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World Socialist Website - October 11, 2019

For nearly five decades, the iconic rock musician Roger Waters has made it clear that he has something to say about big social and political questions. Going back to the 1970s, when he was the bassist and primary creative force of the rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has consistently voiced from the recording studio, concert stage and interview chair his opposition to imperialist war, state repression, inequality and bigotry.

Recently, Waters has been one of a very few rock superstars to speak out publicly in defense of WikiLeaks editor and founder Julian Assange. Last April, following the eviction and arrest of Assange, Waters gave an interview to RT from New York City in which he denounced the US, UK and Ecuadorian governments for their conspiracy against the journalist. The rock musician and activist also said, “There should be a general strike in England to prevent him from being extradited.”

In July, Waters made a video on Facebook where he called Assange “the great hero of freedom of the press … who has been disgustingly and roundly turned upon by the United States, the United Kingdom and all the other purveyors of imperialism around the world.” On September 2, Waters held a mini-concert outside the UK Home Office in London—where he performed the Pink Floyd classic “Wish You Were Here”—with the support of Australian journalist John Pilger, to demand that Assange be released immediately from nearby Belmarsh prison.

Although the assault on the WikiLeaks journalist does not make it into his new film “Roger Waters Us + Them,” it is known that Waters projected “Resist the attempted silencing of Julian Assange” and “Resist Internet Censorship” onto the video screens prior to many of the concerts on his recent tour.

With his new concert film—which opened for limited screenings internationally on October 2 and 6—Waters takes his use of musical performance as a means of political expression to a new level. The live concert film footage was shot from the three performances in Amsterdam in June 2018 during the “Us + Them” world tour.

“Us and Them” is the title of a song from the 1973 Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon. The original song lyrics concern divisions in society between the front ranks and the generals, between the youth and the police and between those “with” and those “without.” By replacing the word “and” with a plus sign (+), Waters is challenging the present-day growth of anti-immigrant and xenophobic hatreds being encouraged by the political establishment around the world and, as he says on stage, “there is only one human race.” ...
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