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Musicians & tQ Writers On Anti-Fascist Anthems
Luke Turner , October 4th, 2016 08:32

Featuring contributions from Ben Durutti, Penny Rimbaud, Bobby Barry, Jeremy Allen, Ben Myers, Kevin McCaighy, Stewart Smith, Neil Cooper, Matt Evans, Tony F Wilson, Leo Chadburn, Emily Mackay, David Bennun, Phil Harrison, Arnold De Boer, Joel McIver, Russell Cuzner, Jeremy Bolm, John Doran, TV Smith, James Sherry, Jonathan Meades, Tristan Bath, JR Moores, Julian Marszalek, Captain Sensible, Andy Moor, Christine Casey, Nic Bullen and Stewart Lee

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This morning I opened Facebook to an endless scroll through update after update despairing at what's unfolding since the British people voted to leave the EU last Thursday. As well as the anger, shock and disbelief there were, within half a brew's worth of scrolling, two posts that were more sinister. One, a report of racist attack in Birmingham, a brick thrown through a window into a room where two small children were watching television. The other incident saw a friend being asked if he spoke English. The response from his interrogators was "'Thank FUCK for that!" after which they "waited for me to high-five them or something."

These two incidents are, as even a cursory glance across social media reveals, far from isolated. Over the weekend, it's become abundantly clear that the referendum to leave the EU has unleashed what was surely a merely slightly-repressed torrent of English racism, xenophobia, intolerance and hate. Reports hate crime are up 57% since the vote. This is the visible manifestation of a misinformed search for scapegoats to blame for pressed wages and deteriorating living standards, the sense that the future doesn't look as bright as an imagined past. This is both repellent to human decency and politically troubling, for scapegoating minorities has always been a key building block of fascism and totalitarianism of all stripes.

We've long had a belief in England that fascism cannot happen here, that we're by and large a tolerant, liberal country. This is partly a myth created by the 1930s and 40s, when the Blackshirts were defeated on the streets of the East End and, as the national narrative has it, we "stood up" to Hitler to defeat Nazism. This of course neglects the inconvenient truth that Lord Halifax and various members of the Royal Family were ready to do a deal with Hitler in the bleak months of early 1940, meaning that fascism very nearly became institutionalised here.

Racism and fascism might be different things but they are always bedfellows. It's been hard not to get the feeling over the course of the referendum campaign, and since, that this country is heading in a very, very dark direction. Just look at Nigel Farage, a man whose schoolteachers suspected of having fascist tendencies, saying that Leave had been won "without a shot being fired". Not only is this revolting given the assassination of Jo Cox, it's not a huge leap to interpret the statement as evidence that alongside xenophobic nationalism there lurks in Nigel Farage's vile, unctuous imagination a hankering for violent change.

We think that we're immune from fascism because of our sense of humour, our disdain for the ridiculous - remember those newsreels of the goose-stepping Nazis sped up and reversed - but those were different times. If fascism reappears in Britain now it won't look like you expect it to. It might not come floating up the Thames on a flotilla of boats emblazoned with the Union Flag. It would likely come from a Farage with conviction, not an everyman but a leader, a Blair figure from the far right. Thankfully, there doesn't currently seem to be anyone who fits the bill on the horizon. Then again, perhaps 21st century British extremism could be fascism mutated into a new form, taking advantage of the weakness of our politicians to be an unfocussed state of mind that buffets a fool in the direction that it wants to go. With the economy in turmoil and both government and opposition failing to seize the initiative and demonstrate competent leadership, the immediate and long term future is up for grabs. I dread to think who might seize it.


With that in mind, what are we to do in response? What can The Quietus, a digital websheet devoted to music, do? Art has long been a powerful instrument for freedom, for attacking the status quo, for being the opposite to that for which Nigel Farage claimed the Brexit victory: "ordinary and decent". The best music is extraordinary and indecent, brave diverse, and that's what we will continue to celebrate. Extraordinary and indecent music does not exist in an aesthetic vacuum. It is shaped by and responds to the society that creates it, which is why as the mood in the United Kingdom turns dark we asked our writers and various musicians what their favourite anti-fascist - and anti-totalitarian - anthems are, interpreting those words however they saw fit. To enter the gallery click below. And please let us know what your favourite anti-fascist music is in the comment section below.

This feature has been built as a large gallery because all profits are going to The Jo Cox Fund

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Parthena Noula Mouratidis
Jun 28, 2016 9:25am

Woody Guthrie - All You Fascists Bound to Lose; The Clash - I Fought the Law; Leonard Cohen - First we take Manhatten.....

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Xiao Pignouf
Jun 28, 2016 9:36am

Hello, I do really love your website. You are indeed to me the best music adviser around. It's the second article i read after the Brexit vote and I'm kind of surprised about your opinions which I thought would more balanced when it comes to such a political matter. But to me it's not very fair to systematically associate the result of this vote to racism and fascism. In fact, it oversimplifies/caricatures the people who have voted in favor of Brexit. As i read somewhere that racist/nationalist/anti-immigration voters represent only 12% of the total "Leave" voters... I'm French, and the opposite of racist, but I don't want this EU anymore, for many reasons I cannot list here but i can sum up like that = what about being more fucking social & human ? May we French people follow your steps, to rebuild EU maybe. And please, give me one single name of an English prime minister since EU exists who was not a hypocrit and a liar protected/flattered by Bruxelles (and Washington of course)

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George W
Jun 28, 2016 11:25am

That this piece wishes to be taken seriously yet posits redundant old social media right at the start? The 'F' word.

The pernicious free resource beloved of bigots, fatties egotists and active, fervent musichaters the world over?

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Ash
Jun 28, 2016 12:42pm

Gang of Four - Entertainment, all of it!

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Conner
Jun 28, 2016 1:29pm

'Don't Back the Front' by the Desperate Bicycles encourages creative expression and liberation from narrow-mindedness, all the while reminding us how simple all this can be, with righteous lo-fi production

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Conner
Jun 28, 2016 1:30pm

'Don't Back the Front' by the Desperate Bicycles encourages creative expression and liberation from narrow-mindedness, all the while reminding us how simple all this can be, with righteous lo-fi production

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Barry Fentiman Hall
Jun 28, 2016 1:43pm

The Day The Nazi Died by those Chumbapeople

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Barry Fentiman Hall
Jun 28, 2016 1:47pm

In reply to Xiao Pignouf:

What I took from this is that the writers have observed that racists have become emboldened by the referendum. There is plenty of evidence of this already. Oh, and Harold Wilson by the way.

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freetofu
Jun 28, 2016 1:58pm

Wow, look at all the italics!

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freetofu
Jun 28, 2016 2:00pm

Oops, sorry, that was a comment on the Linton Kwesi Johnson – ‘Fite Dem Back’ page.

Wow, look at all the italics!

Thought someone might fix it if given a heads up.

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freetofu
Jun 28, 2016 2:00pm

Oops, sorry, that was a comment on the Linton Kwesi Johnson – ‘Fite Dem Back’ page.

Wow, look at all the italics!

Thought someone might fix it if given a heads up.

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Jun 28, 2016 2:23pm

I hope whoever put Michel Sardou on there did so as a joke (he's famous here in France for being almost national front and for writing a song about how great the colonies were with a chorus in pidgin French)

put Death to fascism by Radio dept up there instead

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Julian Bond
Jun 28, 2016 2:48pm

Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs

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Julian Bond
Jun 28, 2016 2:49pm

Is it time for "Skateboarders Against The Nazis" again?

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Leisegang Fantomat
Jun 28, 2016 2:52pm

The Bug & Flowdan - Dirty

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Nuno Mendonca
Jun 28, 2016 3:43pm

Ich Bin Ein Auslander - Pop Will Eat Itself

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John Doran
Jun 28, 2016 5:03pm

In reply to George W:

Nothing beats getting pissed at lunch time does it?

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F Again
Jun 28, 2016 6:00pm

Left out: Pretty much all Minutemen- how is that?

Also, a tune that still chills almost 40 years hence: "Night Rally".

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Steve Shafer
Jun 28, 2016 7:52pm

This is a great feature! Thanks!

One correction should be made to the Special AKA "Nelson Mandela" entry. Jerry Dammers didn't write "The Boiler," The Bodysnatchers--which included Rhoda Dakar--did (in fact, it was their first composition).

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RB
Jun 28, 2016 9:05pm

Totally right about 'All you need is love'. Have been listening to it on repeat since Friday...

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C Turner
Jun 28, 2016 9:22pm

Ghost of Oswald Mosely by Quiet Loner and No Passaran by Joe Solo.

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Lothrap Stoddard Jr.
Jun 28, 2016 10:36pm

The Kinks- Black Messiah.

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Bitheadz
Jun 28, 2016 11:42pm

Marlene Dietrich - Where Have All The Flowers Gone

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Mr K
Jun 29, 2016 8:30am

The record that still gets me going after all these years is TRB's "Power In The Darkness" album. I am old - got it the year it came out and I still love it's naive righteous fury. Sure they were more high quality pub-rock than punk, but they were tight and they were angry. "Up Against the Wall", "Ain't Gonna Take It", "Better Decide Which Side You're On" and the incendiary title track could all make this list. Dated and yet timeless.

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John Doran
Jun 29, 2016 8:34am

In reply to F Again:

Except we didn't. Andy Moore of The Ex chose Fascist by Minutemen. Tsch.

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Mr K
Jun 29, 2016 9:22am

Also, very rude of me to forget to say thanks for compiling this list - I've enjoyed revisiting the likes of Blaggers, Steel Pulse, LKJ and the Kennedys again. I have to say that whilst I love the Manics, "If You Tolerate This..." is a dreadful dirge. Perhaps an alternative could be "The Masses Against The Classes". Anyway, thanks again.

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Horst
Jun 29, 2016 3:56pm

Michel Sardou was and is still a fascist.

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F Again
Jun 29, 2016 8:36pm

In reply to John Doran:

Oh, stop. With all due respect to the quality of your work, swept into the Honorable Mention bin is hardly tsch-worthy, Mr. Doran, especially given two versions of 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off'.

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Sophie Nussle
Jun 30, 2016 12:05am

So many...

Victor Jara - Plegaria a un Labrador

Mercedes Sosa - La Maza

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Buffalo Soldier

Georges Brassens - Chanson pour l'Auvergnat

Immortal Technique - The Point of No Return

Kate Bush - Army Dreamers (that one makes me cry whenever I hear it).

Leonard Cohen - Democracy

and the original song of the maquis in Nazi-occupied France: Anna Marly - Le Chant des Partisans. 'Friend, if you fall, a friend will rise out of the shadows in your place'.

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Steve Shafer
Jun 30, 2016 2:04pm

The NY Citizens--a great late 80s/early 90s ska band from NYC--had a great anti-fascist song (from their "On the Move" LP) called "The National Front," with the lyric, "The National Front/You ain't nothing!/Beat it!"

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Eduardo
Jun 30, 2016 2:26pm

You know for someone with the last name Durruti, I'm a bit disappointed in Ben.

"Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed."

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Eduardo
Jun 30, 2016 2:29pm

In reply to Eduardo:

As for my favorite anti-fash/Nazi music:
Aus-Rotten - Fuck Nazi Sympathy
Sin Dios - Alerta Antifascista

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badgerfodder
Jun 30, 2016 9:53pm

Skunk Anansie: Little Baby Swastikkka

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hans kristiaan
Jul 1, 2016 1:00pm

Daniel Kahn & The painted bird - Embrace the Fascists

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Stu
Jul 2, 2016 9:22am

Sacrifice by Melvins https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UjhEo0MWDJU

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Jul 4, 2016 12:47pm

Ghosts of Cable Street, Men They Couldn't Hang.
Here's a link to make it easy for you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzKv5gjOzTA

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Trevor P
Oct 4, 2016 10:10pm

Heaven 17's 'We Don't Need No Fascist Groove Thing' always stirs up the 'Anti' in me. But here is Red Eye's contender
http://www.red-eye.org.uk/Little_England.html

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Michael Collins
Oct 6, 2016 10:25pm

Music can send a message and give a strength to the oppressed; via a knowledge that support and understanding exists outside their immediate environment. The world is not as narrow as it once seemed, there are others like you, and others not like you who support your struggle. Hope and belonging. Music contains a power to subvert, undetected, and this is why it must be destroyed :p x

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craig
Oct 8, 2016 3:30pm

From an Aussie, it isn't exactly anti-fascist but Mathas track "Nourishment" speaks volumes about fascist policy making and its lasting effects. A young Nyoongar rapper with massive lyrical potential. An absolutely brilliant track that deserves more than local national attention, which it has received.

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Matt
Oct 13, 2016 4:59pm

Bob Marley - "Crazy Baldheads"

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Trevor Goodchild
Dec 30, 2016 11:46am

Die Ärzte - Schrei nach Liebe

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