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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Everything is not enough

Edmund Burke, the Irish philosopher of the 1700s is immensely quotable.
In a letter he said that 'Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to any thing but power for their relief.'
It's a comment that rings true through the centuries.
Who could really doubt his words?
Power does indeed corrupt, or as Lord Acton said 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'
Is it human nature to lust after power though?
It would appear so.
Could we really argue that there has ever been a time that peoples lives have not been blighted by the pursuit of it by others?
Empires have risen and fallen on the waves of the insatiable need to accrue as much influence and power as possible.
We see the same thing in the modern business world.
Hostile take overs of land by countries are now hostile take overs of companies by multinationals, and from my perspective they create similar amounts of casualties.
Broken lives litter the wake of the pursuit of absolute control.
Expand or die is apparently the motto.
More, more, more. Always more.
Although having everything still seems to falls short of being enough.
We see examples of this everywhere.
From the CEO's of the multinationals to the dealers on the street corners this lust exists.
It's really just a matter of scale.
Take small nascent music scenes as an example.
Recently I've seen issues rising that were rooted in the expansionist agendas of a minority in Glasgow, and here in Ayrshire.
I wasn't surprised as at my age I have seen the same thing happen more often than I would care to admit.
Yet while I wasn't surprised, I was left feeling heart weary at the inability of people to break the cycle.
So let me lay out how this works and maybe someone somewhere will remember what they have read and use it as a 'how not to do it guide.'
Okay. Sitting comfortably?
Here we go.
Initially everything is great.
A band, artist, radio station, or even a promoter comes along and creates something that previously wasn't there.
The spark of originality is fanned and others start to gravitate towards what is going on.
It's still all great.
Altruistic positivity is the byword.
This moment can last for varying lengths of time.
Everything is new and every step forward is an attempt to break new ground.
Then the original sin moment creeps in.
The introduction of the corruption of the original ideals float to the surface, and either an individual, or a group, starts to think about what is in it for them, rather than what is mutually beneficial to all.
It's often difficult to tell who they are though.
Some will always of had an eye out for an angle that they can use to their own benefit.
They're the parasitic leaches whose only interest is in lining their own pockets while advancing on their dreams of building a self serving empire that they can preside over.
Like carnival hucksters they will spin a line and in their eye you can see the gleam of a bright future.
Only that bright future is reserved for them solely.
They just never mention that.
They will have no qualms at all about sucking the life blood out of a scene and leaving it as a dried out husk.
In the blink of an eye they will walk away from the broken dreams and laugh all the way to the bank, or onto pastures new where they can exploit yet more people.
Others will have started off with the best intentions and then been corrupted along the way as the plaudits for their endeavours rolled in.
They've been seduced by the power.
When they looked into the abyss they found it attractive.
Power is their aphrodisiac, their drug.
They then get wrapped in their own delusions and from there on in everything has to revolve around them, and hell mend anyone who doesn't get with the plan.
A plan that ultimately once again only benefits a minority.
Often just that one individual.
Once these people arrive on the scene it really is the beginning of the end.
In Glasgow a certain person made a move to slowly but surely take over much of the traditional punk scene.
If there was a touring band from yesteryear with a name for themselves then his finger wasn't just in the pie, but instead he was up to his elbows in it.
Everything revolved around his band playing, his friends bands playing, and bullying others to get in line with what he was doing, or fuck off.
Unless you doffed your cap and showed respect then the scene would be an exclusive one that you were not allowed to be part of.
Basically something that could have been built on turned into an ugly situation run by a clique of bullies?
Is there a collective name for that?
If there can be a murder of crows, a sleuth of bears, then could there be a bastard of cunts?
Whatever we want to call them isn't really relevant though as once that stage is reached then it's all downhill.
Then there's the woman who is known for putting on under 14s gigs.
It sounds nice and positive.
Young musicians of that age struggle to find venues that will allow them to showcase their talents, and should be supported in doing so.
However there's a difference in seeing that an environment needs to be created to allow young talent to flourish, and seeing a niche in the market that needs to be exploited.
Once again over a period of time a toxic reputation started to build, and no matter how altruistic the original premise was, the bastardization of it warped it until it reached a stage where as a venture it was indistinguishable from those set in motion by charlatans looking to make a quick buck.
Then lastly there are the people who come bearing the offer of plenty.
Enthusiastically and tirelessly they support local artists until they have their feet under the table.
Once they do carve themselves a niche the mask slips a little though, and a ruthless attitude to expansion reveals itself.
Those who oppose the expansion are dealt with in moves that are obviously lifted wholesale from the book 'Purges for Dummies' by Joseph Stalin.
From covering one area they attempt to move into another, and then yet another.
In a short space of time a blitzkrieg approach is revealed and the momentum carries them ever onward,...........well ever onward until the wheels fall off the train and they're derailed due to their behaviour managing to tip the balance and piss too many people off.
From then the negative aspects of how they went about accruing control is all that anyone remembers and all the good that they had done, or could have done, is forgotten.
So what do these all have in common?
Well apart from the formation of cliques and bullying it's the boom and bust cycle isn't it?
If people can get on board with that then the next question would be how can we all avoid the bust aspect of it and maintain the boom?
The answer actually seems very simple.
Just don't succumb to putting personal interests first all the time.
Consider the bigger picture and play a longer and more inclusively positive game.
Accept that there is room for everyone.
Support each other.
...and nip the negative forces in the bud.
Never let then get a toehold.
Their influence is a malignant cancer that will destroy the potential of what could be.
Think about what could be achieved if the trend was bucked and we all refused to be swayed by our own apparent selfish nature, or that of others.
While all that may sound simple it's actually a big ask as I've yet to see it being put into practice by enough people for it to matter.
It's entirely possible that I've just wasted my time writing this, but I'll go full circle and end it with a paraphrase of another quote from Edmund Burke.
'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.'

This blog update is dedicated to my friends, and supporters of original music, Sandie Noone and Taylor Buntain.


  1. Cheers, me luffie!!!!

    Too often I`ve been ready to throw in the towel ... with all of those "types" (shall we say) of people!!!!! But, I`m FUKKED if I`m gonna let them do it to me!!!!!! And, I know you share a similar stance, doll!!!!!

    Like you said ... "there`s room for everyone"!!!!!! Unfortunately ... a few "glory-hunters" cannot accept that fact!!!!! I bounce around between feeling angry at them ............... and feeling heart-felt sorry for them!!!!!!!

    Nevermind those KUNTZ, Mainy!!!!!!!! Let`s just you and I and the scores of others in our network do what we do best ............... keeping the local music scene ALIVE!!!!!!! XXX

  2. Nice one Mainy!!!!!!!