vrijdag, augustus 06, 2004

Red Wedge it's not

America Coming Together | ACT for Victory

Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne, the Dixie Chicks, REM, the Dave Matthews Band, John (Cougar-no-more) Mellencamp and Bonnie Raitt have announced a music festival tour with the explicit goal of raising funds to aid in the ousting of Bush.

Yes, yes, it's an icky, patriotic Kerry-palooza, and dad-rocker Dave Matthews is one of the headliners, but one really cannot expect American popular musicians to be struck by revolutionary apoplexy at this early stage of the upturn in struggle, so I must say it is quite amazing to see such top-drawer artists (in terms of the charts, not in terms of what I would play on my stereo. Please. At least Red Wedge back in 1986 had, apart from muddled politics, Billy Bragg, the Style Council, Madness, Johnny Marr, the Communards and the Housemartins) commit themselves to so partisan and overtly political a project. Despite the fact that a Kerry victory will hardly change tack in terms of the issue that these musicians and the people who will go and see them care most about - namely the war - this has got to be a very exciting time to be an activist in the United States, following two years of sheer Hell. The current period is perhaps the most politically aware and active period I have ever seen in the US, whatever the illusions campaigners may have in the Democrats. One is almost tempted to argue that socialists and other genuine progressives should plant themselves whole-heartedly in Democratic organising for this election to have been able to say to disillusioned Democrats after the election (and there will be millions of them) they were there to get rid of Bush, and now it's time to get rid of Kerry, and carry them over to a more radical, and consistent politic.

Tempted, [by the little social democratic devil on my right shoulder, who, frustatingly, sometimes is more seductive than the revolutionary socialist angel on my left] but not convinced. It is still more important to put forward a genuinely anti-war position, i.e., organise for Nader. In a period where everybody is told to campaign for Kerry and shut up about the war, a robust anti-war voice is vital.

That said, the organising going on in this way is setting up the networks that will be organising against the war that Kerry continues to prosecute after November, so one does not have the luxury of dismissing such activity. One can still organise with these people 'against Bush'.

Of course, this is fairly academic, writing as I am from Brussels. Still, the dynamic of lesser evilism politics is everywhere and foreign examples are instructive.

One other quick note on this: The white college students who will be going to see REM and (bleghh) the Dave Matthews Band are not in as much need of being galvanised to vote as the urban black and latino working class. Plainly, a hiphop equivalent of the above line-up is necessary.