For those of you who have been paying more attention to the wider world, I feel I should perhaps give something of an explanation about all this.
The Deveron Press was started by James Leatham (1865-1945) in 1916 when he moved to Turriff in his 50s. He lived there until his death, publishing Gateway just about every month for 30 odd years. James Leatham is a very interesting man. But he’s been airbrushed out of history (you certainly won’t find anything about him in Wikipedia) not just because he was a radical, but because he was a radical who stood outside of any ‘camp’. And when he died, it seems his work died with him – locked into the prison of copyright ‘protection’ for 70 years which is more than long enough for everyone to completely forget any contribution he had to make to social and political debate. I am proud to say that this year I have been instrumental in bringing his autobiography into print for the first time. We’ve even entered it for the Orwell Prize. Do you think it will win? Or even get shortlisted? Of course it won’t. But it should.
We have never needed dissenting voices more than now. We are in danger of losing ourselves in the mire of capitalism playing dirty. We find it all too easy to buy into the dominant narrative or the ‘constructed’ anti-narrative which all too often is actually being peddled by those who In the world of social media where we all think we are free to ‘discover’ and ‘create’ our own versions of truth, we don’t often stop to think about how almost everything that comes our way is being ‘sold’ to us or how we are being bought and sold with every click we make - In the Ultimate Dystopia the birds sit in their golden cages and sing their song – what the song is hardly matters – tweet good, tweet bad, just tweet because you have no more value than your data.
And so we need some way of looking beyond. Of searching for ourselves, not based on algorithms created in order to keep us in our boxes. Beyond Google. Beyond Wikipedia. Beyond the hype of consumer capitalism and the best democracy money can buy.
And the likes of The Gateway, and the writing of Leatham offers this. We are a small cog in a very anarchic wheel. We a just one small example of places on the internet where people are trying to stand against the lies not simply by providing another alternative vision of ‘truth’ but by encouraging you, the reader, to explore, to question and to develop a healthy sense of cynicism against ALL incoming information be it traditional mainstream media or ‘social’ varieties. You won’t like all that you read. You won’t agree with everything – that’s the point. I believe we seriously need to restore (or learn) the ability to question, to think for ourselves and to intelligently confront the things we don’t like rather than just hide ourselves away in groups or communities which circle round our ‘likes’. The lynch mob mentality of social media is part of the whole problem in the world today. It’s about being in a ‘gang’ isn’t it? I can surround myself with ‘like-minded’ people and we can go on a ‘hate-fest’ for all those we disagree with. Strength in unity personified. It’s ugly if you want my opinion.
I’d rather diversity. But there needs to be, if not courtesy (I’ve been known to have a rant or two myself), then at least an appreciation that other views exist. An understanding that we are not all the same and that we do not all want the same thing. It would be a step too far to suggest that anyone ‘celebrate’ diversity, but learning the value of it would be nice.
McRenegades offers a chance for diverse voices to speak, though I have to say that I feel many of my fellow McRenegades are still hiding themselves away, either because they don’t feel they have a contribution to make, or can’t see the point. Here’s the point, fellow McRenegades. Big Brother has won folks, make no doubt about that – but we don’t have to love him! Even if what we’re doing is little more than throwing mud at a virtual wall, we can be the graffiti on the mainstream narrative. Don’t expect them to like it. Don’t expect them to acknowledge it. But if you are waiting for acceptance by the mainstream, the system or whoever you define ‘them’ as, you are a prisoner in a cage. Step out and be free. Have your say. Engage. Without looking to ‘the main chance’.
The internet is a powerful tool. I’m not a great fan of it, but as Mr McStoryteller, McRenegade Brendan Gisby says ‘It’s the only thing we have’ and to a great extent this is true. If so, then we should USE it rather than consume it. We shouldn’t be afraid that we are not worthy, or that we will not be accepted, or that no one gives a shit about us. This is all buying into the dominant narrative.
So this is my rationale for The Gateway and The Deveron Press. It’s not a way to make money. It’s not a way to fame or recognition or acceptance. It is a revolutionary challenge – a guerrilla activity. It’s saying ‘I’m here and I’m real and I’m not going away.’ It’s saying ‘I will seek out and find these old thorns in your side and I’ll showcase them once more despite all your attempts to muzzle and airbrush.’ Starting a revolution from your bedroom may not be as ‘cool’ as the traditional pop star story, but then why does everyone want to be a pop star, or a celebrity? Never mind ‘follow your dreams’ how about What dreams may come eh?
In the hierarchy we live in, however wide that aspiration, only a few can ever make it to the top. I’m in the business of smashing hierarchies wherever I find them. I want a level playing field. The internet supposedly offers that, though it’s really just hierarchy 3.0 – but if we don’t subvert we can’t complain. We need to look at the possibilities. We need to live our own lives as if they matter – at least to us – and we need to stop looking up and down on other people.
Remember, we’re McRenegades – we do things differently – and I hope that in the coming months and years more of my fellows will look for ways to become voiced. It’s pointless? That’s what they want you to think. You (or your writing) are not good enough? Hold the bus… shades of ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ spring to mind. We’ve got the democracy we deserve folks – we’re in a world that we’re helping to shape – if not by our action then by our inaction or worse by our unwitting compliance to a system we don’t believe in but which has convinced us we are better to submit to. Just over a century ago Russian peasants faced the same challenge. If nothing else, McRenegades can virtually revolt can’t they? Or be virtually revolting. I have become a ‘Leatham lamb’ over the last year and I don’t regret it. I can only suggest that you find your own forgotten and lost cause to fight for. The Gateway may offer you some hope. Among many wise things that Leatham said is this:
'All the organs of public opinion – press, Parliament, radio, pulpit, are in the hands of careerists who support the established order'.
It’s even more true today than it was half a century ago. And if you don’t want that to be true, you have to DO something yourself. McRenegades offers a platform. Yes we are on the margins, yes we are at the bottom of the pile, yes we are the Mcpeasants. No one listens. So what? Speak out. And most of all, be creative. We don’t need to destroy, we need to create alternatives. Don’t fight city hall. Be the change you want to see. Create your own world and live in it. Alone if you like, there’s nothing wrong with being in a minority of one. But if you want to, invite others. We create alternative worlds by building our own communities. But there’s no room for passengers. They just feed the hierarchy. You need to find a way to engage and to be active in a positive way. But hey, if you want to waste your time posting pictures of cats, or tweeting hate memes or signing petitions then that’s fine. It’s just that some of us want to be more than the sum of our data.
Find out more about Leatham, Gateway and The Deveron Press at www.thedeveronpress.scot