1979. German political rock group "Checkpoint Charlie" continue with a half-live album called "Die Durchsichtige" (transparent)... Ayatollah Khomeini has returned to Iran after the fall of the american puppet Shah and incited his people into an anti-american stance. China invades communist Vietnam, worried about its ambitions. Carter begins to increase anti-soviet forces in Afghanistan, escalating what was a horrific total war that would destroy the country (1 in 10 dead, one third refugees) and humiliate the USSR after ten years of senseless deaths, eventually leading to the islamic extremism we see today. Uganda's infamous tyrant Idi Amin Dada, who boasted of enjoying human meat, is finally expelled after hundreds of thousands killed. In the Central African Republic tyrant Bokassa (who had himself crowned emperor in an identical ceremony to Napoleon financed by France) suppresses a schoolchildren's protest with 100 dead.
At Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania the US has its most serious nuclear disaster yet, leading to an anti-nuclear agenda that has not died down to this day. Soon the most serious political problem would begin-- the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran. This would lead to the second big oil shock, with oil at its highest price ever (except briefly in 2007), to the end of the Carter presidency, and to the rise of Reaganocracy. The second oil shock was a massive economic disaster and soon led to out of control inflation. After Carter, who worried constantly about the future, who actually did plan for a future of environmental prudence and alternative energy, we would get Reagan's morning in America again (a morning now quickly turning to dusk... )
Meantime, within the borders of Cambodia, the most radical experiment in applied utopia is about to collapse. In a country destroyed by american bombing during and after the vietnam war or the "american war" as they call it (more bombs were dropped on Cambodia than Vietnam) a nameless and faceless, Sorbonne-educated communist guerrilla called Brother Number One operating by the principle: "to save you is no gain, to kill you is no loss" had decided he would quickly establish from year zero (1975 to us) the most advanced socialist utopia the world had ever seen. There was no time to waste to establish perfection. There was to be no money, no banks, no names, no calendars, no schools, no stores, no families, no eyeglasses even. The borders were closed to the outside world, no one knew what was going on... At Tuol Sleng in Phnom Phen hung a sign that indicated no laughing, no smiling.
Far away in Europe, the communist parties were still strong, students were still raging for anarchy. When the truth came out after Vietnam invaded Cambodia, there was mass disbelief. People refused to believe this has happened, just as they refused to believe the Rwandan genocide. Today, historians calculate that out of a population of roughly 8 million, 1 to 2 million died in that utopia...
In the great french scholarly work "The black book of communism" we can read some unpleasant truths about the communist countries. As a contrast to western democracies students and leftists everywhere embraced communism in those days, even the proverbial CCCP. Today we can read about environmental degradation, starvation, millions dying year by year in the name of an ideology. It is very painful to face one's mistakes, and this was a big one. But we do have to face the mistake.
In studying this book we think again and again, how is this possible? That all this was done in the name of an idea? Would Karl Marx have still thought and written what he did, knowing what was to come after him in the 20th century? Would he have agreed with Saloth Sar, Pol Pot to the world? Tragically, I think he wouldn't have changed a single word. Ideas are more important than people.
This band, as well as later Alcatraz, was able to write a really muscular electric guitar based progressive rock, not an easy thing to do, with a high dynamic. The guitarist is really amazing, fast and furious with the crazy riffs and chord changes. The songs are mostly sung, thank god there are not too many spoken slogans and silliness. Mutant sounds posted some of the other great Checkpoint Charlie stuff, this one is also very good.
I just wonder what the band think about the political stuff now -- chances are, they haven't changed their minds much.
Du Sollst Dein Leben Nicht Den Schweinen Geben...