17-8. RampArt and Sly – secret omnipresence of resistance.


I insist I’m a legitimate scientist
paid by the government with your finances

- Cookbook DIY

Last night I caught the tube to Shadwell and walked to the corner of Rampart and Sly Streets (hmmm, significant street names – Ramparts was a 60s magazine of some importance, Sly – well, that’s clear enough – a the end of the street there’s a great sweet shop…). So, I arrived at the corner to find Aki Nawaz slumped in a broken office chair beside a dumpster and a pile of crushed cardboard boxes. ‘Welcome to my office’, he greets me. We sit and chat about the mad media responses to his new album “All is War”; we run through recent events in the horror that is Lebanon; approve the resistance of Hezbollah; and consider the possibility that bruiser John Reid is going gung-ho in his new home secretary job because, like an earlier blind incumbent, he is jockeying for position as a possible future leader of the Labour Party, so acting tough is what he thinks will get him noticed in the tabloids. We talk about how the tabloids make public opinion nowadays and its mainly a way of scaring people into silence, apathy and into nothing but the joys of shopping. Then a Green Party representative comes over and asks Aki what instrument he plays in the band (I only wish Aki had replied, ‘Hi, my name’s Pink’).

Home Secretary Reid, believe it or not, is a former CPGBer (old version) and perhaps best noticed for calling Jeremy Paxman a West London Wanker (henceforth W-L-W) – well, Reid has his chances I guess, so why not be gung-ho at a time when the Deputy PM John Presscaught is invisible and war criminal Bliar is off hiding out in some Caribbean terror training camp after paving the way for the IDF to make pavement out of Southern Beirut. A airport carry on luggage scare and the arrest of a bunch of teenagers is a great service to the no-hoper piggy pollies that need the cover (but gung ho is a funny expression; a mix of Bruce Lee and Ho Chi Minh springs to mind, so I best stop using it, because Reid has long ago left the Left behind, and I am told, anyway, that gung-ho was taken up by the US Marines but was originally the abbreviation for a Chinese Communist organisation, so using it to refer to the Labour Party is far too uncanny… I digress, see here and also contrast the film, and laugh out loud).

Anyway, politics by tabloid. Aki has himself been noticed in the tabloids quite a bit of late – The Sun called him a ‘suicide rapper’ and the Guardian had a go – as I have mentioned already. The event at Ramparts – a social centre in Shadwell – is to discuss the controversy, and to host the premiere screening of the video for ‘Cookbook DIY’ (lyrics here; download track here). The evening kicks off in somewhat desultory manner with a half hour video on the history of Fun-da-mental that presses various key buttons – ‘Tribal Revolution’, ‘Dog Tribe’, ‘GoDevil’ clips and plenty of send-up footage of a lame Australian TV interviewer who pretty much can’t cope with Aki asking if Australian Aboriginals had rights and land back yet – ‘what are you doing about it?’ ‘Nothing.’. Point.

Slowly the RampArts social centre fills up, and people take their seats to find a gift FDM cd – its not about the sales – and Ken Fero, co-director of Injustice – kicks off proceedings by introducing Aki, John Pandit and the guy from the GP, noting that two other guest speakers were still on their way. Aki starts speaking about how democracy is a weapon that kills, that there is a silencing that is as much blame, that the leader in Downing St needs to be put on a donkey and paraded through the city, and that he can’t understand why there is nobody doing anything. He is really angry. The youth in Britain are angry, There are people being killed in thousands and everyone seems to be going on and on as if there was nothing they could do. They tried to protest against the gulf war, but were ignored and since then, nothing. Why, he says, aren’t people out there burning down town halls and the like? (This last comment almost an aside, but it will become more and more the hot topic of the night). The Green Party representative speaks next, about free speech – frankly, the usual routines– thank-you Shahrar Ali, invited by the organisers Red Pepper. Then Natasha Atlas arrives – her music is also released under Aki’s Nation Records imprint – and she talks of her Syrian partner, the troubles musicians have getting visas in Europe, her anger and frustration at the war, and she apologises for being emotional. In fact it’s the most passionate thing I’ve heard her say ever, and not at all prima donne-esque. Great. Then the final late speaker walks in, Louise Christian, human rights lawyer(and she reminds us the event is organised by Rod Popper…). She speaks in favour of free speech and against the new additions to the terror laws, that will criminalise anyone who speaks in favour of – glorifies, encourages – acts of terror. The intent of criminality is to be assumed even if they did not inspire anyone to act, even if they were vague about whether they really intended people to go out and – Louise looks over to Aki – say people should go and blow up buildings. She says she does not think these laws will ever be tested, that they are like clause 28 – crime of encouraging homosexuality – or the incitement to racial hatred law – a kind of public relations gesture. She says we should not get paranoid, that at least in this country we can have debates like this – there has been no debate as yet, but restlessness in the audience suggests one might start soon – and debate is something we have to cherish, because – here’s the clincher – they don’t have it in Turkey, Burma or North Korea (double take – wha??? axis of evil redux).

Cmde John Pandit from ADF speaks next. Quietly pointing out the need to organise and to do so on new creative ways, to make a new set of alliances. To do the work required to build a movement that is not just protest marches that go from A to B (this will also become a refrain, the issue of how the Stop the War coalition does all it can to minimize confrontations and have us all hide out in Hyde Park provokes considerable agitation). And its important, he emphasizes, not to fall for the self-censorship that means that so many musicians who do have media visibility say nothing.

The first question is from the reporter from the Daily Star, Neil Chandler – he told me his column appears in the Sunday edition. I might even buy it as his question was ok, and in a short exchange with the reporter from the Morning Star (and representative of the STW coalition) Neil seemed by far the more credible. But it is the Daily Star, so no high hopes eh. In any case, in response to questions the point was made forcefully by Aki that the issue was British foreign policy. A simple persuasive argument he offers runs: we put up with years and years of racism and it did not mean any young people felt the need to strap on bomb belts and jackets and blow the trains; we endured years and years unemployment and it did not mean anyone went out to bomb buildings [well, Baader Meinhof excluded, but …]; but now the nightly news footage of innocents killed one after the other in their hundreds and no-one wants to discuss it, no-one listens, no debate, no significant movement to defend Muslims; no defence of mosques from attack; no way the STW coalition was going to deliver on its promise that ‘if Blair goes to war we will stop the whole country’, despite 2 million marching in February 2002…the problem is foreign policy. Change that and its over.

Some audience members were keen to point out that there were ongoing efforts to defeat Blair. Protests against airports and weapons manufacture, dealers, delivery, sabotage, various campaigns. There was some discussion of how music is important as a way of airing issues, that musicians are more than the soundtrack of a movement; that since the 60s Vietnam protests music could be something more than entertainment. But so often its not. I am of course reminded of Adorno saying that the debate was not yet over about art, and perhaps art still carried the ‘secret omnipresence of resistance’ in its hidden core. But this is not enough in a world of shopping. All this is admirable but it does not get to the question of just what kind of organisation is needed to defeat the imperialist foreign policy. The questions I ask have to do with this: the need for debate and action on all these points; on what sort of organisation is needed; on what sort of action is needed (someone heckles ‘but not blowing up buildings’); and on what sort of analysis is needed to support both organisation adequate to succeed, and the actions necessary. This does not get taken up; instead the chair notes there is always resistance, there will always be resistance. Another speaker asks a question about violence, naming Gandhi and the struggle against British colonialism. Aki makes the point that Gandhi was not alone, there was always a range of others involved, from Uddam Singh and Subhas Bose. Gandhi, it is insisted, wanted peace, not blowing up buildings – this is becoming the defining phrase, spiralling into architectural defence. Aki exasperated says ‘you lot care more about buildings than people’ – hands thrown up in the air. Everyone wants a say, a filmmaker is shouting from the back, the guy with the roving mike has gone outside to answer a phone call, with the mike still turned on. Chaos. So the movement shall be organised like this…

Dave Watts from FDM stands up. The discussion has dragged on and his frustration as clear as many. He starts by saying he understands why people want to be suicide bombers, he understands the frustration that would make someone want to go out and do it. You can imagine how this rubs up against the Gandhians. Dave says there has to be some understanding of where those who have tried to discuss have now ended up – ready to do violence and blow up buildings . But then he says he is a man of peace, a lover of peace, but he is angry and we have to fight for peace. The video clip we are about to see is called ‘Cookbook DIY’ and Dave explains its in three parts, that the person who in frustration because the is no other avenue for discussion, expression, action, has made a home bomb for 50 quid, is a small version of the guy who makes a dirty bomb, with materials bought on the black market, but neither are as obscene as the scientist who kisses his wife in the morning – Dave mimes a smooch, playing to the audience – who then goes off to work in a pentagon lab or some such to make a neutron bomb that kills all the people but leaves the buildings intact. Have a look at the video people … at which point, the screening:

And that is exactly what Cookbook DIY does. Just as it says on the tin. Do not mistake this for advocacy – its an analysis. This ‘suicide rap’ exposes the suicide scientist making the neutron bomb, the daisy-cutter, the cluster bombs and all those other armaments that the Lords of War – Blair, Reid, etc etc – threaten us with, under their terror laws, their terror regimes, the bombing runs and their surveillance systems. Their free speech that is no speech, their diplomacy and their democracy. Under the veneer of democracy, the bloodied hands of the piggy pollies; under the musical refrains, the resistance; under the cover of the Daily and the Morning Stars, another secret possibility. The global resistance, Zindabad!

Cookbook DIY lyrics:

I’m packed up ingredients stacked up my Laptop
Downloaded the military cookbook PDF
Elements everyday chemicals at my reach
Household bleach to extract the potassium
Chlorate Boiling on a hotplate with hate
recipe for disaster plastic bomb blaster
I mix up 5 parts wax to Vaseline
slowly … dissolve in gasoline
add to potassium in a large metal bowl
knead like dough so they bleed real slow
Gasoline evaporates… cool dry place
I’m strapped up cross my chest bomb belt attached
deeply satisfied with the plan I hatched
electrodes connected to a gas cooker lighter
switch in my hand the situation demands
self sacrifice hitting back at vice with a £50 price

I’m 31.. numb …but the hurt is gone
Gonna build a dirty bomb
us this privilege and education
My PHD will free me
Paid of the Ruskies for weapons grade Uranium
Taught myself skills from Pakistan Iran
upgraded its stage two of the plan
Rage… a thermo nuclear density gauge
stolen by the Chechens from a Base in Georgia
I get some cobalt 60 from a food irradiator
so easy to send the infidels to their creator
its takes a dirty mind to build a dirty bomb
The simplicity is numbing genius is dumbing
down the situation to a manageable level
to make the world impossible to live for these devils
a suitcase of semtex a mobile phone trigger
Blow them all to hell for a million dollar figure

I insist I’m a legitimate scientist
paid by the government with your finances
I got a private room in the Whitehouse suite
So I can develop according to presidential Brief
The megaton don Gulf war veteran
The foremost proponent of the neutron bomb
at the centre atomic surrounded on all sides
wrapped in layers of lithium deutaride
the bomb detonates causing lithium to fission into helium
tritium neutrons into Fission
The blast causes shockwaves that melt body fat
uniquely though it leaves the buildings intact
I made the 25 megaton daisy cutter
a great blast radius with very little clutter
There’s less radiation so you get a cleaner bomb
its your money people it cost a billion

- Nawaz/Watts.

Also – from “All is War” – check out ‘Bark Like a Dog’ – a Pistol-whip of a track that deserves to roar up the charts…

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Comments

  • Anonymous  On 18/08/2006 at 2:16 pm

    Most large government complexes have 24 hr staffing for stuff like maintenance & IT

    Is Aki proposing that the said nocturnals be eliminated?

    Or might he be thinking of a time that provokes some carnage more spectacular e.g. 9am

    Like this

  • Anonymous  On 18/08/2006 at 4:25 pm

    oh yawn – you missed his point – as JH says, it was an aside blown up by the ‘concerned’ – go tell it to the IDF.

    Like this

  • Ted Swedenburg  On 18/08/2006 at 5:45 pm

    John, thanks for this very informative post. I’m glad to learn about Natacha’s participation, not really surprised. And also good to hear from Dave, as mostly it’s Aki who is heard from about FDM. I can’t wait to see the Cookbook DIY vid. Right now, the song I’m really into is ’786 All Is War.’ I love the sci-fi Islamist imagery, it reminds me of the Nation of Islam’s notions about the “Mothership” and it reminds me of William Burroughs. And P-Funk. Cheers!

    Like this

  • John Hutnyk  On 18/08/2006 at 6:15 pm

    Ted – good to hear from you. We had Dave speak at Goldsmiths the last few years in my class, though gave the slot back to Aki this year as Dave was on a different island (shock!). But his intervention last night was great. Is your rdaio show online? – the list looks good there on interzone radio
    John

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  • Ted Swedenburg  On 19/08/2006 at 10:59 pm

    john, the radio show is broadcast online at 6-8 PM on tuesday nights at http://www.kxua.com. is that 12Pm-2 your time? you should be in the pub then…

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  • Ted Swedenburg  On 19/08/2006 at 11:00 pm

    john, the show is at 6-8 PM (12-2 your time? when you should be at a pub…) on kxua.com. ted

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  • Anonymous  On 20/08/2006 at 1:33 am

    ‘Police aim to block Muslim rapper’
    By Rosalind Miles (Oxford Mail)

    Dr Taj Hargey

    A controversial rapper’s visit to Oxford this weekend has prompted police to
    contact organisers of the event.

    Aki Nawaz, a radical Muslim rap artist who has been accused of glorifying
    terrorism, is performing at a free public meeting open to all in Summertown
    Hall, on Sunday at 3pm.

    He has been invited by the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford (Meco) who say
    that, while they do not agree with everything he says, he should be listened
    to. Chairman of Meco Dr Taj Hargey has been contacted by three police
    officers, including Det Ch Insp Gilbert Houalla, of the Oxfordshire
    intelligence and public protection unit.

    Dr Hargey said he felt he was being pressured to cancel the event, but
    police deny they are trying to silence Mr Nawaz. He added: “I, and the
    secretary of Meco, have been phoned by three different police officers. They
    said they want to meet with us because they wanted to ensure no harm came to
    anyone attending the event.

    continued…
    “They are trying to put the fear of God into us, putting not-so-subtle
    pressure on us to cancel the event. I refused to meet them. There’s no
    reason to. Why would any harm come to anyone?

    “Aki Nawaz has been on Newsnight, Radio Four, why not Oxford? We don’t need
    protection, it’s a free country, a democracy, and we are having a bona fide
    public meeting, not creating mayhem and insurrection.

    ‘I feel we are living in a semi-fascist state’
    Dr Taj Hargey

    “They said he explains how to make a liquid bomb in his songs, but that’s
    not true.

    “I feel we are living in a semi-fascist state.”

    Det Ch Insp Houalla said: “We want the event to go ahead, and are just
    trying to offer our guidance and advice to ensure the safety of the artists,
    those attending, the wider community and of the actual property itself.

    “Our community and diversity officers work with the whole spectrum of
    communities and faiths within Oxford and are therefore able to give good
    advice to anyone organising an event, with respect to the right to free
    speech.

    “This is particularly pertinent in the current climate. This is by no means
    an attempt to silence or halt the proceedings.”

    Mr Nawaz, frontman for band Fun-da-Mental, has released an album called All
    is War (The Benefits of G-had). Some of his lyrics describe a suicide bomber
    making a bomb and compare him to a White House scientist making a bomb.

    Like this

  • Anonymous  On 20/08/2006 at 11:13 pm

    AND OF COURSE the bastard journalist from the Daily Star turned out to be just as much the sick fuck we all expected him to be. Bullshiot story in today’s Daily Star. He really deserves a donkey ride too. Even if he managed to relay the funny parts of the talk. Is this what they call journalism now? We are living in the end times.

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  • Anonymous  On 22/08/2006 at 4:05 pm

    Exclusive interviews, analysis and extracts from books by and about
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    Published by O.U.R.A.I.M – Organisation for Understanding Radical Arab
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  • Shahrar Ali  On 27/08/2006 at 6:50 pm

    Hmm, not sure you’ve presented a fair summary of what the Green Party representative said, John. Sorry if I didn’t impress you – or you couldn’t find a moment to quiz me in the Q&A. Allow me to amplify – for your good self and fellow readers.

    First, I don’t know what you mean by “frankly, the usual routines”, presumably as an account of free speech? Sadly, I don’t think there’s sufficient recognition of the trade-offs that need to be effected when free speech comes into conflict with other important values, including democratic ones.

    My own party upholds the right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean that some prohibitions may not from time to time be necessary – even in the maximisation of the goods that free speech can bring. Contrast this with an absolutist position – unreflective in my view.

    Note also that whilst members of the audience originally let pass Louise Christian’s assertion that “We all want to stop others from saying things we don’t agree with,” I contended that we should instead want to encourage others to voice their disagreements – to allow all concerned to have their opinions challenged, and ideally, corrected and improved upon, through genuine debate. I don’t presume human beings to be infallible in their judgments – no matter how strong their convictions to the contrary (cf. Tony Blair).

    Shahrar Ali out. 27.08.06

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  • Maria Technosux  On 29/08/2006 at 1:01 pm

    Why, he says, aren’t people out there burning down town halls and the like?

    Because they have all seen the The Weather Underground documentary, and look at became of them:
    they either ended up in jail, at the University Law Department (h0-h0-h0), making fitness videos or winning 200.000 bucks on the Jeopardy TV show. Would you care to point out the happy ending to this story?

    As for the person who wrote this:

    Most large government complexes have 24 hr staffing for stuff like maintenance & IT. Is Aki proposing that the said nocturnals be eliminated?

    Naaah, blowing up the staff together with the building, that’s the amateur uncivilized way of doing it. You gotta learn from history: if you study the The Weather Underground documentary, you will notice that the American (i.e. Western, i.e. “civilized”) etiquette amongst terrorists is to attach a timing device to the bomb, and to place an anon call about an half hour prior to detonation in order to warn the 24 hour staff to get the hell out, providing them an acceptable timeframe to do so.

    The Weather Underground accidentally blew up 2 of their own members before they learned how to properly make this kind of time-bomb.

    http://www.upstatefilms.org/weather/main.html

    Tex.

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  • John Hutnyk  On 29/08/2006 at 4:10 pm

    Tex is right, see the WU film… and spare us – sorry Shahrar – from “sufficient recognition of the trade-offs that need to be effected when free speech comes into conflict with other important values, including democratic ones”. Frankly, this is exactly the same old moves I was wary of – democrazy, a trick that gets us to cede responsibility to self appointed opportunists by tick-a-box every four years. Its this that got us in the mess we are in already. I am resolutely against the parlimentary path. Sell outs. There should be no censorship – ever – who are you to police this? But the forum in which the debates have to be had is not the fake democracy we have now – that comes with bombers, arms sales and defence contracts. Will the Green Party disband the army, arm the people, confiscate the assets of the super rich, be the organised vanguard party we so sorely need? Sadly, its not likely, but do please prove me wrong.

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Trackbacks

  • By More from Tuesday « trinketization on 06/10/2008 at 11:40 pm

    [...] There have been bits of the Panto talk on here before. The Aki as Suicide Rapper routine is here, here and here (with lots of comments), while Žižek on the buses is glossed here (for the next Stimulus [...]

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