Our recent review of the latest EP from Sheffield extreme metal anarchists, Utilitarian, questioned the political philosophy of the band and criticised their worldview.
Vocalist, Jon Crowder, would like to challenge some of our criticisms. Therefore, we offered him a chance to write an op-ed piece to refute our arguments.
You can read the original review of Utilitarian’s excellent Stay Angry EP here. We should point out that we are big admirers of the band’s metallic hardcore sound and look forward to their next release in 2021.
As faithful readers of Scream Blast Repeat, we leave it up to you to decide where you stand in the ongoing debate of racism in Britain and the political alternatives to capitalism.
Statement from Jon Crowder:
We are grateful that you chose to review our EP, Stay Angry, which was released last November, however there were some accusations made about our political message that we believe it is important to challenge.
“According to the band’s worldview, all white people are racist (often through their complicit silence)”
This is a fundamentally incorrect (and we believe disingenuous) reading of our message. The reviewer would do well to notice the skin colour of the band members to understand how this was indeed not our point. The lines we believe this refers to is in the title track ‘Stay Angry’.
“Death to white supremacy
We all share a common enemy
Cancer in the system, built on state violence
State sponsored murder and white silence”
The point being made [in the lyrics above] is that ‘white supremacy’ is a wound on our society that hurts everyone. It’s not simply “a problem that non-whites have to solve and god-bless-em we wish em luck!”. It’s a common enemy. One we all have a duty to fight and three of the pillars which underpin it are mentioned here:
State violence, the suppression of non-white voices and causes.
State-sponsored murder, as in the murder of George Floyd, or in the UK, the murder of Jimmy Mubenga (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28153863). At the time of writing, Mubenga’s killers have not been charged.
Addressing the ‘white silence’ part specifically. That’s criticism of the presentation of ‘black deaths’, ‘black violence’, ‘black struggle’ as ‘black issues’ and the distancing of ourselves from those struggles. It’s simply not good enough to make excuses for racist institutions, or to not consider our own actions and priorities and how they contribute to creating either a racist or an anti-racist society.
“[According to Utilitarian] democratic governments are oppressive leviathans”
We invite the reviewer to explore how ‘democratic’ our own government has been in the past few years with the following points in mind:
The House of Lords exists, has legislative power, is mostly filled with hereditary peers, bishops, landowners and political party donors. Neither you, nor I, nor our elected officials have any say over who sits after they are appointed. Indeed, if the electorate reject somebody, or a member of parliament fears their chances of re-election, as Nicky Morgan did, then they can simply be packed into the House of Lords and given a senior job in government, as Nicky Morgan did. You can add that to Peter “Cash-for-Access” Cruddas recently receiving his peerage, despite his role in the corruption of the democratic process. The US has similar issues with packing their own courts. The electorate be damned! Democracy indeed.
We should examine the Conservative Party manifesto of 2019 and the promises it made. One might remember the ‘oven-ready’ deals that featured in the campaign. That, in itself, could be an article of its own, however you can enjoy that for yourself here: https://feweek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Conservative2019Manifesto.pdf
For further reading, you should sample the Conservative Party manifesto of 2017, and how it was thrown out upon re-election.
There was also the 28th August 2019 proroguing of parliament which happened upon the advice of Conservative prime minister, Boris Johnson, advice that was later ruled to be unlawful.
There remains to be a review on the use of emergency powers during the 2020 pandemic and if they too have been just. While you’re waiting for that, we invite readers to investigate a report on the UKs pandemic spending and decide for themselves if elected officials were acting in the interests of the electorate with these decisions. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/17/world/europe/britain-covid-contracts.html
It’s also worth considering that the struggle for power and representation is a global one, and you can consider the executive powers of a US president as damning an indictment of contemporary ‘democracy’ as any.
“Such rhetoric is unworthy of serious intellectual discussion, mainly because it’s not true. Ask an Eritrean refugee fleeing conscription to a lifetime of military servitude if he thinks Britain is a racist capitalist state that will endanger his life on arrival.”
This is a weak argument. For example, fleeing war-torn Syria and making a home in Arkansas, USA wouldn’t make Arkansas ‘not racist or capitalist’. There’s no question that the situation in Eritrea is dire, and one would do well to consider the role Italian and British colonialism and Soviet funding played in its creation, and how the west considers Eritrean refugees upon their arrival.
The existence of failed states does not, in itself, absolve other states from criticism. Although whilst we’re asking people about their personal experiences of racist and capitalist states, we would do well to consider the phenomenal number of voices expressing exactly that. We’ve given recommended reading lists before, but “Brit(ish)” by Afua Hirsch, “Natives” by Akala and “Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored” by Jeffrey Boakye are fantastic places to start, and windows into a world of experience for anyone who believes that Britain is ‘not racist’ and has the finest institutions in the world.
“The police constabularies in the UK are the most politically correct institutions in the land”
In one of the songs on the Stay Angry EP we listed the names of individuals murdered by police or state, the majority of those murders did not end in any conviction.
There is a broader argument to be made about the definition of ‘political correctness’ given that it’s traditionally been an effort to develop more inclusive language, however seems to have become something of a totem for the right to rally around in order to legitimise prejudice. However, it’s unclear how that phrase is being used here.
“White nationalism is a feeble joke that wins no respect on these shores.”
In the UK, in 2017, the Lammy Review found significant racial bias in the UK justice system. A very racially-targeted Brexit campaign itself dramatically increased the number of hate crimes committed.
In the US, the Southern Poverty Law Centre produced a report in March which stated that white nationalist hate groups in the US had increased by 55% throughout the Trump era.
You cannot have racism without white nationalism, because the very construction of ‘race’ as a concept is about the creation of racial hierarchies with white people in front.
Sometimes they wear hoods and burn crosses. Sometimes they get very angry on forums about ‘foreign aid’. But the end goal is the same.
“And how would an anarchist society cope with a global pandemic like Covid-19 when the overriding concern is to prevent the formation of a central government?”
It’s an interesting concept isn’t it? Anarcho-Syndicalism is our dominant philosophy, although in a broader sense it’s about power justifying its right to exist. It’s interesting to now look at how central government, with an overwhelming majority DID handle a global pandemic. The UK, with more than 71,000 deaths in the pandemic, has the fifth highest excess death toll per million people in the world. We also have the 3rd largest economic downturn in terms of GDP, behind only Spain and Peru. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and yet, we’re also feeling some of the most excess deaths per million and some of the greatest economic damage. Hardly a ringing endorsement for this model of capitalism and central government.
This is a good opportunity to educate on anarchism though, as the reviewer seems to pitch it as ‘anarcho-primitivism’ which is not what we believe and also which would be nigh on impossible to enact. Anarcho-Syndicalism, as expressed in the song ‘Anarchy (Justice Without Order)’, is about sharing power. Any hierarchy that cannot justify its right to exist must either be dismantled or replaced by decentralized egalitarian control. The Wiki on Anarcho-syndicalism is actually pretty informative, and well worth a read. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism. There’s also a recommended reading list in the book that comes with our first album Fight War, Not Wars. Destroy Power, Not People.
“It all feels a bit infantile to be calling for direct action in the name of a philosophy that envisions a pre-feudal order of tribal equality and self-sufficiency as the way forward.”
You’re thinking of primitivism, although it’s an interesting concept that an idea would be considered infantile simply because it’s old.
“How ironic that this philosophy is as reactionary as Islamic fundamentalism in its belief that we must return to a pre-modern past to secure the justice and equality of the future.”
There has never actually been a modern Anarcho-Syndicalist society, so it’s not something you can ‘return’ to. This has long been a misleading criticism of anarchy though, the idea that it’s about burning bras, burying your iPhone and refusing to pay your taxes. It’s curious to us that a society where you can only refuse to pay your taxes if you’re selling the iPhones can be considered as viable.
In closing, we reject criticism of the views presented on the message of the Stay Angry EP (and by extension, on the debut album) because mostly they are inaccurate, and where they are not explicitly inaccurate, they are reductive. Hierarchical societies are driving inequality and creating a class system on steroids. In a system where wealth is power, it’s unlikely that wealth will be surrendered willingly. However, that power has a fundamental weakness, in that it relies on the collective energies and labour of masses to sustain and grow it. You and I are not simply the dirt beneath their feet, we are their foundations, and together… we can shake.
*** Utilitarian self-released the Stay Angry EP on 6 November 2020. You can purchase and stream it from their Bandcamp page here.