I’ve never really felt national pride. Even when I was younger and more naïve to the truly awful things in Britain’s history or the corruption of the present. I was never particularly into sport, I went to quite diverse schools and have always had friends from a variety of places. Any community spirit and feelings I felt was never particularly related to geographical location, merely limited by it.
But over the past half a decade or so I have gone from being broadly indifferent to the British identity and pride, to being incredibly wary, and more and more disgusted by it.
In a post-brexit Britain where all the reasonable predictions branded “project fear” back in 2016 have been coming true, hate crimes against non-British people rising exponentially, and our own Labour party has based its campaign strategy on British pride and appealing to the people who perpetuate almost everything that is bad with our country, the place I called home has been turning more and more hostile to myself and my friends.
In the words of George Carlin, I think Pride should be saved for achievements, and not accidents of birth. I don’t blame people for wanting to feel a part of something – and I slightly envy people who feel such a sense of community and belonging with people just because they share a common birth place, that they feel senses of genuine happiness at the country’s successes, (or perceived successes anyway).
That being said, I am distrustful at how strongly they can feel about their own country, whilst treating their neighbours who aren’t white, aren’t Christian, aren’t cisgender and heterosexual, aren’t exactly like them, like an infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen. If you are proud to be British, you should be proud that so many people of different backgrounds and characteristics want to live in the same country that you love so much. But it seems that British pride extends only to accents, birth places, and an irrational hatred of outsiders.
Nationalism isn’t inherently a bad thing in theory – but nearly all instances of it tie in with the far right and fascism. I shouldn’t shudder in my own country every time I walk past a house with England flags in the window – or be reluctant to go into pubs that have the word “English” in the title, because I don’t know if their national pride is inclusive and welcoming, or a front for fascism.
It is for these reasons that this month’s playlist theme is anti-nationalism.
The ‘left’ in this country is putting far too much effort into appeasing the very mentality that led to the worst political decision the government has seen in decades, the worst government we’ve seen in decades, and led to the murder of Jo Cox in 2016.
I don’t want to be making assumptions, and I can understand why Labour feel they need to pick up their losses somewhere. But I can’t help feeling they’re trying too much to attract a new audience, rather than act in the interests of their current constituents.
The worst thing for me is, I honestly think it might work for them. It might get Labour in power. That’s the goal right? That’s what everyone tells me. “Getting the Tories out – that’s the number one priority”.
But what good is getting the Tories out if in doing so the party of the workers and the left turns into UKIP light?
I’ve said before, that while I respect Starmer for clearly being a good politician and a good rival for Johnson – I’m wary at how his main criticism as the governmental opposition, is that the government is incompetent. Not malicious, not indifferent to the life of its citizens, not doing the wrong things. No, the biggest problem according to Starmer, is Johnson is bad at his job. And that does not bode well for a potential Starmer led government in 2024.
But I digress.
Here are my picks for Anti-Nationalist anthems to scream, sing and rap along with, letting the scared and the oppressed living in this country know that we welcome them, and letting the far-right nationalists know that their idea of England is not our England.
“Fuck all borders and fuck all boundaries
Fuck all flags and fuck nationalities.”
Kicking this off with one of my favourite tracks, albums and indeed bands of all time, System…Meltdown by Enter Shikari. Whilst technically 2 tracks on the album, they are designed to flow into each other, so for that reason I will include them together. Also the drop as Meltdown begins is *chef’s kiss* Remember in 2012 when all alternative bands were experimenting with dubstep? Well Enter Shikari had been teasing that since they began, so they absolutely nailed it.
Lyrically this is a long about how dreams and optimism is stunted by capitalism and how arbitrary boundaries mean fuck all, and how we’d all be better off for realizing that. Kind of like Imagine by John Lennon meeting honest to god Anarcho-Punk with a sprinkling of Big Beat culture in there. What a tune.
“B.N.P. scum marching on your street
They even get elected when they should get beat
Beat off the streets that belong to us
You won’t stop them with chants and placards”
Another old favourite here. There is rarely a political occasion lately where the refrain “Bash the Fash” isn’t relevant these days. Easy fit for this playlist as it namedrops the B.N.P. as one of the aforementioned “Fashes” you should “Bash”.
While less of a threat than they were in the 90s, the ideology behind them is very much still alive, and is the reason we get Brexit, Johnson, and Trump. Sure, go and outvote them, debunk their ideas in public settings, those are both viable ways to fight fascism, but so is violence. Not everyone is capable of doing all three of these things, so we need to work together so that we can stop them from getting a slither of power ever again, because once they do, that’s bad news for all of us.
“The EDL are standing up for England
But not an England that I want to see
As an atheist, I’d stand side by side with Sikhs and Muslims
To deny the racists any victory”
A fan recommendation, and a very good one. This pretty intense folk anthem of solidarity against nationalism and fascism is a great listen for almost any mood. There’s some soft acoustic guitars, some very impassioned lyrics and beautiful harmonizing. It’s hard to listen to this and not feel both empowered, relaxed and ready to punch a Nazi in the face.
“Yeah, some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
They send you down to war
And when you ask ’em: “How much should we give?”
They only answer: “More, more, more”
Little change of pace with this old classic. Arguably more of an anti-war song than anti nationalism as such, but there’s a lot of imagery around the US flag and being willing to die for your country and how much the elite use and abuse that fact.
Fairly simple song, but a strong and clear message. Don’t fight for your country. Fight for those who actually care about you.
Another song that nearly made the cut was Mutiny in the Common Soldiery by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, about a soldier drafted who realized he’s got more in common with the people he’s being told to kill than those asking him to do the killing.
Remember who the real enemies are, don’t believe what they’re telling you. Solidarity with the working classes of the world against the oppressors. Don’t go along with that oppression in the hope you’ll one day benefit. You won’t, and they won’t lose any sleep over it.
“I never have, I never will
Pledge allegiance to their flag
You’re getting used, you’ll end up dead”
Thematically very similar to the last song – but much angrier and louder, and therefore I relate to it more, for I too am angry and loud.
Unable to uphold an oath that they swore to us
Selling us down the river to the big business
They get richer while their policies ruin the lives of millions
I think it’s time for justice to be served
The enemy is not coming from overseas”
I don’t really like including Havok – because they are pretty painfully libertarian in their politics, and the comments of this video is full of right wing Trump fanatics with no self awareness using this against Trump’s opponents. Like Biden isn’t great, but Trump is literally a big business man getting richer off policies ruining lives of American people. How you can listen to this song lyrically and use it as praise of Trump is beyond me.
But yeah, the lyrics of this song are pretty on point. The enemy is not coming from overseas, they’re those already in power in the country. Get the guillotine.
“State of the union address,
Reads war torn country still a mess
The words: power, death, and distorted truth
Are read between the lines of the red, white, and blue”
Surprisingly heavy and grungy for Rise Against – this onslaught of anti USA nationalism aptly entitled State of the Union sums up the main core of everything wrong with America in under 2 minutes. Which to be fair, isn’t as impressive as it sounds, it’s mostly rich white men.
Stop singing hail to the chief
Instead of thinking S.D.I.
He should be thinking of peace”
Always the oddball as far as the Big 4 of Thrash is concerned. Definitely more into their punk roots than any of the other bands, and it shows in their lyrics. This track is an epic deconstruction of the idea of fighting for peace, and the repeated refrain of “One World” reminding us that we are all on this Earth together, and we need to fucking act like it, because these endless wars fuelled by national pride are getting us nowhere.
“We don’t give a fuck about your world
With all your global profits, and all your jeweled pearls
We don’t give a fuck about your world
Right now, right now
Right now, right now
There is no flag that is large enough
To hide the shame of a man in cuffs
You switched the signs then you closed our blinds
You changed the channel then you changed our minds”
John Dolymayan needs to stop talking. Seriously I could tell you all about how this spiritual predecessor to B.Y.O.B. is the ultimate anti-war song, and how System’s lyrics are a perfect balance of sharp offensive to the upper class and elite, whilst being vague and open enough to interpretation to appear poetic. But instead, I’m just mad that the least interesting member of the band is a Trump fanatic anti-woke lunatic.
You stand for freedom of speech John? Everyone go to his Instagram and call him a turnip right now, and if he tries to respond, complain about how he’s enabling cancel culture and he’s just as bad as Disney.
“Go back where you come from
We don’t want, we don’t want your kind
We think you’s a dog born
Well fuck you, I’m America’s son
This is where I come from”
Another fan submission – and I am ashamed I have never listened to this man before. The comments are full of comparisons to Hendrix, and while it’s potentially lazy to compare every Black man who plays guitar to the only Black Guitarist that white men acknowledge despite it being an instrument invented by black people, there is something about the tone and song structure that does feel very classic Hendrix. Classic 60s rock riffs, a modern dirty drum and bass line, and lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place on a Public Enemy track. Definitely going to be checking out more of his back catalogue, this is great.
And get ready for our show on the 22nd Feb with Umby Winters, Sian Davies, Khalid Winter & Ash Preston.