The third album by the eclectic Swedish garage rock/punk anti-authoritarian music collective "The (International) Noise Conspiracy," A New Morning, Changing Weather included a political essay critiquing modern-day capitalism, "The Global Fear Factory," and a reading list for each song. The title suggestions are still relevant today.
From "The Global Fear Factory."
"The ways in which we experience and live our contemporary capitalist world are permeated by diffuse and subtle low-level fear. As we navigate our way through brand-name consumerism and ever more work, this shadowy fear is always there as our constant companion… As we perform our daily tasks, the monotonous multitude of voices from radio and TV transmissions fill the air with their never-ending tales of every-day normal disasters, reminding us of the omnipresence of death and of how time waits for no one, except perhaps for the occasional commercial breaks peddling life as we know it. What are you thinking of today? Unemployment, global warming, new strains of resistant bacteria, AIDS, mad cow-disease, racism violence, immigrant swarms…."
T(I)NC's liner notes invited comrades and conspirators, not necessarily fans, to learn more. INC was about music as a gateway and communication for and between comrades and conspirators, not aficionados and stardom. The collective consisted of Dennis Lyxzén, Inge Johansson, Sara Almgren, Lars Strömberg, and Ludwig Dahlberg.
"Forming in late 1998, T(I)NC knew right away what they would set out to do. Their first tour took them to the People's Republic of China, and the release of a number of seven-inch singles, all compiled on Hong Kong-based label Ling Lao (and later G-7 Welcoming Committee in Canada) and given the suitable title The First Conspiracy, set the standards for how the band wanted to present themselves and what challenges they were willing to accept in order to do so."
This post is not specifically about T(I)NC, but the reading lists included in the liner notes. As a (music) nerd oriented toward polemical political sounds and searing statements, I remembered diligently making a list of books to borrow – from somewhere.
This interview excerpt with drummer Ludwig Dahlberg in Designer Magazine offers some insight into the intentions of T(I)NC including reading suggestions.
Q: As well as the essay in the "A New Morning Changing Weather" album sleeve notes which goes on further to explain the ideas behind the statement "there is no outside," there's is also a suggested reading list for each song on the album. Do you feel that your politics are too deep to get over in a 3 minute song, and hence your songs are really just the tip of the Iceberg?
A: It's that and also the fact that unfortunately sometimes people look to us for answers and we don't have a f**king clue. We're just in a rock band with some ideas, were not politicians or we don't have any real answers to the world problems. All those book references are just to show were trying to be a stepping stone to people to get into those issues on their own and look for their own answers in these books. Were just trying to make understand that the revolution doesn't come from us – it's up to everyone!!!"
"Bigger Cages, Longer Chains"can be further explored through The Abolition of Work by Bob Black, Zerowork: The Anti-Work Anthology by the Zerowork Collective, Mario Tronti's Refusal as Strategy, and Sabotage in the American Workplace by Martin Sprouse.
The song "Capitalism Stole My Virginity" should be unforgettable as a song and a concept. For further study, T(I)NC recommends Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, BAD: The Autobiography of James Carr, and King Mob Echo: English Section of the Situationist International, compiled by Tom Vague.
The intimate and sadly true sentiments in the bass-heavy "A Body Treatise," which discusses self-care, offer these complementing suggestions. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality [a book he re-theorized after ingesting LSD), Kroppens Tunna Skal [The Thin Shell of the Body] by Karin Johannisson, Queer Theory: An Introduction by Anna Maire Jacose, and Pat Califia, Genderbending: Playing with Roles and Reversals.
Other suggestions include the following:
Harry Cleaver, Reading Capital Politically.
Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century.
Brian Priestly, Mingus: A Critical Biography.
Toni Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire.
Nanni Balestrini, The Unseen.
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble.
Rosemary Hennesy, ed, Materialist Feminism and the Politics of Discourse.
Check out these images from Rolling Stone of T(I)NC from the 2004 SXSW Musical Festival.
Given the "the monotonous multitude of voices" are now globally tentacled internet companies competing for your attention span. Or, as Cory Doctorow writes in the "author's notes" to his 2021 novel Attack Surface, with a hat tip to Tom Eastman for the inspiration, "the web is five giant services filled with screenshots of the other four." Perhaps revisiting these songs, books, essays, and poems can help us resist and push-through Chokepoint Capitalism, Carceral Capitalism, and Cannibal Capitalism.
Though "The Global Fear Factory" essay underscores all the violence, exploitation and authoritarianism of chokepoint, carceral, and cannibal capitalism, it concludes by highlighting refusal and resistance to domination, solidarity and dignity in the face of oppression and backlash, and autonomy and cooperation in the midst of consumer precarity and hyper-individualism.
"The movements are increasingly global in character and the variety of issues raised and confronted by them, such as the struggles taking place over housework, education, asylum, "free-export zones" etc., reflect the variety of different experiences of living and working in the global social factory and present an important re-composition of class struggles. Taken together, these movements in their united differentiality constitute as serious challenge to contemporary capitalism."
Consider the union organizing in new sectors of the economy, the Red Deal, and movement to abolish prisons and police – or at least re-direct resources to care-work, education, health care, housing, and other public institutions.
I have not been able to find the entire text of "The Global Fear Factory" online anywhere, which seems odd. Perhaps denizens of Boing-land can help. I'll keep us posted.