1984 may be closer than you think

By Matt Oakes

"War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."
Many believe the maxim spawned in George Orwell’s 1984 are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Are you dissatisfied with spoon-fed corporate propaganda about how to live your life as a happy little capitalist? Do you feel we lack true options in regards to the media messages we are coerced to consume and digest?

You are not alone. Jello Biafra shares your contempt for the supremacy of the system.

"America is no more a democracy than some other countries that we ridicule as dictatorships," says Biafra over the phone from his home in San Francisco.

Previously the frontman of the late-and-great punkers The Dead Kennedys, Biafra is currently on tour raising social awareness and fighting the status quo. His searing critique of the so-called "corporate mainstream media" will hit Calgary Sat., Feb. 3 at the MacEwan Hall Ballroom.

Biafra was the creative force behind a band that helped shape the punk rock ethic in the late ’70s and ’80s. The Dead Kennedys’ eventual demise in the mid-’80s left Biafra searching for a new medium to spread his message.

His new direction continues the fervor of his punk rock roots. He now writes spoken-word albums and brings his radical ideology to colleges and universities across North America, addressing the socio-economic, political and environmental issues facing our planet today.

In his latest spoken-word release Become the Media, Biafra illustrates the hidden agenda behind the media; its all-consuming power and influence over political and economic decision making.

"It is very noticeable that Clinton helped deregulate media takeovers by global corporations and how there is less actual news on mainstream TV and in the mainstream press," he says. "I think that omission of the really important issues by corporate media is one of the worst forms of censorship going on today."

Moreover, Biafra advocates radical political reform to our current system.

"[In America] we have a corporate dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. It isn’t capitalism–it’s feudalism. The barons and the lords of the high castle with the moat around them surround themselves with knights in shining armour to keep the peasants down–[and they] have names like Microsoft, Exxon and Time Warner," says Biafra. "They are signing feudalism into law every time they sign something like the GATT treaty which developed into the WTO and NAFTA."

As a U.S. Green Party promoter and a former presidential nominee, Biafra’s platform begins with the reform of social control.

"I would commute all sentences of small-time, non-violent drug offenders to time served and let them out of jail," he says.

"Abolishing the Pentagon and the CIA is a pretty high priority [as well]."

Biafra regards the 2000 presidential election as an utter calamity.

"There are a large chunk of us who refuse to go along with the evil of two lessers anymore," he says.

"My worry is that Bush is going to be so bad that people are going to be desperate enough and go running to another phony progressive who is as corrupt, right wing and corporate as Clinton, Gore or Leiberman."

In addition to his critique of American society, Biafra’s presentation will also include Canadian content. He is interested in the Walkerton incident, NAFTA’s effect on Canada and the political rhetoric from the recent national election.

"My eyes nearly popped out of my head at how much double-talk and green-washing there was in the Alliance literature."

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