When Napalm Death performed in Bangalore, India, singer Barney Greenway prowled the stage tirelessly, espousing his left-leaning political beliefs. The audience cheered. It was a bi-directional, call-respond dynamic between the two parties. Greenway’s tirades against capitalism, racism, nationalism, and religion were predictable, interchangeable, lacking in nuance, and could be encapsulated by that great philosophical statement of our times, “All you need is love!” Of course the stage is no place for delivering full-fleshed diatribes and Greenway didn’t offer any alternatives to the great crises extant today but he needn’t have bothered, he was preaching to the choir. Grindcore is the music of the left, after all, and boilerplate sloganeering is to be expected. The crowd was drunk on liquor and a reactionary zeitgeist that conflates various -isms for a convenient singularity to scapegoat, but this rigidity of thought actually does disservice to the many-layered reality of each of those -isms, regardless of whether the qualities you ascribe to them are positive or negative.
Critical thinking becomes the first victim of an overzealous secularism or, for that matter, a mindless bigotry, but I speak increasingly from a position disgusted with the virtue-signaling desperation of the social and cultural left. The outlandishness of the crasser sections of the right is no surprise, but the left has the supposed advantage of an education on their side. And still, so many of its simplistic interpretations and assertions have now achieved the status of axiom under a system dogmatic in its avowed values that to doubt their veracity is to court instant shunning.
There is an almost deterministic inevitability to the chain of thought that leads to branding someone an -ist belonging to one of the many -isms carrying negative judgment. But the very meaning of these -isms has become so inflated and all-encompassing over time that few among us can lay claim to being totally innocent of prejudice. Those alive to this sense the irony when the guardians of social chastity slip up every now and then to reveal the same intolerance they so gleefully hunt in others.
Here comes a vegan to ascribe naive, retrospectively anthropomorphic qualities to a lower animal, self-serving gaps in logic notwithstanding. In the corner someone thumps their chest about “the worthlessness of arbitrarily-drawn nation-boundaries” and “the foolishness of pride in your heritage and history as a civilization“. That way is an atheist with a balloon for an ego and a materialist’s soulless grasp of the idea of religion, including his own. Social justice warriors fester on the sticky internet, campaigning for political correctness and equality, quick to label things fascist and unacceptable but apparently oblivious that in a true fascist state, they would have their fingernails pulled out for saying the things they say. Not to condone fascism nor to say very real injustices don’t exist, but creating false equivalencies and straw men to reinforce emotionally-charged narratives is poor form indeed and makes for little defense of those narratives.
A chicken, however, is no lion, and though race theory may have been shown the door by gene theory, there are very real differences between people, based on upbringing and the stage of civilizational and cultural development they and their immediate groups occupy. A polity among nations and a world without boundaries are nice enough platitudes on paper, and financially profitable, too, in our commercial and global setup. But commerce can never foster the same ties that a shared nationhood and a shared history as a people can. An appeal to our better natures might work on the isolated, individual level; after all, compassion isn’t the reserve of any one strand of political thought. Our complex condition suggests that beauty can arise in the unlikeliest of places. But to hope to universally transpose that appeal to our better natures conveniently and foolishly ignores our worser aspects, and unnecessarily brings diverse elements into conflict.
By definition, philosophies erected on utopian and moral absolutes allow no middle ground and have to be taken to their logical extremes. It makes me wonder what the world would look like if it did indeed swing all the way to the left; deprivatized and redistributed, sanitized and wringed free of all edge, eternally reserved and affirmatively acted on, with entire histories rewritten to suit a non-partisan viewpoint. Men living, rejoicing, in that brotherhood of glorious stasis, Eden realized once more on earth when none would be greater than another and the ones who tried made an example of.
To return to Barney Greenway and grindcore, fans and bands frequently use the deconstructive, anti-musical symbol of the melodic note crossed out in barbed wire. This is understandably rooted in the genre’s amusical and ideological origins, but it leads one to question: what, after the fall?