A political song recorded half a century ago is still relevant today.

FIFTY YEARS AGO, American singer Phil Ochs released a song that fired some well-aimed critical arrows at liberal hypocrisy. Written from the perspective of a liberal, the song highlighted how liberals claimed they wanted to change the world but didn't actually want to change the world to do it. Voting for the Democrats was enough.

Introducing 'Love Me, I'm A liberal' from his 1966 live album, Phil Ochs in Concert, Ochs observes:

"In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of centre in good times, ten degrees to the right of centre if it affects them personally. Here, then, is a lesson in safe logic..."

The song concludes highlighting another liberal trait - how they inevitably slide toward conservatism:

  Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin
  Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
  Ah, but I've grown older and wiser, and that's why I'm turning you in.
  So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The song still has resonance today and it has been covered by several artists, often with some of the lyrics 'tweaked' to reflect the political conditions of the time. Perhaps someone could do a version reflecting New Zealand's current political environment.

Certainly the song reflects the irritation we have with the kind of people who pontificate about 'progressive politics' and 'the left' but then blow smoke about a 'socially responsible capitalism' , a 'green capitalism' or even a 'Fourth Industrial Revolution'. They are the kind of people who call each other 'comrade' then trot off to the polling booths to vote for a right wing Labour Party, all the while criticising everyone who has decided not to vote for any of the bastards.

Having done nothing to oppose the march of neoliberalism over the past three decades and, in fact, have mostly assisted it - they now wail about the state we now find ourselves in. But, hey, love me, I'm a liberal...

Phil Ochs was, arguably, one of the sixties greatest folk singers and activists but he never received the recognition he deserved. He battled both depression and alcoholism and, in 1976, he committed suicide.


Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.