Corporations, Capitalism and DIY Comfort Holes
Corporations, Capitalism and DIY Comfort Holes
by Joe Kidd – Oct 6th, 2004
hey seelan & all,
i would love to hear more discussion on this, especially from the others on the list.
anyway, the question of “elitism” does not arise when it comes to standing up against corporations strong-arming their way into the scene and its activities. to resist against such blatant “corporate takeovers/hijackings” of a youth culture that “stands up for something more than just pure entertainment” is a not being elitist at all. it’s about resistance against a subtly hostile adversary that has no other agenda than making money off you and your kind. it’s about standing up to what you believe in, especially if you’re against mindless consumerism, corporate greed and the numbing/dumbing-down of the public.
To play your music in front of corporate banners/posters/billboards which are actually against what you and your ideals stand for is, like i said, very silly. Personally, the scene is about independence from all these evils of the world we are living in and one of them is greed. Greed fuelled all these injustices, the lopsided, uneven distribution of global wealth and the brutal social conditions that people are subjected to today, and corporations are the main culprits.
Corporations are not “humane”. They are controlled by no one but boards of share-holders and they don’t want social justice nor equality for all. It’s all about profits and the way corporations work is not about sustaining a certain level of profitability, it’s about increasing profits. If they make 10 percent profit this year, they want 20 percent next year. And for them to make the same ten percent every year is not an achievement, it’s a failure and heads will roll.
Corporations who are actually making money, enough to raise their workers living conditions and standards, would rather channel the profits to “diversifying” or relocation to a more “cheaper” areas of operations, mostly they would retrench the workers and move on for more profits. Like I said, corporations are not about making people’s conditions better. It’s about making money. They don’t care about you. And for you to stand up there, playing your music, your heartfelt, blood-and-sweat-music under their banners of exploitation is SICK! All that you stands for suddenly trivial and full of bullshit talk. It stinks to high heaven, man.
So yeah, we need money for the gigs, to finance the bands’ rehearsals, accommodation and travelling expenses. That’s the reality of the world now but they are other ways for us to have a favourable compensation for all these needs. Instead of going for multinational corporations sponsors, why not small, mom-n-pop companies around you? The small record labels and DIY t-shirt brands around you? Or do what we have always done, that is NOT to rely your “music” as the main money-earner for your life. Me and my band, we all have jobs outside of the band. And the jobs we have chosen to have are jobs which we love doing. So we are not “forced” to do work for money. We find areas which we like to do that pays enough for us to get by and live our lives. We also choose jobs that would “minimise” our contributions to the bullshits in the world. I do website and print designs. yes, for selected companies and even government bodies too but I would also do free work for NGOs, charities, opposition parties, free media and such entities which I believe in. Our bassist does event management work, freelancing with companies who do events around the country, sometimes working with videos on health issues and such. Our singer still studying but works part-time at an art gallery who would support new young artists. Our drummer is in music school and looking to work in the music world.
In short, the band is our passion but it doesn’t need profits. So it’s free to do what it wants. Going around doing gigs and losing money is not a problem for us. It’s something that we love to do again and again without tiring. Yes, we try to compensate by selling t-shirts and stuff but even then we would end up just giving away our merchandise for free all the time. It’s love not a labour of hate.
As SST said it many years ago, Corporate Rock Still Sucks!
The problem i see with the DIY Punk/HC scene is the way it removes and marginalises it’s great revolutionary ideas and actions from the larger society. They do this by rejecting anything which they perceived as “capitalism” and since the world is run on that premise, they would dig themselves into comfortable holes which they and friends would sit in. yeah, anti-capitalism is great but how far should you carry that banner without losing touch with the real world? This is when the scene became elitist – usually thumbing their noses at people outside of their circle without giving those people a chance at discovering the wonderful ideas of the DIY scene. Kids would laugh and make fun of the stupidity they see with consumerist MTV kids and also the clueless street-punks and skinheads but kept their ideas away from these people. That’s elitism and that sucks.
You wanna change the world around you BUT you jealously keep your ideas and suggestions well away from the reach of the public. So what’s that? Isn’t that a scenario us Malays would call “Syok Sendiri” (self-satisfied and happy but in actuality doesn’t change anything or help anyone apart from your immediate “crew”). Hell, the worldwide scene works on the basis of “capitalism” and “consumerism”, just open up your zines and see all the things being hawked on the pages. The only difference is that it’s perceived as a more “ethical” business. Non-profiteering, anti-greed and fair deals. It’s still capitalism. So why not work on anti-greed and such ideas? The HC/Punk world is NOT rejecting “capitalism” but working within it by minimising the bullshit and unequalities. If you truly rejects capitalism then you would be giving out your services, your music and labour for free. Off course, you can’t do that because this whole world is sustained (and fucked over) by capitalism. In short, you can’t escape it, because if you can then you would not need to pay for that bus ride you took.
There are ways to reach out to the world at large without losing your “religion”. What you need is strength, commitment and passion in your ideas. Putting out your recordings at the normal record stores to reach more people is NOT selling-out. Signing to a big label and losing your control over your recordings is a sell-out. Appearing in a magazine talking about your ideas and politics that will affect new people is not selling out. Appearing on the media without saying anything is. Being an activist punk rocker is about using and subverting the system around us NOT hiding and removing you and your cliques from it.
Kids in the DIY scene nowadays have forgotten the “big picture” of the DIY punk scene. They squabble over this little, insignificant pictures without realising that it’s not helping anyone. Get out there and tell world that it’s fucked and give em ideas to make the world a better place for all of us and stand fast with your ideals. That’s how it should be done. Nowadays, it’s just you and the crew. What’s sad, most of you will “grow up”, get married, finance a mortgage and leave the scene; mostly without putting all the ideas you’ve learnt from the scene into practice. Just become another guy surrendering to the wiles of “needs”. And that’s that. Isn’t that a fucking waste?