black smoke coming from fire

When Ivan Meets G.I Joe, Strawmen and Bob Marley’s Peaceful Resistance (Don’t shoot the messenger)

From the Sandinista Project..Clash cover

Listen you rich white men in control, not one of us who is not entirely certifiably insane, wants to go to war with Russia. We don’t want to sacrifice our sons to the economic war machine. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to kill or maim. We don’t want your bloody wars, nor ‘your radiation’ or ‘chemical plague’. We don’t want to tangle with the ‘Stalin strike’ nor that ‘cossack stomp’. When Ivan meets GI Joe (Biden?) it won’t be pretty. I just don’t think any actual citizens of this world, the non political masses have any need or stomach for a world war. The economy might benefit from it, there may be some boomers who relish the thought of nukes over the Pacific, but the rest of us decent human beings have no desire for bloodshed. Who hates the Russians? Isn’t it passé now? Isn’t it bourgeois? We surely have learnt the lessons of McCarthyism. I can only hope that the Russian people rise up and resist Putin’s aspirations, and the rest of us refuse to rise to the bait being provided.

War benefits nothing except the capitalist pig economy, and the rich men whose sons will never be called to fight, and that includes Mr Bone Spurs. I have had it with the lot of ’em, every single one of these conniving self serving politicians. I stand with Lou and his Strawman argument, that non answer that sounds like a refutation, that filibuster time waster that says everything while saying nothing at all.

Strummer fancied himself a social commentator, a political punk, and rarely let the side down. I don’t have a political bone in my body. I just hate all of them equally. I don’t play those games. My tribe are the junkies, the rock and roll outsiders, the losers and the freaks. We just want to live our lives creatively and peacefully. There is enough going on internally without being harassed by the wars of old men and their Machiavellian intentions.

Strummer might have enjoyed the pose and produced some fine work, and was a dedicated anti racist and multiculturalist, but when Lou Reed gets the bit between his teeth he doesn’t tend to let go until he has worried it half to death. I admire that about him. Lou is as far away from the Strawman as it is possible to get. He starts right at the heart of the matter – that some have more than any one man needs, and some have no little, and some have nothing at all. The inequality of society leaves even degenerates like me and Lou unable to remain unpolitical, if residing in the uncomfortable domain of the politically homeless. None of them speak to me. None of them represent me. None of these politicians care about me, or any of us here at the bottom of the pile who have ‘so little’.

Lou takes on the excesses and the waste full on. This is the politics that any reasonable person should be invested in. This is what we need our leaders to address. Reed asks us “Does anybody need another million dollar movie?
Does anybody need another million dollar star?”
Well do we? Surely that money could be better spent on solving the problems of those who are subject to the inequality, the victims of those who have so fucking much!

Yeah, these strawmen might be leaving us in an earthly hell, but at least we can fantasize that these wasters and hoarders are gonna go straight to hell…thought I doubt it. They will buy their way to some Abrahamic land of milk and honey, worshipping Moloch along the way…Of course Lou doesn’t stop there, he is on a roll. He takes on Jimmy Swaggart and his evangelical preaching that left him insanely rich. He takes on the men like Musk and Bezos who use their money in vanity trips to outer space, in a way that was almost prophetic. Musk and Bezos were not even there trying to make their way to Mars when this was written. No one needs another useless president, another vastly expensive car, or some crack smoking politician doing things in hotel rooms that they would damn the rest of us for, their sins quietly hidden…and heading straight for the eternal abyss.

Not even Dylan is safe, with Lou asking us if we need another ‘self righteous rockstar’ whose ‘nose has led him straight to God’, getting both the Rolling Thunder Tour cocaine use in that line, suggesting that this ‘star’ is just high on the ole nose candy as he is personal ‘self righteousness’. It is a line of such succinct perfection! I love Lou.

No! Humanity doesn’t need all this shit. Lou knows that he is the same as the rest of us: an Everyman, who instead of this materialistic crap instead needs ‘a minor miracle’, just a golden arc floating down the Hudson, or a flaming sword, or a talking bush! Anything, just the reassurance that we are not all alone at the mercy of rich and powerful people who have the ability to hurt and maim and torture the rest of us. Oh! I wish! Like Lou says, who needs ‘another racist preacher’, or another Jimmy Swaggart! Humanity needs a miracle, not religion!

As essential as Strummer and his warnings about Ivan and GI Joe, the Red Peril, and the fear of war, and Reed’s fury at the more mundane domestic and universal issues of the have and the have-nots, you can always trust Bob Marley to bring everything into sharp focus. As angry as I am at the state of the world, the almost messianic dignity and gentle kindness of Marley both strengthens and soothes, angers and documents, reminding us to look at history in order to make sense of the present and warn about the dangers of the future. “When I analyze the stench, to me it makes a lot of sense, of the dreadlocked Rasta, of the buffalo soldier.’ The total injustice the USA is built on: stealing people from Africa and bringing them into slavery in America, has to be resolved before we can move forward as an equal, fair and just society.

The holy, secular and religious political music triad of Strummer, Reed and Marley might have some comfort within their words and songs, and thus help us make some sense of this cruel world that appears to be falling apart at the seams. We would do well to listen to them, instead of ending up forever shooting the damn messenger. Save the artists and musicians! They are our only hope!


  1. Time Traveler of Life

    I am not going to try to change the world, I can’t make a tiny difference so I will stay in my little corner of the world and be kind to my family, friends and anyone I come in contact with. I do not turn on the TV and watch the news anymore for my own mental health. I do know what is going on in the world but I am not going to fight or protest. I cannot and stay sane.

  2. Ariana

    Well, it’s not just a history of slavery and racism that needs to be reckoned with. This country was built through conquering and acts of genocide against indigenous peoples already here. I personally can’t change history any more than I can change my ancestry, but we need to do a much better job of owning that as our history. A history of lying, breaking treaties, raping, distributing small pox covered blankets, bloody marches, massacres, forced reservations on the worst lands, removing children to be raised in the “American” religious and cultural systems, cultural genocide… that’s all part of this story too.

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