Socialist Worker

Musicians who won't be silenced

Damon Albarn, Tom Morello, Robert Del Naja and Pandit G have all spoken out against the war and helped to publicise anti-war activity. They explained why to Martin Smith

Published Sat 15 Feb 2003
Issue No. 1838

DAMON ALBARN, lead singer of the band Blur, explained to Socialist Worker why he supports the Stop the War Coalition.

THERE IS a blatant disregard for the majority voice in this country. Tony Blair is not listening to the people. If you don't listen to that, then you have to question whether you live in a democracy or not.

We did ads highlighting the demonstration in the press. We even tried to put adverts opposing the war on the telly. But apparently it's not the done thing in this country! You can advertise almost anything on the TV-even the army can show recruitment trailers-but you cannot put out a simple message calling for peace. It's just crazy.

We are not into naming and shaming, but we have been surprised and saddened at the reticence of some artists to get involved. There are musicians with strong voices who are articulate and intelligent and who I know in private have no stomach for war who have not come forward. In the US it is different-it is stronger than it is over here.

You have rap artists like Mos Def and Talibi Kweli and a gamut of rock and R&B musicians all making strong statements against the war.

TOM MORELLO is from the US band Audioslave and was previously in Rage Against the Machine. He told Socialist Worker:

THE BUSH administration is looking for a pretext to attack Iraq in the name of controlling oil reserves and concealing Bush's domestic record. Today 40 million Americans live below the poverty line and 50 million are without healthcare. Many of them are children. This is the Enron presidency.

It's criminal. It's a moral indictment of Bush and his administration that they are prepared to use the memory of the victims of 11 September to proceed with their own political and personal agenda. It is a crime, and we should hold Bush accountable for his actions.

I think there is no more patriotic act than questioning your leaders. It's a thing we have to do if we live in a democracy. We should make it clear that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator.

He is exactly the same evil dictator now as he was when he was a US ally-when he actually did use weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons against his own people and the Kurds. The actions Bush is threatening will do two things. They will destabilise an already very volatile region of the world, and they will increase terrorism around the world.

The dream of the Bush administration is to install a puppet government in Iraq that will kowtow to US interests. In Vietnam it took five years of a blood-drenched orgy before the first anti-war movement got off the ground.

This is the first time in American history where an anti-war movement has been growing and strengthening before a war has even started. All over Europe, and increasingly more so here, there is a belief that the US government has gone out of its mind.

ROBERT DEL NAJA, '3D' of the group Massive Attack, has worked closely with Damon Albarn promoting the mass movement against this war.

I'M TRYING to make sure everyone I know comes on the 15 February demo. If they don't I'm not going to speak to the fuckers for a couple of years. Everyone knows what it is about. It's about oil, revenge and US hegemony in the region. One thing it is not about is ridding the world of an evil dictator.

After all, the US government seems to back every other totalitarian regime. Massive Attack are going to try and keep a Stop the War Coalition, CND, Red Cross presence at all of our gigs around the whole world, starting in the Far East, Europe and eventually into America-if we get let in!

PANDIT G of the band Asian Dub Foundation (ADF) talked to Socialist Worker about his opposition to war.

WE ARE on the verge of chaos and destruction. All of us have to do what we can and make the biggest statement against this war and what Bush and Blair are doing in our name.

Recently ADF have been touring Europe. Everywhere we go there are posters advertising demonstrations in capital cities on 15 February. I remember when only a small minority of us opposed the bombing of Serbia. More of us said that it was wrong to invade Afghanistan, and now everyone is saying that it's wrong to attack Iraq.

War would be wrong even with United Nations support. I helped put a track together for the Peace Not War compilation CD. We used a rhythm track and a speech Tariq Ali made at SOAS. He made the point that the UN Security Council does not represent the will of the people.

I don't believe the UN has any legitimacy. We are living under a new imperialism where the US dictates what is going on. Musicians are not the key-they can only add to this mass movement.

But at the same time musicians and artists speaking out can give people confidence. We can play our bit and help cut through the bullshit.


Voices against war from the US

High profile people in the US who have spoken out against war include: Martin Sheen, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Elliott Gould, Matt Damon, Kim Basinger, Helen Hunt, Susan Sarandon, Laurence Fishburne, Mia Farrow, Jessica Lange, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky, Tony Kushner, Edward Said, Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Laurie Anderson, Edward Asner, Russell Banks, Rosalyn Baxandall, Jessica Blank, William Blum, Leslie Cagan, Kisha Imani Cameron, Kevin Danaher, Steve Earle, Terry Gilliam, bell hooks, Rakaa Iriscience, Martin Luther King III, Oliver Stone, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Scorsese.


'Are we going to try and talk to Saddam Hussein without jumping in and killing people first? The government itself is run exactly like The Sopranos.
GEORGE CLOONEY, Actor

'The most painful aspect of 9/11 is the way the administration has manipulated the grief of my country. The Iraq war is about money, oil, power and suits.'
DUSTIN HOFFMAN, Actor

'Democracy is something that rarely works at the point of a gun. Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan-this is a very bloody path of nation wrecking.'
PETER SELLERS, US opera director


Article information

Features
Sat 15 Feb 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1838
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