Dave Marsh writes at CounterPunch:
As a life member of the Folk Alliance International and until recently a member of its board, I’d like to be able to congratulate the organization on its move from Memphis to a much better situation in Kansas City.
But the first annual FAI Conference in KC will feature Al Gore in a special presentation, for conference attendees only, of his quasi-prophetic fantasy, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. It makes me feel like FAI is dancing on Pete Seeger’s grave. Does it really matter much whether they’re doing it out of ignorance or making a deliberate effort to steer folk music far to the right of where its political and social allegiances have traditionally belonged?
Am I over-reacting, refusing to come to grips with contemporary political reality and with Al Gore, the wronged should-have-been President, moral beacon, intellectual paragon, and his role as a leader of the ecological movement?
Gore’s approach to solving the world’s problems centers on venture capital firms, such as his own Generation Investment Manager and the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in which he is a partner. Exactly how he rationalizes such projects of these firms as AOL, Amazon, Electronic Arts and Google as good for the environment and harbingers of a better future isn’t all that interesting. It’s just the usual neoliberal blather, the liberal version of the conservative lie that a rising tide lifts all boats. Neither ever asks whether everybody has a boat, or whether the boats we do have will carry all the people now living, let alone coming generations, or how there can be life-sustaining air, water, soil and minerals if the depredations of high-tech capitalism, which are at least as devastating as those of earlier versions, are allowed to continue.
Folk music is supposed to side with the people whose lives are ruined, from West Virginia to Japan, not the exploiters who mask and attempt to explain away the all-but-irreversible damage that has already been done in the name of “growth.” The question that no Gore speech or PowerPoint has ever answered is “Sustainable for whom?”
It’s a question to which previous generations of folk musicians and activists associated with it have never failed to demand answers.
Gore’s six drivers include nothing remotely related to the kind of human-scale empowerment projects (for instance, the civil rights and anti-war movements, Operation Wall Street, and labor rights) that folk music has traditionally been involved with.
From this point of view, Al Gore is the anti-Pete Seeger: Deceitful where Pete was honest, cowardly where Pete was brave, an apologist for continuing to destroy the environment where Seeger was an ecological champion, a censor where Pete stood on the rock of the First Amendment even when Congress and his own lawyers told him it was a loser. (Pete won his case.)
Above all, Pete Seeger was a champion of music, all kinds of music, in America and the world, whereas Al Gore spent much of the ‘80s berating and belittling popular music, even helping convene a Senate hearing on the “threat” of lyrics to the nation’s children. Ten years later, in typical fashion, he denied he’d even attended most of the conference, although he was the only Senator who was present for all of that travesty (take a look at www.youtube.com/watch?v=d65BxvSNa2o if you must, but I was there and my own eyes swear to it). He and his wife Tipper wanted to raise my kids while at least one of theirs turned out to be a drunk (or was that a druggie?) with a penchant for driving while intoxicated. (Is this unfair to Al Gore’s kids? Much less unfair than the Gores were to the kids—current and former–who loved and found emotional refuge in heavy metal and hip-hop. ) Finally, the moral exemplars’ marriage dissolved as Al was found creeping out of a massage brothel in the middle of the Oregon night.
Read more here.