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On The Run!

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Last year at this time, sitting n a segregation cell n the penitentiary, I spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the economie implications of the music we're surrounded with out here, and some of that writing was printed in this column (it was called "Dragon Teeth" then) as part of a series on "rock and roll imperial ism." I haven't had the time, really, to write about it much since - I stopped the series in the middle of September last year I think, in order to concéntrate my writing on trying to get myself out of the joint, and since l've been home it's been killer hard to take time out from doing, or trying to do what I was writing about before in order to write about it some more, you know what I mean? Like I even missed writing anything the last two issues because I was running so hard, and it's the last minute again for this week's babble, but I been thinking about it so much lately that I got to write some of it down just to get t off my mind. What we mean by rock and roll mperialism is simply the process by which our music in particular and our culture in general, at the very least in their economie term, are controlled and manipulated and even used against us by people who are not even part of our culture and have nothing more to do with it than what they use of it to exploit us and keep us down. It is a process which is easy for most of us to understand because it affects us so directly every day of our lives, because it works on us in everv ohase of our lives - which is because, finally, our culture is our Mves every day, and the music is right at the center of it, and all of us are affected by the economie context of the music one way or another, no matter who we are or pvpn uuho we think we are. riqht? I mean the music is that close to us, to our lives and breath, that we can't and don't always understand how it works on us, or how its economie term in particular works on us, at least not in any way which would propose a course of action or something we could do about t to make it more the way we are getting to know t could be if everything was right, you know? Like t is in the parks on Sunday afternoons all summer, for example. For free, and in an atmosphere which is most conducive to the musicians and everybody else getting off together the way we should be able to get off when we all get together like that in the music. I don't think I really need to talk too much in this paper any more about the bogus aspects of the music scène, that is, to describe them or anything like that any more, because everybody who goes to concerts or other music scènes knows atready what the limitations and humiliations of the present form of music presentation do to the bands and the people who live in their music. No dancing, no getting out of your seats without being forcibly reseated by some pigs hired for the occasion, no say over anything that happens on the stage or in the other space all night, no good feeling of knowing that the money you paid at the boxoffice is going for something that's gonna do some people you know, or feel for, some good, you know? The whole thing is ridiculous, everybody knows that, but it's time to start going further than just talking about it idly, as if t was the seasons or the weather or something else you can't do anything about, right? There's not a whole lot right now that most people can do about the situation (more than they're doing already, which s considerable - but l'll get to that n a minute) except talk about t, but even there l'm concerned that the talk not be idle but useful in some way, i.e., some way that would move all of us closer to where we want to be and not just make a small indentation in the air around our mouths as most talk does when it's hopeless and full of mpossibility. In other words, we all need to know a whole more about our music and its economie term than we know now, and we have to be able then to put that knowledge into a context and into a practice that will make it different somehow, and not just "different" but better and better all the time. We need to understand the forces that work on us through the music industry, we need to define our goals and our plans for reaching them, we need to define our frienris and our enemies, and our potential friends and enemies, and we need to go beyond understanding into various modes of action, individually and collectiv ely, so we can begin to achieve some power over tms Kilfer important aspect of our lives. Huey P. Newton said once, and I can never quote him enough, "Power is the ability to define phenomena and to make them act in a desired manner." The definition would be first, and then the action which makes the definition take on its fullest and most useful sense. Or as Marx said it, t's not enough to understand reality - the point is to change t. OK. There is one other thing I should say in front too, before I try to get more specific - brother Mao Tse-tung, as long as l'm quoting people now, laid it out best in his simple statement "Social practice is the criterion of truth." Which means that finally ideas and words and their permutations (idio-logy, idea-word-system) stand or fall on their application in practice, or, on the way they match up with what we would cali objective reality, right? In other words, no idea is finally worth any more than its applicability in practice, and then its application in practice - no matter how beautiful an idea may be as it's conceived, that is, in the abstract, its real utility lies only in its accessibility to millions of people and in its concrete practicality as a proposed course of action which when carried out would effectively change for the better the social order (on whatever scale) in which (and to which) t is being offered. Particularly in a period of incredibly accelerating revolutionary change, in a fully revolutionary period during which vast economie, political and cultural changes are going down, particularly during times like the time and space we inhabit here in Babyion USA right now is t absolutely imperative that we pay the closest possible attention to the practicality of whatever schemes are dreamed up out of our collective consciousness and offered to us as the solution, or as steps toward the solution, to our common problems. And ideas are more dangerous than ever now, mostly because they can get disseminated so widely and so quickly and to so many hundreds of thousands of people who are ready to deal effectively with those ideas if they are expressed in -any kind of common way, that is, so that people can understand them - and, if they have any potential as working, that is, effective, solutions. What's particulary dangerous about mpractical ideas and ineffective so-called solutions during the present period is that even though our culture and our people ha: grown so huge in the past few years as to begin to make the kind of change we talk about now possible, we are still almost wholly an unorganized people, an oppressed and exploited people, a people which has an unprecedented wealth of human resources but which is unable to use that wpalth and to share that wealth communally as we would were we able, precisely because we are oppressed and exploited and unorganized. In other words, because there are now so fucking many of us, so many rainbow people and so many people who are total ly ready to Decome rainbowized as soon as they can find a way to cut into us and relate their own lives to what this thing is about (and remember that most of us, anyway, and I can testify for my own self in particular, had to find a way to relate our pitifui honkoid lives to what we saw and felt to be a much more beau ti ful possibility, f we could only figure out some way to get into it - and we did, and here we are) - because there are so many of us and because our possibilities as a people are so much vaster than our present capability to make use of them: because of these things we can least afford to be wasting our time and energy, those of us who are already active, and our people's time and energy, those of us who are ready to become active as soon as we can find a workable to hook ourselves up with whatever is happening that looks like it might mean something, we can least afford to be misusing our potential by blowing it on shit that just don't work, you know? We have to take the little bit of organized nformed, active or potentially active resources we have somewhat under our own control now and use them where they will do the most good the fastest in terms of our immediate needs and of our long-range goals and strategies, or else our forward motion toward the world we all dream of will be slowed down even more than it is already by the forces of imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism and the other essential elements of western civilization which are responsible for our bogus social condition in the first place. Well. I started this rap to try to engage in some heavy self-criticism, to say that a lot of what I was running in this space a year ago simply didn't go far enough, and because t didn't go far enough it wasn't as useful as it should've been. And the other thing was that because I was sitting locked up in a cage, disengaged almost entirely from the life of the people out here in the streets and unable to make practical investigations of reality for myself, ideas and programs I wou ld propose would often be impractical at best, and totally ineffective (under present conditions anyway) -t worst. Practical experience is the final criterion of what is useful and real, and without concrete practical experience to test any given ideas the ideas are at best nteresting, you know what I mean? But not much more than that, because it isn't ideas but the implementation of correct ideas in practice among masses of people continued on page 14 What we mean by rock n' roll imperialism is simply the process by shich our music in particular and our culture in general, at the yery least in their economie term, are contraled and manipulated andeven used against us by people who are not even part of our culture and have nothing more to do with it than what they use of it to exploit us and put us down. mw&MWf continued from page 1 1 and with their active participaron that gives those ideas their proper weight, and makes them truly worth considering. Let me go back to one last thing if I can, and then take this out for the time befng: we have to be concerned about the practicality of our ideas at this particular point in history because there is now the distinct possibil ity that those ideas could be carried on through to their natural conclusión, or inclusión, in the daily practice of millions of people in this country, and we have too little time even to mal?e the inevitable tactical mistakes people must make on the way to finding out fiow to do something right, let alone to make large strategie and, worse than that, analytical mistakes which give rise to vaster and vaster strategie and tactical blunders because the analysis is at the core of whatever is being attempted, every thing else flows out from that core, and if the core sn't right then the whole trip will eventually and inevitably turn out wrong, you dig? As a people we need the most practical and the most concrete possible programs right now f we are to being to realize our strength and our potential as an economie, political and cultural forcé in this world. People who are putting out ideas and schemes and scams for brothers and sisters in the streets to relate to and embrace have to take responsibility for their rhetoric, and l'll say again here that I mean you to start with me and not some other person or persons I may seem to be pointing at, OK? That's why I wanted to start this series again, to talk about some of the concrete projects that are being developed here in this community and around the country which relate to self-determination music and to the communalist economie development of our (rainbow) national resources, and to try to lay out for the people in this community who read this newspaper the principies and the analyses behind the programs and projects I personally and the people I have the opportunity to work with generally are undertaking and attempting to carry out in practice. This would include things like the Community Parks Program, the Ann Arbor People's Ballroom, the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, the Indochina Medicine Show, and The Rainbow Corporation in all its multi-media permutations, for starters, and it would exterfd to whatever other thrusts toward self-determination and people's music are being made in this community and wherever else we can get news from. I can't go on any further with it today because l've already used more space in this issue than I was supposed to, but if you can try to hold this column in your mind or hand when you get the next one - where I hope to be able to talk with a whole lot more specificity - then we can go from the top and not have to run back through these basic principies again. The exciting thing is that there are institutions and methodologies developing in this particular community, that is, the Ann Arbor rainbow community, which are not only wholly unique in this country but which are, more importantly, the beginnings of a communalist socialpolitical economie order which I would propose as the replacement for the order which now strives so mightily to keep us under its social, economie, political and cultural control. We are developing through practice based in a particular social analysis ways and means of dealing with our common problems as a people, significant number of people in this community are actively engaged on a daily basis in putting their ideas into action and developing them to a higher level by testing them against reality, we have a situation here which should be understood and investigated by every concerned human in town, especially by people who are into music and its economie implications at all, and l'll try in the next few columns in this space to be a little clearer and a lot more concrete in attempting to run down what I understand of t to people who might be digging t but don't quite know yet what to make of it or why. People need to know what's behind the events and activities they take part in, and we really can't grow together the way we have to unless all of us can work together on the basis of a common analysis and a commonly accepted course of action. Blah, blah, blah, that's enough of this abstract babble for one week, let me try it again the next time and see if f can do any better, OK? l'll keep trying as long as you'll put up with me. All Power to the People!