In January, 2022, Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi told President of Nicaragua and leader of the Sandinistas, Daniel Ortega, that “the US is in decline and growing weaker by the day.” This simple statement succinctly summed up the ever more apparent shift in global attitude towards the world’s only superpower and its system of exploitation. The United States is in decline and so too is capitalism. The future holds either the emergence of socialism on a global scale or human extinction.
I wrote the songs of this album in the very last days of 2021 and the first weeks of 2022. Because of the closures caused by COVID-19, I wasn’t scheduled to work over the winter holiday for the first time in years. So, I gathered up some favourite beats of mine that had been collecting dust, hunkered down, and set pen to paper. It certainly wasn’t hard to find something to say.
The virus that the government was preparing us to live with in perpetuity was still shortening people’s lives. Our healthcare system was on the precipice and the government was holding out to justify their privatization plans. People were freezing to death in bus shacks for want of proper shelter, and the government’s response was more subsidies for private development. The prices of groceries were rising and the government acted like it was a natural law that could only be curbed by raising interest rates and causing mass unemployment. Government corruption was becoming so apparent, the economic situation so dire, that the far right began to see a resurgence. Nothing much has changed.
A year ago today, February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The songs on this album were written before this happened. But the situation in that part of the world had been on my radar since the Maidan coup and Canada’s role in training the Azov Battalion had come to light. Russia’s invasion in response to NATO encroachment was a huge escalation that further destabilized an already volatile world. The US sabotage of Nordstream sent a clear message to Germany and the rest of Europe: you’re with us or against us. Despite much of the world’s attempts to remain neutral, to maintain mutually-beneficial international relations, the United States was drawing a line in the sand.
In some ways, this album continues with similar themes explored in Introducing the Ghost. It is less introspective and much angrier, however. On Ghost I was less interested in making songs and more interested in creating music that expressed the fluidity of the lived experiences and internal conflicts that I had been living through. The songs on The Empire is in Decline and Growing Weaker by the Day have much more traditional structures and are, content-wise, closer to agitprop. Our shared humanity, solidarity and our united fight against the Promethean beast – what else should art be about?
I hope that The Empire is in Decline and Growing Weaker by the Day can contribute to the soundtrack of our collective struggle. I wrote these songs animated by the spirit of the revolutionary movements that had come before us and that continue to this day, the popular forces around the world and throughout history that have fought to free their land from exploitation. These movements are not inspirational because they are without flaws, or because they are above criticism, but because the people that compose them believe in the actuality of a better world and they put their lives on the line to achieve it.
I hope this album doesn’t just feed into the anger, but enlivens the spirit in our collective struggle against the inhumane tyranny of capital. Anger is a gift, but can only go so far without solidarity and organization.