Can Indie Brexiteers Go Back To The Old House?

On 23 June 2016 I voted to leave the European Union, there were many reasons for this vote but here are my top 5.

  • Democracy: EU is anti democratic with only a consultative body directly elected and it allows member governments to enact important laws and directives without accountability
  • Free Movement: Fortress Europe gives primacy to the generally white Europeans and blocks the rest of the world.
  • Corporatism: EU is a machine of regulation that creates barriers to prevent innovative people from competing in the marketplace
  • Austerity: The central banks allowed countries into the Euro Currency with immature economies and then imposed draconian austerity regimes on them for the rest of time enslaving half of the continent
  • Self Determination: The EU with 500 million people and 28 different countries is not a viable governing unit unlike Britain with its shared language, culture and history

Not an unreasonable point of view in my opinion and one shared with MP’s both Labour and Consevative and a staple of much left wing thinking ever since we joined (even shared with the economics editor of the Guardian). I understand that there are counter arguments to this and it’s important that people make them to enable us to make a decision. Which raises the question.

What is democracy?

screenshot-2016-12-18-15-08-46The debate around the EU has been raging ever since we held the referendum to enter the European Economic Area in 1975, a move was opposed by the Labour Party for some of the reasons above. This culminating in 2015 when the Conservative Party offered the country an in / out Referendum mainly to prevent the Labour Party doing likewise and to mop up the surge in support from Eurosceptic parties that still got over 4 million votes. The elected government duly passed legislation supported by 81% of MP’s to give the decision to the people in a referendum. There followed 8 weeks of intense debate where ideas and facts were scrutinised and all citizens given one equal vote each to decide the outcome. There you go, that established the will of the people which was 52 % to leave the EU.

So far, so sober, sensible and for society important to have a way of making the big calls without throwing punches, bricks and generally killing each other. All good?

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Well maybe not, the decision challenged many powerful vested interests which predictably started working against the popular will on all sorts of different levels but perhaps most surprisingly on the cultural level.

Now let’s get this straight a politician calling 52% of the people (including me apparently) racists (step forward Diane Abbot (good luck with that election campaign Labour)) is fine, after all they are in the public eye and every word they say can be challenged and they are held account for it. But what about musicians, comedians or other artists who have a platform where, by and large, they do not give a fair and reasonable right to reply.

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Immediately after the referendum Glastonbury went into meltdown with artists and Noel Gallagher queuing up to express their hysterical grief and their shared sense of existential shock. The preceding debate showed the intrinsic value to a society of challenging each other with respect to arrive at a decision yet the day after the decision Noel used his platform to tell us “99% of this country are as thick as pig shit” , then Damon Albarn told us “democracy has failed we have been misled”. Now a right of reply would have sought their answers to many of the points raised above. But no, that band wagon was already rolling as one after the other queued up to grab this historic moment and add their voice to the condemnation with a memorable twist if possible. PJ Harvey read a poem by John Donne from 1624 which many people may not have been familiar with but which I like totally got. Performers like Adele, Billy Bragg, Coldplay and Ellie Golding all made comments about the general sense of tragedy and dismay about what “they have done to our country”. To be fair as a long time paid up indie fan boy I didn’t like the people mentioned here (OK PJ Harvey has a couple of good tunes) but it seemed like this echo chamber was much bigger than that.

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Onto the Edinburgh fringe festival a place where this indie kid spent many an hours watching the comedic parallel politics of 80’s left wing radicalism play out. The comedians reacted with predictable outrage at the outcome with my erstwhile spiritual leader at the head of the charge. Now I had not heard Stewart Lee ever make any comment on the EU before and I was looking forward to him performing a couple of months after the Referendum. I couldn’t go in the end and my fellow wizards advised me that I had taken a wise decision not to attend as myself and the 17.4 million people who didn’t agree with him were his target stating “not all people who voted leave are racists but they are all cunts”. But how so, was Stewart not the democratic and freedom loving comrade I thought he was? Well reading Stewart’s recent output I can see what the Wizards meant Lee branding the vote a “national anti-immigration referendum“. Elsewhere 80’s punk poet Atilla The Stockbroker questioned the nature of democracy arguing that the referendum was not the will of the people because the people who couldn’t or chose not to vote didn’t count. Curiously Atilla has been advocating leaving the EU for much of his political life and changed his mind during the campaign, there’s another name for that “Bottling It”!

Where does that leave the indie Brexiteers? Are we now condemned to a cultural life of attending gigs and comedy shows waiting for slights and insults from the stage. Having Twitter feeds filled with condemnation from The Future Of The Left or The Fat White Family. Well maybe not, one central icon came to the rescue, Morrissey who called the referendum result “Magnificent”. In the only spectacle of cultural push back I have seen Morrissey concluded his Manchester show by saying:

“Many years ago I wrote a song and the lyrics were I have been dreaming of a time when the English are sick to death of Labour and Tory and now they are! Whatever happens now. I love you!

View Irish Blood English Heart Manchester 2016 here.

Thank you Mozza maybe there is still a chance to go back to the old house.

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Rebel Rikkit’s Politics Of Sound An Introduction

This Blog is dedicated to achieving a deeper understanding of the relationship between music and politics.  I am Rebel Rikkit one third of the worldwide acclaimed Trust The Wizards Podcast and I regularly broadcast mildly amusing musings to the to the world.  However this blog is a chance to step back and dig a little deeper into what makes a good political song or to look sideways to consider the political significance of events around pop, rock, folk, soul etc. etc.

Methodology

To make judgments about the quality of musicians political prowess the following criteria will be used (sometimes):

Impact

Did the music mobilize the masses to march on the monument? Did the groove galvanize the government to grant a great gesture (you may have noticed the over use of words beginning with G here)? Did the ballad make believers throw boulders at Back Benchers who balking at the breaking consensus battled bravely to (well you get the idea).  Remember some songs with the greatest impact don’t even purport to be political songs Rollo Romig makes a good argument for Martha and the Vandellas “Dancing In The Street” being the song that if not inspired the Detriot Riots of 1968 it was their adopted soundtrack.

Courage

Its one thing to shout “No Government!” to a room full of like minded individuals

however quite another to say the un sayable in a room full of doubting or hostile faces.

That takes some profiteroles and that sort of courage stemming from a belief in an idea makes people sit up and take notice (well it does me in any case).  However we must always remember that Victor Jura  wrote his last song whilst being beaten to death by the Chilian military so lets keep some perspective here.

Authenticity

Pop stars suffer from this in spades Elivis Costello quipped on John Lennon “Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions” Possessions”.  But who has the right to have a voice uncritically accepted by millions? Those who have led a life of self sacrifice in service of those in need?  Those who have enjoyed material success from humble beginnings? Those who have worked for years on the bottom rung of society for little reward?  Or is it people who can hold a tune and who 50 million twitter followers? people can have valid ideas and deserve to be listened to from any of these camps but authenticity comes down to whether they are consistent, rational and believable.  Hell even Bono might make sense at some point (in the future).

Coherence

Its one thing to alight upon a simple single issue and sing about that like saving the whale for example.

However its quite another to position your music at the heart of a all embracing theory of human history .

Why is that important you say?  Well I don’t know about you but when I see anyone expressing an opinion on a subject I always wonder if their whole philosophy stands up.  They may sound impressive on Animal Welfare for example but do they have a darker secret in their world view that you would be uncomfortable with like this guy.

Inspiration

This is an “x factor” criteria. After many years of sitting in judgement on what makes great music I have concluded that neither I nor anyone else really has the answer.  It could be the strangest thing that makes a piece of music special, it could be very personal, a snippet of a lyric that speaks to you a sound that makes you feel good, maybe you heard something at the same time as you met a strangers eye and you both smiled at each other and felt the world a better place. Either way whether it be the tune, the lyrics, the sound, the ideas or anything else it may raise the piece the greatness.

Tone of the blog

What is/are politics? Well how about this definition? Politics is the communication that takes places between all of humanity to make decisions regarding humanities direction.  If we take this definition it’s pretty important that we take it seriously and don’t get distracted.  The most irritating thing about politics in my opinion is the inability of many people to conduct a political conversation for more that a few minutes without getting angry or getting personal or simply giving up for lack of interest.  Yet if we look at the definition again all we are doing is throwing ideas around to build our ideal world.  Who’s not interested in that project? Surely that’s an interesting discussion to have and we might even have fun somewhere in that discussion.  So no po-faced hectoring or lecturing ideas are here to be enjoyed so passion yes but hopefully with a lightness of touch.

Bias in the blog

There is nothing more tedious than balanced respectful discussion if you passionately believe in an idea express it in a natural and colourful way! I have a point of view that I will not shy away from but demand that ideas that I support are challenged the same as all others because you know what that’s how we make good decisions.  I am not tied to any political party and my perspective might best be described as Liberal Humanist.  I think I could be described as being of the Left however I am not sure that left and right wing labels mean much these days as the political parties have merged and become less ideological and a consensus has formed around free market capitalism.  Either way I am open minded and want to have the discussion on the future of the world so I like you, should make sure we learn from the past but don’t allow it to cloud our thinking of the future.

Mission Statement

The Politics Of Sound Separating Protest Music from Posturing Muzak