The one struggle

The Clash, Gary Foley, punk politics and Indigenous Australian activism

in Working for the clampdown
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One of the abiding controversies that attends The Clash centres on their ‘authenticity’ as a political band. While some recall seeing the band live as a moment that altered their perspective on the world, others have dismissed their politics as posturing framed by a certain cinematic version of outlaw chic. In this chapter, the author leans towards the former, more optimistic reading of The Clash’s cultural politics. The focus here is on the band’s 1982 tour of Australia during which they championed the cause of Aboriginal rights. Each night during their cover of the reggae number ‘Armagideon Time’, the group would segue into an instrumental section during which activist Gary Foley would take the stage and address the predominantly white audience. The attendant media attention for these moments was sparse and it remains difficult to establish whether they had any real political impact. That The Clash were willing to provide a space for the airing of what were at the time controversial views serves to underline that here was a band that, for all their shortcomings, had a genuine concern for the promotion of human rights and global justice.

Working for the clampdown

The Clash, the dawn of neoliberalism and the political promise of punk

Editor: Colin Coulter

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