"an artist is someone who, in the midst of other's silence, uses his [her] own voice to say something and make sure that what he [she] says is not useless, but something that is useful to mankind" - Joan Miro
The world is in crisis.
One can hardly be blamed for failing to notice: the chances are if you're reading this then, like me, even if you're struggling you're probably not (yet) on the frontline, and perhaps you're so constantly busy running around with all the things you have to do that the multiple contradictions and malefactions around us may almost seem innocuous. But when you stop, you can feel it - the unease, the vertigo, the sense that the world is turned upside down; the reluctant realisation that the world is in crisis like never before.
Neo-liberalism, a bastardized version of capitalism which takes the form of a free-market fundamentalism that is almost completely controlled by global corporations and their backers, is destroying the planet and gobbling up non-renewable resources at a greater rate than at any time in history. The people in power make every decision with short-term profits put ahead of every other consideration. One may call this behaviour psychopathic1, were they not - astonishingly - legally mandated to do so. It is not hyperbole to say clearly now that our entire planet, our species, and all other life on earth is at existential threat from the real terrorists : Rich Men in suits who define the value of everything in terms of expected financial returns. This madness has become so normalized that even simple, intuitive ideas such putting "People Before Profits" are now seen by many as "radical", "näive" notions and we have become accustomed to seeing populations in confrontation with governments who claim to be governing in their interests. Resources that belong to nobody (and everybody) are being portioned up and claimed by a tiny percentage of the world's population, while those indigenous people who survived the genocides of the previous centuries are once again being seen as nothing more than inconveniences to be eliminated, forced off their lands, or forced into the system as serfs in modern industries to partake in the destruction of their homelands2, all in the name of 'progress'. Most of the planet's species have already been wiped out, and those that remain are being eliminated at record rates along with the wrecking of the rest of the eco-system.
The God of these fundamentalists, far more dangerous than ISIS (or whoever the latest foreign Bogeymen are), is "GDP". It is worshipped with the mantra of "Infinite Growth", an idea which defies laws of nature for a reason even a six-year-old understands : we live on a finite planet3. Meanwhile, this is supported by an economic system which works as one giant ponzi scheme; money created out of nothing3b, ever-increasing global debts which can never even theoretically be repaid, and a bizarre "drip-up" effect which oversees 1% of the world's population gathering up all the wealth, now on target to own more than the remaining 99% combined.3c
We are already beginning to see some of the devastating results of this insanity; mass migration on a scale never-before-seen4 as people try to run en masse from the devastating resource wars, scarcity, wealth inequality, destruction and pollution as every last corner of the world is attacked and dismembered; hacking to death of our Amazon forests ("the lungs of the planet"), contamination of our rivers, exhaustion and contamination of our oceans, mass destruction of natural lands and biodiversity replaced with mono-cultures and agricultural take-over, millions of people killed in the scramble for rare precious materials like Coltan5, public money used to bail out private banks and fund military adventures in foreign lands even while essential public services are routinely dismantled, increasing use of brutal and evolvingly militaristic police forces on domestic populations to discourage and crush all forms of legitimate protest, pointless and unwinnable "wars" on nouns such as "The War On Drugs", almost always inherently racist and disproportionately used as a means to prey on and persecute the poor, the young, ethnic minorities and the vulnerable while at the same time corrupting and destroying vulnerable communities.
Incredibly, this is all on course to get even worse : secretive trade deals like TTIP6 are being hammered out which intend to give corporations precedence over local or even national democracy, agri-businesses such as Monsanto seemingly trying to patent life itself and take control over the food supply of entire nations, governments enacting ever more draconian laws which restrict civil liberties and increase their powers to spy over6a, intimidate and control innocent citizens and inhibit real opposition, an acceleration in the use of extremely dangerous and environmentally devastating extraction methods such as fracking for shale gas against the wishes of the population, all against a backdrop of a complete lack of serious action to avert the biggest danger we now face in the form of disastrous climate change.
Meanwhile, most of the media is worse than silent, it is compliant: the agenda, tone and slant of debate is set by huge, multi-national news corporations who ensure that we are distracted and confused. Palliatives are handed out to us in the form of entertainment media which have been co-opted to distract and ferment but rarely engage and challenge, all the while directing our anger at the usual scapegoats : foreigners, the poor, the unemployed, the indigenous, anybody different. Politicians no longer even try to pretend they are on any side other than that of corporate power, as the revolving door from cabinet to executive seat and back is left to spin in plain site7. The current economic ideology is like a drug on which we're hooked, or perhaps like a religion against which nobody who wants to be thought of as sane dares blaspheme, even when it is clear that it's destroying us and everything around us.
Technology is not going to save us8. The problem is not that one's "Smart"-phone is not smart enough. Unfortunately, buying more "green" lightbulbs and cycling to work is not going to be enough to save the world. Politicians left to themselves are certainly not going to save us either. Even if they wanted to, the corrupting power of the 1% is just too great and can only be countered by a huge groundswell of resistance and pressure from below. That's means it's up to us; the 99%. We need to fight for a complete change of the rules of the game. Except it's not a game. It's vital that we rememember what's at stake here : Our future, that of our children, our children's children. oh... and every other living thing on this planet. The real solutions may well be extremely inconvenient, which perhaps explains sometimes our reluctance to think about it or hear it, but the truth stubbornly remains : to have any chance at all, we'll have to fundamentally change almost everything about how we live.
The great lie we've been sold, and for years have swallowed wholesale, is that there is no alternative to the current system: it's either that or communism. But, even ignoring the great injustices of the 20th century, who are the real winners in capitalism now in the 21st? The military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry are among the most powerful and "successful" in the world right now - growth industries whose shareholders enjoy greater dividends and projections of growth year upon year ie we are expected to accept that war, incarceration and environmental destruction are the best we can do. Increasing numbers of people are beginning to see that the economic system as it currently stands is well past it's sell-by-date and no longer serves the interests of the vast majority of humanity, if ever it did. We shouldn't have to choose between Big Brother command-control governments dictating over every aspect of our lives on the one hand, or all-powerful Corporations running roughshod over any meaningful concept of democracy on the other. And history has taught us only too well that there are those who would sell us an even more dystopian option, crying out to our greatest fears and worst inclinations to set us on a path that always leads to destruction and suffering on a massive scale.
Of course, it is not the job of a rock band to claim to offer a solution to all this. As artists, all we can do is express ourselves as honestly as we can and use our platform to play our part in the fight for a more just and sustainable existence, in solidarity with all those activists who struggle for the same. There are people all over the world adding intelligent, researched and considered voices to the choir of the dissenters. It is up to each of us to arm ourselves with knowledge, question authority, find connections and make coalitions across the world using every technology and tool available, and finally to use our own power and ingenuity to organize and take direct action to take back our world.
So The revolution must happen first in our minds, and will not come from the rolling beats or the struck chord or the screamed lyric. The revolution will not be televized, radioed-in or rocked out.
It may will need a soundtrack.
Knowledge is power. Some resources which explore some of the topics mentioned above :
- "The Corporation" - Joel Bakan
- "Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment " - Michael Hausemann
- "This Changes Everything" - Naomi Klein
- "The Establishment" - Owen Jones
- "The Dirty Wars" - Jeremy Scahill
- "Gomorrah" - Roberto Saviano
- "Freedom Next Time" - John Pilger
- "Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism And Its Triumphs" - John Pilger
- "People's History Of The United States" - Howard Zinn
- "The New Jim Crow" - Michelle Alexander
- "Prosperity Without Growth" - Tim Jackson
- "No Place To Hide" - Glenn Greenwald
- The War On Democracy - John Pilger's look into the USA's record of anti-democratic involvement in South America
- Dirty Wars - Jeremy Scahill examines the 'dirty wars' enacted as part of the 'War On Terror'
- The War You Don't See - John Pilger on the undocumented side of modern war
- Cowspiracy - The ecological 'elephant in the room' that the mainstream green movement have failed to highlight
- Gasland - shocking investigation into fracking/shale oil and the disastrous effects on communities in US
- Cartel Land - Mexico : powerful documentary about vigilantes on both sides of border with the States
- The House I Live In - more on the tragic consequences of the US-led "War On Drugs"
- Democracy Now - independent source of news (USA)
- IndyMedia - independent DIY-media (Intl)
- Positive Money Articles:
- Wealthiest 1% set to be richer than other 99% combined (The Independent)
- In The Amazon, Indigenous People Fight To Preserve Way Of Life Amid Intrusive Construction (The World Post)
- Exponential ("infinite") growth explained
- Breaking The Silence : Coltan Facts
- What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you (The Independent)
- UK corruption: lobbying (Transparency Intl)