By Amitabh Pal on October 08, 2012

Rock legend Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame received his social conscience as an inheritance. “I got it from my mother and father,” Waters, whose dad was an ardent political activist, told me.

Waters, still retaining his rock star looks as he approaches seventy, is now so involved in the Israel/Palestine issue that he devoted two full days over the weekend to being a jury member of the Russell Tribune on Palestine, which held hearings at the historic Cooper Union in New York City on the plight of the Palestinians. Waters’s fellow jury members included writer Alice Walker, activist Angela Davis, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire. (Watch for an interview with Maguire in an upcoming issue of The Progressive.)

“I’m here because I think they’re doing good work and because I think they’ll throw more light on the issue, not just for me, but for other people,” Waters, dapperly dressed in jacket and jeans, told me and other journalists in an impromptu press conference he held in the lobby. “And there is the hope that these deliberations might be part of a journey toward a possible solution.”

Waters is not used to being part of deliberative forums.

“I told the organizers that I’m not a meeting people,” he said. “This is my first meeting. When I’m in a room with people, I’m in charge. Always. So, this is completely new to me, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m very interested in this issue because I’ve been to Israel, and I’ve had a strong passion for the subject.”

Waters has gotten pushback for taking a clearly defined stance on such a controversial issue.

“I haven’t been criticized by any of my colleagues, but there’s been a knee-jerk reaction among some of my fans,” he said. “But there’s always a knee-jerk reaction from some people. For instance, ten years ago, I was touring, and one of my sons criticized George Bush. Some of my fans actually got up and walked out: ‘How dare he criticize the President of the United States! He’s not even a citizen.’ This obviously is ludicrous. You don’t have to be German to criticize the Nazis.”

Waters is pleased that a few of his fellow rock stars have joined him in his campaign to boycott Israel due to its treatment of the Palestinians.

“Elvis Costello and a number of other musicians have said that they won’t go to Israel and have made that public,” he said. “The more artists who do this, the better.”

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Great Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm Dies."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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