Collage By Krist Novoselic Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly. He is also a regular contributor to
I remember when Pink Floyd's The Wall came out. It was 1979, and I had just discovered their album Dark Side of the Moon, a sonic journey into madness. The Wall is way darker and heavier, full of so much imagery it's more like listening to a film than an LP. It's a concept album about a rock star who falls so far off the deep end that he starts to imagine his concert is a Nazi rally. There are myriad themes in The Wall, but considering the news coming out of the UK last week, let's stick to fascism.
Collage By Krist Novoselic Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly. He is also a regular contributor to Reverb, our music blog.
The term fascist was repeated in a big way last week in the United Kingdom. Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP), appeared on the prime-time political television program Question Time. This caused a huge stir, as many were aghast that someone who wants non-ethnic British people to leave the country was allowed on the BBC. The attention from the resulting uproar put Griffin in the national media spotlight.
BNP policy proposals aren't too different from American conservatism. For example, the BNP opposes state recognition of same-sex relationships, they think global warming is a hoax, and they don't like multiculturalism--a phenomenon for which government immigration policies are blamed.
In the 1982 film version of The Wall, the concert/rally scene for "In the Flesh" features classic fascist imagery. Skinheads and others wearing neo-Nazi regalia smash up people and anything else in their way. Fundamental reactionary themes are also expressed in the lyrics: "Are there any queers in the theater tonight? Get them up against the wall!/There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me/Get him up against the wall!"
Fascism becomes fashion when the terms brown-shirt or jack-booted thug are used to deride reactionary politics. But Griffin didn't dress like a skinhead on the BBC, he had the look of an ordinary politician in his nice suit.
The BNP doesn't promote itself by smashing shop windows or holding book-burning rallies as the fascists in The Wall do. They're gaining prominence through the ballot box. The group holds seats on local councils and has two members in the UK's delegation to the EU Parliament. Why are they getting elected? Pardon the pun, but they have their boots on the ground. BNP members are energized and go knock on doors, hand out leaflets, and talk to voters about issues.
Mr. Griffin has a novel argument about immigration in the UK: He says the "indigenous people" of the British Isles are under assault. The other panelists and the audience at Question Time would have none of this. They correctly heard "indigenous British" as a code word for "white people."
As our world gets more sophisticated, we should expect reactionary politics to do the same. The National Socialists who ruled Germany for part of the 1930's and '40's broke a lot of ground regarding communication technologies.
Unfortunately, the beginning of the 21st century still finds repressive totalitarian states in our world. This is the result of a few protecting their power. It's good to know they're under assault, but not so much from legions of soldiers or massive weapons--it's things like the little Twitter Bird that threaten to take them down. People are starting to move and mix all over the globe. Individuals may not be "bricks in the wall" so much as they are part of a technological bridge that connects our diverse humanity.