Friday, January 20, 2006

David Rovics answers a few questions...

I recently sent him several questions via his website. ( & ). David Rovics, in case you haven't heard of him, is basically the best political singer around today. Musically sophisticated (he comes from a musical family), with biting, hard-hitting lyrics, his voice words and music are the sountrack to the left mass movements against the deleterious effects of globalization, Iraq, peak-oil, etc.

When I first hear him, I thought, really, that he is the natural inheritor of the tradition of Phil Ochs, Billy Bragg, et al. I just hope the government stays off his back, unlike what happened to Ochs. I'm sure there's likely fundamental differences in our viewpoints (I suspect I'm more of a pragmatist, but I could be wrong), but in this day and age, viewpoints like Rovics' are necessary; plain and simple.

So seeing his website, and his e-mail address, I e-mailed him. It's not everyday that talent is so accessible. Heck, to be honest, when it comes to what I get paid for, I have to create a psychological construct of a gatekeeper - though my admin sometimes does that role admirably for me.

But I digress. Anyway, David responded to my questions, for which I have great grattitude... so here goes...

1. What do you think of the possibilities for consensus with those like me, who are engaged in the "middle class" lifestyle, raising kids, dealing with HOAs, retirement, etc.? Personally, I think there's great room for consensus, there's a need for understanding though.
i think that if there's any hope for the future there needs to be an understanding about common ground among the vast majority of people in any given society, including ours. economically, what we call the middle class has a heck of a lot more in common with what we used to call the working class than it does with the rich. culturally this may be less the case, which is part of the reason for some of the divisions in society, i'd say. but most people are struggling in one way or another to make ends meet (whether that means really basic stuff like paying the rent or somewhat less basic stuff like sending kids to college). everybody breathes the air and drinks the water, and these things are rapidly being poisoned beyond recognition by the massive corporations who run our country -- and are running it into the ground very quickly.

2. Not all corporations, you might not be aware, are interested in rampaging the environment. My company - no doubt out of self-interest- is one of several Japanese companies expressly pursuing a "Green Strategy." While they do what they have to do for profit (it is capitalism, after all), there are socially responsible companies. Do you have a comment on this?
ok, bear in mind that i'm a musician and not an economist or anything like that. but i'd say it probably depends on what kind of business the company is in. if the company is in the oil or coal business it would be pretty hard for them to be a green company. if the company is in the service sector, or producing solar panels or something, it might not be a problem, in fact it could be an asset. for an energy company, or for many other types of companies, to be green generally would require very heavy government regulation. private enterprise left to it's own devices will not tend to be green. but there are also many in industry who support a heavily regulated market, or some form of socialism, because they, like so many others, realize that the world's environment is being rapidly destroyed by industrial society and that this must change immediately for our survival as a species. leaders of industry have also supported regulation in the past because it ultimately is good for business. for example, a well-paid working class buys more stuff.

3. China. My wife's Chinese. Chinese don't even grasp how big China's problems are. What do you see that's good and bad with respect to China?
well i'm sure that's a bit of a generalization about chinese people not understanding how big china's problems are. there are over a billion people there after all, eh? but anyway, it'd be pretty hard for me to summarize what i think is good or bad about china. what do we mean by china? the government? the people? if the latter, which people? if the former, which aspect of the government?
china, as a whole, is a country in the midst of some of the most unbelievable turmoil ever. over a hundred million unemployed, hungry people roaming around the country looking for work. on the other hand, a growing middle class. both of these things are happening as a result of government policy and the government's drive for industrialization. i'd say generally that the way china is industrializing is unsustainable and bad for most people in china and bad for workers in the rest of the world.
but what are the good things about china? far too many to name. lots of wonderful people, fascinating traditions, a culture so far ahead of most of the rest of the world for so long, in terms of medicine, science, technology, philosophy... i've been fascinated by china and chinese culture since i was a kid.

4. What is the best way to get enough folks together to see a truly pregressive vision in the US?
if i knew the answer to this, that would be great. in general i think that for people to have vision they have to have a lens thru which to view the world, otherwise it can be very blurry and confusing. education about the realities of the world, of u.s. foreign and domestic policy, of history, is necessary to make sense of things, to develop a progressive vision (which is what happens when you make sense of things). so i'd say people need, first, to educate each other, thru whatever means -- creating media, writing books, doing journalism, teaching in schools, singing ballads, etc.

5. What things that aren't changed are you willing to live with?
that's an extremely vague question, i must say. there are far too many things for me to even know where to start. but it kind of tells me something about where you're coming from. you're assuming i and people like me want to change things. this is not the case, in the main. i and people like me want to conserve things. industrial capitalism is changing society and the very planet itself at an unbelievable pace, in mostly very negative ways. what i want is to conserve the way things should be -- conserve the clean air, the forests we need for life, the clean water, the towns and cities that used to be so beautiful before wal-mart came, etc. i want us to stick with tried and true organic farming and crop rotation, not monocropping and pesticides. less change, more conservation, that's what i say!

6. What do you think of my blog? (Forewarning: I do include a bit of investment information on my blog; while I share lots of progressive's views on over-consumption, pollution, etc., I do think that it is immoral naievete not to acquire sufficent economic power to defeat the bastards on their own terms.)
just judging from that parenthetical statement i'd say that i think that's great, to acquire economic power to try to defeat the bastards on their own terms. a worthwhile thing to do. the progressive movement definitely needs money and other resources to function. but i'm currently on a plane, offline, and haven't had a chance to check out your blog yet...

7. What do you think of George Soros? Warren Buffett?
i don't really know enough about either of them to say one way or the other.

8. You are aware that pirates' lives sucked really badly, even without the violence, right?
that's yet another extremely vague statement. define "sucked really badly." if you are a slave and you gain your freedom, does your life "suck really badly" because you continue to be hungry, or is it a joyous and wonderful (if short) thing even despite the hunger, because you have freed yourself from your captors and have formed a community of freed slaves who are, if again briefly, making their own decisions on a consensus basis and having great parties in the midst of the violence and deprivation of the seafaring life?
so let me ask you the question: you are aware that pirates lives were sometimes full of the most incredible joy imaginable, that of a freed slave, even despite the violence, right?

(Me:)To answer that question: Yes, I'd say that freedom from slavery was quite exhilarating; but what also was on my mind was -slave or free- the incredibly short life-span; the thirst, the storms, the brutal physical labor involved, the scurvy, the lack of medical care, etc.. Getting a thing like a sailing ship driven by wind to actually maneuver on the high seas was backbreaking. And of course, finally, much of piracy was in furtherance of another country's national aims; a proxy war.

Thanks again David, and I hope that good things happen...

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