BY HAMISH GOBSON
The death of the Unabomber last month may have been eclipsed in the Scottish media by stories such as Mrs Murrell’s success in her driving theory test, or squibs like her recent trip to the police offices, but out here on Great Todday we hold fast to traditional news values. “Is modern society fit for purpose?” has always seemed more important than “Is Mrs Murrell roadworthy?”. That is where the Unabomber comes in.
I vividly recall the impact his Manifesto made in the days when the author’s identity was still as secret as an SNP bank statement. It was received by the Toddays’ Literary and Historical Society with impartial curiosity after it had been published by The Washington Post in September 1995. I read out long extracts at an Extraordinary Ceremonial Meeting. The mood was sombre and thoughtful. Most accepted the argument about the depersonalisation of Dreghornish society, and the dangers that might pose to the country if any patchily-educated old Dreghornians were one day let loose in the corridors of power with access to other people’s money.
Reading the Unabomber’s Manifesto again now, I am impressed by the way a gifted mathematician, living in a one-room cabin in the woods outside Lincoln, Montana, was able to see so clearly into the black heart of moralistic Murrellism. Psychologically speaking, “Ted” Kaczynski’s text makes the Murrells stand as naked before you as John and Yoko once did.
The focus of Kaczynski’s Manifesto is the feelings of inferiority which underlie what he calls “modern leftism”. These are people who expect government to work for them without themselves submitting to the disciplines of either command, which I do not believe they understand, or obedience, which they think is beneath them. That is essentially the story of Mrs Murrell in Holyrood.
Like a Soviet apparatchik, she treated power as a benefit not a responsibility. She seemed to think that “hatred” of Thatcher was enough to get her into power for all time coming. As “Chief Mammy”, she could force everyone to think like her—and nae mair aboot it.
Democracy was only for those who agreed with her. Tories, she implied in parliament, should be opposed at all times, even when they agree with you. (see Nicola Sturgeon, p. 47)
This sort of behaviour is indicative of a destructive combination of self-harm and feelings of aggression brought on by a sense of underlying inferiority.
The self-harm bit arises from a politician who refuses to make alliances because he, she, it or they want disciples, not allies. We all have to be in her gang or we’re scum. That is all fairly old hat. It is the inferiority complex which is more interesting.
I mentioned Murrell’s sense of personal inadequacy last time in connection with Louis XIV, whom she so closely resembles in everything but taste, wit, looks, brains, sexuality, military prowess, patriotism, architectural flair, garden design, horsemanship and wig-style. But both she and the Sun King shared the loser’s feeling that the world was out to attack and defeat them. Enemies on all sides, that sort of thing.
If I may mention two further quotes from the book I considered last week, I suspect, first, that the Stunted Stoater will be sitting in her empty house mediating on “the impotence of omnipotence”, just as the Sun King did. (p. 231, emphasis in original) Secondly, the reason for her loser’s status is precisely the addiction to bilious hating that I have mentioned. Prof Elster quoted de Tocqueville in this respect. “What most prevented the French from being worthy and capable of freedom was that they always detested the neighbours more than the master.” (p. 232) That was Murrell’s problem, and she inflicted it on Scotland.
If you hate indiscriminately, the rules of karma suggest you think most of the world hates you. Kaczynski addressed this issue directly. “When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem.” (para. 8) This means the sufferer has “feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc.” In Russia that was true of Mr Putin; in the United States, Richard Nixon. In Scotland it describes most of the modern SNP leadership.
Interestingly, I do not think it applied to earlier figures in the Party, like Andrew Dewar Gibb or Douglas Young. And it certainly did not apply to Robert Cunninghame Graham, of whom more in a future entry. They had a semi-positive vision of Scotland’s future as an independent country—essentially, so far as I can see, because they were not seduced by either the EU or baby boxes.
By contrast, Murrell had none of the independent character of those men. She sheltered for two years behind the Covid lectern, perhaps because, as Kaczynski says, the “stronghold” of political correctness, and therefore mental inelasticity, is “among university professors”. (para. 12) Many academics love the air of “authority” their positions give them because it suggests to themselves as much as to their students that they are the sole source of all wisdom. No doubts allowed. This can give confidence to people who, like King Louis or ex-Queen L-driver, know themselves to be second rate, yet are in a position of power over those who they fear might be first rate and seeing through them.
That is the basis of Murrellism: conscious inferiority expressed as contempt for cultural quality and intellectual depth. As Kaczynski puts it: “The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition [of ideas] because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.” (para. 16) I wonder if, sitting in the Rebus room at Scottish CID HQ last Sunday, Mrs Murrell felt like a winner, or someone who has been unjustly accused—i.e. a loser?
Her immediate reaction to arrest was to say: “I am certain I have committed no offence.” So if one day she is cancelled in court, will she consider herself unfairly judged? In a country like Britain, with a respectable legal system, that is the mark of a loser. She is right; the rest of the world is wrong; the end is nigh.
Why has the tottie wee ice-dancer from Ayrshire turned out so badly? Kaczynski’s Manifesto suggests part of the reason may be what he calls “over-socialisation”. The hermit in Montana described what today we would call “Twitter addiction”. This afflicts people who are completely dominated by the opinions of others.
He says, “Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally [i.e. independently] imposes a severe burden on them… We use the term ‘over-socialized’ to describe such people. Over-socialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed of behaviour or speech that is contrary to society’s expectations.” (paras. 25, 26)
Were you ashamed of thinking that Isla Bryson should not have tried to smuggle a thug’s penis into a ladies-only house of correction? Did you experience feelings of powerlessness when told an SNP minister for mental health admitted to having mental health problems of his own after an unhappy evening at a gay disco for under-60s after a Party conference in Aberdeen? Are you defeated by the effort of trying to guess the Murrells’ future genders?
If you survived those tests, perhaps your self-esteem as a Scot will finally be dented by the news coming from Edinburgh that somebody called Humpty Yousaf has been booked to appear at this year’s Festival Fringe in a show at Prestonfield House with Gloria Hunniford and Sir Cliff Richard. I imagine “The Continuity Comedy” will feature Father Yousaf trying to console a former First Minister who believes she has been “fingered” by the cops when she knows she is innocent. She doesn’t like being fingered in this way, without her consent. She whines and purses her guillotine lips, at which point Gloria Hunniford blouses in with advice on how to create an easy-to-maintain rock garden over the graves of all the cancelled comrades. The audience applauds rapturously and then, just before the final curtain, Cliff bounces on stage to get the whole house singing: “Congratulaaaaations and celebraaaaations/When I tell everyone that you’re in love with you!”
The Unabomber would have understood. May he and his victims rest in peace. May Mrs L-driver Murrell rest in justice.
Republished by kind permission of Think Scotland. Hamish Gobson lives on the isle of Great Todday (Todaidh Mór) and features in Hating Tories: How Nicola Sturgeon Got into Government (1970-2007) – A Citizen’s Biography of a Driven Woman in a Drifting Parliament (Ian Mitchell, 2023) – available on Amazon.co.uk and also reviewed here by Tom Gallagher.