Dear J K Rowling
I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write this open letter because you have done so much to encourage children to return to the habit of reading books, and read them voraciously. You look almost beatific in that photograph; who would think you harbour a dark side?
Prior to your appearance in the literary world children were glued to computer games and television screens, the craft of reading and learning from books unfashionable. Guys like me despaired of ever getting the daughters back from a daily obsessive diet of Aussie’s soap called Neighbours. Eventually, thankfully, they grew up.
I am certain publishers, literary agents, and booksellers are joyous you exist. For that you have a justified place in history books. I am unsure about the dent millions of books will make on the planet’s forests, but the world of books is a better place for your contribution.
Your work, your infinite success, is in great part a product of the global grip neo-liberal corporations have over economies, taxes, and free expression. Those are the self-same, self-styled ‘libertarians’ that cut you very large cheques, the same you think Scotland could never handle. Perhaps you don’t want them regulated. They hijacked the word libertarian. Its original Latin means something close to free expression. They bastardised it to mean business free of regulation. They prefer small, ineffectual government particularly ready with subsidies and grants, ‘welfare’ to you and me.
Press and media, the Scottish Labour group in particular, elevate your utterances on Scotland’s ambitions to something akin to the wisdom of a Greek sage, an embarrassing, unctuous deference to a person of infinite wealth and power.
As someone who has helped create fame for others, hollow celebrity and stardom holds little attraction for me. I’m witness to the private behind the public. The two rarely match. Through my writing, and from my efforts in the arts in Scotland, the UK and USA, I guess I have made a good few talented individuals gain successful careers.
Personally, I would prefer the public lose interest in the lives of celebrities because undue reverence and insistent curiosity of them demotes us to second class citizens. I do not wish to be second class just because you presume to provide a superior voice.
There are matters in life where rebellion is the only answer to right wrongs and secure justice. Some of the scorn independence supporters endure is akin to that women suffered when demanding the vote. We are a fringe group, ludicrous, fools, carrion- a term you likened us which I’ll come to later.
Protest annoys those who hold power. It unsettles. They call it dissent in a pejorative sense. Looking objectively, historically and socially at Scotland’s chronic lack of genuine democracy, civic revolution is the only answer to remedy Scotland’s ills. Westminster will always resist unshackling constraints. But be assured, unlike disaffected Londoners rioting and looting in the streets, we use the age-old peaceful ballot box.
By praising Scotland as your adopted home I note you acknowledge you’re an incomer. Pity your modesty is not sufficiently strong an inhibitor that you employ diplomacy. You state your opinion of our political ambitions negatively and disseminate it extensively. It follows that you feel of sufficient high status to be given a wide hearing, and indeed you almost command the airwaves as the main headline news. Humble you ain’t.
Others will tell you what you know already, you are free to hold an opinion, and to donate a million pounds to the No campaign. I disagree profoundly on the latter. It’s outrageous that you throw your wealth around to undermined votes and an elected government. We all have one vote. Using your wealth to inculcate your fans against a democratic movement means people feel their voice is overwhelmed, the odds are stacked against them. What are you doing that is so different from the Koch family?
For one thing, if, as you do, feel there is some truth in a few medical men claiming uncertainty over retaining their research grants at the advent of autonomy it’s truly contradictory to hand over a million pounds to a degenerate political campaign, as you did, aimed at undermining the democratic process. You could have assuaged those medical men’s fears by boosting their funds. Some are incomers bound to worry.
In addition, over a hundred distinguished academics, like the medical ones you cite, made public their confidence in a renewed Scotland and its grant awarding schemes and levels, and like those medical men, and your self, some are incomers.
They can see past slyly worded sentences mined to manufacture consent using ‘might happen’ and ‘could happen’ and ‘perhaps’ as a prefix to assertions of jeopardy and doom.
I would love to live in Spain, not just for its Spanish culture, but for its Roman and Moorish cultures too. I visit the south regularly staying a month or more on work, but as an incomer there I’d be loathe to tell the Catalonians they are misguided trying to seek freedoms for themselves. I’d be condemned for arrogance, and rightly so.
No matter how long one has lived in a country not your own, one never quite acquires the depth of experience of an indigenous citizen, the sense of its history and its people. One can appreciate it as an incomer after some study but never quite be fashioned by it.
That only comes about from nurture. I do not need to own swathes of Spanish land to gain a spirit of place. I can visit it and praise it. Or I can order lots of Porcelanosa tiles for my Edinburgh home, Spanish tile making being of the highest quality.
Mexico, also Spanish speaking, cannot be regarded as a wealthy country, certainly not in comparison with the USA or even the United Kingdom. It has tremendous problems of poverty, an economy largely controlled by the USA for the USA’s economic benefit, as is its border controlled and patrolled. And it suffers a well-established drug fraternity.
Yet with well over 120 million of a population its higher education is free. Absolutely free. Mexico puts us to shame, and it is truly shameful what the Westminster parties are doing – almost all business parties – trying to privatise the English education system. Is that what you want imported here – every school a Hogwarts without the magic wand? Meddling with a nation’s education system is the province of the political charlatan.
From what you have had to say about your political outlook I discern you think of yourself a humanitarian, a little to the left of civilised ideology. I see you more as an old-fashioned Victorian, in the mould of a 19th century wealthy Tory philanthropist who gives to selected good causes now and again. In that regard, you’re at one with the political party you support, New Labour, and your friend, Gordon Brown, bag man to the crooked banks.
The party you support and the alien government to which it is bonded is hell bent on privatising human endeavour. They detest the “something for nothing society,” as they term it. They want Scotland’s welfare state to become a modest welfare system, to keep control over our democratic structures, to increase subservience, to retain a monopoly over our oil, and dictate our foreign policy. That is what you support.
When you were a struggling single parent I trust the city of Edinburgh helped you with welfare payments, a recipient of income support, as I was unemployed two painful, humiliating years. Understandably, I’m profoundly unhappy you reward Scotland’s care with a rejection of its ambition to protect that care.
You also support weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Scotland. By telling us to vote ‘No’ you welcome more taxpayer money spent on them. In fact, our special relationship with the USA, the same relationship you have, plans to add more. Can you stomach the thought of a generation of children wiped out in one day?
I read and reread your excuses for backing Westminster’s interests. They amount to this: the intellectual faculties of the Scottish people are too immature, our economy too weak, our resilience too thin to face the complicated, big bad 21st century without intervention of a dominant neighbour state.
Don’t you feel that something of an insult? I do.
The solution our elected administration offers is a kind of federalism that keeps close ties with England, but protects our self-determination with genuine sovereignty. People power. For the life of me I cannot think why you feel that is not a good thing. You have power in abundance. You exercise it over every contract you are asked to sign, book, documentary, film, and merchandise. You have powerful lawyers to stop others cheating you.
We feel manipulated, cheated ad nauseam.
Finally, you talk of insults levelled at you while insulting us with the term ‘supremacist,’ a description derived from evil characters in your books, wizards called ‘Death Eaters.’
You dehumanise us.
You castigate us as if an anonymous mass, the lumpen proletariat who have no outlet of political expression except through the perfidious internet. If Cameron and Osborne, May and Johnson are to be condemned for pontificating from Mount Olympus so can you, though you couch your opinion with meaningless good wishes for a happy outcome to Scotland’s future.
The conquest of happiness is easier to achieve when a people are empowered to the degree they determine their own local and national affairs.
To hold the notion Westminster, after over 300 years of exploiting Scotland and its people, will be our saviour overnight, is akin to the magic fantasy of your children’s novels. I specialise in adult issues and concerns, where people lead stressful lives complicated by events they cannot control – such as bad governance.
I want good governance for Scotland, for and by the people of Scotland.
You are very welcome to be part of it, but not to demoralise our idealism and our hope. Put simply, I think you have made a fool of yourself. You have done your reputation considerable harm. Then again, being unaccountably wealthy you might answer, you don’t care. You are too rich to feel insulted. You are, after all, one of the elite.
Yours (in a sort of way)
A critique of Rowling’s books and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is here: http://wp.me/p4fd9j-bfH