Posts Tagged ‘Culture’
Hip-hop has seen artists with social and political awareness. Rarely, however, has there been hip-hop fused with unashamedly class struggle, libertarian politics. 22-year-old Comrade Malone attempts to buck that trend with his album The Spontaneous Revolt LP.
Ed Goddard from libcom.org caught up with him to talk about life and politics in music.
Tell us a bit about your life growing up and how you got into politics.
I grew up on a council estate in north-west London and lived there for the first twenty years of my life. I’m not from a political background and didn’t really pay attention to politics until my late teens. In 2003, when the invasion of Iraq began, there was a massive walkout at my school with students blocking roads and making their way to go and protest outside parliament. At the time, this was just a day off school which let me go and get stoned with mates in the park. But it did have an effect and I started thinking a lot more about how shit things are. I questioned things a lot more after that, to the point where I was questioning the overall nature of capitalism, which I started to see as the root cause of all these problems.
When I was 20, I left home and lived in a homeless people’s hostel for a year. Throughout my time there, I was unemployed, on benefits and getting more pissed off, as were the boys I shared facilities with.
That hostel was a trap. The only way you could leave and get into social housing was by being referred by the staff there, which meant submitting to their rules and keeping up to date with the weekly service charge you’d pay from your benefits. My money would go fast on food and transport I’d use to look for work. When I got into service charge arrears I was threatened with eviction twice. Serious bully business from a housing ‘charity’! You could get on the council list, but it’d take a few years to build up enough points for a flat and even then your chances are ultra slim.
Why did you call the album The Spontaneous Revolt LP?
We made the album in about two weeks and I wanted that to be reflected in the name, as well as reflecting it’s political content. Spontaneous Revolt refers both to the nature of the album and the way in which it was made.
Tell us about your experiences so far within the UK hip-hop scene.
I got into the scene by grabbing the mic and turning up for free studio time any time I could. I recorded a cheaply made track at a music college which got passed around on copied CDs and ended up on pirate radio. I got invited to do live shows on air and eventually got a phone call from Kemet Entertainment Records, who I signed a recording contract with in 2006. Whilst on Kemet, I worked with some quality producers such as Baby J, Joe Buddha, and DJ Flip, and was getting a lot of shows.
Sadly, UK hip hop had its own little economic collapse, with nights like Kung Fu in Camden and Speakers Corner in Brixton closing, Itch FM shutting down, Low-Life records closing, and Kemet as well. There’s no green shoots here and no one’s bailing us out! We’re all redundant rappers now; last year I was in a quality studio off Harley street, and now I’m in DJ Downlow’s flat eating fried chicken with ghetto-flavoured mayonnaise.
As a class struggle anarchist, you’re quite different from a lot of other socially conscious rappers. What are your views on the prevalence of nationalist, religious or pro-Obama views in hip-hop?
They’re just a reflection of opinion in America. Politically, some of those opinions might be to the left, but if you want more class struggle in hip-hop, you need more class struggle in society first. Hip-hop reflects what’s already there, whether its street violence, political consciousness, or ‘Vote Obama’ feeling.
What radical traditions/movements do you take inspiration from?
The movements that inspire me most are always working class grassroots ones, and often, but not always, those with libertarian principles. Learning about what the CNT-FAI achieved in the 1930s, contributed to the confidence I have in the possibility of a self-managed society on a large scale. Hungary 1956 is another good example. It’s hard to hear conscious American hip-hop without reference to the Black Panthers. What’s inspiring about them is that they were a street-level organisation and their survival programs made a big positive difference to the lives of people in the community. These days, there’s often focus on organising in the workplace, but not enough on dealing with community issues. Right now, I’m also inspired by all the shit kicking off in Greece.
What do you think of the anarchist movement’s ability to engage working class youth such as yourself?
The anarchist movement needs to start holding Skins parties with free booze and drugs, and a strict dress code of hoodies, caps, and trainers only! But on a serious level, it’s about communicating with people in the right way. People in political groups might be experienced and knowledgeable but young working class people often feel they lack that experience and knowledge to be active. Most people don’t know the definition of anarchism. The anarchist movement has got to let people know what it’s all about and show people that there are no intellectual entry requirements.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m gonna be recording and releasing more free material. For most of the time, I’ll be working alongside DJ Downlow, my partner in crime in studio and pub. I’d love to do a tour across Europe and I’m thinking about the possibility of doing that, but it won’t happen this year. As for now, I’m just gonna keep releasing free music.
Spontaneous Revolt Free Download – www.sensei.fm
Whilst there are lots of anarchists out there doing hip hop (MC Lynx, Comrade Malone, Direct Raption, Loop Troop, Anarchist Academy, Captain Moonlight, Ann R Kee, Entartete Kunst), until I can get some video for the site, here is some radical hip hop from the US:
- you may want to go forward to 3mins
Watch loads of anarchist films and documentaries on Anarcho TV including The Christiebooks Archive which can now be viewed here:
They Live is a 1988 film directed by John Carpenter, based on Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning.”
Part science fiction thriller and part black comedy, the film echoed contemporary fears of a declining economy, within a culture of greed and conspicuous consumption common among Americans in the 1980s. In They Live, the ruling class within the monied elite are in fact aliens managing human social affairs through the use of subliminal media advertising and the control of economic opportunity.
- Hugo Ball
- Fanya Baron
- Jon Evelyn Barlas (aka Evelyn Douglas)
- Toma Bebić
- Julian Beck
- Louisa Bevington
- Jens Bjørneboe
- Tony Blackplait
- Luther Blissett (nom de plume)
- Raegan Butcher
- John Cage
- Monty Cantsin
- Lev Chernyi
- Voltairine de Cleyre
- Arthur Cravan
- Miloš Crnjanski
- Balsa Brkovic
- Paul Goodman
- Pietro Gori
- Kenneth Patchen
- Benjamin Péret
- Utah Phillips
- Pi O (П О)
- Eugène Edine Pottier
- Gonzalez Prada
- Diane di Prima
- The Monkeywrench Gang, Edward Abbey
- Excession, Iain M. Banks
- The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks
- Complicity, Iain M. Banks
- Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks
- The State Of The Art, Iain M. Banks
- Use Of Weapons, Iain M. Banks
- The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You, Dorothy Bryant
- The Sharks, Jens Bjoernboe
- “The History of Bestiality”, Jens Bjørneboe
- De Zwarte Hand, Louis Paul Boon
- Fledglings, Octavia Butler
- Emma Brooke, Transition
- Luther Blisset!, Q!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- jg ballard, Millenium people
- Torrent, Ba Jin
- Tragic Death of Policarpo Quaresma, Lima Baretto
· Merry Men, Carolyn Chute
· The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad
- The Image Breakers, Gertrude Dix,
- Anarchist Farm, Jane Doe
- “The Last of the Masters” (aka “Protection Agency“), Philip K. Dick
- Kevin Doyle
- Dos Passos
- Theodore Dreiser
- Last Days of Christ the Vampire, J.G. Eccarius
- Howard Fast
- Passion for women, Domingos Ribeiro Filho
- The Capital, Avelino Foscolo
The Free, Mike Gilliland
- Voyage from Yesteryear, James P. Hogan
- Frank Harris, The Bomb
- Henry James, The Princess Casamassima
- Angelo Jorge, Irmania
- Four Ways to Forgiveness, Ursula Le Guin
- Always Coming Home, Ursula Le Guin
- The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin
- A.D., Saab Lofton
- Edith Lees (Edith Lees Ellis), Attainment
- d’ideologos, Fabio Luz
- Passionate Journay, Frans Masereel
- End Time (notes on the apocalypse), G.A. Matiasz
- Ethel Mannin – Martha (1923); See esp. Red Rose and The Lover Under Another Name
- The Land Leviathan, Michael Moorcock
- A Nomad of the Time Streams, Michael Moorcock
- News From Nowhere, William Morris
- The Day Philosophy Dies, Casey Maddicks.
- A Dream of John Ball, William Morris
- Pilgrims of Hope, William Morris
- Caleb Williams, William Godwin
- The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy
- Michael Moorcock, The Steel Tsar
- Fall Revolution Series, Ken Macleod.
- Illicit Passage by Alice Nunn
- He, She and It, Marge Piercy
- Woman on Edge of Time, Marge Piercy
- Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon
- The Journal of Albion Moonlight, Kenneth Patchen
- No pasaran, Patsy
- Emile Patoud & Emile Pouget, How Shall We Bring About the Revolution?
- Fernando Pessoa, The Anarchist Banker
- Letters of Insurgents, Fredy Perlman
- Antarctica, Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson
- Helen Rossetti and Olivia Rossetti, A Girl Among the Anarchists by Isabel Meredith
- Ne comptez pas sur nous, Daniel de Roulet
- Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss
- A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
- Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
- Upton Sinclair, Boston (1928)
- Ramon Sender, Seven Red Sundays (1932)
- Alongside Night, J. Neil Schulman
- The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, Neal Stephenson
- The Fifth Sacred Thing, Starhawk.
- The Illuminatus! Trilogy Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
- The Death Ship by B. Traven
- The Jungle Novels by B. Traven
- Lois Waisbrooker, A Sex Revolution (1893/1894; reprinted 1985 New Society Publishers)
- Dream World by Kent WINSLOW
- Emile Zola, Germinal
- The Debacle
- The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Sindicalismo Sin Fronteras
by Mike Alewitz
Assistance by Daniel Manrique and numerous volunteers
Approx. 8′ x 30′
Frente Autentico Trabajadores Auditorium
Mexico City 1997
On April 5, 1997, a public inauguration of two new murals was held at the auditorium of the Frente Autentico Trabajadoras (FAT) in Mexico City. The event was part of a cross-border organizing project of the FAT and the United Electrical (UE) union. The following is based on a dedication speech given by artist Mike Alewitz of the Labor Art and Mural Project (LAMP).
Sisters and Brothers:
It is a humbling experience to come to Mexico to paint, for this country is the home of the modern mural movement, and gave birth to some of the greatest public art of this century. Here is where the Rivera, Orozco and Siqueras were inspired by millions of peasants and workers to illustrate the historic conquests of the Revolution. On a smaller scale, we are attempting to illustrate the UE-FAT efforts to build international solidarity and cross-border organizing.
It was Emiliano Zapata who gave the greatest political expression to the Mexican revolution, and it is under his watchful eyes that our mural unfolds. We have also included the figures of Albert and Lucy Parsons. Albert was one of the Haymarket martyrs, framed up and executed for his leadership in the Chicago labor movement’s fight for the eight hour day. Lucy was also a leader in that movement, and she continued her labor and anarchist activities until she died at an old age. She was of African-American and Mexican ancestry, was an early leader of the feminist movement, and a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World. The Parsons hold in their hands some bread and a rose. “Bread and Roses” was a slogan of the Lawrence textile strikers; women who demanded not only the bread of the union contract, but the rose to symbolize that workers deserve a rich spiritual and cultural life.
The quotation in the painting is from August Spies, also executed on November 11, 1887. “If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement…the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in want and misery expect salvation-if that is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you-and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.”
How fitting a quote for this land of volcanos. This is precisely what is happening today, as first a Los Angeles, and then a Chiapas explode, here and there, precursors of a generalized conflagration. Our class is like the core of the earth, being compressed under ever greater pressure, until forced to explode.
We are using this cultural project to illustrate our collective union vision. Unions are the first line of defense for workers. They keep us from getting killed or poisoned. They allow us some basic human dignity.
Unfortunately, too often our unions resemble exclusive clubs, or worse, criminal gangs. Even unions that pride themselves on being progressive are often beaurocratic and autocratic. Without the full and active participation of the membership, all the weaknesses of our organizations emerge. As workers, we often must not only battle the employers, but our own conservative leaderships as well.
This is a particular problem in the United States, where employers keep us stratified and divided. They attempt to pit low-wage workers against the more privileged. They use divide-and-conquer tactics to convince us to be for “labor peace.” But labor peace is the peace of slavery, wether in the U.S. or in Mexico.
The Frente Autentico Trabajadoras is helping to lead the struggle for genuine union democracy. There have been, and will continue to be casualties in this historic fight. And today we dedicate this mural to those who have been victimized in the struggle for union democracy. This mural is the product of not only artists, but the thousands of workers who built our unions. This is their mural.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to denounce the criminal policies of the United States government. In particular I denounce the economic sabotage of Mexico and the criminal embargo of Cuba. The gang in Washington does not speak for me or millions of other American workers. They are waging war upon our class. They are my enemy and your enemy. They represent the past, we are the future. If we continue to forge these links of solidarity, they can never prevail.