(I'm being ironic! I do not agree with this brash, nationalistic, illogical, practically anonymous - and hence illegal - poster. Mind you, this legitimate Yes one is hardly much better)
This is a blog about music, not politics. However, it is about a particular type of music which is either explicitly or implicitly connected with politics. Call it punk or call it hardcore, or even (to some extent) post-hardcore, it becomes - generally - hypocritical to remain apolitical. Not least because the majority of its afficionados have similar sensibilities, but much more importantly because its very ethos encourages not only independent thought, but the expression of that thought.
I came up with a strange metaphor and/or analogy last night, between my musical tastes and my political preferences. This is in part the title of the post; that my broadening of taste out from typical punk/hardcore into more widely considered, yet still independent-minded, rock music mirrors the maturing of my political sensibilities from youthful radicalism to an acceptance of more nuanced, pluralistic and conventional politics. The process, in both cases, is complementary but not without tensions. Can you listen to DIY, uncompromising hardcore and the latest indie rock hype (when justified, of course) - just like believing in the ultimate tenets of (humanistic) socialism or radicalism, while appreciating the movement of day-to-day politics? I don't believe it's hypocritical as much as it is beneficial, progressive and, above all, educated. And let's face it, we all do it.
For the record, my current political preference is for environmental (Green) politics. Not only on account of the dangers of climate change, but - if you were to go down the considerably worrisome route of denying climate change's veracity - its multiple other worthy attributes (a good number of which can be found by reading either Kerouac's Dharma Bums or the infamous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). Green politics are neither particularly punk rock nor indie, nor radical or social democratic - they're more postmodern; so, to overextend the metaphor - post-rock perhaps?
What prompted these confessional remarks is what Peter Sutherland, former Irish commissioner to the EU, described recently as the most important decision of international affairs ever to be decided by the Irish people: the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (June 12th).
For my multiple American (and other non-European) readers, the Lisbon Treaty is the latest document involving the organisation and maintenance of the European Union (EU), agreed between the governments of all 27 current EU member states. Ireland, due to the particular nature of our constitution (and the 1987 Crotty case in the Supreme Court, but I won't get into that here) is the only country to put the treaty to a public referendum. All other 26 countries are very likely to, or already have, ratified the treaty by parliament.
Hence Ireland (4 million out of an over 200 million plus European population, incidentally) stands between full ratification of the treaty and a possible tortuous revision of the current EU political programme. As a student of politics - first in my class last year, I might add, as a personal detail and a small mark of self-aggrandisement - I had foreseen the dilemma of this unique referendum, in which a rejection does little constructive, but so much destructive. Essentially, I was from the start a cautious Yes vote, believing on balance in the merits of this reform treaty - adapted from but realistically differentiated from a proposed and defeated EU constitution - the importance of the European program, and the overwhelming support this receives from parliamentarians of all major parties.
Conversely, the No campaign - split between Sinn Féin, the minority republican party, a right-wing shady think-tank by the name of 'Libertas' and various ultra-Catholic groups, socialist parties and the minority wing of the Greens/radical movement - not only failed to inspire but perpetually aggravated. Narrow, factually inaccurate, uninformed, nationalistic and disingenous claims were presented to repeated and oft unheeded rebuttals from the Yes side - a problem not least because it drowned out much constructive criticism and opposition to the elements of European politics, much of which could be better organised and applied in between times at European and national elections. In brief, over the last month or so of campaigning my initial, informed choice was only further confirmed.
The above comments may well seem partisan, but they are my honest reaction to the political situation. The latest pair of national polls have shown that the result could in fact go either way, in a large part because of people who want to vote No because they feel uninformed or confused. To those people, I say three things: first, look to any or all of your elected representatives, and any political parties you may support - their wide support for the Treaty is less a mass conspiracy than it is a recognition of political realities and ideals; secondly, remember that our referendum is a unique and unusual occurrence, probably not best suited to the ratification of an exceedingly complex legal document; and thirdly, as such you are hardly expected to specifically read it in order to do your democratic duty - only if you have serious concerns about what is being presented to you, in the treaty and in your parliament and media.
For what it's worth, Hardcore for Nerds (that is myself, gabbagabbahey) is advocating a Yes vote. Let it not be said that I don't have the courage of my convictions.
As a respite from the politics - which is, you know, only the discourse of democratic individuals, the expression of true personal freedom and agency, and the highest level of human communication - here's some (Irish) indie rock, shading towards (American) hardcore:
Helmet, 'Bad Mood'
(^ that's John Stanier, the current drummer for Battles, in the video above - in case anybody doesn't know their punk/hardcore history. History is always nearly as important as politics :)