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Nick Cave talks “wokeness,” Antifa, the Far Right, religion, and more

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds at Barclays Center
Nick Cave at Barclays Center in 2018 (more by Ester Segretto)

Nick Cave, who recently released his excellent new album Ghosteen, returned to his Red Hand Files AMA to answer three questions at once: “Why do you write?” (from Will) “What are your political leanings, in a broad way?” (from Snorri) and “How ‘woke’ are you?” (from Stella). In his reply, he touches on organized religion, Antifa, the Far Right, “wokeness,” and more. Here’s an excerpt:

So, for me, Stella, living in a state of enquiry, neutrality and uncertainty, beyond dogma and grand conviction, is good for the business of songwriting, and for my life in general. This is the reason I tend to become uncomfortable around all ideologies that brand themselves as ‘the truth’ or ‘the way’. This not only includes most religions, but also atheism, radical bi-partisan politics or any system of thought, including ‘woke’ culture, that finds its energy in self-righteous belief and the suppression of contrary systems of thought. Regardless of the virtuous intentions of many woke issues, it is its lack of humility and the paternalistic and doctrinal sureness of its claims that repel me.

Antifa and the Far Right, for example, with their routine street fights, role-playing and dress-ups are participants in a weirdly erotic, violent and mutually self-sustaining marriage, propped up entirely by the blind, inflexible convictions of each other’s belief systems. It is good for nothing, except inflaming their own self-righteousness. The New Atheists and their devout opponents are engaged in the same dynamic. Wokeness, for all its virtues, is an ideology immune to the slightest suggestion that in a generation’s time their implacable beliefs will appear as outmoded and fallacious as those of their own former generation. This may well be the engine of progress, but history has a habit of embarrassing our treasured beliefs. Some of us, for example, are of the generation that believed that free speech was a clear-cut and uncontested virtue, yet within a generation this concept is seen by many as a dog-whistle to the Far Right, and is rapidly being consigned to the Left’s ever-expanding ideological junk pile.

This is not to suggest we should not have our convictions or, indeed, that we should not be angry with the state of the world, or that we should not fight in order to correct the injustices committed against it. Conviction and anger can be the most powerful expressions of universal love. However, my duty as a songwriter is not to try to save the world, but rather to save the soul of the world…

You can read the rest here.

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