Monday, August 29, 2011

Riots and Politics

London and many other cities in England recently went up in flames as young people went into the streets. Ignited by the shooting of a young black man in Tottenham, it became obvious that the cause was actually something greater.  Of the many buildings set aflame by the rioters in London was the PIAS warehouse where the majority of English and Irish independent record labels had their goods.

This a major problem for recording companies who are attempting to create something different.  Maybe the politics of the riots are not as clear as people sticking up for a person wrongly shot by the agents of capital's power.  Considering that the rioters appeared to be mostly youths from decidedly British descent, we need to take a moment before thinking that these riots held any lofty goals at all.  In fact Micael Gira, provocateur from the SWANS, may have hit the nail on the head when he tweeted, and then received criticism for tweeting, "oh wait! i thought anarchy was good! anyway, music should be free, so what's the problem?"   Aside from the irony, Gira calls out the vacuous nature of the rioting.
With a way to channel whatever pent-up repressed frustrations that have a hold on the British youth, the inevitable expressions they will produce will be impotent or worse counter-productive to their cause.

Here in the States, national news was made when a young rapper from Cleveland started a flash-mob at a local shopping mall.
MGK says, "We showed the power of our movement. These kids out here really give a fuck about us, and we really give a fuck about them."  The problem here is that the "movement" is simply centered around selling records.  It is about keeping people in the positions they already inhabit.  It is about reproducing those social structures that give birth to the "art."   So maybe the commentators for FOX News should be overjoyed about the young girls running and screaming in the mall because that's really where they want to be, not organizing for some radical political party. But maybe that's why we need to be scared--the young people, as evidenced by London and Cleveland, aren't organizing for some radical political party.