Intersectionality is a word that gets tossed around a lot. It’s a concept crucial to leftist ideas, and the lack of it is I think the downfall of all the major left leaning political figures in the world.
Simply put, it is the interconnected nature of social categories; race, gender, sexuality, class, etc. More specifically it’s about how the oppressions these groups face stem from the same social and political systems, and while they are all distinct in their own ways, they all largely share common enemies.
The reason this is so important is it is one of the left’s biggest vulnerabilities for divide and rule tactics – and this has been no more successful than the working class.
The working class are the cohort who get shat on more than any others by the Tories – yet still a large portion of them are duped into voting for them election after election. I’ve written about this before, how the Tories are able to systematically dismantle all the lifelines and policies that enable working class people to live; yet get away with it by scapegoating people of colour, the gaysTM , refugees, trans people, the unemployed, disabled people, ‘wokeness’, and perhaps most ironically “Identity Politics.”
A lot of right and even centre-left working class people have been duped into resenting so called identity politics, which puts them off left wing political parties, who they perceive as spending more time on that than actually doing anything to help them.
But here’s the thing – they’re all linked. Class is just as much a part of identity politics as Trans people and people of colour.
It’s not even just the Tories who weaponize this. The centre/Blairite wing of Labour will dismiss large factions within the party as getting too bogged down in identity politics, and have convinced the core voter base that identity politics don’t win elections, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy like with the two Corbyn-led elections.
So this month’s theme is Class Solidarity – as it is such an important part of Intersectionality and left wing theory – that is sadly often our downfall. The Working Class as a whole are often missed out of the intersectionality debate; except when they overlap with other characteristics (which to be fair, is quite often).
So here is a playlist full of Working-Class solidarity anthems:
“When the operation of the machine becomes so odious
Makes you so sick at heart
That you can’t take part
You can’t even passively take part
And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels
Upon the levers
Upon all the apparatus
And you’ve got to make it stop
And you’ve got to indicate to the
People who run it, to the people who own it
That unless you’re free
The machine will be prevented from working at all”
Kicking off this list with a Blizzard Comedy favourite – Linkin Park’s wildly underappreciated “Wretches and Kings”.
The lyrics to this song are great, very reminiscent of Public Enemy meets… well Linkin Park. But its inclusion on this list is due to the sample of activist Mario Savio. His ‘Bodies upon the gears’ speech is such an iconic and impassioned speech. Unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
This right here is why those in power are scared of Unionisation. This is why companies like Activision-Blizzard (different one) try so hard to bust unions before they can form.
The workers have all the power to bring the system to a halt, and they’ve tried very hard to stop us from noticing that. They’ve tried to convince you that you need them, when in reality – they’re the ones who need you.
“As the rich get richer, and leave the rest to rot,
itʼs the working class that foot the bill regardless if they can or not.”
Another favourite of ours – That One Percent is a short and sweet punk anthem about, you guessed it, rich cunts. Why must we pay for what they’ve lost?
This is particularly relevant with the recent NI increases which will largely effect the poorest in our society, rather than the multi billionaires and corporations who already dodge their tax. We wouldn’t need to raise taxes by a penny if the government taxed organizations properly. But that’ll impact their plans to become a tax haven out of Europe, so they can’t afford to do that.
“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it”
Would you believe for the longest time I didn’t realize that 9 to 5 was tongue and cheek?
It’s not subtle – for the longest time I thought it was just a nice little pop song about a day’s work. But no, of course it fucking isn’t. Dolly is much better than that, and I was a fool not to actually pay attention to the deeply satirical lyrics.
I’ve included this cover – as I’ve just finished Nida Manzoor’s excellent sitcom “We Are Lady Parts” and I want an excuse to tell you all to go watch it on All4 right now.
A love letter to punk and Islam, particularly the diversity within both of those things. A modern take on the Spinal Tap formula, influences from The Young Ones very present. Go and watch it right now, it’s amazing.
“We’re sorry, but you’re no longer needed
Or wanted or even cared about here
Machines can do a better job than you
And this is what you get for asking questions
The unions agree
Sacrifices must be made
Computers never go on strike
To save the working man you’ve got to put him out to pasture”
Many Dead Kennedys tracks would fit here – but I decided to go with this one which is an explicit satire of worker abuse and how your bosses don’t give a fuck about you.
While automation replacing workers is a strong theme here, I wouldn’t read this song as anti-automation inherently – more how bosses treat it.
Automation is a good thing, it makes aspects of the job easier and more efficient to complete, allowing the workers to focus on other areas. Automation should be something used alongside workers, not instead of.
But what we’ve seen is many organizations continuing to underpay and understaff their workplaces, in lieu of automation – which puts many people out of a job, and over stresses and overexerts those who are ‘lucky’ enough to keep their jobs.
The working class are routinely abused in this manner, and then treated as lazy scum when they find themselves unemployed. Fuck that.
“But still you’ll never get it right
‘Cause when you’re laid in bed at night
Watching roaches climb the wall
If you called your dad he could stop it all
Come on, you all knew this would be on here. Pulp’s iconic single “Common People” was made for this list. (Metaphorically – I doubt the band would’ve predicted they’d appear on a small Manchester Comedy Blog in 26 years – and if they did, I doubt that would’ve been high up on their aspirations).
This catchy New Wave/Britpop ditty is all about a girl he met at University, who had told him she wanted to move to Hackney and live like “the common people”. This song takes that concept and rolls with it – deconstructing upper class notions of what it means to be poor, as if it’s some kind of quirky but pleasant alien life – and not a constant struggle to survive.
She could dress up and move into a poor area, but she’d still have a lifeline from her rich family. She could never understand this way of living, and the fact that she fetishizes it like she does is absolutely wild, and indicative of wilder perceptions of class at the time and still to a lesser extent today.
Also this is a fucking tune, don’t @ me.
“They fuck whoever can’t fight back
But now we gotta change all that
The people have had enough
Right now, it’s them against us
This shit is ugly to the core
When it comes to the poor
No lives matter”
I’m always mildly wary of including this song – due to the fact that it unfortunately shares a name with a racist dogwhistle and indeed, several racist songs from various edgy white people.
However when we’re looking at intersectionality and class oppression, I can’t think of many people who’ve tackled the issue as well as Ice-T does in this track with his band ‘Body Count’.
Despite being a rapper fronting a Metal band, it does Body Count a disservice to call them a ‘Rap Metal’ band.
There’s similarities sure – Ice’s lyrics and delivery would be very easily transferrable to hip-hop beats, but Body Count are much more akin to a Suicidal Tendencies – Crossover Thrash approach to music – with heavy riffs, punk sensibilities, and genuinely intricate musicianship. They absolutely don’t belong in the same ball park as Limp Bizkit.
But it is fair to say Ice’s history as a rapper definitely make him one of the best lyricists of political rock and metal to day. This track starts off with a monologue where Ice explains the issue with the phrase “All Lives Matter” which is nothing groundbreaking, but appreciated to immediately put your mind at ease when you hear the title of the song that this is not going to be an anti-BLM song.
On the contrary, “No Lives Matter” is a deconstruction of the links between systemic racism and classism – how racial profiling is intrinsically motivated by a disdain and phobia of the working classes.
The chorus is the best part though – with an angry and impassioned show of solidarity between the working classes, fighting along side each other, not getting sucked into the racist rhetoric used to turn us on each other – or convincing the white working class that the billionaire CEOs who run the country are more invested in your interests than their non-white neighbour.
This is far from the only song where Body Count cover police brutality and systemic racism – but it is the one that illustrates the intersectional relationship between race and class, particularly in the states the best.
“We’re only free to be you and me to the degree
Capital and the state consent
We only live our lives and we can only thrive
Within the boundaries they have set
They’ll only leave us alone to do what they condone
And only till they raise our rent
We’re only free to be you and me to the degree
Capital and the state consent”
From the intersectional relationship between class and race to the intersectional relationship between Queer Liberation and class oppression. Dog Park Dissidents are a relatively new and underground band, but instantly became one of my faves when I discovered them earlier this year.
This song highlights how class oppression renders a lot of the steps taken towards gay rights moot. The fact of the matter is, while things are great for white, rich, cis gay men, for the majority of the Queer community, this is not the case.
And when your liberation is dependent on your perceived contribution to the capitalist state, it doesn’t matter what rights you think you have, you are still at the mercy of the 1%.
It’s fine to be gay, as long as your labour can be monetized for the rich. You can have gay sex, but you will be kicked out of your home if you can’t afford ever extortionate rent hikes in a society that still looks down on queers and the poor. You can get married – if you can afford the ridiculous expense and get past the lingering social disdain present more in some places than others.
Gay rights mean nothing without some form of socialism behind it to actually protect you and your rights.
“Fight against the land & the factory owners
Same fight today against another ruling class
Learn a lesson from your past
It’s a crying shame
But the lessons plain
It’s a crying shame
But the lessons plain
It can happen again”
This track by this unfortunately-named band is a perfect rallying cry for workers revolution.
Redskins (which is a term for Skinheads who are also anti-fascist, which makes it even worse that the term has huge racist connotations in America) make a lot of working class solidarity tracks, and in general any of their tracks would fit really well on this playlist here.
I picked this one though as an explicit rallying cry to repeat the revolutions in our past around the world. It happened in the 1910s in Russia, it happened again in the ’30s, it can happen again today.
The working class – which by the way includes the unemployed, disabled and otherwise unable to work – vastly outnumber their oppressors. With proper understanding of intersectionality, respect for one another, and a clear common goal, we could easily revolt again.
Learn from history, kill your masters.
“You work a 9 to 5 all your life
Feeling like you’re left behind
Everyday’s a struggle
Breaking for a peace of mind
Livin’ in division, listen
Something’s fuckin’ missin’
Your mind is in a prison
I’ma free it check the vision
Fucking unify, unify
Raise up like a fist
Smash it like it’s do or die”
Speaking of vastly outnumbering your oppressors, Strength in Numbers by Prophets of Rage touches on very similar themes.
Tapping into the working class struggle to fuel a rage of solidarity and unity against the oppressors. Tom Morello, Chuck D and B-Real are some of the best suited people to make a song like this, from Morello’s unique guitar tone and approach to riffs, to the rappers empowered lyrics over the top, building to a crescendo of “Unify or it’s do or die, Strength in Numbers”.
All of Morello’s musical output is perfect for summarizing calls to action in few well chosen verses with great musical accompaniment to prepare even the shyest lefties for revolution.
If this song doesn’t want to make you smash the state and redistribute hoarded wealth with the people, I don’t know what will.
“This is a child
The child of the man
The man is a miner
And the child grows up
Follows his father underground
Another life wasted
I genuinely don’t know how to feel about how many of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing’s tracks, despite being themed and set around Victorian times – still work as metaphors for the present day.
Part of this is of course due to the insanely talented and visionary work of the songwriters in the band, but an equally large part I fear is due to the fact that we haven’t really fixed any of our problems for the last 200 years. Sure, average life expectancies are better, and overall quality of life is definitely improved.
But the gulf between the poorest and richest of society has continued to grow and grow and expand. Is it better to be working class today than in Victorian times? Almost certainly.
But I don’t even think the upper classes could’ve even begin to imagine the ridiculous levels of wealth and perceived power that today’s billionaires have.
This song is, believe it or not, about a working class Miner, the struggles he faces, the diseases he’ll get and probably die of, the fact that his family will be doing the same thing over and over again, generation after generation to survive in perpetual poverty. The song then ends with a depressing line about how well the owners of the mines are doing off the back of the blood sweat and tears of the workers.
“There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hand of the worker
But it all amounts to nothing
If together we don’t stand
There is power in a Union”
Finishing this playlist on a song that makes me tear up every time I listen to it. I first heard this iconic Billy Bragg track as a part of the soundtrack of Pride – and have been in love with it ever since.
Simple guitars, impassioned lyrics, this right here is the sound of solidarity. I don’t even need to deep dive into the lyrics, if you don’t feel an immense feeling of power and compassion for your fellow human after listening to this song, then you’re probably a Tory.
You can tune into our next stream show at Twitch.tv/blizzardcomedy on the 27th September, 7:30PM with guest host Quenby Harley, captains Kirstie Summers and Thom Bee, and guests Benny Shakes, Stuart Dunlop, Tom Short and Mabel Slattery.