We Have the Numbers

I have a tattoo.

Actually, I’ve got a few but there’s one in particular that I’d like to write about today. First, though, a note on the aforementioned Radical Independence Conference.

In a previous post, I bumped my gums about those post-referendum blues, and sang the praises of the RIC, I wrote that I had changed irrevocably. But a funny thing happened while I was listening to Myshele Haywood talk, and perhaps that’s not completely true.

Myshele Haywood is an expat American, living and working in Aberdeen, and campaigning for Radical Independence in her (I’m sure very limited) spare time. Haywood was part of the opening plenary session and she talked about her own political history, and her path to independence.

Did you ever suddenly realise something obvious about yourself? People who cared about what happened to their neighbours suddenly realised they were political. People who wanted to help others suddenly realised they were activists. People who thought we should maybe be nice to each other suddenly realised they were radicals.

Ultimately, Haywood believes that none of this is radical in the slightest.

I don’t think it’s particularly radical, what we’re talking about here. Let’s not kill each other. Let’s not dump poisons into our air and water. Let’s share our resources and try to make sure everyone has a decent, dignified life. How fucked up is our current system that it requires radical change just to meet the standards of basic human values?

Which brings me to my tattoo.

As part of the closing plenary, Alan Bissett delivered his People’s Vow, halfway through which was the following passage.

We Vow to end the austerity which has become the creed of the London elite. To solve a crisis created by the rich, they say, the public must suffer. We reject their crusade against the poor, both its inefficiency and its immorality. They have the money, but we have the numbers. [emphasis mine]

In 2003 I got married in Las Vegas, and visited San Francisco as part of the same trip. Near our San Francisco hotel, I took a photograph of some graffiti, with the explicit intent of getting it tattooed at a later date.

A photograph of some graffiti, taken in San Francisco.
A photograph I took of some graffiti, San Francisco.

While Bissett talked in tones of overthrowing the Government, I thought of my tattoo and both its relevance then and its relevance now. Why do I have an overtly political statement on my back? I’ve never quite been sure; it just always seemed right.

So, when I tell myself I’ve changed, I’m not totally convinced that I have.

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