Sunday, 11 September 2011


I suppose I should get round to a post about the Falklands War at some point - one of the strangest conflicts in history, and one which had nothing to do with Imperialism and everything to do with the curious metaphysics of national vitality (on both sides).

Anyway, here's The Fall's pro-War record, a satire on the kind of left-winger who sympathised with the Argentine Junta out of an anti-patriotic negative solidarity. Mark E. Smith would follow this act of political incorrectness by openly voting Conservative in the 1983 election, an act that has been mysteriously forgotten by all those snarky critics that like to hammer on at the alleged Tory sympathies of Paul Weller and Gary Numan.


W. Kasper said...

As it's not 'officially' owned by any one nation, rights to natural resources in the South Pole area depend on who owns the territory in the 'pie chart' on the map circling around it. The Argentine invasion was a claim on widening their pie slice, and reducing UK access (or rather, British military protection of US energy companies' claims - which may be why US response was relatively muted at the time. These companies own most of the land there, as secured by UK 'sovereignty'). Technological limits prevented full exploitation of the area in 1982, but the strategic and energy advantages of owning the Falklands are huge. The UK are in it for much more than seals and penguins. It was a 'gentleman's agreement' going back decades that Galtieri was impatient with, and it could have increased Argentina's geopolitical influence considerably had they won. Of course, all the absurd flag-waving and media-managed bloodshed were just added value for two deeply unpopular, callous governments.

It's still a big bone of contention now, but financial and corporate instruments could fight further 'wars' with much less fuss:

Phil Knight said...

As far as I'm aware, the recent attempts to find oil there have been disappointing, and that's even bearing in mind contemporary oil exploration companies' tendency to inflate prospects to boost the share price.

It was certainly a factor in the war, but I think the bigger influence was both Galtieri's and Thatcher's need for domestic distractions. When the Argentinians had seized the islands and basically "won", they should have shown a bit of dignity and regret, and offered the UK some trade concessions etc. in order to cool things down.

Instead they organised lots of British flag-burning celebrations in the centre of Bueno Aires, because the need to give the populace something to vent over actually overrode the strategic necessity of keeping the islands. Plus, of course, they underrated how desperate Maggie was.

The USA actually has a claim on The Falklands IIRC - they were among the first nations to inhabit it.

Anonymous said...

How are the lyrics of Marquis Cha Cha about a "left-winger who sympathised with the Argentine Junta out of an anti-patriotic negative solidarity" when they are about someone living and working as pro-junta broadcaster in South America? There were several thousand left-wingers disappeared by the Junta.

Phil Knight said...

Google is your friend etc.:

Mark E. Smith, a dockworker in his teens whose band began the Thatcher years with a string of brilliant records issued by a motley group of independent record labels, only to end up dirt poor by the mid 1990s and an outcast in his own profession, is not really a “renegade” unless that term is defined by extreme disgust for the social morays of the British middle class. It must have shocked NME to learn that Smith voted Tory and supported the Falklands War, and that he wrote off Blair’s New Labour in 1997 as worthless, but that’s not really rebellious, only slightly contrarian. In a much deeper sense, Smith (a Manchester City football devotee if you hadn’t guessed by now) personifies the diligent working-class anti-authoritarianism that used to be celebrated in British film and theatre, as with Albert Finney’s character in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Smith states this clearly in the book, though I’ve never seen any rock critic take heed.

Anonymous said...

I've no doubt that Smith has wound a fair few people up in his life, but that still doesn't make Marquis Cha Cha about a "left-winger who sympathised with the Argentine Junta".

Phil Knight said...

Well, the rateyourmusic link above says this:

Mark E. Smith's comment on the Falklands War, the song "Marguis Cha-Cha" was essentially about a British man living in South America spreading left-wing propaganda against Britain and in support of the Argentinian leader Galtieri,

"Stranded in South America,
Nothing to go home for,
Just another Brit in the bar...
Good riddance to my native country,
It never did a thing for me,
It's a better life here,
And I am not a traitor...
You educated kids know what you're on about,
You've been oppressed for years...
So what if I do propaganda?"

So apparently there's at least two of us who have independently come to the same incorrect conclusion as to what it's about.

Anonymous said...

Well, there's the absurdity of many of Mr Smith's comments. Another part of the lyric goes:

[i]Just another Brit in the bar
Hernandez Fiendish comes over to me
Offers a job as broadcaster
That's how I came to be
Marquis Cha Cha
He can never go home
But is O.K. by him
The generals have many enemies
And them I single out[/i]

Which would mean this broadcaster is singling out enemies of the Junta, like the many people who were disappeared in that period (mostly left-wingers). Sounds more like Glenn Beck to me.

Phil Knight said...

Well, that notwithstanding, MES was angry with the left at that time for what he saw as their neutralist/anti-war stance to the conflict, viz this comment:

'I was always a Labour party member. I left because of the Falklands War. This was 1983, and local members were dead set against the war. I would go in the club and be told the war was a waste of money. We should just give the islands to Argentina. I was arguing, "Hang on. We're talking about a military dictatorship, in a country that's made a career out of hiding Nazi war criminals. You want to give in to that lot?" No one agreed with me, so I left.'

I suppose it's possible to interpret the song as not being a polemical attack on the left's position on the war, but for me that renders it rather purposeless (why pick on some anonymous guy?), and also, of course, less fun.

Anonymous said...

I only got the reference to "Lord Haw Haw" in the title "Marquis Cha Cha", which makes it even less likely that it's a simple tirade against the anti-war sentiment of the UK Left.

I don't find that purposeless, myself. It's a more interesting mix of ideas. Especially considering that the UK's allies in the Argentinian conflict included Pinochet; a leader with as much blood on his hands as Galtieri.