You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag [heroin] and skip out for beer during commercials.
Because the revolution will not be televised. …

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
The revolution will not be right back after a message
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised

These are some of the lines of Gil Scott-Heron’s song that told people in the 1970s (which, I maintain, were just as ’60ish as the fabled 1960s) that a revolution was coming, that they would no longer be able to live their normal daily life, that they should no longer want to live their normal daily life, that they would have to learn to be more serious about this thing they were always prattling about, this thing they called “revolution”.

Fast Forward to 2009 … Gil Scott-Heron, now a ripe old 60, was recently interviewed by the Washington Post:

WP: In the early 1970s, you came out with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” about the erosion of democracy in America. You all but predicted that there would be a revolution in which a brainwashed nation would come to its senses. What do you think now? Did we have a revolution?

GS-H: Yes, the election of President Obama was the revolution.[1]

Oh? So that’s it? That’s what we took clubs over our heads for? Tear gas, jail cells, and permanent police and FBI files? Published a million issues of the underground press? To get a president who doesn’t have a revolutionary bone in his body? Not a muscle or nerve or tissue or organ that seriously questions cherished establishment beliefs concerning terrorism, permanent war, Israel, torture, marijuana, health care, and the primacy of profit over the environment and all else? Karl Marx is surely turning over in his London grave. If the modern counter-revolutionary United States had existed at the time of the American revolution, it would have crushed that revolution. And a colonial (white) Barack Obama would have worked diligently to achieve some sort of bi-partisan compromise with the King of England, telling him we need to look forward, not backward.


[1] Washington Post, August 26, 2009