Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Political Songwriter

Much of what passes for music these days is an expression of hedonism on the one hand and nihilism on the other. Poetic songs have all but disappeared; melodic ones too. Loud, raucous blasts as a background to semi-naked teens and twenties girls fill our screens and 'stadiums'.

Most of it is a tool of the Left to dumb-down the young and keep them down. Entertainment was the easiest of the 'Institutions' for Gramsci's illiterate demons to march through. Dumb 'Rap' is its perfectly imperfect.

(James Higham, a regular here in the UK room, would include many visual 'artists' and architects too.)

But.... almost hidden amongst the dross and the noise, though almost just as noisy, are to be found some 'conservative' or even what the left would call 'right-wing' songwriters and performers.

Mike Adams brought some mates around to the Music room to blast our ears and to 'translate' for us.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the books of Ayn Rand. After escaping from the Soviet Union in the 1920s, Rand became a famous American playwright, philosopher, and novelist. She has written many books – three of which I would urge everyone to read.  
The first, Anthem, is a lot like Orwell’s 1984. The second, The Fountainhead, is a longer novel expounding on her philosophy, which is known as objectivism. The third, Atlas Shrugged, is her most famous work and includes the most complete explanation of her views on economics and morality.

For those interested in Rand, I also recommend a song that was inspired by a rock musician who reads her work.  
His name is Neil Peart – a member of the band “Rush.”  
Neil is the greatest rock and roll drummer who ever lived. He is also one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived.
Hmmm. I can assure you that such a claim raised some hackles in the bars and many pints of calming fluid were pulled.
The Trees
Mike Adams 

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, Peart wrote “The Trees,” which fast became one of my favorite songs. I didn’t know at the time that the song was a  
stinging indictment of socialism and communism  
inspired by Neil’s reading of Ayn Rand novels.  
The verses  are below with some brief comments in between most verses.

There is unrest in the forest,
there is trouble with the trees,
for the maples want more sunlight
and the oaks ignore their pleas.

When I look back on it, I am somewhat embarrassed that it took me so long to figure out the symbolism behind the oak versus maple contrast.  

This is a classic Marxist over-simplification, which is intentional on Peart’s behalf.  
There were only two classes of people according to Marx - the “haves” and the “have nots” or, as he called them, the “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat.”  
Here, the oaks are the “haves” or the “bourgeoisie” and the maples are the “have nots” or the “proletariat.”

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
they say the oaks are just too lofty
and they grab up all the light.

This verse is interesting because it raises the issue of absolute versus relative poverty 

When the maples claim that the oak trees grab up all the light they are exaggerating – actually, the author of the song, Neil Peart, is exaggerating for effect.  
Oaks are big trees, to be sure. In my own yard, there is an oak that is 100 feet tall that will eventually grow to be about 125 feet tall. But maples are big trees, too. I have a sugar maple that is about 60 feet tall that will eventually grow to be about 80 feet tall.

Peart, quite ingeniously, shows that the “have nots” would be more accurately characterized as simply “having less than others.”  
Their problem is not that they do not have enough to get by. The problem is that, in their view, the oaks are just “too lofty.”  
In other words, others have too much 
That is the key phrase in this paragraph because it reveals that covetousness, rather than true need, is what motivates the maples.  
In reality, that is always the motive of the collectivist.

But the oaks can't help their feelings
if they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
can’t be happy in their shade.

It is funny to me that the lyrics to this song were written just a few years before Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. After he took office, there was no small amount of controversy about his ideas concerning “trickle down” economics. Here, the oaks seem to reference the idea that their loftiness benefits others, too – this time, in the form of shade. This is a classic “trickle down” economic argument. 

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
as the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads.

So the maples formed a union
and demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
we will make them give us light."

This is classic Ayn Rand.  
She focuses on unjustly taking from someone that which he has earned – noting that this always involves a violent struggle.  
The maples begin by screaming, and then they start demanding. Finally, they settle upon force, not reason, in order to obtain what they want. The results are always predictable.

Now there's no more oak oppression,
for they passed a noble law,
and the trees are all kept equal
by hatchet, axe, and saw.

This last verse is chilling because it reveals two truths about progressivism:

1) Progressivism is not progressive.  
Oppression is ended and equality is achieved not by advancing anyone but by retarding the achievements of some.

2) Social justice is punitive, not restorative 
No one is restored under a progressive system, but people are often punished in order to guarantee equal outcome. That is another reason why Rand prefers to use the term “collectivism” rather than “progressivism.”

Ayn Rand was not a Christian. Nor was she one who professed belief in the Ten Commandments.  
Nonetheless, she understood that what is often packaged as compassion is really covetousness in disguise. We would do well to familiarize ourselves with her work in an age of “collective” historical amnesia. Screams of oppression and cries for revolution are never more than a generation away.

(Author’s (Mike's) Note: This is a column I wrote back a few years ago but never published. Instead, it appeared in abbreviated form in my latest book, Letters to a Young Progressive. Given recent political trends, I thought it would be good to publish it in its original extended form.)

 If pressed, this Tavern Keeper might recommend a rock singer-songwriter, even though only small riffs can be taken. But I can listen to him 'rant' all day.

Alfonzo Rachel, of 20Lb Sledge.

If you have not heard a seemingly across-the-tracks black man who can speak with the fluidity of Daniel Hannan and just as 'conservative', this rapid-fire speaker can also belt out some heavy rock.

Divine Battery by 20 lb SLEDGE
Zo, as he is sometimes known, is electric as a speaker. You can find out more about him at:
Meanwhile, my ears need refreshing. I could offer Zo a job here.


  1. That is an interesting analogy between the Oak and the Maple...

    In nature Oak trees sustain life. They provide an environment for birds and insects to thrive. They have a symbiotic relationship with Ivy. They provide a welcome shade (with stunning dappling light) from the height of an English summer. The also provide shelter from the rain...

    Maples on the other hand look beautiful, their colours attract attention (and perhaps shelter from the sun and rain).

    From a photographers point of view the Maple is superficial and the Oak has depth.

    However I could be biased... I have a beautiful Oak tree at the back of my garden, always capturing my attention whatever the light...

  2. Your reference to Ayn Rand is interesting and I see many parallels within society today. Her reference to “Taggart Steel” and laws enacted to ensure the survival of inefficient corporations has dark symbolism in relation to the global financial crisis and the bail-out of banks by taxpayers (whether-or-not they approved) and once bailed out their strident cries “but you can trust us now”! The vision of the chiefs of the major car corporations arriving in their $50+ million corporate jets to demand tax payer handouts to continue to produce vehicles their customers would no long buy was symptomatic of the malaise. The government tolerated repetitive gouging of the public by the entire banking sector, insurance companies, oil companies, telco’s, electricity, gas and water companies, the blatant dishonesty of the most prominent public figures – “competition created by selling-off the public assets will keep prices low” – “there will be no carbon tax” etc, etc, etc.

    I observe the management of some of our most prominent corporations and am staggered by the appalling decisions, untutored changes in direction and focus, resulting in awful waste and the pitiful bleatings from the boardroom as company after company demands that the taxpayer guarantee their profitability.

    I have watched as noble Australian companies have been sold off, mostly to American interests, the profits being transferred off-shore, accounting systems restructured to ensure profits accrue only in a low tax environment and then they demand taxpayer funds to continue “unprofitable” local operations. I watch international giants charge Australians significantly more for the same product by the implementation of “Geo-blocking”, reefing out the profits and contributing virtually nothing by way of tax.

    In every case, the bloated, fat and sassy senior execs depart, joyfully dragging their loot behind them, laughing all the way to the (off-shore) bank and hard-working employee’s wonder how the hell they will feed their families and pay the mortgage in three month’s time as they are forced to carry the burden of stupid management decisions. I have watched the continual casualisation of the workforce, turning employee’s into supplicants who will only get a day’s work if they “toe the line”. And year in and year out the corporations announce record profits as they savage their loyal and committed workforce.

    At some stage, someone, somewhere will wake up to the fact that if you want to be profitable, you must have customers and if you want those customers to purchase the junk that is being produced, they must be paid reasonably for their labour and expertise. History is rich with examples of corporations prospering by working with their employee’s and nurturing them – Fletcher-Jones, Heineken, Pullman, and even Henry Ford instituted a scheme where-by every employee was assisted to purchase one of his cars.

    The destruction of middle management has also meant the destruction of the corporate memory and the fad of employing chief execs on short-term contracts, paying them huge bonus’s through the stock market via options has led to an emphasis on cost cutting, short term objectives and “jumping ship while the going is good”. I have yet to see remuneration reflecting increases in productivity. Again the employee’s are left to “carry the can”, the Boards wring their hands in despair and the next appointee embarks on another round of cost cutting, staff lay-off’s and more short term fixes.

    Free Trade Agreements will continue to be promoted, but none of them are “Fair Trade Agreements” Just try to sell an Australian produced car in Thailand, Japan or Korea.

    Ayn Rand would be sitting comfortably, lighting her cigarette emblazoned with the dollar insignia printed in bold gold, sipping her preferred tipple and shaking her head while whispering “they just didn’t listen”!
    I must now go and prepare my own earplugs.
    Peter H.

    1. Governments (from my UK perspective) have a tendency to sell off their private companies and also public sector departments to certain 'Corporate Buddies'.

      The 'Corporate Buddies' are big corporations who's main concern is profit for the shareholders.

      And if we dig a little deeper we can see the shifting of some retired politicians into jobs and consultancies in companies that the were involved when they were a politician (making a tidy profit from it, perhaps against public interest?)... In days gone by that was not allowed, there were rules... those rules still apply for lesser mortals...

  3. What commentary. We could run busses through many a point of view and here we have a line of buses for a thousand passengers. Neither of you touched on (explicitly) the almost complete lack of 'capitalism' in the western world. We have crony capitalism with crooks in and out of government not simply 'regulating' but manipulating. And not for anyone's seeming benefit that we can see. The 'hidden hand' is firmly inside gloves of steel. Get to it !! Name and shame. Hahahaha

    1. I can see the benefit of those regulations, unfortunately it is not for us the people *sighs*.

      Capitalism is not something I would mention. Capitalism is confused with authoritarianism/libertarianism. The two things need to be separated to make sense...


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..