Fueled by embarrassment over Brexit and frustration about how geographical borders hold us back; formidable activists and GIHE favourites Petrol Girls have been busy dismantling the fabric of the state in the video for their latest single, ‘No Love For A Nation’. It’s an anti-nationalist anthem designed to unite and fortify individuals, regardless of what country they were born in.
“Swap them, switch them, patch and stitch them” sings vocalist Ren Aldridge over visuals of her bandmates and their allies cutting and re-stitching world flags in to a new “rag” that forms the backdrop for the band’s live show. The track is lifted from the band’s recent album, Cut and Stitch, whose name was inspired by the ideas explored in the new song.
Ren articulates the motivations behind the new music video more poignantly than we ever could:
“This video is a collaboration between myself and the incredibly talented Martyna Wisniewska. The video is a manifestation of an art project I’ve been doing for ages, cutting and stitching national flags…
We shot this video on the way from Austria to the UK for our September tour, via Germany and France. Zock had the idea of hiring radical spaces to shoot the video in. DIY social centres and a radical bookshop – these are places in which radical organising takes place, where information can be disseminated and our community can gather. We filmed at Sub in Graz, Kafe Marat in Munich, Villa Bellevillein Paris and Freedom Bookshop in London.
It was in these kinds of spaces that I first encountered the slogan ‘NO LOVE FOR A NATION’ in the form of stickers, banners and graffiti, and it has informed my politics ever since. I’ve found that many people are quick to make accusations of naivety against those of us that question the nation state, but I would argue that it’s far more naive (not to mention heartless) to think we can continue organising human society in the way that we do.
Nations create borders and borders create violences like detention, deportation and the denial of safe passage. It is a bizarre and often cruel way of organising societies on the basis of where people happen to have been born. It is those on the fringes of these definitions that suffer their harshest consequences – refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. It is not acceptable that 18,000 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, because they were denied safe passage on the basis of their nationality.
Simultaneously, populist nationalism takes aim at these people, and uses them as a scapegoat for the failings of capitalism and neoliberalism. If history has taught us anything, it’s that we must resist the rise of populist nationalism that is sweeping the planet.
We stand in opposition to Fortress Europe but mourn Brexit as the result of populist nationalist politics and a xenophobic, dishonest and, at times, overtly racist campaign. We are not proud of Britain – we are embarrassed. Above all we are angered by the rise in racism and xenophobia since the Brexit result. We are deeply troubled and angered by the way in which populist nationalism has emboldened racists and fascists across the world.
At its core, the Nation State is just an idea – a notion – something that exists in our collective imagination and is consolidated through culture – through monuments and museums, through football and flags.
This song, video and art project aim to question and contribute to destabilising the idea of nations. Can we collectively imagine ourselves in a different way? The nation rose from the decline of the monarchy – what will rise from the decline of nations? Can’t we find better and more inclusive ways of collectively understanding ourselves?
The video also celebrates the punk community, which stretches across borders and nations, and has inclusive and anti-authority politics at its core. I feel like this community offers us a glimpse of what might be possible.”
Watch the video for Petrol Girls’ ‘No Love For A Nation’ below and follow the band on Facebook for more updates.
Petrol Girls 2019/2020 Headline Tour Dates
November 20th: KIEL (DE), Altemeierei
November 21st: HANNOVER (DE), UJZ Korn
November 22nd: BREMEN (DE), Die Friese
January 14th: NEWPORT (UK), Le Pub
January 15th: BRIGHTON (UK), Green Door Store
January 16th: LONDON (UK), Oslo
January 17th: NOTTINGHAM (UK), Bodega
January 18th: MANCHESTER (UK), The Deaf Institute
January 19th: GLASGOW (UK), Nice & Sleazy
January 21st: BELFAST (UK), McHughs
January 22nd: DUBLIN (IRL), Whelan’s
January 23rd: LIMERICK (IRL), Kasbah Social Club