Saturday, November 13, 2010

Currently listening to Billy Bragg: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

I’m not saying what the government does is always good, but the government is only as good as the people who elect it. When you’re encouraged to believe that anybody who puts forward an idea of collective responsibility like free health care is a socialist-Nazi, whatever that means, it undermines your belief in community.
Billy Bragg
For over three decades British singer songwriter Billy Bragg has been one of the more distinctive musical and political voices in contemporary music. Bragg's musical roots bridge folk and UK punk traditions, but it his political songwriting and political advocacy that distinguishes his work. He has had a long and continuous involvement in progressive and leftist political movements and political campaigns in the UK and globally.

I admire Bragg for many reasons but in particular, I like the way he continues to use the language of class and class relations in his political analysis and political advocacy.

In this interview Billy Bragg reflects on contemporary political events, the neglect of class, the injustice of contemporary capitalism and the need for us all to resist and struggle against unjust and unaccountable power:
"The free market can’t solve everyone’s problems. How are we going to solve climate change? Recycling your plastic and your bottles ain’t going to do it. It can’t just be individual action. It’s got to be collective action at a global scale" 
"..consumerist individualism is fine when you’ve got money in your pocket, but when you’ve got no money, then you can feel very, very lonely."
Bragg's 1988 album Workers Playtime is one of my favourite CD's. The song Waiting for the Great Leap Forward, which appears on that CD, is a reminder that the historical struggle against injustice is never ending.

Here is a live 2007 version of the song. Bragg continually rewrites the song to make it relevant to contemporary political events. 

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