Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Peace is more than the Absence of War - Songs from 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2018

I still cannot get my head and heart around the idea that USUK and other NATO armies have Christian chaplains and other religious pastoral officers embedded in their ranks. For me critical thinking is grounded in empathy. But that is one dynamic my empathy cannot reach. A spirituality that blesses organised violence makes no sense to me. Other than it presents the psychology of dominator cults as rather cruel, callous and manipulative. The concept of God as an absolute hierarch is a mirror image, a projection of the bully culture. 

So  yeah, I can understand that and I can also really feel for everyone affected and afflicted by the horrific Twin Towers violent mass murder terror horror.  I really do. 

I was never one to say "America got blowback, got a bit of what it dished out, fair enough!" That's just the most venal, unthinking, heartless and debased way of framing that event. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. 

I know a little about trauma, and how it afflicts one after the events, how it can linger and contaminate one's life ever after. For some the impact is worse than for others, because we are all different. Comparisons are less than useful unless they are attended to with great empathy.

I can kinda imagine the pain, terror, grief, hatred, confusion, despair, loss, of anyone in the many situations that  morning, in offices, stairwells, clambering for safety, having to walk over dead bodies, fleeing for safety without really knowing what was going on...  by thinking of all the times I felt terror, trauma, fear of death, horror, disgust and grief and multiply all that, and make it headpsinningly fast, turn my world upside down so I don't know what hit me until it's well over and the dust has settled feeling, the first quietness, that stillness when the grief really strikes.

I can kind of  imagine being on the streets seeing this happening, not knowing, making decisions to flee, or be rooted to the spot, to experience terror and horror and fear and outrage as a witness a mile away, two miles way, 100, 10,000 miles way, as it was then broadcast as a happening event.

Luck, accident of birth
I realise I am a very lucky human being to have been born where I was away from all that - it is a matter of luck and luck alone to be have been born in London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Bejing, New York, or Baghdad, Gaza, Hanoi, Seoul, or born in Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Myanmar, or to find oneself as an indigenous peasant in South America being attacked by militarised police waging war against drugs, or to be civilian in any one of any number of wars, or a bystander or a target in any number of mass shootings, or caught up in riots and crackdowns. 

I have missed so much trouble by luck more than by effort on my part. A little humility goes a long way towards a more realistic view of our culture.

I have my story, it's a minor tragedy in comparison. You have yours. Mine seems big to me, impacts me daily, and yet I see that it is only that big because I am close to my own trauma, and obviously it seems so impactful.

So many people are made to suffer through no fault of their own, by this dominator cult we call 'civilisation' - hierarchies of wealth, power and violence.

Propaganda, lies and The War Against Terror.

"Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way; stop  participating in it." Noam Chomsky

So when the propaganda vomits over the air waves and the light tubes this weekend, as they deny the War Crimes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and so many others  from Vietnam to Troy, from Agincourt to Trafalgar, from Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from Gaza to Aleppo, from Sudan to Mali, I resist by reminding myself that war is the result of the behaviour of the leading bullies of the bully cult, Such behaviour is not an innate or inherent part of being human, it is a dirty, ugly, sick, depraved way of dominating for the sake of dominating..

I reject all fatalism about war's inevitability.

I have written anti-war, pro-peace, love songs for a nurturant culture for all of my working musicial life, and will continue to do so until I pass on or the wars stop - it's more likely the former, than the latter, yet my hope springs from the unfinished nature of life itself.

War is not inevitable. Dominator Cult is not inevitable.

Two score songs and more.

I have a reverbnation account that allows me to present MP3 files of my songs, for listening and for downloading, all for free and there's more than 50 there. The first six are arranged as my proPeace songs written in response/reaction to 9/11.

Below are descriptions of each song, why I wrote it, what the context was for each. Folk music is story telling.

Play them at least once this weekend, for me, for you, for your friends, for your children and for all their friends. Play them for the Afghani women and children, play them for the Yemeni people, the Libyans, The Iraqis, the New Yorkers, the people of Idlib, the people in Nablus and Hebron, play them the desperate people, the families with small children, trekking across strange lands, to get into in small dangerous boats to cross wide choppy waters just to find degrees of safety from wars our governments and oligarchy and businesses export for profit.

Play them to make sounds that are pro-peace, that are less anti-war than they are for peace.

I will be doing a  few live stream shows this weekend, from my Facebook Page and I will record them and put them up on youtube.

The theme will be this : Peace is more than the absence of war. Why can't we have Governments that avoid avoidable harms to human beings, to our shared environment, to the species that live with us? Is peace too much to ask for? 

1. TOWERS:  September 2001

This song was written the week after the awful 9/11 terror attacks in USA. This recording was taken at a Virtually Acoustic Club night, in Angel, London, first week in October, with additional layers added later on that month. I had been writing letters, sending emails and even spoke on LBC Radio phone in to John Gaunt, all to articulate my desire for honesty, healing, maturity and to urge the US and UK refrain from further violence, warning that it would only make matters worse globally.

I understood the pain, the trauma, the anger - on all sides. 

This song was my way of bringing that compassion to life in a song. It's not that I was 'right'. I was and remains that warfare is an abomination, is an irrational, reckless chaotic way to do foreign policy. Hierarchies of violence are toxic.

2.  WE ARE GOING TO WAR : November 2002

A youtuber account known as Edensounds, a purveyor of fine music, of selected tunes and mixes, well known in certain communities associated with electronic music dance events in London, (a stalwart of the DJ craft long before the acronym EDM was ever coined), made a video of the song, listing English/British Combat Deployments since 1900, noting that there was only 1 year where British troops did not engage in combat, in the 110 years between 1900 and 2010 when he made the video. 

Professional violence at the behest of the English parliamentarians has a long tradition, indeed. Ever since the New Model Army, and before. None of it is honourable. The two world wars erupted because the prevailing culture was a culture of violent Empire. Every war since then has emerged from the same dynamic. In that context no-one fights for ordinary people's freedoms - wars are fought to preserve violent hierarchies. That is why they fight.

This song was written in November 2002, while I was living in an art collective squat in North West London, Kensal Rise.   

What was this new war for? Was the outcome assured? Had we not already seen failure of War policy in Afghanistan? The Helmandi had not forgotten. Blair blatantly did not take heed of history.

3.  WAR TAX : December 2003

This song was written in late 2003, and produced in 2004, in response to the battle of Fallujah that March, This track was the first I produced in my first real home of my own, in London, after 6 years of homelessness after my flat was destroyed in a fire in 1997.

The tax bill to pay for war means all that cash and effort is not being directed into nurturing healthy communities, abolishing poverty, making life better for ordinary people.

Witnessing the appalling invasion of Iraq, in which it was already clear that it had brought, at great expense, chaos, blood, gore and horror to the people of Iraq and vast profits to Corporate America, I was really furious, and also terribly sad. I also safe in a new rented social housing home of my own after a long time of homelessness,  and I was imagining the unfortunate, innocent people of Iraq, so many displaced, surviving in camps, homeless due to the violence of USUK.

How lucky am I to live here, and not there, I would tell myself every morning, as I ate breakfast and took in the news.

4. DARK DESERT HIGHWAY. September 2003

A rewrite of Hotel California inspired, if that's the right word, by the images of US Military convoys on darkened desert roads heading towards Baghdad.


Inspired by Brian Haw's protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London. There were an inordinate or excessive degree of birth deformities post Gulf War I, across areas of Iraq exposed to aerial bombing with DU munitions.

Depleted Uranium munitions have been in use since the 1990s, in Iraq, The Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq II, Libya, Syria and elsewhere by US and NATO forces.. Arguments rage about the health impacts to troops and civilian populations exposed to DU. Typically exposure occurs within a war, where there exist multiple potential contaminants and stressors and not enough research has been diligently pursued to give definitive answers. The precautionary principle ought at the very least led to an examination of toxic effects before such munitions were ever deployed. No such examination was undertaken.

6. THUNDER RUN July 2003

Written after I read reports about an armoured 'charge' of US Military Battle group into Baghdad, The Thunder Run, which apparently involved competition between battlefield commanders for the glory of being the first to 'conquer' Baghdad. As the column was travelling through urban areas, they shot the shit out anything that moved or appeared in front, to the sides.... thousands of innocent civilians and their homes were raked with live rounds..

Then a year later it was being discusse in heroic, glowing terms as a suitable subject for a Hollywood movie.

7. ALL WAR IS CHILD ABUSE December 2018

My response to the odious  'celebrations' of the 'Victory' claimed by British Empire in November 1918. Nobody wins in war, apart from the war supplies industries. I wrote this song that summer, and blogged it in November 2019, with a more detailed piece exploring all the ways in which warfare is related to child abuse, from training young boys to become killers, to towns and cities destroyed, from comics and propaganda to toy soldiers and war movies.

I understood long, long ago that vast quantities of money that could have been used for social benefit was being wasted, and grifted into the bank accounts of already obscenely rich oligarchs.

We had known that environmental degradation, air pollution, climate change and poverty were becoming immense problems that really needed to be addressed. But no. 

"We are going to war, so PAY your taxes to guarantee our borrowings for this war!"

Afghanistan 2021 - USUK end the 20 year war, but deny it's harms.

In truth, nobody ever wins war. Everyone exposed to it loses, apart from the weapons suppliers and other material production logistics essential to the prosecution of any war.

Now, in August 2021, as the disastrous, pointless USUK and NATO war in Afghanistan is supposedly coming to an end and we witness yet again the reckless nature of the Governments involved. As it happens White Christian English Europeans have been importing war into Afghanistan for close on 200 years.

Given the most recent utter folly exposed in the awful, bungled, stupefyingly callous mismanagement of the 'withdrawal' of USUK/NATO Military forces (even as they still hold the threat of air warfare over the incoming Taliban as a future 'bargaining chip)' it should be blatantly obvious that the entire premise of imposing Democracy at the point of a gun is just a banal evil.  

Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, Johnson, May, Cameron, Brown and Blair and their Cabinets are all War Mongering Hierarchs to the core. Watching the English Parliament discuss Afghanistan last week was sickening. Repeated claims that the mission was honourable defy all notions of honesty. These people are utter hypocrites. They do not represent ordinary, decent people and their dishonesty is repugnant, makes a mockery of the very idea of a healthy and honest democracy.

Refusing to acknowledge that their war mongering allows evil behaviour to prevail, collecting a wage from the tax payers. 

Clive Lewis

Here's an honest interview with MP Clive Lewis, who was in the Territorials, a Reserve of the British Army, and who is a combat veteran of Afghanistan, where he did one three month tour of duty.

One three month tour of duty, among men who had to do, who were ordered to do many, many more. I feel for the terrible burden those troops have to bear, to know they were placed where they had to kill or be killed, to endure loss, pain, woundings and grief and rage, and it turns out to have been a failure, because it was wholly illegitimate, even as they fought in good faith.

He speaks openly and honestly, informed by that experience and a wider understanding of the issues evolved since then. The theme was Afghanistan and his exclusion from being asked to speak in the House of Commons.

Kindest regards


"Do what you love, it is your gift to universe."

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