Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Progressive Music Classics. Killing Joke: "Empire Song"



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics, a salute to left-leaning music that champions the cause of working-class people around the world.

The great post-punk band Killing Joke released their sixth single, "Empire Song," on March 20, 1982. It turned out to be an eerily prescient song when, less than two weeks later, Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands.

Thatcher's Britain then sprung into action, gearing up for the subsequent Falklands War. "The Empire Strikes Back" was the cover story headline on the April 19, 1982 edition of Newsweek magazine.

The whole episode seemed to have been predicted by "Empire Song," particularly in the infamous chorus:

"Back to square one, another empire backfire"

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Russia's current actions in Crimea demonstrate that "The Great Game" of empires is as alive and well today as it was in the 19th century.

The only difference is that, back in the old days, the great powers were a bit more honest in admitting that they simply wanted to steal the resources of the countries they exploited.

These days, imperialism is often masked and obscured by a lot of lofty talk about ideals. (For example, the Bush/Cheney NeoCons often talked of noble goals of bringing "democracy" to Iraq, rather than just admitting that they wanted the fucking oil for their billionaire cronies).

Like Robber Baron capitalism, imperialism never really died. It simply went through a fallow period. I'd suspect that the current episode in Crimea is merely only the beginning of what will be a new round of resource grabbing by the Great Powers.

Killing Joke is one of those bands that proved to be highly influential over the years, but never really got the credit they deserved. For example, Nirvana blatantly ripped off Killing Joke's 1984 "Eighties" single on their 1992 song, "Come as You Are."

And vastly inferior "industrial" bands like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails have made a career out of stealing Killing Joke's basic template and watering it down for popular consumption. (The latter is the main reason why the whole "industrial" genre quickly became stale and cliched).

Unlike the tiresome bands that followed in their wake, Killing Joke always had an element of menace and danger in their work. What's more, they had a real message, tackling horrors like Monsanto, war, propaganda, corporatism, and other modern ills in their lyrics.

Killing Joke's approach hasn't been a formula for commercial success, but it has led to three decades of fantastic music of integrity and honesty.

Monday, March 03, 2014

"12 Years a Slave" Oscar Win: Get Ready For Inevitable Whining By the Rush/Drudge/Fox Crowd


12 Years a Slave is a great film that deserved its Best Picture Oscar on Sunday night. And already, I can just see the inevitable backlash from the racist Right-Wing Propaganda Noise Machine of Limbaugh/Drudge/Fox.
Here's their twisted little version of U.S. history:

The Civil War ended slavery in America.
And after the Civil War ended in 1865, no black person was mistreated in America ever again.
And all Americans lived happily ever after.
The end.

(Oh, and if any black people are still struggling with poverty and other hardships, well, it's all their own damn fault. Slavery happened a long time ago, and black people have had since 1865 to get their act together).

Oh, and all the following never happened:
  • The lynching era.
  • The torture/murder of Sam Hose.
  • The Jim Crow era.
  • The 1921 Tulsa race riot that destroyed the "Black Wall Street" (killing as many as 300 African-Americans).
  • The terrorism of the KKK.
  • The Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
  • The murder of Medgar Evers.
  • The murder of MLK.
  • The deadly police attack on MOVE.
  • The shooting of Amadou Diallo.
  • Ronald Reagan's 1980 "States' Rights" speech.
  • Willie Horton.
  • The murder of James Byrd, Jr.
  • George W. Bush praises officials at Bob Jones University.
  • The "birther" controversy.
  • President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" remark by GOP hero, Ted Nugent.
  • The ongoing harsh incarceration of hundreds of thousands of young black men in U.S. prisons for small-time, non-violent, petty drug possession offenses ("crimes" that wouldn't even merit jail time in most of Europe and the rest of the First World).
Etc. Note: Limbaugh/Drudge/Fox News fans: I can hear your complaints already, "But we white males are the REAL persecuted victims in today's America!" Yeah, if Rush says it, it must be true. Get ready to hear a lot of right-wing bullsh*t about how "Liberal" Hollywood tries to make white people feel guilty about slavery and the historical mistreatment of African-Americans. Yes, the "Liberal" Hollywood that brought us, Birth of a Nation.