In a time where far-right sentiment is ever more in the news again – see this disturbing story from Liverpool this week, the sentencing of a fourteen-year-old boy for a racist knife attack on a teacher in Bradford, demonising of immigrants, apparent revisionism over Golden Dawn in Greece, or upvoting of Nazi propaganda on the Daily Mail website – I realised recently that I’ve never actually covered this subject directly for a Tuesday Ten.
Tuesday Ten: 237:
(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
So, I put a request out to my readers, for songs that cover anti-fascism, anti-Nazi themes, or generally look at far-right politics…and got no less than seventy-five suggestions – thanks to everyone who participated. I wanted to include some less well-known bands and songs, perhaps, rather than picking the usual suspects, so maybe some obvious tracks are missing. But anyway, here goes.
Living Colour were, in the late eighties and early nineties, as unusual as they perhaps would be now – a group of black musicians playing rock and metal. Despite a reputation generally as being an inclusive scene, it is sometimes notable just how white the alternative scene is. But anyway, this song – as prescient then as it is now, the fear and bullshit over immigration is once again reaching fever pitch. This song casts it’s eye over the treatment of immigrants, coming complete with a sneering refrain: “Everything that I want, isn’t it everything that you’ve got?“. Of course, why are we surprised at the shameful treatment of immigrants when we see politicians saying stuff like this?
Here too, from a similar era, Credit To The Nation give us the British perspective – delivering a furious rap here against intolerance, fascist politics, and saying that unity of the underclass, black or white, was the way forward to make a positive difference. The early nineties were a period where there was a real fightback against racism and intolerance, and it felt that just for a while that we might see a difference made.
The reality is that twenty years on, not a lot has changed and we are perhaps in a country further to the right politically than it has been for some time, as Philip Hammond’s comments help prove. Still, at least someone still has a spine – not a politician, though, but a German newsreader, Anja Reschke. Better than the nasty PEGIDA movement that was grabbing the headlines earlier in the year.
Twist (Kampf Bereit)
Advanced Burial Technology
A band so resolutely anti-fascist that they adopted a variant of the Iron Front symbol as their own logo, there are a number of combative songs from the band – Dogma [verse 02] from the same album tears into organised religion – but this one obliquely kicks at those who follow far-right ideologies, over a pounding, equally bristling industrial backing.
Body of Work
Nitzer Ebb’s breakthrough single, and one that continued the early EBM lineage of anti-fascist songs – this one taking the humiliation of the Jews in Warsaw in the second world war as it’s subject, Douglas McCarthy snarling his lyrics that coldly describe the conditions of the titular Ghetto, roaring at those who knew it was going on and stood aside, and taunting the Nazis for the fact that they never got to complete their plans by losing the war – although the Warsaw was of course pretty much levelled, and most of those in the Ghetto killed.
All You Fascists
Woody Guthrie (the writer of this song), had an infamous wording on his guitar: “This Machine Kills Fascists”, and of course was blacklisted for daring to associate with communist groups in the late 40s and early 50s. His take on fascism was rather wider than just the Nazis, though: “Guthrie cast those opposing fascism not as mere outlaws in a fascist state, but as heroes rising “in times of economic turmoil and social disintegration” to fight “a highly illegitimate criminal endeavour intended to exploit the common people.” [source]. This song – covered here by British left-wing (and noted anti-Nazi campaigner) Billy Bragg with American band Wilco – was just one of many of Guthrie’s that made his stance very clear indeed.
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
One of the more unlikely song subjects to reach number one in the UK charts, although to be fair this was the Manics at the peak of their popularity – after the extraordinary success of Everything Must Go, the follow-up just hit even greater heights (even if it wasn’t as good). But this song was intriguing – saluting the Welsh men who went to fight with the International Brigades in Spain, against Franco, whose idealism saw them heading to an unfamiliar country simply to fight for a common cause. They were, amazingly, part of over 30,000 from various nations who went to fight, on the losing side in the end.
Less wistful, more direct (and deeply fucking angry), to Yorkshire and the New Model Army, telling it like is. It isn’t just about Nazis, but much of it is – hunting down nazi war criminals, and older fascists poisoning the minds of the young – and NMA want to tear them down by any means necessary, they want their vengeance, for these people to understand and to feel the hurt and pain they’ve caused. NMA wrote many angry, furious songs, but I’m not sure any others explode quite like this.
Dear Valued Customer
David Thrussell, the long-time face of his Snog project, has long-since espoused left-wing causes, but mainly in an anti-capitalist fashion, by ignoring sampling rules and encouraging copying/etc, and by tearing into the capitalist machine in song after song (even naming an album Third Mall from the Sun, and using the McDonald’s arches on the cover). Interestingly, though, there isn’t too much of his material that covers anti-fascist causes, but this early song is very, very clear on his leanings: “I’d rather be red than dead / Rather be dead then a skinhead…”
White American Male (The Truth Hurts)
The Myth Of Rock
On the flipside, Consolidated were very vocal indeed in the fight against fascism, with song after song adding their voice to the cause – one of the earliest in their career being this, where they question the titular group over what they’ve actually done to balance out their extreme privilege. The answer was, whether they wanted to hear it or not, not a lot. Twenty five years on, the position has barely changed. (See also Fight The Fascists on the same album).
Youth Against Fascism
The only song I can think of that manages to get in the insult of “fascist twerp”, and also probably the one and only overt political song that I can think of from Sonic Youth. But then, Dirty was less noise and feedback, and was much, much more direct on every level (a reaction perhaps to the grunge boom going on around them at the time) – and this song is a three-minute brick through the window of the far-right, with Thurston Moore unleashing a lengthy invective against those he feels are dragging his country very much in the wrong direction.
Sadly, like too many songs in this list, things are still unchanged in many ways on this subject, and far-right ideology appears, to these eyes at least, far too accepted in the mainstream – and there has been a distinct lack of songs on this subject of late (although credit to Pop Will Eat Itself for their recent anti-EDL single). Fight back.