Chumbawamba Showbusiness!

Tom Lehrer once joked that during the Spanish Civil War, the Fascists "may have won all the battles, but we had all the good songs." Phil Ochs laughed over that one until he hung himself.

The world is riddled with of maggots. The maggots are getting fat.
They're making a tasty meal of all the bosses and bureaucrats.
They're taking over the boardrooms and they're fat and full of pride—
And they all came out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died.
So if you meet with these historians, I'll tell you what to say:
Tell them that the Nazis never really went away—
They're out there burning houses down and peddling racist lies.

from "The Day the Nazi Died"

Politically oriented pop lyrics like Chumbawamba's are red meat for the "clear-eyed, slightly cynical detachment" prized by the creeps who write for rags like my hometown Washington Post. May their arteries clog. And if you're not looking for any more outraged anti-capitalist human decency in your life either, you certainly won't enjoy a verse like this

You think you're God's gift? You're a liar.
I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.
Can't eat 'cause your mouth's full of shit?
Do something about it!

which was originally dedicated to England's "New Labor" prime minister, Tony Blair, but was extended to Bill Clinton at the band's show in DC last month. Kids twelve years old were singing along word for word, but if you don't already think that Clinton's every bit the liar Reagan and Bush were, or that the Nazis never really went away, a British pop band's printed lyrics shouldn't convince you. So try this instead: let whatever's catchy in these songs give you a start—but then see how the lyrics taste in your own mouth. Sing along if the spirit moves you, but don't let the chased-after ignorance that the mainstream media tries to pass for popular opinion force yours: describing "Tubthumping" as a drinking song probably just shows the usual Stateside indifference toward English social thought and solidarity, but whatever the frat boys are slurring about on college quads, the refrain "I get knocked down. I get up again. You're never going to keep me down" is not about the struggle to avoid sexual harassment charges. It's about workers' struggles, and if you don't believe that class warfare is happening all around you right now, then you really need to hear Noam Chomsky's typically brilliant talk "Capital Rules"--which is conveniently bonus-packaged with Showbusiness! If this leads you in turn to the archive of Chomsky talks on the Web at:, don't fail to get your sense of humor back afterwards by reading some hilarious attacks on Chumbawamba by the ideological police of the British music press collected at: A band this comfortable with its critics may have some anarchist insight to pass on after all.

--Rob Content
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