Rock against fascism

Banda Bassotti, one of the combos most committed to anti-fascism. Photo provided by the band.

A few months ago, more than a thousand artists from Spain and Latin America signed a document called Rock contra el fascismo (Rock against fascism). Years ago, we saw artists join forces in the United States in campaigns against the then President George Bush, and give birth to some compilations called “Rock Against Bush,” and thus criticize his violent warmongering and obscurant policies.

In Italy, the musical tradition against fascism is wide and it moves, maintains, and changes from the ‘70s until today. Certainly, the new generations, almost globally, are more interested in other sounds, fewer distorted guitars and more bases on which to sing in rhyme are the main element of the songs that throb the era of feminism, indigenismo and the Black Lives Matter struggle.

Precisely, from these considerations, perhaps we should ask ourselves a question: what is fascism today, and therefore, how rock can cope with this phenomenon, which sadly grows in a world increasingly polarized between very few rich and many poor.

A question for which the answer cannot be unique: fascisms are many, as well as their expression in different countries. Certainly, in Europe, to link fascism only to the historical period in which it was a protagonist between the Italian or Nazi regimes, in Germany; Francoism, in Spain, or the military regime in Greece, etc. and, therefore, turning it into universal “value” no longer works.

I think the same thing can happen in Latin America with the dictatorships of the 90s. The times of history, the death of the protagonists of the time and the speed of today’s society, with profound operations of historical revisionism, have changed the perception of the term “fascism” that is now considered a political option, like any other.

So today a band that sings against authoritarianism, racism and sexism or against de facto violence, is placed in the realm of anti-fascism, because it opposes it in content. Whoever today, even in the field of aesthetics, rejects the gender binary helps to break the neo-fascist narrative about the singularity of being male or female.

Even without a generation of bands like Pink Floyd, Rage Against The Machine or Punkreas, Ska-P or Panteón Rococó, openly anti-fascist, there are many groups and artists who, in terms of aesthetics and content, oppose what fascism proclaims in half the world: Green Day, Radiohead, Against Me!, Ministri and Laura Jane Grace, for example. But then there are the anomalies like the international network of anti-fascist death metal bands or the interesting experience of the Moscow Death Brigade in Russia.

Moscow Death Brigade. Photo from band’s website.

In short, anti-fascist rock changes its face, but it’s still alive; However, it’s often found in the contents, not only in the vindication of the artists.

* Andrea Cegna is an Italian journalist who specializes in music and counterculture.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, November 18, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/11/18/opinion/a07a1esp and Republished with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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