top of page

“Building Back Better” in a Militarised World

We desire that Scotland should be known for its contribution to peace and justice rather than a launch pad for waging war (Scotland's for Peace)

Alongside the despondency and weariness that the pandemic and the continuing restrictions bring there is also a potential positive: we are now being given a longer interval to bring into sharp focus the severe shortcomings in the status quo before March 2020, and to bring forward, argue for and model the good alternatives.

Here's one example. We will very shortly be bombarded with the red poppy. In spite of some effort from the British Legion and others to make the thing a bit more inclusive it remains an annual opportunity to exhume toxic nationalism – this year the flag-wrapping is likely to be even more pronounced and the pressure to conform even greater. And in the background, rubbing their hands in glee as the nationalistic fervour is turned up to 11 the mercenary global arms industry, with no real loyalty to any particular bit of turf or community, will be celebrating the way in which their activity is further and further embedded all over the globe, in warplanes in Linköping in Sweden, firearms in Schaffhausen in Switzerland, or guided bombs in our very own Glenrothes. They will be glad that the public is almost wholly unaware of the colossal carbon boot-print of the military worldwide - the UK military's contribution alone is 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. They will be happy too that military propagandists are allowed unfettered access to many schools. They will be absolutely delighted that the boys-and-their-toys are engaging in ever more perilous playground posturing and stand-offs. And you don't have to be a pacifist to reject all that. You just need to recognise where all this is leading. The current scene is scarily similar to the lead-up to 1914 when jingoism and militarism created a momentum that in the end no-one knew how to stop.

For radical reconstruction we need to include the perspectives and arts of peace. On the one hand this means constantly articulating the true meaning of human security as rooted in the personal safety and well-being of all citizens, in equality and justice, in sustainability (and right now in a universal health service and support for those living in isolation) – with all the new building that involves. But it also means ensuring that we all understand that the radical rebuilding must include a vision for peace. That in turn entails shining a light on the arms trade in our midst, challenging those who want massive armed forces in a new Scotland, investing in the skills of conflict resolution and arbitration and taking on the jingoism that imperils us all.

Here's one thing we all should do this autumn to get into better conversations about security by doing one simple thing – wear a white poppy. What that flower says is so different: not just that war but all wars and all oppressions; not just one nation, but all peoples; not just the past but the demanding present and the possible future.

White poppies can be had in bulk from . For singles and small numbers contact Secure Scotland by emailing


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page