I am a great fan of musicians with a political agenda similar to my own. There’s nowt better than a good leftie song. However, sometimes even my favourite socialist-inclined songsters let me down with ludicrous lyrics…
Anti-Flag – ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’
You don’t have to be a racist
To be a Nazi fuck
Your mindless nationalism
Gives you credentials enough
Hmm. Methinks the political punks of Anti-Flag are getting carried away with labelling anyone they don’t like a ‘Nazi’. Racism was an integral part of the Nazi ideology. It is ridiculous to try suggesting that people who are right-wing and nationalistic but nevertheless not racist should be associated so crassly with Hitlerism. It diminishes the meaning of the term when it is applied so flippantly! Silly Anti-Flag.
Billy Bragg – ‘Never Cross A Picket Line’
Technically this is an illegal strike
Never cross a picket line
But technically workers have no rights
Never cross a picket line
You must never cross a picket line
Hmm. Billy usually does so well at being politically sensible, but I can’t help but feel that saying “technically workers have no rights” is inaccurate. Technically speaking, Billy’s argument is balderdash! Even bearing in mind the context in which this song was written – with the Thatcher government’s eagerness to destroy trade union power and undermine the organised working-class - it still smacks of hyperbole to claim that workers had absolutely zilch legal protection. I love Billy which means I hold him up to a high standard and when he disappoints it’s only right that he be called out on it.
The Levellers – ‘Another Man’s Cause’
Now she wonders at it all
Just in whose name do these brave young heroes fall
And how many more are going to answer that call
They’re going to fight and die in another country’s war
They’re going die for a religion they don’t believe in at all
They’re die in a place they should never’ve been at all
‘Cause, your daddy well he died in the Falklands
Fighting for another man’s cause
And your brother he was killed in the Last War
And your mother well she’s lying home alone
Hmm. Rather than simply being anti-war, the main message behind this song seems to be that daddy should not have been fighting for “another man’s cause”. Perhaps the Levellers are attacking the political elite for sending troops off to fight a war from which little will be gained. Yet the critical references to dying in “another country’s war”, dying for a religion they don’t believe in, etc, prompts speculation that the Levellers think only self-interested wars should be fought. This makes me uncomfortable – what about the spirit of internationalism? Would the Levs have been opposed to daddy participating in another man’s cause such as the Spanish Civil War? And would the Levellers have been completely happy to surrender the Falkland Islands to the aggressive military dictatorship that constituted the Argentine government? For shame!
More songs of this nature to be moaned about soon – watch this space. Don’t be shy about suggesting any other leftie lyrics that leave you Hmm-ing!