Heaven is Whenever

Crosspost from Neil Robertson of the Bleeding Heart Show

There’s a new song I’ve been obsessing over recently. It’s going to be on the new Hold Steady album, ‘Heaven is Whenever’, and includes a quite brilliant line:

Utopia’s a band - they sang that ‘Love is the Answer’,

And I think they’re probably right.

Whilst it first seems like singer Craig Finn is dismissing the idea of Utopia by referring only to a defunct & obscure band, what he really means is that we can briefly reach that longed-for state of happiness through the music in our lives. As he concludes in the chorus:

“Heaven is whenever we can get together,

Sit down on your floor and listen to your records”.

Its a line which should also have relevance for political bloggers. We are in the midst of an election campaign which would try the patience of a saint. Though blogging is necessarily combative, we would do well to remember that one of its joys is the space it creates to interact with opposing points of view. In the ongoing campaign for our own utopias – our own visions how Britain can be made better – we should not lose sight of this, nor forget that behind the psedonyms & avatars are real people.

So how do we preserve, and even build upon, the fledgling community that this election campaign threatens to coarsen? I have one idea.

heaven co1py

(Both the name and the website can change if anyone has a better idea.)

We create a space where everyone – regardless of party or ideology – can write about the music they enjoy; our favourite albums, overlooked artists, most memorable gigs or cherished social experiences. We write not as esteemed political bloggers with our gripes and demands and agendas, but as music fans.

For this to work, there should be but three rules:

  • You should be a political blogger.
  • You should write about any aspect or genre of music.
  • Your writing should not be party-political.

Here’s the catch: I can’t do this on my own. As you might’ve noticed, work constraints mean that I’m not currently able to keep my own blog ticking over as much as I’d like, so running two is an impossibility. I’ve already had some kind offers of contribution and admin, and I would be happy to receive more. I would also be delighted if those of you who believe in the concept could promote it within your own blogging communities – the experience will only be richer for having a multitude of voices. Naturally, all contributors would have a link back to their own political blogs, and a spot on the blogroll.

If you would like to contribute, or have any ideas/suggestions, do feel free to leave a comment either here or with LeftOutside, or leave an email at bleedingheartblog at gmail dot com.

In closing, I’d say that one of the joys of music for me is the social experiences it can provide. If we could replicate some of those opportunities for interaction in the British blogosphere – even if only for a short period of time – I think we’d all benefit.

*********

I would like to add that Heaven is Whenever is an excellent name for this project and that I am available to contact at leftoutsideblog[@]googlemail[.]com if you have any queries or would like to contribute.

Please do post about it on your blog and get people involved, the more the merrier and the large the likelihood of all of us discovery new and great music.

New Musical Blogging Express

Everybody knows that the blogosphere can be a little cruel. Everybody also knows that the NME is rubbish, even if you still read it occasionally and aren’t proud of it.

Want to kill two birds with one stone?

Neil Robertson had the idea that we set up a website for political bloggers from all different parties to write about the music they like.

The result of this is that we all find fantastic new music, all get to know each other a little better and we smooth the edges of what can be needlessly partisan and sniping blogosphere.

A more full outlining from Neil’s pen will be cross posted here soon and we can get underway.

Pretty much any one in politics right of Pol Pot and left of Nick Griffin are welcome to join as we really want this to be none partisan.

Consider yourself tagged. Interested in doing a little moonlighting as a music journalist?

Obviously this list isn’t non-partisan because it is made up of people I’d be interested in reading who I read, so its got a slight red tinge to it.

Leave a message in the comments if you’re interested in contributing once we get something up and running. The more contributors we have the better this will be.

Oh and we need a good name, any suggestions?

Sentences which make no sense

The [Conservative] modernisers’ link to Middle Britain is Mr Coulson, the party’s £270,000-a-year media chief.

If the Tories are wondering why their lead has slipped to 2 points then it might be because they think someone on £270,000 a year can help them understand that mythical Middle Britain.

I’m not sure if this makes the Tories or FT more out of touch. Probably a no score draw.

10,000 times as bad?

@AlexMassie has written a short and what should be not particularly provocative most entitled Huge Earthquake in Chile, Not Many Dead.

Perhaps it is because the carnage that is Haiti is so fresh in my mind but I guess it cannot just be him and I who will feel a little underwhelmed. Actually that is perhaps the wrong word, relieved is probably more apt.

Angry is another word which I could use.

The quake which hit Haiti had a magnitude of 7. Chile has just been hit with a quake with a magnitude of 8.8. Given that this is a logarithmic scale this means that Chile was hit with a quake nearly 100 times more powerful than that which struck Haiti.

The initial death toll for Haiti hovered around 50,000 but has leapt as bodies and destruction has been uncovered The New York Times reports that the cost could be between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000.

MapThe initial reporting from Chile states that 82 people have died. This number is bound to increase but is far lower than even the preliminary outlines that we heard from Haiti on the 12th January.

Geography has certainly played an important role  in why Chile has suffered less than Haiti.

Haiti was struck by an earthquake 25 km from its vast and sprawling capital whereas Chile’s quake has struck further away from major population centres.

But poverty and corruption meant that any disaster which struck Haiti would have an impact out of proportion to what we would expect anywhere else.

“Earthquakes don’t kill people,” says John Mutter, a seismologist and disaster expert at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Bad buildings kill them.”

So because of these factors an earthquake 100 times more powerful  will only kill a 100th as many people.

Another good post on migration

From the Socialist Worker, who are largely on the money with things people from across the political divide I can agree with. Read it here. Excerpt here:

Working people need unity to fight the attacks now, the avalanche of cuts after the election, and hundreds of thousands more job losses.

If our rulers can get us to think that immigrants are the problem, then they will escape with their wealth and power intact.

It is true that there is a lack of affordable housing in Britain. Young people do have far too few opportunities. But it’s not the fault of immigrants.

The NHS is always stretched and sometimes grossly inadequate. And working people are insecure about their jobs, get too little money and have to work far too hard for the pittance they get.

But it’s not the fault of immigrants.

A united working class has the power to save jobs, win decent pay and conditions, and defend public services.

That means rejecting the lies about immigration and the racism and hatred of Muslims which so many politicians and newspapers are now peddling. We shouldn’t let them divide and rule us. We should hit back together.

This is the first in a series of Socialist Worker articles that will look at the arguments around immigration in the run-up to the general election

A post about Liberals inevitably titled “The strange death of Liberal [insert topic here]“

Picture of Tim LuckhurstTim Luckhurst is upset that Rod Liddle is not going to be be editor of the Independent.

Although I can understand why he is annoyed that something he wants to happen is not going to happen, his ire against the “Liberals” who foiled Liddle seems somewhat bizarre.

In today’s Guardian he writes:

Rod Liddle will not be editor of the Independent. The screechingly intolerant campaign of hostility directed against him by metropolitan critics has done its job. They call themselves liberals. If they are right then the word has come to have as little meaning as its common counterpart “progressive”. Sincere liberals do not censor opinion, still less should they caricature it in order to intensify hostility. True liberals oppose arguments they despise by demonstrating the greater value of better ones.

Picture of Sunny HundalIn his people’s red tunic Sunny Hundal has mounted horseback and set loose the dogs of Facebook to trash Liddle’s chances of editing the Independent.

Tim argues that having an opinion, registering that opinion publicly and taking action to see it realised is illiberal.

This is an opinion you see bandied about quite often: Liberals must be acquiescent, weak and silent. When liberals are not they are quickly denounced as fascists, or for those less inclined to go Godwin, as huge hypocrites.

But this is nonsense.

The facebook group is called If Rod Liddle becomes editor of The Independent, I will not buy it again.

I struggle to think of things more liberal than a boycott. They aren’t threatening violence or trying to co-opt the power of the state to stop him and are not calling in any favours from Russian Oligarchs to knobble him.

They are not coercing anyone or threatening to do so and are not calling for Liddle to be silenced. They are just asking for the paper they buy to not become his soapbox. Because of this Tim’s accusations fall short of anything approaching coherence.

Perhaps Tim is destined to get thing wrong when his main concern is a “tyranny of the liberal metropolitan elite.” It seems he, like many others totally misunderstands what a liberal is.

The idea of “daft liberals” ruining everything suits the simplistic narratives that journalists of Liddle’s meagre stature rely on to fill column inches.

But contrary to lazy journalist’s claims most of Britain is not Broken, even if parts are, and immigrants are not taking over, even if it is simpler to say so, and Labour are not accusing us all of being racists, even if some anti-immigrant rhetoric is racist.

How the ruling classes have had their way in the last few decades is not really debatable but to categorise it as “a tyranny of a liberal metropolitan elite” is blindingly foolish.

The tyranny of the liberal establishment were content to have Liddle edit the Independent, [1] but perhaps Tim can present evidence to the contrary?

Being a liberal does not demand acquiescence as the world around you changes, nor does it mean deferential treatment of those with which you fundamentally disagree. A liberal can fight for what they believe in, where do these people think our hard won and fast eroding liberties came from?

[1] After all they have far smaller fish to fry and lives to ruin.