Old Music with Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

As I was driving to work today, I was listening to New Model Army’s Thunder and Consolation album. Two songs, one after the other on the album jumped out at me and got me thinking about possible contributory factors towards the recent activity across some of our larger cities.

Archway Towers
(audio clip)

Rolling up tab ends that the baby’s collected
Waiting for the number that clicks on the wall.
It’s open season on the weak and the feeble
Their meagre ambitions, their impotent fury
There’s bullet proof glass in case there is trouble
No doors in the building between this side and that side.

I’ve tried to wrestle some unbalanced nightmare
Tell myself over that I don’t really live here
But the boys run away leaving blood on the pavement
And a little crowd gathered to watch you pick yourself up
Joining the queue at the video library
To watch ninety five minutes of simulated torture

The conference hall rings to the standing ovation
The people in blue ties rise from the podium
Crazy with power, blinded by vision
The mass-chosen leaders for a brutalised nation

and

The Charge
(audio clip with lyrics on Youtube)

Our history speaks in thunder from a thousand village halls
In blood and sweat and sacrifice, in honouring every call
So the forces gathered against the thorn a-piercing in their side
A brave new world is beckoning so the olden world must die.
In the offices of the city, at all the tables of oak and power
The snares are laid and baited for the approaching of the hour
A hundred justifications and the presses are ready to roll
The gateways to the nation they are firmly under control

Chorus:
On, on, on, cried the leaders at the back
We went galloping down the blackened hills
And into the gaping trap
The bridges are burnt behind us and there’s waiting guns ahead
Into the valley of death rode the brave hundreds

We called for some assistance from the friends that we had known
But this is the 1980s and we were on our own
We never felt like heroes or martyrs to a cause
Just battle-weary soldiers in a bloody civil war
The massacre now is over and the order new enshrined
While a quarter of the nation are abandoned far behind
Their leaders offer the cliché words, so righteous in defeat
But no one needs morality when there isn’t enough to eat
The unity bond is broken and the loyalty songs are fake
I’ll screw my only brother for even a glimpse at a piece of the cake
We only cry in private here behind the shuttered glass
When we think of the charge of this brigade, the severing of the past

Chorus:
On, on, on, cried the leaders at the back
We went galloping down the blackened hills
And into the gaping trap
The bridges are burnt behind us and there’s waiting guns ahead
Into the valley of death rode the brave hundreds

For a less sing-song analysis of events, the following two articles come highly recommended (I liked them, anyway):
PennyRed
New Economics

And, finally:

When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty & shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up & express their anger & frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.

~ Martin Luther King, dangerous subversive

And, really finally this time:

If the young men aren’t initiated into the village, they will burn the village down just to feel its warmth.

~ African proverb

4 thoughts on “Old Music with Just a Little Bit of History Repeating”

  1. “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families… and people must look to themselves first.”

    Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women’s Own magazine, October 31 1987

    Well, if there’s no such thing as society, then the strongest wins, and you need to make sure you’re the strongest and kick anyone who gets in the way. You can wage war and send other people to get killed so your business can survive, and destroy hope and lives with the stroke of a pen, and possibly give a bit to charity.

    And when crime increases, put cameras in the housing estates, and fences by your door to keep ‘your’ wealth safe from ‘them’. Because this is your right.

    And if they protest, ignore them. If they riot, shout loudly about ‘law and order’ and ‘safety’ and never mind that violence has been a part of their lives as long as they can remember, nd they have no way to get out of it, because your bailouts removed the funding for their education, and your bank evicted them from their homes.

    “-…many took the opportunity for some opportunistic looting. I suspect that, …quite a few of those involved will turn out to be white, employed, reasonably well off, doing it for the kicks”

    I think you are correct, and as with the rioters, so with the bankers…

    If there is no society there IS no future unless you are ruthless and violent.

    Which is only permitted if you are a banker*.

     
     
     
     
    *The people in suits don’t break any windows themselves but they take houses, livelihoods and hope and send in bailiffs to do the physical violence. And then back them up with lawyers to do the same with paper.

    edited by Timbo at author’s request.

  2. Yes Pete, I’m sure it is just as simple as that. I’m not denying that there’s been some (all right, quite a lot of) outright bastardry, stupidness and plain old opportunism but many others have been making that point very loudly and I think there’s maybe a little more going on at the moment than just people behaving in an unsociable fashion.

    Thank you Mark. And I’m inclined to agree – there are people across the board ho just like a bit of aggro. All the same, I’m not entirely sure that even those who are acting out of a ‘proper’ sense of disenfranchisement would be able to articulate it – even if they were given the chance.

  3. You definitely have a point … but unfortunately, when the few protested about their legitimate grievances, the many took the opportunity for some opportunistic looting. I suspect that, like the football violence of a few years ago, quite a few of those involved will turn out to be white, employed, reasonably well off, doing it for the kicks

  4. “When charver scum can’t get benefits for avoiding work, they loot adidas and armani stores instead of buying their products with benefits money!”
    ~ Me

    Shocking level of activity on the blog Tim…calm down!

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