Sting Reprises 80s Anti-Nuclear Song against War in Ukraine

A few days ago I put up the YouTube video of Punk legends Toyah Wilcox’s and Robert Fripp’s song of support for Ukraine against Putin’s invasion. Sting has also posted on YouTube a version of his 80s hit ‘Russians’ as a protest against Putin’s bloody invasion of ‘a peaceful and unthreatening neighbour’. It’s dedicated not just to the Ukrainians but also to the many Russians protesting against the war, and is once again a plea for our children and our common humanity.

Sting released ‘Russians’ right in the middle of the new Cold War under Thatcher and Reagan, when it seemed all too possible that a nuclear war would erupt to end humanity and destroy our lovely and beautiful planet. It was partly based on a theme from Prokofiev and urged everyone to protect their children against the nuclear threat. One of its lines is ‘How can I protect my little boy/ From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?’ with the refrain ‘Believe me when I say to you, do the Russians love their children too?’ It also reminded both sides that ‘We share the same biology regardless of ideology’. It was a powerful, heartfelt song that reflected the deep fears and hopes of millions across the world at the time.

Sting states that he hasn’t really played it since because it wasn’t really relevant. Horrifically, it is now, with Putin threatening to launch nukes if NATO gets involved. I find Sting’s piece profoundly moving, but I’m also furious with the way geopolitics has gone in eastern Europe in the forty or so years since this was written. Reagan was an arch-reactionary who supported every bloody Fascist dictator that disgraced Latin America in his campaign against Communism. But together he and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. Communism fell and the former Soviet satellites went their own way. And in the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev did his best to transform the Stalinist Communism of the Soviet state into something genuinely good and progressive. He wanted to introduce democracy and multiparty elections, ended the persecution of religion, and wished to create a mixed economy in which state and private enterprise existed alongside each other. But he also wished to create a new class of genuine cooperatives, where the workers would hire and fire management. He wanted Russia to join the rest of the world in the Green movement and tackling environmental issues as well fully support human rights. And as the Berlin Wall came down, thousands of people from the former eastern bloc came over here to work and run businesses.

Terrible things were still being done across the world, including the first Gulf War, which was also really about oil rather than freeing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. But the Fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War made it that bit better. For all the claims that socialism was dead and that free market capitalism would now reign unchallenged at the ‘end of history’, it was still an optimistic time. It looked like the world had finally put that part of the nuclear threat behind us and that we could look forward to a future without any more fears of another Cuban missile crisis or similar armaggeddon.

And now I feel that all that hope and promise has been squandered through great power interference and Putin’s warmongering. Well, damn this! I want the world to go back to how it was before all this erupted.

Bring back Gorbachev!

Love and peace to everyone protesting against the war, and especially to those in Russia. May peace come soon.

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5 Responses to “Sting Reprises 80s Anti-Nuclear Song against War in Ukraine”

  1. trev Says:

    I’ve just had some nutcase on a local thread accusing me (because I support Jeremy Corbyn) and Corbyn of supporting Putin, and of being opposed to vaccinations and “spreading Covid everywhere”! I was going to attempt to reply but it was such an abusive rant that I simply flagged it for removal. But I’m quite shocked at the level of abuse there is out there in general for Jeremy Corbyn and anyone who supports him. I’m beginning to think that people no longer understand what Socialism is.

    Glad to hear the old Rockers still have some decent ethics and a fight left in them to speak out about what’s happening.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Utterly bonkers, Trev! Corbyn’s never supported Putin, and it’s his mad brother Piers who’s spreading the anti-vax nonsense. But it shows just how far the media has gone in poisoning people’s perceptions of a highly principled man. When I joined my local branch of the Labour party last year, there were talking about how the media had whipped up such hatred against him. Several of them had encountered this when they were out campaigning. One of the women said that people looked at you as though they expected him to come down their garden path and shoot their dog!

  2. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain! .

  3. Brian Burden Says:

    Alternatively, you might say, all the celebs jumping on the bandwagon.

  4. Brian Burden Says:

    Trev, call me a cynic, but it’s easy to have “decent ethics” when you know you’re backed by the Murdoch media empire, the Mail, and every gutter tabloid. My respect goes to those celebs – Dylan, Baez, Fonda, Country Joe – who endangered their careers speaking out against the Vietnam War. This present lot of celebs put me in mind of Barry McGuire and his Eve Of Destruction, a song cold-bloodedly crafted on the orders a media mogul who told one of the songwriters on his payroll to “write me a hit protest song”! (Not that I don’t think it’s an excellent performance by McGuire).

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