About the album “America: 25 years in review (1983-2008)”
This page describes the first album from Opir, "America: 25 years in review" It should be considered the official description for all purposes. The "25 year" period in question is "1983-2008" for reference purposes.
When creating this album, the goal was to capture a multi-decade zeitgeist. To explore and articulate, with the appropriate amount of detail, background information, and of course, fury, the core issues that have shaped the United States of America starting with the rise of Reagan.
Another reason this album was created was to fill what the artist perceived as a gap in music that coherently and thoroughly addresses the core issues facing the US as of this writing. The era of Neoliberal economics, the Globalization of Capital, and the attendant massive rise in economic inequality; rising militancy; growing calls for Theocratic policies; continued international military misadventures; torture; difficult questions around civil liberties and national security; a failed drug war; a growing and solidifying Corporatist and Crony Capitalist state; false balances and false equivalences; a time of rampant, pernicious historical revisionism; an often weak, pliant mass media; rampant anti-intellectualism and anti-science movements; a re-emergence of a shockingly paranoid, distrustful populace riven with stark political and social divisions; and a seeming powerlessness among those who would oppose these things.
Finally, this album serves as a lament. A lament for a country that has gone far off the rails, and has not been able to get back on. The disconnect between the message, promise, rhetoric (upward social mobility, hard work and an enterprising attitude usually leading to success, serving as a beacon of freedom in the world) and the reality is stark. We were promised "morning in America", but it's still as black as pitch for many. The issues discussed on this album, sadly, have not gone away. Since its inception, many have actually gone much worse. The hope was that by the time this album was released, at least some of these issued would have been addressed in a useful way. Instead, things have gone in the opposite direction.
Below is a growing list of posts with lyrics for each of the songs, an explanation for those lyrics, and the thinking and background research that went into them. As new ones are added, they will appear with links below.
1) A Graveyard Of Elephants - deals with the issue of decades of destructive Republican ideas and their bitterly contentious factional disagreements, which have manifested themselves in a toxic mix of policies.
2) The Washington Consensus - explores the mixed, but mostly deleterious effects of the Neoliberal economic experiment on US (and other) societies, and the ideologies and players surrounding it.
3) Rhizostoma Democratica - looks at the action and inaction, the culture, and the thinking of those Democratic politicians who have aided and abetted in running the United States off the rails. Spinelessness, servility, and pre-emptive compromise have defined the top layer of the party for nearly three decades, and helped lead us where we are today.
4) 19 and 29 - explores the resurgence of, and perniciousness of, domestic terrorist and militant groups in America today. After a decade lull, they have returned to the national spotlight with a mix of conspiratorial fantasies, misguided, often unfocused rage, broken ideology, and sometimes even genuine grievances. Representing yet another facet of the dark underbelly of America, these groups, along with their ideological allies in the Tea Party, are a manifestation of a mixture of both real anger and fears, coupled with with Birchian paranoia and eliminationist rhetoric.
5) Earnestly Pursued Oblivion - about America's failed Drug War and its damaging effects on the country. From attacks on entire groups to leading us into sordid alliances with violent organizations who would later call us their enemies, the Drug War continues on, providing a raison d'etre and great profit for many - who have no desire to change the status quo, all while helping to discredit those that continue to support it.
6) Ordain And Establish - deals with the recent ominous and often outright dangerous developments having to do with our civil liberties. Warrantless wiretapping, abuse of National Security Letters, torture, black sites, extraordinary rendition, and indefinite detentions have moved us from an ostensible beacon of liberty in the world to a deeply paranoid and abusive state with a shrinking respect for Constitutional protections - the core values that define this country. Though some give and take is always expected, and often necessary when dealing with the difficult issue of security, we can not, and should not toss away everything that makes this country what it is in our attempt to achieve complete safety, as complete safety is never attainable.
7) Mussolini's Revenge - This song tackles the worrying growth of the Corporate state, and its ever-increasing influence on the US Government. Privatizations, the revolving door between government and the private sector, and outright corruption have helped rebirth and nurture a powerful government-corporate alliance. In return for campaign donations, the masses are subjected to entrenched Neoliberal policies - large corporations themselves get regulations in their favor and government services handed over to them - while said companies get corporate socialism, bailouts, and a free pass for many abuses, along with the ability to essentially write their own legislation. The balance between individuals, government, and large corporations has been thrown out of balance, with private citizens getting the raw part of the deal.
8 ) Y.L.A.K. - This song is about the disastrous war in Iraq and its effect on America and the world. It was a war launched on lie after lie, that has diminished our standing in the world, drained our economic resources, killed thousands of soldiers, and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. It has caused us to ignore our human rights obligations, made a mockery of the international laws of war using the flimsiest of pretexts, and has us burning billions of dollars in a vain attempt at nation building while our own country crumbles. It also makes clear that those who launched it and supported it are culpable for the death of every soldier and every citizen who died in its long-spinning meat grinder.
9) Palpably Extant - This song deals with the increasing power of the media, and how, even as its power has grown, it has largely lost its way as a check on corporate and government power. Incisive, fearless truth seeking and telling has, in many cases, been replaced by pure hagiography or even unabashed cheerleading, even of truly egregious abuses of power. A combination of ideologues gaining power at media outlets, fear of the loss of advertiser dollars, and terror at the prospect of losing access to officials have caused our press, which is supposed to function largely for the people, to often serve the narrow interests of certain individuals and existing power structures. False equivalances, avoidance of inconvenient truths, non-combativeness, and pure obsequiousness pervades our mainstream media, to the detriment of us all. A liberal, democratic republic cannot function without a free press willing to seek truth, and speak truth to power.
10) Shays' Agreement - This song deals with the new resurgence of religious fundamentalism, and its radical, sometimes violent supporters in the United States of America. Motivated by many of the teachings in Leviticus (and others), this group has served as a dangerous roadblock, and has even been able to roll back some of our liberties in their quest for a Christian Theocracy in America. Abortion, sexual freedom, freedom of expression, rights for sexual minorities, birth control, and the separation of church and state have all come under attack by these groups, all while our government funnels tax dollars to them via "faith-based initiatives." While seemingly on the losing side of history, this group nevertheless pushes ahead with their radically regressive agenda.