out in the poem Twilight, one of the heart’s main functions is to power the brain. Do what your heart tells you, then everything else becomes a practical problem. Practical problems have practical solutions, and that’s the point where logic comes into it.

The Unionist argument has it the wrong way round, it seeks to confuse and frighten the brain into ignoring the heart. But a No vote based on fear is not a vote for the Union. It’s a vote for independence, just not yet. The Union died the day that the No campaign decided to base its strategy on scaring Scotland into submission.

The Yes campaign has it the right way round. It seeks to assuage fears by showing that there are practical solutions to the practical problems thrown up by the challenge of independence. That’s why even many No supporters acknowledge that the Yes campaign is better presented and more effective.

So listen to your heart, use all your senses. What does Scotland feel like? What is the taste of Union, is it bitter or is it sweet? Whose music is discordant, whose is melodic? Your heart isn’t wrong.

Once you’ve listened to the beat of your heart, you know what your emotions tell you, then and only then can you engage your powers of logic in order to work out how to get from where we are now to where your heart tells you you want to be. Many Scots like the idea of independence, it feels right, it tastes good, it sings to them in catchy tunes, but they’re still confused and bewildered by the barrage of misinformation emanating from the No campaign and its supporters.

The key to independence lies in the heart. The logic of the brain tells us how to unlock the door and overcome the barriers.

So when you engage in conversation with your undecided family and friends about the independence debate, start with the feeling, and once you’ve established the fears and uncertainties, then you bring logic into it. Logic allows you to identify practical solutions to the problems of fear and make them practically vanish.

The purpose of the heart is to power the brain.

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