clap clap blog: we have moved

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Greil Marcus writes:

1) Patti Smith at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Berkeley (June 15) Smith and Boots Riley of the Coup were performing in support of International A.N.S.W.E.R., a group affiliated with the Workers World Party, the left-fascist sect that uses Ramsey Clark as its dummy and the Palestinian Intifada as its true cause. It being Father's Day, Smith dedicated "People Have the Power" to her father. He was gone, she said--but there was still Ralph Nader, "father to us all." Or, as Paul Berman, author of the recent Terror and Liberalism, wrote two days earlier in Salon of the Nader cult, "I interpret the Green Party as a movement of the middle and upper-middle class, as actually having a certain satisfaction with the way things are--which is to say, the reason you should vote for the Greens is because you want to feel the excitement of political engagement, the adventure of it, but you don't really care what it's going to mean for other people if the Republicans get elected." You're voting not as a member of a polity, where each citizen is presumed tied to every other; you're voting to place yourself above not only your fellow citizens, but above the democratic ritual that presumes to make a republic. You're voting to affirm your own purity--like voting Republican, as Krist Novolesic put it when Nirvana was first accused of selling out, "so you can get tax breaks. Now that's sold out."

I went to see a free Patti Smith concert down at Battery Park, and I had a similarly distressed reaction to the kind of taken-for-granted politics she was going on about. (Suffice to say she didn't say anything this egregious, or you would've seen a post about it right away.) It was good to hear, I guessed, and I agreed with it, I guessed, but at the same time, I didn't. It was too easy, too pat, too nod-nod-yes-yes-right-on. It made me uncomfortable, in other words, or embarassed for her, or something, and while at the time I felt this was an impulse I should just get over, hearing her call Nader "father to us all," a deeply, deeply creepy act, makes me feel a bit more assured about my gut reaction.

It was just a bit odd to hear her start yelling about Bush in the space a musician would normally be yelling about how great a crowd we are, or something. Know what I mean?