Massive Attack today pointed their email list to demonstrations protesting a renewed nuclear defense system in the UK. What’s unique about this particular movement is the number of high-profile British musicians expressing their position, including Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown, Jarvis Cocker, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Razorlight:

Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn, Massive Attack, Bloc Party: No Bomb! [ENERGYLAB]

The movement has a theme song, as well: “Don’t Bomb When You’re the Bomb,” by Blur. Interestingly, the single had a mysterious release: it showed up in UK record shops with only a plain red label and the name of the track written in Arabic. Music link and more explanation from high-cool:


Virgin Records is in on the act, too, with a no-name MySpace page with the track. Nice to see one of the majors taking a political stand.

A fan on YouTube has even assembled a music video:

Back to the issue at hand, there’s an official site for the demonstration tomorrow, with excellent background on why opposing the Trident defense system is a good idea. Excerpt:

We don’t want to go quietly into the darkness of a new nuclear age. We don’t think we should be spending billions on weapons of mass destruction and we don’t believe we’ll be any safer with a new generation of Trident. …

You could be writing, reading, talking, protesting. Make a noise. Or you could whitewash your windowpanes, put a paper bag over your head, sit under the stairs and wait for the bomb to drop.

UK readers, if you go, send us photos — especially if you get a paparazzi shot of Thom Yorke. I’ll generally keep politics off CDM, but I’ll say I’m personally against nuclear proliferation, because I don’t like bombs. Oddly enough, it takes Socialists to make this argument. As a capitalist (living right off Wall Street, no less), I firmly believe blowing up the planet is bad. As this argument sets nicely to music, involving musicians is a good.

  • anon

    "As a capitalist, I firmly believe blowing up the planet is bad."

    Yeh cause capitalism's done wonderful things for the planet!

    Anyway at least your trying to do something good here. Personally I'd prefer to campaign for freedom of information, so we can find out why the government thinks it's such a good idea to pack nukes (pending dramas between US/N Korea maybe?) rather than making a blanket decision based on fear of nasty weapons.

  • Mike

    "Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb" was released prior to Think Tank (2003) and was kind of a response to the anti-Arab sentiment prevalent at the time – hence the Arabic title on the record. Good to see it being picked up again by this movement.

    Best of luck to the protesters, but it doesn't seem that the British government has any interest in listening to the public; what good did the Anti-War protest do, and there were millions of us on that one?

  • Hi Mike,

    Thanks for clearing that up … I had trouble digging up information on the record. Now it's been used for two worthy sentiments.

    As for freedom of information, anon, I don't know the laws in the UK. In the US, we have extensive legal protection for freedom of information and transparency in our government — but it does require an active and conscientious press and public to use it, to hold both our political parties accountable. For all the criticism of musicians becoming political, part of the reason they have the right to do that is that everybody does; important issues shouldn't be left up to the "professionals." I'm hopeful that people from all ends of our political spectrum will increase their engagement in that system.

    And, uh, I'm being tongue-in-cheek about capitalism — but I do think basic survival ought to be something on which all reasonable isms can agree.


  • Look, nobody wants the world blown up. But capitalism and democracy have worked better so far than any other system the world has tried.

    But honestly, thinking that if all the western nations would just get rid of the bomb then the world would be better IS "whitewashing the windows and putting a bag over your head."

    Theres ALWAYS going to be somebody with a nuke. Once they were brought into existence there was no going back. But if you want a world in which only N. Korea, India, Pakistan, and China have nukes, you're not thinking.

    This is why I don't take political opinions from musicians any more than I take music from politicians.

  • I agree, completely, deltasleep — it'd be naive to dismantle the West without dismantling arsenals elsewhere. But the whole point is supposed to be to dismantle all these stocks simultaneously. And reducing the fabrication of new weapons absolutely helps prevent other nations from getting their hands on more, particularly if it's international — not only from the West, but the East, as well. Maybe this action is about unilaterally disarming the UK, but I don't get that sense.

    This action is specific to the one system, the Trident, and the UK; I can't speak to the exact situation there. But given that the US is the major remaining nuclear superpower, and that we manufacture and sell a lot of the nuclear weapons technology to the world, and that we engineering a lot of the non-proliferation treaties, I'd say it is our obligation to work toward dismantling nuclear arsenals at home as well as abroad. Our diplomacy has been lax in terms of removing threats abroad, though you may have seen the recent (and promising) Korean deal. Having the UK as a major ally doing the same thing would be helpful, and any event like this raises non-proliferation awareness.

    I've spent some time talking to politicians. I agree they can't sing, but I know many musicians who are better educated than the politicians. And whatever your opinion, whether we agree as the "musical voting block" (ahem) or not, it's certainly our obligation to communicate our opinions to our elected representatives.

    I'm still for capitalism.

    Oh, and admittedly while this has absolutely no direct connection to "creating digital music", I think it's worth discussing — this is part of whom musicians are, and whether or not we agree, most of the electronic musicians I know are very passionate about political issues, so it's part of the picture.

  • The is full of leaders like Aung San Su Chi, Kim Jong Il, Musharraf, Ahmedinejad, etc etc etc. You can never be certain that they will have dropped. Leaders like these have repeatedly made false agreements to exchange payouts for disarming. I would not want to be one of the nations who decided to disarm, and then got caught with my pants down having elected not to maintain the most powerful weapons on earth.

    The world of international politics is incredibly uncivilized, and international law, treaties, accords, agreements, etc. with despots aren't worth the paper they are written on.

    I will agree though, that we have way overshot the production level necessary to maintain a reasonable arsenal. For instance, we(the US) currently have a surplus of plutonium of tens of thousands of tons.

  • For the record: I recognize I've opened a Pandora's box by posting this at all. But music has been used to serve every conceivable political goal; politics and music are intertwined because music is an important way in which people express themselves.

    Anyone who posts comments that imply criticism of groups of people because of their background will be removed from the site. (No, none of these comments are — that's why they're still here.) Please, disagree — this is an open forum — but do so in a way that is respectful, as on any post (non-political or political).

  • It's a good discussion to be having, but its worth saying that in every political discourse, the further you get in any direction, the more shrill voices become.

    Society benefits from people who push for extremes of idealism, because it forces a debate to resolve the cognitive disequilibrium.

  • Sturgeon Splash

    To anon:

    It is fashionable to bash capitalism, but there really are two kinds of people in this world:

    The people who prefer capitalism, and say so.

    The people who prefer capitalism, but want to seem edgy and with it and pretend to be socialists.

    No one is giving up their mac or ipod, or their Moog Voyager or their Toyota car or any of that capitalist stuff to live on a Cuban or North Korean style commune, no matter how cool they think it is to wear a Che Guavara T-Shirt. And certainly these socialist celebs aren't going to give up their multi-million dollar record contracts, their product endorsement deals, or their jet set lifestyles.

    And certainly, anyone who ever visited a real socialist or former-socialist country would never long for getting rid of western style democracy or capitalism.

    As for nukes – how exactly to you stop nuclear proliferation? You can say "we will all give up nukes simultaniously", but what happens when one country decides they won't give up the nukes? Are you for invading that country? A total embargo (that will destroy their economy and kill people)? If you want to stop nuclear proliferation, what are you willing to do to really stop it? Because singing songs and releasing white-label records aren't going to cut it, stopping it in the real world is going to get messy and get people killed. I personally would like to see a world without nuclear weapons, but I think the inevitable bloodshed and death that would come from any real effort at getting rid of nukes to be not worth it. The threat of mutually assured destruction seemed to work pretty good at stopping nuclear war thus far.

    This is just another fashionable empty cause for self-centered arrogant and egotistical "socialist" millionares to grandstand. Kind of like when Bono talks about global warming, but yet with his houses and private jets and crap produces CO2 emissions equivalent to 50,000 North Americans.

  • Thanks to everyone for keeping this civil. I know nothing brings out the fringe elements like politics & religion! Musicians and other artists often have strongly held political views and it's okay to talk about what you think is right or wrong.

    With respect to Sturgeon Stash's comments about nuclear proliferation, I have to unequivocally disagree. We were, until recently, seeing a sharp decrease in the nuclear arsenals of those countries who possessed such weapons. The change in global politics, and especially in American foreign policy in the last 8 years has has had a chilling effect on non-proliferation. That said, reductions in the amount of nuclear weapons had been happening without any of the the inevitable bloodshed and death that would come from any real effort at getting rid of nukes that you mention. It simply just hasn't happened. The amount of money spent on nuclear arms is staggering and the potential positive effects that kind of money could have if used to stabilize economies, invest significantly in public/social infrastructure and start to create a safer global community could be amazing. It would also help stop driving recruitment and radicalization of fringe elements/terrorists if there was less of a yawning chasm between the lifestyle we enjoy in the West and what happens elsewhere in the world.

    It's entirely appropriate for a musician (or any person) to voice their opinion and challenge the status quo. I recognise that sometimes these statements can ring a little hollow, when they return to their mansions etc at the end of the day. But the same could feasibly said about any politician who talks of social justice and then returns to their mansion for a night's sleep. I don't think that financial success necessarily should be a barrier to a person having a valid opinion on the state of the world. If anyone has a vested interest in that same status quo that they're attacking it's those who have profited from it so far. Whether you think that it's a fashionable or empty cause or not, it's a very important one and has an important place in discourse.

  • bliss

    Man wants to survive, but people want to kill people. Generally speaking, it doesn't matter what group that one openly or secretly identifies with, there will be someone or a few members of that group who are bent on blowing the opposition, real enemies and perceived future threats, to kingdom come. Capitalism or consumerism has not stemmed the desire and need to kill one bit. It has been argued that the desire and need to kill has been increased by capitalism. And as arguments go, one cannot fashion a good one in favor of capitalism without also recognizing and highlighting that it was founded, works and thrives under the protectorate and threat of weapons. No economic or political system has ever transcended the prospect of war, that we can remember. And if there ever did, what was it? What happened to it? The people of the western world are once again being distracted by nuclear armament and proliferation, but it certainly can be shown that more people are dying and have died from the everyday machete, land mine, Kalishnikov and M-16 rifles than from nuclear weapons. Even homemade pipe bombs have been making a notable upsurge in effectiveness. Sure, stand for no nukes, but what about the everyday revolver?

    Human resources–who needs it when precious metals, minerals, and oil are so much more lucrative and immediately profitable? If countries are not lying in the path of lucrative or potentially lucrative natural resources, then they are ignored by other countries and powers who would control or desire to control those resources. These days oil, a hill of beans, and fresh water are all worth the kill. The end will be the end, of course. As long as economic and political systems nurture polarity we will have war. So much for spaghetti westerns being fun to watch, so much for bumble bees and the honey they make. In the end, in the line of fire, quality of life doesn't mean as much as life itself. Too bad people do not understand this in the way that mankind does. Insanity does not make for an effective defense in the case of people; in the case of mankind, it is unfortunate.

  • bliss

    Insanity does not make for an effective defense in the case of people; in the case of mankind, it is unfortunate that insanity is the people's choice.