In the mid-1980s in the UK, a group of rock musicians directed by Billy Bragg and Paul Weller decided to openly engage in party politics. Red Wedge led an open campaign in support of the Labour Party with the hopes that it would defeat the Conservatives and the legendary Margaret Thatcher in the 1987 general elections. To achieve this, they organized concerts and panels and held media appearances.
Yet even this couldn’t save Labour. Thatcher defeated them for a third time in the elections. It turned out that celebrity political engagement has its limits.
Of course, I do not support the vast majority of things proclaimed by Red Wedge. I believe that Bragg and Weller (who are incredible musicians and whose work I appreciate) had to an extent given into the plague of irrational anti-Thatcherism which had ruled over the British establishment in those times.
Despite this, I must admit that today I remember politically active celebrities with a certain kind of nostalgia.
When did I feel this nostalgia? When I saw how sadly and vulgarly Polish musicians have been agitating against Law and Justice (PiS). In comparison to Bragg and Weller, with whom I do not agree politically but whom I admire for at least having something important to say, Polish musicians with their “f**k PiS” look like disoriented high school students who were told by a school bully what to do to be “cool”.
I have no illusions about the music industry, and I am well aware that since the 1968 “social revolution” the industry has been heavily directed by and towards the liberal-left. But does this direction really have to be undertaken in such a banal, infantile manner?
Are insults and profanity directed to those who think in a different way, alongside gay kissing on stage, all that Polish left-wing pop culture has to offer Poland?
It seems to be sad, but true.
This is because “left-wing politics” in pop culture have become unbearably banal and superficial in the last 30 years. There are no deeper reflections in it worth discussing, let alone arguing against. Instead, we have blind obedience and acceptance of woke ideology dogmas.
This lack of reflection is the main cause for the difference between people like Billy Bragg and modern “social justice warriors” who are only interested in conflict. What can such people offer society?
This is the case in the West. Unfortunately, it is increasingly the case in Poland.
Title image: British singer Billy Bragg performs at Glastonbury music festival, England, June 29, 2014. (AP Images)