Jimmy Reid (obits.)

A bit of radical Glasweigan history. He was using one form of protest (work-in) when others would usually strike or sit-in. Protest is *harder* than work.

We are young, he was old. Link to the full text at the Independent. This is a speech he gave to the graduates of the University of Glasgow in 1972.

“Alienation is the precise and correctly applied word for describing the major social problems in Britain today.  People feel alienated by society.

“Today it is more widespread, more pervasive, than ever before.  Let me at the outset define what I mean by alienation.  It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control.

“It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes decision making.  The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel, with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.

“It is expressed by those young people who want to opt out of society, by drop-outs, the so-called maladjusted, those who seek to escape permanently from the reality of society through intoxicants and narcotics.

“Society and prevailing sense of values leads to another form of alienation. It alienates some from humanity. It partially dehumanises some people, making them insensitive, ruthless in their handling of fellow human beings self-centred and grasping.
“The irony is they are often considered normal and well adjusted.  It is my sincere contention that anyone who can be totally adjusted to our society is in greater need of psychiatric analysis and treatment than anyone else.

…the big challenge to our civilisation is not the OZ magazine nor is it permissiveness – although I agree our society is too permissive.

“Any society, which, for example, permits over a million people to be unemployed is far too permissive for my liking.”

“The challenge we face is to root out anything and everything that distorts and devalues human relations.”

He gave the example of a commercial television ad in which the words of a speaker at a banquet were posed in such a way that the bride was led to believe they were directed at her but instead were directed at promoting the products of a sherry firm.

Mr. Reid said that the whole aim of the ad was to get the audience to snigger along with the hurt of the individual rather than feeling genuine sympathy.

He said: “Even genuinely intended friendly advice can sometimes take the form of someone saying to you “listen you look after No.1” – or as they say in London “Bang the bell Jack, I’m on the bus.”

To the students I address this appeal – reject these attitudes – reject the values and false morality that underline these attitudes.  A rat race is for rats.  We are not rats.  We are human beings.

The menagerie

“Reject the insidious pressures of society that would blunt your critical faculties to all the happenings around you that would caution silence in the face of injustices lest you jeopardise your changes of promotions and self advancement.

“This is how it starts and before you know where you are you are a fully-paid up member of the rat pack.

“The price is too high.  It entails a loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it: ‘What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul.’

“Profit is the sole criterion used by the establishment to evaluate economic activity. From the rat race we have come to lame ducks.  A vocabulary in vogue is a giveaway.  It is more reminiscent of a human menagerie than human society.

Summing up, he said: “My conclusion is to reaffirm what I hope and certainly intend to be the spirit permeating the address. It’s an affirmation of faith in humanity.

“All that is good in man’s heritage involves recognition of our common humanity – an unashamed acknowledgement that man is good by nature.

A section of Jimmy Reid’s Commencement speech to the University of Glasgow, 1972, in his role as Rector.

“Nobody and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without our permission. And there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us.”

Guardian article.

Some alternative links (other than the Guardian):

‘John and Yoko were supporters of Reid’s Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ 1970s work-in.
John even sent a cheque for £5000 attached to a wheel of roses to Jimmy and the UCS workforce.’

A story from the Sunny Govan Website.

‘He said: “I don’t know but there’s a cheque here.”

He looked and all he could see was Lennon, L-e-n-n-o-n.

He said: “Lennon, some guy called Lennon”.

One of the old communist shop stewards, from Dumbarton,  said: “It cannae be Lenin, he’s dead”.’

Daily Record obit.

‘We therefore have organised politically to work to bring nearer the day when capitalism’s inhumanity, waste and chaos will be swept away by the democratic action of the majority of the world’s working class – the useful people. ‘

Extract from a contemporary issue of “Socialist Standard‘:

John and Yoko were supporters of Reid’s Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ 1970s work-in.
John even sent a cheque for £5000 attached to a wheel of roses to Jimmy and the UCS workforce.
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