Modern Folk in 2023 - Where Are We - by Moses Alexander

*** This post is by guest author Moses Alexander***

The car is on fire and there’s no driver at the wheel…

     That's a hard truth metaphor for hard times. In our post 9/11 and (at the time of writing, hopefully) post-Trump world, very few lyrics or sound bites have felt more prescient than that one from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's “The Dead Flag Blues" from 1997. 25+ years later and things are eroding at a rapidly accelerating rate. The Modern Folk similarly sounds the alarm about the world we live in.

     When we think of "folk" we often think of compositions that are “anonymous” or “of the people” or that, at the very least, speak to the souls of the everyday person. Music that seeks to understand the travails of the common man and to comfort him. We also identify it with a style of sorts...people strumming acoustic guitars with clever and/or political lyrics. That's certainly part of its history too, but the thread that connects The Modern Folk back to Woody Guthrie and even those that came before him is less about down home strumming and more about operating the machinery that kills fascism.

     It doesn't matter if you have a guitar or a synthesizer or a mash-up of spoken word over field recordings of seagulls and waves rolling in. It's not what you possess. It's your intent. We're talking about creating a world without COOL GUY BULLSHIT. We're talking about ushering in a FUTURE WITHOUT CAPITAL. We're talking about recognizing that BORDERS ARE VIOLENCE. The world is waking up to the fact that CAPITALISM IS THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE RELIGION. Until we wake up to all of this and decide to take action against it, we're stuck in a sort of DEATH CULT BLUES.

     And if that all sounds bleak, well, just have a look around, things are bad right now man. Real bad. Minimum wage hasn't gone up since 2009, but the richest people's wealth increased by tens or hundreds of billions during the pandemic. Our politicians and judges are often purchased by the highest bidders, who tend to be malevolent sycophant ideologues with no souls and somehow even less brains. Elon and Zuck, two of the richest men in the world, technocrats who've rooked us all into turning ourselves into content farmers for their enrichment, are currently discussing physically fighting one another with the bout to be aired on their respective platforms enriching themselves further in the end. COOL GUY BULLSHIT turns into rich guy bullshit.

     We're all circling the bowl of this idiocracy in one way or another, but where does this leave us, the modern folk? You can despair. That's certainly an option. You can cave to nihilism. You can participate in the cruelty, but that just makes you, a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, the worst kind of traitor. Reject despair. Reject nihilism. Reject cruelty.

     l once had a labor organizer ask me what political party I aligned with and I've never felt at ease with putting myself entirely in a neat little box like that. I looked at him and said, "I align with love.” You can say that’s corny or whatever, but love and sincerity is the only way forward and Josh Moss has love and sincerity in spades. I think that’s all that we, the modern folk, can do these days to make the world into the one we want it to become. The one it has the potential to become. There will still be hard times and malevolent forces to fight against, but you can be guided by love. Love your family. Love your neighbor. Love your community. WHAT YOU HAVE DOESN’T MATTER. Who you ARE does matter.

- Moses Alexander, Alabama, 2023