Music

Six Election-Year Activism Tips from The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart

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It’s been more than 30 years since Mark Stewart‘s anarchic punk/post punk band The Pop Group made improbable hits out of challenging listening like “We Are All Prostitutes” and “She is Beyond Good and Evil,” songs that ride taut, funk-inflected basslines as atonal saxophones, screeching guitars, and, well, actual screeching jump out and fade into the background.

As musically revolutionary The Pop Group was, their sound sprang as much from Stewart’s politics as from anything else—they sounded like a riot because he wanted his listeners to start one. The political battles he engaged in back then—in favor of people over corporations and government programs helping people instead of killing them, for starters—are still being fought today. And a glance at the track listing for his new album The Politics of Envy (selected titles: “Vanity Kills,” “Baby Bourgeois”) shows that he’s still at the front of the battlestations. What tips does a longtime veteran of the musical-activist world have for aspiring world-changers in this election year? SoTC asked Stewart via email, and got these poetically mystical musings.

1. Attack SOPA.
Sinister forces and their ever-growing demand for greater powers of classification, categorization, and intervention as our lives are watched over and manipulated. We are not subjects of The Coercive State.

2. Utilize liberation technologies to fight for freedom on the Electronic Frontiers.
Recasting a teeming evolutionary stew, a complex adaptive system and new revolutionary ideas from economics and science are upending hundreds of years of theories. This should be the year for magical thinking.

3. “Occupy the Future,” as Chomsky says.
Imagine the impossible; intimate revolt. Beautiful chaos. Don’t call me pain—my name is mystery.

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Mark Stewart vs. Primal Scream, “Autonomia”

4. “Free Think”: Be free of all bankrupt ideologies and models.
Back-engineer alien technology, the occult technology of power.

5. Override any medieval concepts of the “nation-state.”
As robber barons retreat to their castles and pull up the drawbridge, leaving the 99% with scorched earth, the military-industrial complex feeds off war and predatory vulture funds create chaos for profit. The company savage; the corporate psyche (denial and delusion); the attrition rate of the new marketplace of virtual infinite possibilities.

6. Say “no” to governance by super-baron lobbyists.
Citizen zombies do not vote. Under the spell of the spectacle—a totally bloodless coup, like Kennedy, Onassis and Howard Hughes—have you ever felt like you were being used?

Mark Stewart’s The Politics of Envy is out March 27.

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