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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish society’

Toxic Masculinity must be defeated. Silence is not an option for any of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2018

Hate seems to be everywhere in public life. This week Scottish Justice minister Humza Yousaf floated making misogyny a specific hate crime illegal, while in the previous week, the Scottish Government launched a high profile campaign against hate crime.

Look around the world for numerous, state-sponsored examples – US President Donald Trump, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with his rape comment after the killing of an Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill that ‘the mayor should have been first’, and Brazilian Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro and his language of rape references as a political weapon.

Trump’s comments on the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford case have taken even his debased Presidency to a new low. After initially saying after the Senate hearings that Ford was ‘a very fine woman’, not long after he went into the gutter at a rally mocking sexual abuse and gang rape – then in the last few days, dismissing the whole thing as ‘a hoax’ dreamed up by the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

What comes after Creative Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 1st 2018

Festival time is upon us again in Edinburgh. The yearly jamboree of the various Festivals and Fringe take over our capital city, bring a select part of the world to our shores, and give a platform which presents a vibrant, dynamic Scotland on an international stage.

At the same time all is not exactly well in the official world of culture in Scotland. Two weeks ago, the publically funded body, Creative Scotland, lost its second head, Janet Archer, in its relatively short history.

Archer resigned after a troublesome year. There was controversy in January when Creative Scotland announced its long-term funding of arts and cultural bodies, jettisoning 20 major arts companies from its regular support list, reducing it in others, and then when pressurised, engaging in a hasty U-turn reinstating funding for five bodies, and finding more monies to ease some of the losers. Read the rest of this entry »

Loss is too important to be left to the hate mongers

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 25th 2018

The bewildering nature of modern society – its incessant, demanding change, shifts in employment, remuneration and technologies, and a sense that big decisions are taken elsewhere – means that a feeling of loss is commonplace today in the UK and other developed societies.

Yet such is the overwhelming nature of these changes and so deep-seated are feelings of confusion and dislocation that we don’t have time or inclination to stop and pause and understand the many facets of what loss is, or its many different manifestations – not all of which are necessarily negative.

To many loss is having something taken away, feeling powerless and being in the process diminished. There is the patent Scottish feeling of loss, which through our history has transmuted into a palpable lament of loss. For some this feels likes an open, sour wound on our collective psyche. The various traumatic moments of our past underline a sense of injustice and wrong which requires public recognition and action in the present.

Recently at a Scotland’s Festival of Ideas event that I organised in Dundee – on what is missing from culture in Scotland – the writer James Robertson concluded that he saw no circumstances in which loss was positive. This would be the prevailing feeling of many of us when we first think of the subject and having something taken away which diminishes what feels a part of ourselves. It came in a response to a conversation beforehand between Kapka Kassabova, author of ‘Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe’ and Madeline Bunting, whose most recent book, ‘Love of Country’, is explores her connections to the Hebrides. Read the rest of this entry »

In Praise of Gentleness

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 28th 2018

Where is the gentleness in life? Instead – in too many places – we have a surfeit of anger, dislocation and frustration.

For some the big issues of the day necessitate, even demand, such assertive and sometimes negative qualities. We live in times defined by corporate dishonesty, brazenness and theft, where the vast majority of us feel unheard, marginalised, alienated and silenced. Anger is clearly an understandable response, but can only take us so far, and too often blows itself out through exhaustion and disillusion.

Too much of public life seems to be a search for the guilty, condemning others, playing the person not the ball, and being driven by immediate comment and criticism with little to no reflection.

This is our modern world, and one many see as aided and reinforced by the environment of social media, Facebook, and Twitter. Yet, something more is surely at work. There is the decline of authority, the weakening of trust, an absence of leaders that we look up too and believe in, and a diminishing of the social bonds, connections and shared values which hold societies together. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture in Scotland in the midst of storms: A Call for Dangerous Cultures

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, March 16th 2018

Culture in Scotland is in difficult times: public spending cuts, the lost decade of stagnant living standards for the vast majority of people, limits to the Scottish Government’s largesse and devolution powers, controversy over Creative Scotland’s decision making and funding priorities resulting in the debate over the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre – and much more (with some questioning the continued existence of Creative Scotland).

If you think these are dangerous waters you ain’t seen nothing yet. While some yearn for the headwinds of populism, revolt and voter dissatisfaction to blow themselves out and ‘normal’ politics to resume, others recognise that what was normal was part of the problem and one of the reasons we got into the current mess. Restoration politics and culture which is what some dream of isn’t aiming very high.

Instead, we inhabit an age of broken mainstream politics, a discredited economic model, big questions about accountability, ethics and responsibility in both public life and in what is called private life, but is increasingly a contested arena. That’s without mentioning Brexit, Trump, the ineptitudes of the Theresa May UK Government, and that nearly everywhere in the developed world those notionally in control have lost their confidence, while continuing to pretend otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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