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Billy Bragg — Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
Album: Workers Playtime
Avg rating:
6.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 672








Released: 1988
Length: 4:23
Plays (last 30 days): 1
It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathize with her but thinks that he should warn her
That the Third World is just around the corner
In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr Robert Oppenheimer's optimism fell
At the first hurdle
In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of people stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forwards
Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
One leap forwards, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it
It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away
Comments (128)add comment
 Baby_M wrote:

Has there ever been a non-totalitarian Communist state?  I don't think so.  There can't be.

Whether you want to call it Socialist, or Communist, or National Socialist (Hitler was an admirer of Marx), or Fascist (so was Mussolini), Bolivarian Socialist (Chavez wanted to be Mussolini when he grew up), or Juche, or whatever they're calling it on campus these days, it's a synonym for tyranny, and it's gotten more people murdered than anything else in human history.
 
Just a second here son.  Capitalism is not working and to imply it is a peaceful or even a democratic system is off base.  Look around you and what we see is a concentration of resources, property and certainly power in the hands of a very greedy psychopathic few while ever increasing numbers are forced to go without.  Medical care in the USA is one prime example but there are others to say nothing of endless wars to control resources regardless of the numbers of people slaughtered.  Then there is  the continuing destruction of our climate and environment in the unrestricted use of those resources.  While there are no perfect economic systems what we see now is the utter destruction of life on the planet due to unrestrained capitalism.  Unless we live in a balance with nature and the environment we are doomed. 
the riff on guitar is john lennons  "oh yoko"...
The legendary troubadour! Here's a 10
Seems many countries are making great leaps backwards not forwards these days.
 Grayson wrote:
Come on, we were all young 'n dumb once [...] 
 
Yes, but we (well, most of us) outgrew it.

Bragg hasn't.
When I first heard this song 20 years ago on a cheap radio I thought the chorus was "waiting for the great big whore".  No, that definitely was not the lyrics.
It's just too easy to take the mickey outta Billy Bragg. WAY too easy. Come on, we were all young 'n dumb once, and adored BB. I am not ashamed of the ATL shows he did where I was front-row-center singing zestfully along. But since it's hard to resist, now, neither here nor there really, but JK Rowling, in the last of her Robert Galbraith detective novels, Lethal White, makes a great romp of a howl out of a Billy Bragg-like character. Even references his music at some point in the novel that went on, as does Mr. Bragg, for decades, seemingly. Not to be a spoiler, but even though you can't stand the dude-clown, he turns out to be one of the endless supply of characters who did NOT do the dastardly deed. 
Bragg mentions Oppenheimer in the lyric.  Einstein once remarked compounding, as in interest etc, is a wonder of the world.  It took less than 100 years for Texas' GDP to exceed that of Russia and it will likely be sometime never before the positions are reversed from where they are now.   For Russia the third world isn't round the corner it is sadly here and now for great swathes of its population.   And this guy is still an apologist for Uncle Joe and his ilk. Bill gets a 10 for eclecticism for giving it an airing Bragg gets a 1 for a load of self serving virtue signalling cobblers. 



 
 Sloggydog wrote:
PS Don't forget Billy's politics.  Give them a real good listen instead.
 
Yeah, no.

I can hear idiots every day.
Outstanding song from an outstanding album
There never has been and never will be a bad time for this song.  Plus last night I secured tickets to Billy next Thursday with Seth Lakeman as warm up.  Stoked and in need of a gloat so double bonus with Billy this morning.

PS Don't forget Billy's politics.  Give them a real good listen instead.

Forget his politics just enjoy to the album. It’s a musical gem produced when Billy Bragg had just got himself a band, practiced his singing and ended up creating one of the best albums from the late 80s. This isn't even one of the better tracks.


Thank you, Bill.  You just made my day! {#Sunny}
 Baby_M wrote:

Has there ever been a non-totalitarian Communist state?  I don't think so.  There can't be.

Whether you want to call it Socialist, or Communist, or National Socialist (Hitler was an admirer of Marx), or Fascist (so was Mussolini), Bolivarian Socialist (Chavez wanted to be Mussolini when he grew up), or Juche, or whatever they're calling it on campus these days, it's a synonym for tyranny, and it's gotten more people murdered than anything else in human history.

 
Drones. "WMD", NSA....
9-->10

So much truth in this song.  

Wickerman - Billy Bragg by *oberonfoto
David Donnelly  ©2009-2010 *oberonfoto

.

 



 Baby_M wrote:

Has there ever been a non-totalitarian Communist state?  I don't think so.  There can't be.

Whether you want to call it Socialist, or Communist, or National Socialist (Hitler was an admirer of Marx), or Fascist (so was Mussolini), Bolivarian Socialist (Chavez wanted to be Mussolini when he grew up), or Juche, or whatever they're calling it on campus these days, it's a synonym for tyranny, and it's gotten more people murdered than anything else in human history.

 


Of course not, because statism is the antithesis to non-totalitarian communism. Ed: if you're looking for parliamentary examples, Moldova had a parliamentary Communist party which was in power and is now in opposition.

Makhno: "Anarchism is naturally innate in man: communism is the logical extrapolation from it". Non-totalitarian forms of Communism were tried and crushed by the combined forces of Bolshevism, Liberal Democracies and Fascism - documented by Makhno in the Ukraine and Orwell in Spain.

Hitler: "It was during this period that my eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people. These two perils were Marxism and Judaism". Speaking of his third move to Vienna, the first time Marx is mentioned in Mein Kampf.

"Making an effort to overcome my natural reluctance, I tried to read articles of this nature published in the Marxist Press; but in doing so my aversion increased all the more. And then I set about learning something of the people who wrote and published this mischievous stuff. From the publisher downwards, all of them were Jews. I recalled to mind the names of the public leaders of Marxism, and then I realized that most ofthem belonged to the Chosen Race" - expounding further.

 

"Within my small circle I talked to them until my throat ached and my voice grew hoarse. I believed that I could finally convince them of the danger inherent in the Marxist follies."

"The Jewish doctrine of Marxism repudiates the aristocratic principle of Nature and substitutes for it the eternal privilege of force and energy, numerical mass and its dead weight. Thus it denies the individual worth of the human personality, impugns the teaching that nationhood and race have a primary significance, and by doing this it takes away the very foundations of human existence and human civilization. If the Marxist teaching were to be accepted as the foundation of the life of the universe, it would lead to the disappearance of all order that is conceivable to the human mind. And thus the adoption of such a law would provoke chaos in the structure of the greatest organism that we know, with the result that the inhabitants of this earthly planet would finally disappear. Should the Jew, with the aid of his Marxist creed, triumph over the people of this world, his Crown will be the funeral wreath of mankind, and this planet will once again follow its orbit through ether, without any human life on its surface, as it did millions of years ago. And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."


"Democracy, as practised in Western Europe to-day, is the fore-runner of Marxism. In fact, the latter would not be conceivable without the former. Democracy is the breeding-ground in which the bacilli of the Marxist world pest can grow and spread"


"I began to study again and thus it was that I first came to understand perfectly what was the substance and purpose of the life-work of the Jew, Karl Marx."

"No mention need be made of the lying Marxist Press. To them the spreading of falsehood is as much a vital necessity as the mouse is to a cat. Their sole task is to break the national backbone of the people, thus preparing the nation to become the slaves of international finance and its masters, the Jews."

"The very absurdity of the economic and political theories of Marxism gives the doctrine its peculiar significance. Because of its pseudo-logic, intelligent people refuse to support it, while all those who are less accustomed to use their intellectual faculties, or who have only a rudimentary notion of economic principles, join the Marxist cause with flying banners."

" In reality what distinguished Karl Marx from the millions who were affected in the same way was that, in a world already in a state of gradual decomposition, he used his keen powers of prognosis to detect the essential poisons, so as to extract them and concentrate them, with the art of a necromancer, in a solution which would bring about the rapid destruction of the independent nations on the globe. But all this was done in the service of his race. "

"It would be absurd to appraise a man's worth by the race to which he belongs and at the same time to make war against the Marxist principle, that all men are equal, without being determined to pursue our own principle to its ultimate consequences. If we admit the significance of blood, that is to say, if we recognize the race as the fundamental element on which all life is based, we shall have to apply to the individual the logical consequences of this principle. In general I must estimate the worth of nations differently, on the basis of the different races from which they spring, and I must also differentiate in estimating the worth of the individual within his own race."

" Marxism would never be able to create something which could supplant what exists to-day."

"Out of one hundred thousand German workers scarcely one hundred know of Marx's book. It has been studied much more in intellectual circles and especially by the Jews than by the genuine followers of the movement who come from the lower classes. That work was not written for the masses, but exclusively for the intellectual leaders of the Jewish machine for conquering the world."

"he suspicion was whispered in German Nationalist circles that we also were merely another variety of Marxism, perhaps even Marxists suitably disguised, or better still, Socialists. The actual difference between Socialism and Marxism still remains a mystery to these people up to this day. The charge of Marxism was conclusively proved when it was disco vered that at our meetings we deliberately substituted the words 'Fellow-countrymen an d Women' for 'Ladies and Gentlemen' and addressed each other as 'Party Comrade'. We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeoisie and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims. We chose red for our posters after particular and careful deliberation, our intention being to irritate the Left, so as to arouse their attention and tempt them to come to our meetings--if only in order to break them up --so that in this way we got a chance of talking to the people."

"The Movement which is fighting Marxism to-day along these lines must display on its banner the symbol of the new State. "

"Once we had begun to appear as a danger to Marxism the Marxists lost no opportunity of trying to crush beforehand all preparations for the holding of National Socialist meetings."

"We must overthrow Marxism, so that for the future National Socialism will be master of the street, just as it will one day become master of the State. "

" In this way the struggle against the present State was placed on a higher plane than that of petty revenge and small conspiracies. It was elevated to the level of a spiritual struggl e on behalf of a WELTANSCHAUUNG , for the destruction of Marxism in all its shapes and forms. "

"Whoever could have succeeded at that time in overthrowing the Marxist unions to make way for the triumph of the National Socialist corporative idea, which would then take the place of the ruinous class warfare--such a person would be fit to rank with the very greatest men our nation has produced and his bust should be installed in the Valhalla at Regensburg for the admiration of posterity. "

"... a National Socialist Trades Union which would consider itself only as a competitor against the Marxist unions would be worse than none. It must declare war against the Marxist Trades Union, not only as an organization but, above all, as an idea. It must declare itself hostile to the idea of class and class warfare and, in place of this, it must declare itself as the defender of the various occupational and professional interests of the German people."

"The prohibition of Freemasonry and secret societies, the suppression of the supernational Press and the definite abolition of Marxism, together with the steadily increasing consolidation of the Fascist concept of the State--all this will enable the Italian Government, in the course of some years, to advance more and more the interests of the Italian people without paying any attention to the hissing of the Jewish world-hydra."

"Just as in 1918 we had to pay with our blood for the failure to crush the Marxist serpent underfoot once and for all in 1914 and 1915, now we have to suffer retribution for the fact that in the spring of 1923 we did not seize the opportunity then offered us for finally wiping out the handiwork done by the Marxists who betrayed their country and were responsible for the murder of our people."

"Just as a hyena will not leave its carrion, a Marxist will not give up indulging in the betrayal of his country. It is out of the question to put forward the stupid retort here, that so many of the workers gave their blood for Germany. German workers, yes, but no longer international Marxists. If the German working class, in 1914, consisted of real Marxists the War would have ended within three weeks. Germany would have collapsed before the first soldier had put a foot beyond the frontiers. No. The fact that the German people carried on the War proved that the Marxist folly had not yet been able to penetrate deeply. But as the War was prolonged German soldiers and workers gradually fell back into the hands of the Marxist leaders, and the number of those who thus relapsed became lost to their country. At the beginning of the War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas, just as hundreds of thousands of our best German workers from every social stratum and from every trade and calling had to face it in the field, then the millions of sacrifices made at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: If twelve thousand of these malefactors had been eliminated in proper time probably the lives of a million decent men, who would be of value to Germany in the future, might have been saved."

"The situation in 1923 was quite similar to that of 1918. No matter what form of resistance was decided upon, the first prerequisite for taking action was the elimination of the Marxist poison from the body of the nation."

"A really National Government ought then to have welcomed disorder and unrest if this turmoil would afford an opportunity of finally settling with the Marxists, who are the mortal enemies of our people."

"What places Mussolini in the ranks of the world's great men is his decision not to share Italy with the Marxists but to redeem his country from Marxism by destroying internationalism."

"On the day when Marxism is broken in Germany the chains that bind Germany will be smashed for ever."

From the James Murphy (an Irish Catholic priest) translation of Mein Kampf, available on the Great War website.


Mussolini:"Such a conception of life makes Fascism the resolute negation of so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of class struggle and by changes in the process and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else".

 "Having thus struck a blow at socialism in the two main points of its doctrine, all that remains of it is the sentimental aspiration-old as humanity itself-toward social relations in which the sufferings and sorrows of the humbler folk will be alleviated. But here again Fascism rejects the economic interpretation of felicity as something to be secured socialistically, almost automatically, at a given stage of economic evolution when all will be assured a maximum of material comfort."

"After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements... it asserts the irremediable and fertile and beneficent inequality of men who cannot be leveled by any such mechanical and extrinsic device as universal suffrage. "

"In rejecting democracy Fascism rejects the absurd conventional lie of political equalitarianism, the habit of collective irresponsibility, the myth of felicity and indefinite progress... "

"The fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal country. "

"We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the “right”, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the state."

“The State guarantees the internal and external safety of the country, but it also safeguards and transmits the spirit of the people, elaborated down the ages in its language, its customs, its faith”.

“The Fascist State sees in religion one of the deepest of spiritual manifestations and for this reason it not only respects religion but defends and protects it.”

From "The Doctrine of Fascism" by Mussolini, available from the World Future Fund.

" First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me."

Poem by Martin Niemoller, available on the Martin Niemoller site. Translation by wikipedia.

As for Juche - they certainly use revolutionary phraseology and Kim-Il Sung was influenced by Stalin. However, the principle of hereditary transfer of title is anathema to Marxist doctrine as given in the Manifesto: "Abolition of all rights of inheritance.".

Recall also: "In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all". As Engels phrased it "The interference of the state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not “abolished,” it withers away". Clearly antagonistic to the practice of both North Korea and the USSR. Likewise, the idea that one can cut one's hair in a socialist manner is laughable: merely observe the manes of Marx or Bakunin. As of recently, the North Koreans have purged all mention of Communism from their constitution and claim that military is the revolutionary vanguard, a condition which has no basis in Marxist theory, but was warned against by everyone from Kropotkin to Keynes.

Chavez: "We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition". I can't find a single quote of his referring to Marx. Nor can I find a single quote from Marx about banning violent video games. Strange that.
 gamerunknown wrote:
. . . the deaths could be attributed to the totalitarian nature of the regime, not to its Communist policies. . . .
 
Has there ever been a non-totalitarian Communist state?  I don't think so.  There can't be.

Whether you want to call it Socialist, or Communist, or National Socialist (Hitler was an admirer of Marx), or Fascist (so was Mussolini), Bolivarian Socialist (Chavez wanted to be Mussolini when he grew up), or Juche, or whatever they're calling it on campus these days, it's a synonym for tyranny, and it's gotten more people murdered than anything else in human history.
one of my all time favorite songs.

when i was in art school, i used this video as a part of a project i had to make that was about world events at the time.

fun times.
More Billy Bragg please!
Good music innit?  F*king long too.
 kcar wrote:
Maybe you should take up your assertions with Yang Jisheng, who seems to disagree with your claims about Amartya Sen.

How so? There is a qualifier to the term “Communist system” there, “totalitarian”. As I've pointed out before, Sen discusses the failures of the Great Leap Forward in relation to the restriction on positive freedoms in this passage from Food and Freedom.

Sen wrote:
It is quite remarkable that a famine of this magnitude could continue unrecorded without bringing about a major policy shift, and this failure is certainly one connected closely with the absence of a relatively free press and the absence of opposition parties free to criticize and chastise the government in power. It may, thus, be argued that the massive deaths connected with starvation and famine during 1958-61 relate closely to the issue of freedom of information and criticism.

Thus the deaths could be attributed to the totalitarian nature of the regime, not to its Communist policies.

kcar wrote:
Where--in a Communist or capitalist society, gamerunknown?

In any, by modus tollens. If one has to have more than one's neighbour for one's lot to increase, then one's neighbour has to have less than one. Thus being able to increase one's lot over one's neighbour implies income inequality.

kcar wrote:
Pretty sure on average citizens in capitalist societies have greater purchasing power than ones in Communist societies, gamerunknown.

Again, define your terms. I'm defining “market freedoms” as absence of interference of the state in industry. Bangladesh has the lowest market interference in healthcare that I know of. It's a pretty general trend: oil companies in Nigeria had quite great freedoms, with no commensurate increase in purchasing power of Nigerian citizens. In the past half a century, countries in Latin America that have liberated markets have fared poorly compared to those that ignored such constraints in East Asia.

kcar wrote:
Why on earth should modern comparative economics discuss Jefferson, who wanted America to remain an agrarian society? Not relevant.

It certainly is. The movement which calls itself liberal entails crushing oppression for the majority of the populace, which will be consigned to parochial aid or starvation depending on the whims of the “invisible hand” and this is called “control of one's economic destiny”. It's worth contrasting these views with those of actual liberals from past eras.

kcar wrote:
If you want to continue this conversation, send me a private message.  I'm pretty sure we're boring the rest of RP listeners to tears.

I'd prefer to continue the discussion in a public forum, thanks. 
Sorry for the long debate folks! Btw, I really like this Billy Bragg song. 
 gamerunknown wrote:





 
Gamerunknown: you wrote "Well, Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen would dissent as to whether Communism was the driving force of the majority of deaths in the 20th century."

I don't completely know what you mean by that. And admittedly, this quote from a Wikipedia article  is a bit sweeping, but I'll include it anyway: "Mass killings occurred under some Communist regimes during the twentieth century with an estimated death toll numbering between 85 and 100 million." Do you really think capitalism was a greater "driving force" for deaths in the 20th C?

Sen studied famines, so maybe we should just focus your generalization and claim's about Sen's opinions on famines. 

How many people died in the Great Leap Forward? From Wikipedia : "Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million to 45 million, with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million." Yang Jisheng's recent and very well-received book "Tombstone" puts the toll at 36 million. That's in the ballpark of all WWII deaths..and done in far less time than the duration of that war. 

From Yang Jisheng's NYT op-ed on The Great Leap Forward: 

Those who deny that the famine happened, as an executive at the state-run newspaper People’s Daily recently did, enjoy freedom of speech, despite their fatuous claims about “three years of natural disasters.” But no plague, flood or earthquake ever wrought such horror during those years. One might wonder why the Chinese government won’t allow the true tale to be told, since Mao’s economic policies were abandoned in the late 1970s in favor of liberalization, and food has been plentiful ever since.

The reason is political: a full exposure of the Great Famine could undermine the legitimacy of a ruling party that clings to the political legacy of Mao, even though that legacy, a totalitarian Communist system, was the root cause of the famine. As the economist Amartya Sen has observed, no major famine has ever occurred in a democracy.

Maybe you should take up your assertions with Yang Jisheng, who seems to disagree with your claims about Amartya Sen.  

How many people died in the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine? From Wikipedia: "Recent research has narrowed the estimates to between 1.8 and 5 million, with modern consensus for a likely total of 3–3.5 million."  

And then there's the Russian famine of 1921.  "The Russian famine of 1921, also known as Povolzhye famine, which began in the early spring of that year and lasted through 1922, was a severe famine that occurred in BolshevikRussia. The famine, which killed an estimated 6 million, affected mostly the Volga and Ural River region."

You wrote

Sen addresses this argument directly, claiming the (famine) deaths resulted from a lack of free press and opposition parties, rather than from central planning. He also argued consistently that preventing famine is not a result of surplus production, but efficient distribution (and hampering freedoms by limiting freedom of the press or other democratic features will damage such capacities).  

I would like to see quotes from Sen to back up your claims, with all due respect. If Sen thinks that central planning did not play a major role in the Great Leap Forward deaths and Ukrainian famine deaths, he is wrong. Free press and opposition parties wouldn't have stopped seizure of food supplies including seed corn, confiscation of private property, disastrous collectivization of farmers, poorly planned irrigation projects, deliberate starvation of people, etc. In both of these famines, food production fell disastrously short of pre-famine levels. 

Btw, Wikipedia notes that there was opposition to Mao's rapid collectivization plan within the Party. Mao did not have a rubber stamp and yet the Great Leap Forward happened:

Within the Party, there was major debate about redistribution. A moderate faction within the party and Politburo member Liu Shaoqiargued that change should be gradual and any collectivization of the peasantry should wait until industrialization, which could provide the agricultural machinery for mechanized farming. A more radical faction led by Mao Zedong argued that the best way to finance industrialization was for the government to take control of agriculture, thereby establishing a monopoly over grain distribution and supply. This would allow the state to buy at a low price and sell much higher, thus raising the capital necessary for the industrialization of the country. 

Although I did read "Famine and Poverty" for a class on economic development taught by one of Sen's former students (Ashutosh Varshney), I can't recall whether Sen claimed that his notion of famine being caused by a lack of positive freedoms explained all famines. Do you think he makes this claim? Do you think that Sen's theories are the only answer to the causes of famine? 

I wrote

We could argue all day about the lethal effects of Communist rule, but I'm pretty sure workers in capitalist societies tend to have more positive freedom than workers in Communist ones. Certainly it's easier to improve your lot and control your economic destiny in a capitalist society than a Communist one. 

To which you reply

It really depends on how you define your terms. 

Frankly, I couldn't make sense of the rest of your reply. 

"If we define it in relational terms - being able to control a greater portion of wealth than one's neighbour, then the reverse is also implied: it's easier for one's lot to decline."

Where--in a Communist or capitalist society, gamerunknown? Are you saying that on average people living in Communist societies have a greater chance of improving their lot than people living in capitalist societies? Is that why people try to flee places like the USSR, East Germany, Cuba, North Korea and PRC? Because they can't stand the amount of economic opportunity in those places? 

In terms of purchasing power? I don't think that market freedoms correlate to any great degree to purchasing power of citizens - healthcare in Bangladesh is almost solely private, with horrendous quality of life outcomes.

Pretty sure on average citizens in capitalist societies have greater purchasing power than ones in Communist societies, gamerunknown. Nikita Kruschev figured it out during a trip to the US when he walked into an average supermarket and saw the quantities and varieties of food that people in the USSR couldn't buy. It's also why East Germans went on spending sprees in West Germany when given free money by the West German government shortly before the countries re-united: there was all this stuff that they couldn't buy on their side of the Wall.

Why you bring in healthcare in Bangladesh is beyond me. 

Control of one's economic destiny? Not in the sense envisaged by Jefferson. He wrote that dependence on customers would lead to subservience and venality, as wage labour was not well regarded by the classical liberals.

Why on earth should modern comparative economics discuss Jefferson, who wanted America to remain an agrarian society? Not relevant. 


If you want to continue this conversation, send me a private message.  I'm pretty sure we're boring the rest of RP listeners to tears. 
 

 kcar wrote:

I think you're stretching Sen's main idea in "Poverty and Famines" too far. Sen examined a localized famine in India in 1943 and made larger observations about the causes of famines in general.

From Wikipedia: "Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity."


I wouldn't say I'm stretching the concept. Sen writes "the elimination of starvation in socialist economies - for example in China... reflects a shift in the entitlement system... through systems of guaranteed employment at wages that provide exchange entitlement adequate to avoid starvation". He also writes that "With the proportion of unemployment as high as it is, say, in Britain or America today, but for the social security arrangements there would be widespread starvation and possibly a famine". Sen also discusses famines in Ethiopia in 1973 & 1974, the Bangladesh famine of 1974 and other instances of famine. Really, there's an instance of equivocation whereby any advocacy of Communist principles is conflated with Stalinist/Maoist purges. Sen provides an alternative account: a reduction in positive freedom is the driving force behind famine, rather than redistributionist principles (and a net reduction in positive freedoms is not a necessary consequence of redistribution).

We could argue all day about the lethal effects of Communist rule, but I'm pretty sure workers in capitalist societies tend to have more positive freedom than workers in Communist ones. Certainly it's easier to improve your lot and control your economic destiny in a capitalist society than a Communist one.

It really depends on how you define your terms. For instance, how would one operationalise "improving one's lot"? If we define that as holding title to a greater proportion of land over the course of one's life, the gradual decline of populations in first world countries would seem to confirm this. If we define it in relational terms - being able to control a greater portion of wealth than one's neighbour, then the reverse is also implied: it's easier for one's lot to decline. In terms of purchasing power? I don't think that market freedoms correlate to any great degree to purchasing power of citizens - healthcare in Bangladesh is almost solely private, with horrendous quality of life outcomes. Somalia would be another instructive example. Control of one's economic destiny? Not in the sense envisaged by Jefferson. He wrote that dependence on customers would lead to subservience and venality, as wage labour was not well regarded by the classical liberals. At any rate, these are more in accordance with the negative freedoms described by Sen in "Food and Freedom" (which also discusses the failure of the Great Leap Forward). The positive freedoms he lists include literacy, lifespan and avoiding morbidity. Such freedoms essentially depend on state intervention in the free market through taxation and the provision of services, limiting negative freedoms.

I think Sen would agree that Communist centralized planning led to massive famines in the Ukraine under Stalin and in China under Mao during the Great Leap Forward, a plan that managed to kill almost as many people in three years of peacetime than did the six years of WWII in Europe.

Capitalist societies tend to produce more food and sell it at lower prices than Communist societies. The former do experience market distortions as Sen pointed out but they are not as massive and prolonged as the FUBAR that goes on with centralized planning.
 
Sen addresses this argument directly, claiming the deaths resulted from a lack of free press and opposition parties, rather than from central planning. He also argued consistently that preventing famine is not a result of surplus production, but efficient distribution (and hampering freedoms by limiting freedom of the press or other democratic features will damage such capacities).

Even if the Communists did have a plank of universal education, the West began implementing in various countries before the Bolsheviks took over in Russia. And many countries have progressive taxation. You point to Norway and it's "redistributive taxation" but I could point to Sweden as a place where a similar system has negatively affected quality of life.  

The Manifesto was published in 1848 (funnily enough, based on the evidence at the time, Marx recommended a combination of some hours of labour with education). Of course, there were earlier advocates of egalitarianism, usually on utopian religious grounds, such as Thomas More or Gerrard Winstanley. Liberals such as Dr. Ure were among the dogged critics of such provisions, claiming that working class would resort to all manner of deviancies unless they were otherwise occupied. Similar arguments were made on behalf of the Templeton Foundation by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (history rhymes, no?). As for your report: that's pretty far divorced from quality of life measures utilised by Sen (such as infant mortality, education rates, lifespan, etc.) and is intended for American retirees.  




 gamerunknown wrote:

Well, Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen would dissent as to whether Communism was the driving force of the majority of deaths in the 20th century. In "Poverty and Famines" (1981), he attributes the Bengali famine earlier in the 20th century which killed millions of workers as being due to a lack of purchasing power on behalf of the Bengali people (would we thus have to repudiate capitalism and take up Ungerism?). Planks from the Communist manifesto, such as a universal public education, have been implemented successfully in every first world country. In 1870, the literacy rate for non-whites in the US was 20.1%. By 1979 it was 98.4%. Essentially redistributive income taxes have been implemented successfully in Norway, which has among the highest quality of life outcomes in the world and the highest rates of happiness in the world.

 
I think you're stretching Sen's main idea in "Poverty and Famines" too far. Sen examined a localized famine in India in 1943 and made larger observations about the causes of famines in general.

From Wikipedia: "Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution systems. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity."

We could argue all day about the lethal effects of Communist rule, but I'm pretty sure workers in capitalist societies tend to have more positive freedom than workers in Communist ones. Certainly it's easier to improve your lot and control your economic destiny in a capitalist society than a Communist one. I think Sen would agree that Communist centralized planning led to massive famines in the Ukraine under Stalin and in China under Mao during the Great Leap Forward, a plan that managed to kill almost as many people in three years of peacetime than did the six years of WWII in Europe.

Capitalist societies tend to produce more food and sell it at lower prices than Communist societies. The former do experience market distortions as Sen pointed out but they are not as massive and prolonged as the FUBAR that goes on with centralized planning. 

Even if the Communists did have a plank of universal education, the West began implementing in various countries before the Bolsheviks took over in Russia. And many countries have progressive taxation. You point to Norway and it's "redistributive taxation" but I could point to Sweden as a place where a similar system has negatively affected quality of life.  

However, MJMJ, you go way too far with this comment: "ah, but the never-ending desire for perfection, defined as conformity, persists on the left."

You might want to read up on that cat Schicklgruber's notions of a master race, genetic purity and where that took us all.  


 MJMJ wrote:

ah, but the never-ending desire for perfection, defined as conformity, persists on the left.

 
In Grundrisse Marx notes individual development in the artistic and scientific spheres is limited due to capitalism. That said, the utopian conception of the right hardly differs - they just envision it occurring after the cessation of their nervous function (perhaps with hierarchy intact - raped nuns would be at the bottom circle of heaven, for instance).

 MM_Prague wrote:
Why is it that Communism, despite all the horrors it perpetrated, is still somehow seen by campus armchair Marxists as a "good thing"?
 
Well, Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen would dissent as to whether Communism was the driving force of the majority of deaths in the 20th century. In "Poverty and Famines" (1981), he attributes the Bengali famine earlier in the 20th century which killed millions of workers as being due to a lack of purchasing power on behalf of the Bengali people (would we thus have to repudiate capitalism and take up Ungerism?). Planks from the Communist manifesto, such as a universal public education, have been implemented successfully in every first world country. In 1870, the literacy rate for non-whites in the US was 20.1%. By 1979 it was 98.4%. Essentially redistributive income taxes have been implemented successfully in Norway, which has among the highest quality of life outcomes in the world and the highest rates of happiness in the world.
 oilydwarf wrote:
Another listener is Bath!!  We should have an RP night in The Bell!!
Looks like we might still be able to enjoy nights in Bath's best pub - hope you've bought your shares!
More Billy Bragg!
While we still can!!
 Another listener is Bath!!  We should have an RP night in The Bell!!

Boy_Wonder wrote:

The Bard of Barking in full flow..... love it!  The lyrics are so good...so many slogans coined in one song, and what a great final line!   Why such a low rating... come on guys!!

But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline

Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathize with her but thinks that he should warn her
That the Third World is just around the corner
In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr Robert Oppenheimer's optimism fell
At the first hurdle
In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of people stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forwards
Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
One leap forwards, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it
It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away

 


I like him so much better when he lets Jeff Tweedy sing.
god, i love this song.

This was my album of the year in1988. When Billy added a backing band for this album it really showed the strength of his songwriting.  And this is one of the weaker songs on this album!!!


The Bard of Barking in full flow..... love it!  The lyrics are so good...so many slogans coined in one song, and what a great final line!   Why such a low rating... come on guys!!

But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline

Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathize with her but thinks that he should warn her
That the Third World is just around the corner
In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr Robert Oppenheimer's optimism fell
At the first hurdle
In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of people stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forwards
Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
One leap forwards, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it
It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away


Life ain't over?  You're dead but just don't know it yet.
 
I've always liked Billy Bragg okay, but after I heard (and read about) the Mermaid Avenue recordings, my opinion of him was elevated considerably. I'm just sorry it took me so long to get on board!
OMG this takes me back! LOVE LOVE LOVE this song!
Like the lyrics!
Oh so good.  A classic from a classic.  I strongly recommend having a listen to the version of this song that he did on the Henry Rollins show with some changed lyrics...also very cool

.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7d6ZwAp28Y 
Oh, thank you so much Bill, for playing this. Perfectly summed up the feelings of the late '80s.
 hencini wrote:
Such a great song, such a great album.  I would have understood modern European history so much better if I had Billy to set the context for me... : )
 
cool tune.  it's like a deseezze or something  {#Rolleyes}

Such a great song, such a great album.  I would have understood modern European history so much better if I had Billy to set the context for me... : )
 MM_Prague wrote:
Actually, it was a few more. From Wikipedia: The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen – both within China and outside – as a major economic and humanitarian disaster (sometimes called the "giant step back"), with estimates of the number of people killed by famine during this period ranging from 14 to 43 million. What is really ironic is that while socialist intellectuals still like to sniffle over the "failed dream of Communism", the ideology that killed and enslaved by far the greatest number of people in the 20th Century (a good book for numbers, if you can find it, is The 20th Century Book of the Dead) they would be the first to pillory (and rightly of course) someone who would reminisce over the "failed dream of the Third Reich" for example. Why is it that Communism, despite all the horrors it perpetrated, is still somehow seen by campus armchair Marxists as a "good thing"? I guess the human capacity for self-delusion really is bottomless...
 
A very good question.

Thank goodness that there are plenty of adults in the room that can run things so that the blind idealists can dream their dreams. Another benefit of democracy!


Billy Bragg performs 'Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards', Live

Excerpted from the SEATTLE CHANNEL's KEXP Live at the Triple Door featuring Billy Bragg. Copyright 2006 SEATTLE CHANNEL.




Oregon_Steve wrote:
...He had walked the walk that morning, joining a picket line in downtown Portland trying to win a fair contract for workers at Powell Books...
Fair? Not to certifiable good guy Mike Powell. Two sides to that story. Classic case of no good deed goes unpunished, in my opinion. You can read about it here, among other places. Theory overrules practice, nobody wins.

Yes!
 Baby_M wrote:
The real-life Great Leap Forward resulted in a famine that killed 20 million people in China.  Careful what you wish for.
 
I believe that's what Mr. Bragg is trying to state in the lyrics of his song.  All people can be brought up... just beware the methods that you use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlQaLXnhGY 

fredriley wrote:

Nope. Is it on YouTube or similar anywhere?

 


 rcurrier wrote:

Who taught you such a narrow definition of "singing?"
 
Quite.  The originator needs to look at some non-USA history books and to find out a bit more about the fine Mr Bragg and his excellent left wing credentials
 jwb wrote:
Who taught these people to sing?
 
Who taught you such a narrow definition of "singing?"
The real-life Great Leap Forward resulted in a famine that killed 20 million people in China.  Careful what you wish for.
Socialism with a catchy melody. Nice.
Billy! Power to the people - still going strong.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Billy-Bragg/44905697470?ref=ts



man, i LOVE this song. loved it when i first heard it when it was released. love the video, too. awesome.
 Rotterdam wrote:
Has anyone seen Bill Bailey's 'take' on Billy Bragg? It is exquisite. (Bill Bailey = UK comedian.)
 
Nope. Is it on YouTube or similar anywhere? I'd like to see it, being quite a fan of both. I'll be seeing Bragg himself in a couple of weekends at a local art house cinema where he'll be presenting a film on the project to bring music into prisons. The film's called Breaking Rocks and involves Billy himself plus loads of other musicians from Blur, the Clash, and others less famous. For 7 quid you get the film premiere and music before and after from Billy and his mates. Now that's what I call value for money :)

Billy is currently campaigning to stop our 'state owned' bank RBS paying huge bankers bonuses. 

Good on yer Billy!

https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=417490570190 
Absolutely love this song. Great to hear it on the radio!
Still waiting................
Has anyone seen Bill Bailey's 'take' on Billy Bragg? It is exquisite. (Bill Bailey = UK comedian.)
 fredriley wrote:

Yep, sounds like our Billy. He's always been very committed to Left politics and has been consistently active in the labour movement for the last couple of decades at least. Funny bloke, too, and a nice line in ironic lyrics. He's in the forefront of a cultural movement to redefine and reclaim Englishness as an inclusive, modern, progressive ideology away from the reactionary, imperialistic, and xenophobic 'Englishness' that so dominates English culture. A modern troubador, and worthy of comparisons with Dylan (and has a better voice and sense of humour IMHO ;-))

"start your own revolution and cut out the middle man" - pretty good line :)

7 from the Nottingham jury.

 
Great post Fred. Billy for Prime Minister!
Ahh, I see the Beatles police have been here too.
 MJMJ wrote:
"In a perfect world wed all sing in tune"

I thought the Left was all about celebrating diversity! But then again you see this kind of conformist sentiment all the time coming frm the Left, like in "Imagine" by J Lennon, which also imagines a world in which everyone thinks alike.
 
Imagine says nothing about thinking alike.   It does say a lot about dropping some of the Conformist thoughts of religion, consumerism and patriotism.  So I would say that's the exact opposite.   "The world can live as one" meaning in peace and harmony.

Harmony of course being many people, all singing different notes, but designed to work together with acowlegement of what others are doing to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

ahem... end metaphor.  Both great songs. :)

 phineas wrote:

And the next line is:

But this is reality, so gimme some room!

Nothing like a little Left leaning sentiment leavened with a dash of realism.

 
ah, but the never-ending desire for perfection, defined as conformity, persists on the left.

 MJMJ wrote:
"In a perfect world wed all sing in tune"

I thought the Left was all about celebrating diversity! But then again you see this kind of conformist sentiment all the time coming frm the Left, like in "Imagine" by J Lennon, which also imagines a world in which everyone thinks alike.
 
And the next line is:

But this is reality, so gimme some room!

Nothing like a little Left leaning sentiment leavened with a dash of realism.

"In a perfect world wed all sing in tune"

I thought the Left was all about celebrating diversity! But then again you see this kind of conformist sentiment all the time coming frm the Left, like in "Imagine" by J Lennon, which also imagines a world in which everyone thinks alike.
 Oregon_Steve wrote:
Very accessible, too. While waiting for a mediocre Son Volt warmup act to end a few years ago, my wife and I were surprised to engage Billy in a 10-minute conversation about music, kids, Oregon, and union and WTO politics. He had walked the walk that morning, joining a picket line in downtown Portland trying to win a fair contract for workers at Powell Books. Fifteen minutes later he was on stage cracking everybody up, getting us all to sing along, and making us all forget Son Volt had ever been there.
 
Yep, sounds like our Billy. He's always been very committed to Left politics and has been consistently active in the labour movement for the last couple of decades at least. Funny bloke, too, and a nice line in ironic lyrics. He's in the forefront of a cultural movement to redefine and reclaim Englishness as an inclusive, modern, progressive ideology away from the reactionary, imperialistic, and xenophobic 'Englishness' that so dominates English culture. A modern troubador, and worthy of comparisons with Dylan (and has a better voice and sense of humour IMHO ;-))

"start your own revolution and cut out the middle man" - pretty good line :)

7 from the Nottingham jury.

 jhorton wrote:


I'll trade couplets with Tom over fermented coconut juice.

" Pasties and a G-String, beer and a shot."

I wish you armchair assholes would show up at open mike night and teach me how wrong I am.
 
 
Keep your couplets,  I'll trade pasties and Gstring with Norah while listening to Tom on my satellite radio, thank you.


Awww, Billy Bragg at the Cork Opera House.  What a great night!
 CafeRacer wrote:
I know what you mean, but to me Billy Bragg's voice (and Tom Waits or Bob Dylan for that matter) only add to the feeling of the song. No, he can't sing but he's passionate and distinctive and that goes a long way in my book.
 
Can't sing? Do you even have a brain? Three of the best singers of the last century. Not a one of them has a great voice, but they are all great singers.

We are each born with a voice. Can't really change that. It is your voice. What you DO with that voice is up to you.

All three of these guys are perfect examples of making the best of the voice you were born with. The airwaves are littered with great voices. Great singers are much rarer.

Would you rather be stranded on a desert island with Tom Waits or Norah jones?

Tell Norah I said, " Hi."

I'll trade couplets with Tom over fermented coconut juice.

" Pasties and a G-String, beer and a shot."
 

Misterfixit wrote:
Question for the Brits ... what area of the country does his accent show? Is it peculiar to Barking or is it simply a eastern London? Many thanks
What you hear when Billy sings is the delightful Cockney accent of a native Londoner. As Wikipedia puts it:
Thus while all East Enders are Cockneys, not all Cockneys are East Enders.
You can hear it in Guy Ritchie's films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) speaks Cockney English in his tour-de-force performance in Sexy Beast. Sir Michael Caine is a proud Cockney and speaks with his native accent in Austin Powers in Goldmember, as well as his signature film, Alfie. Three of the most famous Cockney characters are The Artful Dodger from Dicken's Oliver Twist and of course Eliza Doolittle ("Just you wait, 'Enry 'Iggins, just you wait!) and her Dad, Alfred P. Doolittle of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady fame. But back to Billy 'The Bard of Barking'; his roots are clear in his spoken remarks before and after this wonderful rendition of A World Turned Upside Down: (click here) "You poor take courage, You rich take care..." Love to hear more of Billy on RP!
A great song from a great guy (and a great storyteller) who CAN sing...much like Bob Dylan, he chooses to let his natural inflections remain to flavor most of his songs, but there are many examples of fine singing sprinkled throughout his oeuvre (check out "Ingrid Berman" on Mermaid Avenue, one of my favorites). Very accessible, too. While waiting for a mediocre Son Volt warmup act to end a few years ago, my wife and I were surprised to engage Billy in a 10-minute conversation about music, kids, Oregon, and union and WTO politics. He had walked the walk that morning, joining a picket line in downtown Portland trying to win a fair contract for workers at Powell Books. Fifteen minutes later he was on stage cracking everybody up, getting us all to sing along, and making us all forget Son Volt had ever been there. :good-vibes:
mojoman wrote:
The irony being that China's "Great Leap Forward" in the 1960s resulted in the death of tens of thousands.
Actually, it was a few more. From Wikipedia: The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen – both within China and outside – as a major economic and humanitarian disaster (sometimes called the "giant step back"), with estimates of the number of people killed by famine during this period ranging from 14 to 43 million. What is really ironic is that while socialist intellectuals still like to sniffle over the "failed dream of Communism", the ideology that killed and enslaved by far the greatest number of people in the 20th Century (a good book for numbers, if you can find it, is The 20th Century Book of the Dead) they would be the first to pillory (and rightly of course) someone who would reminisce over the "failed dream of the Third Reich" for example. Why is it that Communism, despite all the horrors it perpetrated, is still somehow seen by campus armchair Marxists as a "good thing"? I guess the human capacity for self-delusion really is bottomless...
When does passionate singing turn into yelling? :ask: On this song.
Gambrinus wrote:
Some songs just bring back a rush of positive memories from the soundtrack of your life. This is one for me.
Agreed. My favorite Maoist folk singer. "The Revolution is just a T-Shirt away..." Classic.
Question for the Brits ... what area of the country does his accent show? Is it peculiar to Barking or is it simply a eastern London? Many thanks
BjornPhrei wrote:
This is a pretty good song, but there are others on this album I like better. "Valentine's Day Is Over" and "Life Among the Lions" come to mind...
I agree. This track is OK but it is far from the best on this outstandingly good album. I have to admit that Billy's Socialist shit gives me a pain but I can't bring myself to dislike his music just because of his politics (and I have tried to).
Long live the Revolution
jwb wrote:
Who taught these people to sing?
I know what you mean, but to me Billy Bragg's voice (and Tom Waits or Bob Dylan for that matter) only add to the feeling of the song. No, he can't sing but he's passionate and distinctive and that goes a long way in my book.
Who taught these people to sing?
I've heard Billy Bragg from time to time since the late 80's (college radio), now on RP. Each time I think of the campus revolutionaries that I knew and their idealistic cause that disappeared as soon as the reality of life sunk in with maturity (and a decent paycheck). I still like to be reminded that real people like BB exist among us in western democracies; its not limited to the Hugo Chavez-types in the third world. You always have to be on guard...
jozooka wrote:
I think it's a sad song. Billy's been at it a long time, and he's starting to lose faith. He's looking back over his life and back through history of the initial hope and eventual disappointments of Communism. From the failure of China's Great Leap Forward, to Cuba's economy ("...that the 3rd world is just around the corner"), to the Cold War ("scientist is blinded..."), all are negative outcomes of what was originally promised as a better life through Communism. He hasn't given up the fight completely but he's tired and doubtful of the sincerity of current "revolutionists" ("revolution is just a t-shirt away"). Just my take. Saw him near Philadelphia in 2006. Fantastic show.
I appreciate that you're familiar with Billy Bragg and a fan as well. But you describe this song as if it were off his latest album when in fact it's nearly two decades old, which means he wrote t when he was a young man. So I don't think your description of him as "tired" and "looking back over his life" is really an accurate critique of how he might have felt when he penned this tune. I'm a big fan of Billy's. I was disappointed to see that this is the only track from Workers' Playtime in the RP library because it is an excellent album from top to bottom. I will try to upload a couple others and we'll see if they make the cut.
steeler wrote:
Gee, and I was hearing hopeful.
I think it's a sad song. Billy's been at it a long time, and he's starting to lose faith. He's looking back over his life and back through history of the initial hope and eventual disappointments of Communism. From the failure of China's Great Leap Forward, to Cuba's economy ("...that the 3rd world is just around the corner"), to the Cold War ("scientist is blinded..."), all are negative outcomes of what was originally promised as a better life through Communism. He hasn't given up the fight completely but he's tired and doubtful of the sincerity of current "revolutionists" ("revolution is just a t-shirt away"). Just my take. Saw him near Philadelphia in 2006. Fantastic show.
Some songs just bring back a rush of positive memories from the soundtrack of your life. This is one for me.
Somebody has to occupy the socialist-chic niche in the recording industry.
O, O , I'm being oppressed! Eeek! :moon:
Now you see the violence inherent in the system! Like the song
NICKNAME wrote:
EAT THE RICH !
ROLF !!
Constantine wrote:
Wow, Billy Bragg ! The Socialist Voice of Britain - I last heard him play in Finsbury Park many years ago - and unfortunately he is serious, and the socialists still use the same language they have always used - childish and whining....
Gee, and I was hearing hopeful.
John Lennon mentioned Chairman Mao too...
Constantine wrote:
Wow, Billy Bragg ! The Socialist Voice of Britain - I last heard him play in Finsbury Park many years ago - and unfortunately he is serious, and the socialists still use the same language they have always used - childish and whining....
And the capitalists still use the same methods: greedy and short-sighted. Go figger...
... For You dundidit! ... :music: ... Enjoy! ...
"Capitalism is the devil's wet dream" Ani Difranco
no matter what he sings about, they all sound the same.
EAT THE RICH !
This guy is suicidal; Every revolutionist knows we're on the edge of a cliff. :umbrella:
Wow, Billy Bragg ! The Socialist Voice of Britain - I last heard him play in Finsbury Park many years ago - and unfortunately he is serious, and the socialists still use the same language they have always used - childish and whining....
Don't know this guy so I can't tell if this is serious or tongue in cheek. If it's a parody of that almost extinct English socialisitic rot, then it's pretty funny. If he's serious, then it's hilarious! O, O , I'm being oppressed! Eeek! :moon:
betterdaze wrote:
God, I love this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:yes:
Tritter wrote:
how 'bout Wilco and Billy Bragg? That would be nice to hear here... try it? Thanks!! :cheers:
Yes, now wouldn't that be nice? :yes:
BjornPhrei wrote:
This is a pretty good song, but there are others on this album I like better. "Valentine's Day Is Over" and "Life Among the Lions" come to mind...
Agreed. A lovely song this, but a wee bit vague lyrically. The two songs you mention are much stronger, and tackle big issues (domestic abuse, racism in the army) with many a wry insight.
MattFromBath wrote:
The revolution is just a T sheeert away! I love the way he drops the t on that.
The irony being that China's "Great Leap Forward" in the 1960s resulted in the death of tens of thousands.
betterdaze wrote:
God, I love this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What he/she said!
God, I love this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a pretty good song, but there are others on this album I like better. "Valentine's Day Is Over" and "Life Among the Lions" come to mind...
phineas wrote:
BillG: "Billy Bragg: The king of Maoist folk-rock." :lol:
Great description. Love Billy!
Rickvee wrote:
Billy Bragg = worst musical artist this side of Yoko Ono
I believe you'll have the same success proving your proposed equation to a panel of mathematicians, as did Evel Knievel did his. Read here:The Onion
Billy Bragg -- brilliant! The guitar and piano remind me of Lennon's "oh Yoko."
The revolution is just a T sheeert away! I love the way he drops the t on that.
I was just listening to Billy on the way to work this morning. So glad to see this on here....social conscience, intelligence....and a beat you can dance to! \:D/ Now to hear 'Must I Paint You a Picture' and 'California Stars' on the way home....
Nice, jolly music, nice, pointed lyrics. Rock on, man.
BillG: "Billy Bragg: The king of Maoist folk-rock." :lol:
quite an original, this billy bragg.
how 'bout Wilco and Billy Bragg? That would be nice to hear here... try it? Thanks!! :cheers:
Darkmatter wrote:
One of the very few who keeps the flame burning. :)
Well stated. We underestimate the value of that quality in our artists (and ourselves) to our own collective peril.
"if you have a blacklist, I wanna be on it..." :D
...Elube Chango...? Isn't that the chain of quicky oil places in Havanah?
I love Billy Bragg and his big, red, warm beating heart. One of the very few who keeps the flame burning. :)
Rickvee wrote:
Billy Bragg = worst musical artist this side of Yoko Ono
:roflol: :roflol: :roflol: :roflol: yeah riiiight. :^o :-s Billy is a treasure! thanks R&B!....the more Billy Bragg on RP the better!
Billy Bragg = worst musical artist this side of Yoko Ono
Hallelujah. Long live Billy Bragg.