Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Let's be Frank

Via someone on Twitter, I was directed to the Grauniad's pathetic hatchet job on Frank Turner (I hope that my post wasn't the trigger).

The article's author—Michael Hann—claims that he has reviewed Frank's albums in the past, but hadn't realised that Turner wasn't the greatest fan of the state. Presumably Hann skipped Sons of Liberty.

But here is Frank's heinous crime:
Turns out his libertarianism and belief in the power of the people to resist oppression aren't of the leftist sort. They're of the rightist sort.
Right. So, in the world of Hann, belief in individuals is fine so long as you label yourself "left-wing", but that same belief is evil if you don't.


Hann then responds to some of the commenters below his article:
The Guardian is a leftwing newspaper. What we do is disagree with the right.
Uh huh. And I thought that a "leftwing newspaper" might be for something. Like the betterment of the working man, or the empowerment of the masses, or better education, or something.

But no: apparently, "a leftwing newspaper" exists to "disagree with the right".

Which is just one of the reasons why normal people are so disengaged from politics: the whole charade is one bunch of highly privileged people disagreeing with another bunch of highly privileged people over rarified philosophies, the outcomes of which always screw the hard-working people of this country—treating them all, rich or poor, as nothing more than cash-cows for the expensive experiments of the pusillanimous, disconnected bigots that inhabit Whitehall, Westminster and Fleet Street.

Frank's reply to Hann can be found in full on his blog—I will quote the most pertinent bits.
My politics are based on principles like democracy, individuality, equality of opportunity, distrust of power and, above all else, freedom, including economic freedom. They’re not the same as when I was 19, or indeed 23 – a few more years kicking around the world has made me adjust my views a little, although the basic principles remain the same. Once I would have called myself an anarchist. These days I suppose the word “libertarian” does pretty well for me, though I suspect it’s a little over-intellectual as a description. I just think the world works better when people are left alone to do what they want as much as possible.

Incidentally, here’s some things I’m not: “Tory”, “conservative”, or “Republican”. If you don’t know the difference between these and libertarians, I suggest reading up a little before slagging me off. I don’t consider myself “right wing” either. I’m just not a leftist.

A lot of people have been treating this as some kind of reveal. Given that the journalist was quoting from an interview from 3 years ago[*] that seems a little odd to me. There’s something about it in the FAQ on here, and Poetry Of The Deed (2009) had a song on it called “Sons Of Liberty” which was about this kind of thing. As it happens, I don’t want my music to be particularly political (as I’ve been saying for ages) so I don’t talk about it that much. But it’s not like I keep it secret either. A lot of the fuss here to me seems to be because some people have had an idea of what they want me to be, and have discovered I’m not that. Sorry, I guess, although I’d say that it’s be much worse for me to pretend otherwise to please them, or sell records, or whatever.

At the end of the day, some people will disagree with my politics. That’s fine. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do with their lives Most of my friends disagree with me, not least Billy Bragg and Chris T-T. But, being adults, we understand that intelligent people can disagree about stuff. Despite occasionally running my mouth (a bad habit of mine, which I’m working on) I don’t think people who call themselves socialists are evil, mad, stupid or deserving of being attacked; I just see the world differently. In everything I do, I try to treat everyone with equal respect and consideration. I’d hope that the way I’ve gone about my music career would attest to that to some degree. I’ll drink a beer with anyone.
I will state, for the record, that all of the above is absolutely true. I am not going to pretend a massive intimacy—we met through a mutual friend who knew that Frank read your humble Devil.

However, Frank and I have been for a few drinks a number of times and I will state, (again) for the record, that not only is the man himself thoroughly decent but all of those surrounding him—who are of a number of political persuasions—are thoroughly nice too. By their friends shall ye know them (or somesuch).

* In this interview, Frank actually mentions your humble Devil. I think that we had first met a few months before...
I dunno, I must admit I’m friends with a guy. Have you ever heard of The Devils Kitchen? It’s a libertarian political blog. The guy, Chris Mouncey [sic], who runs it became leader of the libertarian party, which is a really small political party. Now, I’m uneasy around fringe parties because it just seems like a fucking waste of time. Having said that, I do agree with what they say. I’ve been talking to Chris because I think they’re using the song Sons Of Liberty as one of their campaign songs or something *laughs*. I don’t know, fuckin’ a. You know what, if there’s a Libertarian party candidate I’ll probably vote for them just to make Chris feel better about his life. It’s difficult because, at the end of the day, politics is the art of the possible. The kind of politics where you sit around in circles discussing abstract theorisation of how society can be run is essentially pointless because it doesn’t change anyone’s life for the better. If you’re gonna take an interest in politics, you might as well take an interest in it that’s actually gonna make a difference to anything.
Well, I'm sorry to have let you down, mate. But—hey!—one can only try...

At best, I was a reluctant politician (I took the job of leader because no one else wanted it) but, then, the idea of being in government—or even trying to get there—is never going to sit well with a libertarian.

I do far more good—and benefit far more people—by doing my day-job well. Which is, after all, why this place has been so quiet of late.

So, all I can say to Frank is "ignore the Guardian and its armies of student wankers, and carry on doing your day-job well..."


Anonymous said...

Wow! So many masterful intellects on display at the Gruaniad (sic)!

He's a twerp, a dickhead, an arsehat.

I too, thought that the infantile nme attitude of you can only like art if the artist holds the same views as you died last century.

Still, they will (mostly) grow out of it eventually.

FlipC said...

"So, in the world of Hann, belief in individuals is fine so long as you label yourself "left-wing", but that same belief is evil if you don't."

What I think he's doing is questioning motivation. It's like the South Park two-part episode "Cartoon Wars" the people want the image of Mohammed censored in an episode of Family Guy out of respect (fear) for Islamic beliefs; Cartman wants it censored as he thinks it will result in the cancellation of the whole show.

They're both saying and apparently want the same things, but have different motivations.

In a simplistic way one could state that a left-wing libertarian wants freedom for the people because they think people are capable of exercising such; whereas right-wing libertarianism wants the same thing because they themselves don't want to be told want to do.

I'm not saying that's the case here with Frank Turner, but I could understand why the Grauniad made these remarks.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I like this guy! I must admit, I ignored his song during the opening ceremony, thinking (mistakenly, it turns out) that he was just another of Mr Boyle's socialistic windbags (and I have yet to figure out the connection between the NHS - with apparently fit and healthy children trapped in it - and the olympics), but I will do more to give him support now.

FlipC, you give the impression not to have read his reply - he most definitely appears to be of the opinion that others should be free of state constraint as much as he wants to be - and the simplistic tags of "left" and "right" should be abandoned.

Radical Rodent

FlipC said...

I didn't say he didn't want others to be free of state control I was pointing out the question of motivation as to why.

I agree the terms left and right are simplistic, but so long as they're used in such broad terms they still make for an easy shorthand.

Bishop Hill said...

Check out "I still believe" which is a really good pop song.

And while you're watching, note the tattoo on his left forearm.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am a simpleton, but surely the motivation for anyone to want freedom from state control for themselves and others is in the very word used - "freedom". Freedom to talk and think as you wish; freedom to live your life as you want, without denying others the same freedoms.

Regrettably, many seem to think that the ideal freedom to aspire to is freedom from responsibility - let the state take control of your life, and you will never have to worry again; that seems to be the ethos of ALL political parties, nowadays.

Radical Rodent

Anonymous said...

p.s. re the tattoo on his arm: I recognise the picture from somewhere, but cannot think from where... Pilgrim's Progress?

Radical Rodent

FlipC said...

But that's still the goal and not the motivation; the motivation is what you touched on with "freedom of responsibility".

Although the end result is the same there's a different motivation between "I want freedom for others which includes myself" and "I want freedom for myself which includes others"; again in broad strokes the former may be considered 'left' and the latter 'right'.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... you seem to be applying your broad strokes with a very fine brush.

Realistically, I think the basic selfishness of humans (of which I do think myself as one, despite my nomenclature) will dictate that the latter ("right") is predominant.

Radical Rodent

(Dagnammit! Why can they not make the verification gizmoes readable?!)

Northampton Saint said...

So, i can't listen to the music of bands / artists i disagree with politically?

*wanders off to smash his Levellers collection*

Justo Xjustice said...

which WORLD-VIEW will not exist, sh*thead?


5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet

how the divine pen of Michel N. crushed the international atheist movement

one applicant right here…

get the POINT, Randi….

Willy said...

How the wheel turns

I remember Ralph of "Wait till your father gets home" complaining that he didn't listen to music on the radio, they don't warn you what race the singer is, hence you don't know whether to like the song or not.

The Ralph character depicted an ultra right bigot.

Anonymous said...

What's striking here is the fact that a musician is being 'outed' by the orthodox and made to explain themselves.

The only other musician/actor/comic I can think of in recent years 'coming out' was Adele, whose objection to swinging taxes on her earnings was met with abuse and vitriol.

For anyone who imagines the arts are a mixing pot of ideas, here is the evidence they are not.

Bishop Hill said...

The tattoo is the ama-gi