ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Poll ended at 25 Apr 2019, 2:23pm

Something About England
4
15%
Somebody Got Murdered
0
No votes
One More Time
2
8%
Up In Heaven (Not Only Here)
8
31%
Lets Go Crazy
9
35%
Washington Bullets
2
8%
Charlie Don't Surf
1
4%
 
Total votes: 26

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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by WestwayKid »

Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:26am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:23am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:14am
I don't think the song says that at all. The only reference to nationalism is "they say the immigrants steal the hubcaps of respected gentlemen, they say it would be wine and roses if England were for Englishman again" which is a swipe at National Front-type utterances of the time, and just there to set up the story really. Joe then more or less goes on to say you haven't even got an England worth saving, it's fucked. That's what I get out of it anyway, but I'm pretty convinced a band with the Clash's worldview and track record weren't praising nationalism in any form, the opposite if anything.
Something About England. England is a nation, English is a sense of nation. The song isn't called Something About the People or the Workers or Working Class. It's specifically about the English working-class. But, as you say and I agree, the lyrics are a bitter recitation of how the working class has been fucked over in the 20th c, notably by nationalist/imperialist wars. So, I return again to the ambiguity of whether Joe is advocating an Englishness of the people or an abandonment of that kind of stuff because it can be used to manipulate and lead people to their death? Those are two distinct interpretations and It's not clear to me whether Joe is going folk or revolutionary—he had a track record of playing both sides.
Almost certainly the latter in this case I think.
I agree.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:26am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:23am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:14am
I don't think the song says that at all. The only reference to nationalism is "they say the immigrants steal the hubcaps of respected gentlemen, they say it would be wine and roses if England were for Englishman again" which is a swipe at National Front-type utterances of the time, and just there to set up the story really. Joe then more or less goes on to say you haven't even got an England worth saving, it's fucked. That's what I get out of it anyway, but I'm pretty convinced a band with the Clash's worldview and track record weren't praising nationalism in any form, the opposite if anything.
Something About England. England is a nation, English is a sense of nation. The song isn't called Something About the People or the Workers or Working Class. It's specifically about the English working-class. But, as you say and I agree, the lyrics are a bitter recitation of how the working class has been fucked over in the 20th c, notably by nationalist/imperialist wars. So, I return again to the ambiguity of whether Joe is advocating an Englishness of the people or an abandonment of that kind of stuff because it can be used to manipulate and lead people to their death? Those are two distinct interpretations and It's not clear to me whether Joe is going folk or revolutionary—he had a track record of playing both sides.
Almost certainly the latter in this case I think.
And that's a fair interpretation, but it's not absolutely clear—that's my only point.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Heston »

Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
There's a tiny, tiny hopeful part of me that says you guys are running a Kaufmanesque long con on the board

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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by WestwayKid »

Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:49am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
I lean towards the lyric being resigned versus a warning. As I wrote earlier - Joe doesn't appear to provide any answers - he's just painting a portrait. Let me spin it this way for the sake of continuing the discussion. Look at it through a different lens - what if the song was about racism in America? The situation has always been awful for African-Americans. Institutional racism has not gone away - it has maybe changed - but it hasn't gotten better. One could take the lyric - present the shitty situation too many African-Americans still find themselves in - and then just shrug. Too bad for you guys - your situation still sucks. That can be frustrating. I think we want to hear a call to arms or at least have a solution presented to us and when we don't - it can feel like it comes up short. I can see that in SAE, but I would also argue that sometimes shining a light on a problem can be important: yes, the situation sucks but the point is to make people aware - to remind them of their situation - in the hope that it spurs change?
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by msza2 »

WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:12am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:49am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
I lean towards the lyric being resigned versus a warning. As I wrote earlier - Joe doesn't appear to provide any answers - he's just painting a portrait. Let me spin it this way for the sake of continuing the discussion. Look at it through a different lens - what if the song was about racism in America? The situation has always been awful for African-Americans. Institutional racism has not gone away - it has maybe changed - but it hasn't gotten better. One could take the lyric - present the shitty situation too many African-Americans still find themselves in - and then just shrug. Too bad for you guys - your situation still sucks. That can be frustrating. I think we want to hear a call to arms or at least have a solution presented to us and when we don't - it can feel like it comes up short. I can see that in SAE, but I would also argue that sometimes shining a light on a problem can be important: yes, the situation sucks but the point is to make people aware - to remind them of their situation - in the hope that it spurs change?
Right, are the lyrics to SAE really any more maudlin than something like Career Opportunities? Joe's lyrics could be quite depressing and hopeless. It's just with SAE there's music to match.

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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

msza2 wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:30am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:12am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:49am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am


And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
I lean towards the lyric being resigned versus a warning. As I wrote earlier - Joe doesn't appear to provide any answers - he's just painting a portrait. Let me spin it this way for the sake of continuing the discussion. Look at it through a different lens - what if the song was about racism in America? The situation has always been awful for African-Americans. Institutional racism has not gone away - it has maybe changed - but it hasn't gotten better. One could take the lyric - present the shitty situation too many African-Americans still find themselves in - and then just shrug. Too bad for you guys - your situation still sucks. That can be frustrating. I think we want to hear a call to arms or at least have a solution presented to us and when we don't - it can feel like it comes up short. I can see that in SAE, but I would also argue that sometimes shining a light on a problem can be important: yes, the situation sucks but the point is to make people aware - to remind them of their situation - in the hope that it spurs change?
Right, are the lyrics to SAE really any more maudlin than something like Career Opportunities? Joe's lyrics could be quite depressing and hopeless. It's just with SAE there's music to match.
Indeed, I'm likely letting the music influence my interpretation, that the mood of the music is an indication of how to treat the lyrics. If the point were consciousness awareness, like with Clampdown or Know Your Rights, it would seem sensible to have the music be like a 2 x 4 between the eyes. But the music is pretty dang downcast.

Additional thought, re. Heston's belief that this song rejects any kind of national spirit. Does that make the title ironic? That is, a literal title would be Nothing About England?
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Heston »

Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:51am
msza2 wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:30am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 10:12am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:49am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am


There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
I lean towards the lyric being resigned versus a warning. As I wrote earlier - Joe doesn't appear to provide any answers - he's just painting a portrait. Let me spin it this way for the sake of continuing the discussion. Look at it through a different lens - what if the song was about racism in America? The situation has always been awful for African-Americans. Institutional racism has not gone away - it has maybe changed - but it hasn't gotten better. One could take the lyric - present the shitty situation too many African-Americans still find themselves in - and then just shrug. Too bad for you guys - your situation still sucks. That can be frustrating. I think we want to hear a call to arms or at least have a solution presented to us and when we don't - it can feel like it comes up short. I can see that in SAE, but I would also argue that sometimes shining a light on a problem can be important: yes, the situation sucks but the point is to make people aware - to remind them of their situation - in the hope that it spurs change?
Right, are the lyrics to SAE really any more maudlin than something like Career Opportunities? Joe's lyrics could be quite depressing and hopeless. It's just with SAE there's music to match.
Indeed, I'm likely letting the music influence my interpretation, that the mood of the music is an indication of how to treat the lyrics. If the point were consciousness awareness, like with Clampdown or Know Your Rights, it would seem sensible to have the music be like a 2 x 4 between the eyes. But the music is pretty dang downcast.

Additional thought, re. Heston's belief that this song rejects any kind of national spirit. Does that make the title ironic? That is, a literal title would be Nothing About England?
The music suits it perfectly imo. It has the colliery brass bands and wartime pub piano sounds that directly connect to the subject matter.
There's a tiny, tiny hopeful part of me that says you guys are running a Kaufmanesque long con on the board

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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Wolter »

I think the title is ironic and always have. But that’s me.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

In case this gets lost in the back and forth, my criticism of SAE is predicated on the assertion that it's a superior example of Joe's/the band's work. I'm not saying it's awful—it's better than anything done by, I dunno, Rod Stewart—but that in the context of this exercise, I don't regard it as meriting any kind of elite status.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Kory »

Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:49am
Heston wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:40am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:36am
WestwayKid wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 9:27am
My take is that it's a somewhat resigned look at the fact that class/income inequality has always been a problem and it always will be. It takes on a lot of forms: lazy racism as seen in the first verse, the checked out upper classes and so on. I say resigned because it doesn't offer any answer - it just says it's a shitty situation and despite whatever optimism is being put out by those in power - nothing has really changed. It's a fascinating song that I never really took the time to dig into. There really is also a sense of cynicism that comes across in the lyrics - again - no answers are offered and really no optimism is given: the situation sucks and it has always sucked and it will probably always suck. It's a good lyric, though. I think that is what Joe was trying to get across. It's a commentary - not a call to arms.
And if that is a proper reading, it's why I find it substandard compared to Joe's other work. I mean, you only have to rotate it a half degree or so to make it the cruel position of the wealthy—look at your history, chumps; you lost in the past, you're losing today, you'll lose in the future, fuck you. (In the same way that Marx's Capital, by ignoring only a few choice adjectives and metaphors, is a blueprint for capitalism that any capitalist would approve of.) It's that lack of call to arms that makes it wallowing in misery, defeatist sentiment.
There's what could be construed as a little cautionary warning at the end, and it rings true more now than ever...

The lights clicked out in the bedsits, old England was all alone
Right. Maybe it's a warning to change one's ways (but, again, how? It's never stated) or it's a resigned "We're fucked." In which case, thanks Joe. That's the kind of deep pessimism of Marxist intellectuals who have given up on the working class and resign themselves to being aware of the calamity but believe nothing can be done.
I never saw Joe as much of an answers man in any case. I think we can all agree from almost any interview they ever participated in that their political views were half-baked opinions from musicians in their 20's, at best. And also, don't discount how stoned the group were during the recording (and presumably writing) of this album. That doesn't historically result in incisive social commentary.

I think more than anything he just felt like painting a picture and that's it. I get what you're saying about it not being as effective as his other writing, but I suppose I can't think off the top of my head of any answer he's given to a social problem other than to let fury have the hour, or lamenting that he wants a riot of his own.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Dr. Medulla »

Kory wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 12:46pm
I never saw Joe as much of an answers man in any case. I think we can all agree from almost any interview they ever participated in that their political views were half-baked opinions from musicians in their 20's, at best. And also, don't discount how stoned the group were during the recording (and presumably writing) of this album. That doesn't historically result in incisive social commentary.
Agreed all around. They were mostly liberals playing around with leftist rhetoric. Which still provided something more inspirational than a lot of bands were generating, but it pretty much goes without saying that all of us here are well past the WWJD hero worship.
I think more than anything he just felt like painting a picture and that's it. I get what you're saying about it not being as effective as his other writing, but I suppose I can't think off the top of my head of any answer he's given to a social problem other than to let fury have the hour, or lamenting that he wants a riot of his own.
Right, and my position is that songs like Clampdown or White Riot are superior because they don't suggest complacency. I'm not expecting a fifteen-point plan or anything, but a song that says your anger is righteous and you can be meaningful is better than one that lays out a dreary century of being kicked by the elites and then, well, see ya. It's all rhetoric, but if I'm going to side with one over the other, I don't hesitate to go with the one that suggests hope and possibility.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Kory »

Dr. Medulla wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 1:13pm
Kory wrote:
25 Apr 2019, 12:46pm
I never saw Joe as much of an answers man in any case. I think we can all agree from almost any interview they ever participated in that their political views were half-baked opinions from musicians in their 20's, at best. And also, don't discount how stoned the group were during the recording (and presumably writing) of this album. That doesn't historically result in incisive social commentary.
Agreed all around. They were mostly liberals playing around with leftist rhetoric. Which still provided something more inspirational than a lot of bands were generating, but it pretty much goes without saying that all of us here are well past the WWJD hero worship.
I think more than anything he just felt like painting a picture and that's it. I get what you're saying about it not being as effective as his other writing, but I suppose I can't think off the top of my head of any answer he's given to a social problem other than to let fury have the hour, or lamenting that he wants a riot of his own.
Right, and my position is that songs like Clampdown or White Riot are superior because they don't suggest complacency. I'm not expecting a fifteen-point plan or anything, but a song that says your anger is righteous and you can be meaningful is better than one that lays out a dreary century of being kicked by the elites and then, well, see ya. It's all rhetoric, but if I'm going to side with one over the other, I don't hesitate to go with the one that suggests hope and possibility.
Ah, I see. It looks like I have more love for resignation than the average Canadian.
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Re: ROUND 18 - Sandinista! Semifinal

Post by Silent Majority »

How can you be moved to change anything if you haven't had the situation explained to you?
Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn't have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realised that you either became a power or you were crushed


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