Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 1883

Irresistible Revolutionaries

This article is over 18 years, 0 months old
'You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace' sings Michael Franti Michael Franti is the lead singer of the anti-capitalist US band Spearhead. Michael spoke to Guy Taylor and Jo
Issue 1883

Do you think there has been a radicalisation in music in the US?

Music has changed a lot. Just as globalisation has affected the food we eat and the environment we live in, it has also affected the music industry. You used to have 30 or 40 major record labels, and you could have a label like Island Records that would have Bob Marley and U2-very political groups.

Then they merged with Polygram and Def Jam, then that was bought by Interscope, and that was bought by Universal, and that was bought by Vivendi. They’ve been bought by MDC this year.

Now the major labels are more concerned with serving their shareholders than the goddess of music. They’re not looking for the next John Lennon or Bob Dylan, they’re looking for the next Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake.

When the Dixie Chicks spoke out against the war they were censored by radio stations. Has that atmosphere affected Spearhead?

One of our band members has a sister who is in the military. Just before the war his mother was met at her house by two military intelligence officers.

They asked her questions about the family. They had a file with photos of us performing at demonstrations. They had our bank account records, our flight records.

The same is true of other artists-in music, film, painters, poets, writers, people who organise demonstrations. With the Patriot Act the laws have been changed in terms of how much they can observe people.

There has been a fantastic growth in your band’s popularity. Along with Michael Moore’s popularity, you must be hopeful.

Yes, I am hopeful. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was possible to live in a better world. The challenge for those of us being political through art is to make the revolution irresistible.

At our gigs we try to get people dancing and having fun, and plant the seeds in the lyrics that might take hold.

What would a better world mean to you?

What people are really shouting out for today is that human interests need to take priority over the corporate and military powers.

There needs to be something more on the agenda than profit.

We want a return to a time when people were concerned with universal healthcare, living in places where everyone can read, have a place to live, have a decent job. We don’t want to have governments only concerned that the chief executive of each company lives in the best home they can.

What message do you have to young people living in Britain today?

We lose the path when we feel powerless, and we only feel powerless when we are not involved. The more we are involved in taking things into our own hands, the more we feel our power and the less we are just angry and frustrated.

Find ways to become involved.


A Hitler-loving Tory rake’s progress

The Alan Clark Diaries Thursday 15 January, 10pm, BBC4

THE DIARIES of the Tory MP Alan Clark, who died in 1999, are a brilliant insight into what the ruling class and its hangers-on think.

I really looked forward to seeing them televised (the series will be on BBC2 soon if you can’t get BBC4).

To its credit, the programme does not fall into the trap of portraying Clark as simply a slightly eccentric but lovable rogue. It shows he was a gross sexist, rude and arrogant-and worse. But, on the evidence of the first episode, the series falls short on two counts.

Firstly, although there is some reference to his right wing views, it does not bring out just how vile he was.

Enoch Powell was a racist rabble-rouser, notorious for predicting in 1968 that immigration would lead to “rivers of blood”. Clark thought Powell was “quite wonderful”, with “his living and incomparable patriotism”.

But Clark went far further than backing Powell. At a dinner party he was asked if he was a vegetarian. He replied, “Yes, like the Führer. He was ahead of his time in that as in so many other things like the genetic need for racial purity.”

Clark was interviewed by Frank Johnson of the Times in 1981. The diary reads, “Yes, I told him I was a Nazi. I was completely committed to the whole philosophy. The blood and the violence was an essential ingredient of its strength, the heroic tradition of cruelty.” Clark more than once flirted with the idea of leaving the Tories and becoming a Nazi National Front MP.

Clark’s love of animals was combined with a hatred of most humans. In 1990 he had to shoot a heron that was plundering his fishpond. He records, “I cursed and blubbed. I was near a nervous breakdown. Yet if it had been a burglar or a vandal I wouldn’t have given a toss.”

The second problem with the programme is that it concentrates exclusively on Clark’s own experience as he builds his career. He had many other interesting things to say about the state of Thatcher’s government that shows how vulnerable it was, how it relied on Labour’s pathetic lack of opposition and how it feared revolt.

Clark’s diaries are a great record of what our enemies say when they are not minding their words.

  • Topics

    Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

    Make a donation to Socialist Worker

    Help fund the resistance