In the words of last surviving British veteran of WW1 Harry Patch, who died in 2009 aged 111 “It wasn’t worth it.” As the effects of WW1 continue to ripple through each of our lives in the present, the ways in which it altered the world irrevocably for the worse continue to make themselves apparent.
A war which beckoned humanity into a century of industrial murder the likes of which it had never before witnessed.
“The English and French say they are fighting in defence of democracy, but they do not wish their words to be heard in Petrograd or Calcutta” said Bertrand Russell at the time.
His words spoke to the hypocrisy of a society in which only 18% of men could vote going to war allied with an absolute autocracy in Tsarist Russia to democratise Germany in which 22% of men could vote. His words spoke to the hypocrisy of a society whose military occupied 12,700,000 miles of the globe going to war in “defence of small nations” to guarantee the neutrality of a country responsible for millions of deaths in the Congo.
My piece Refuse2Kill is dedicated to those who had the foresight to see the trouble ahead and the bravery to let their opposition be known in spite of societal disdain and legal repression.
This song was made in remembrance of their sacrifice in the face of systematised insanity and in recognition of the way they paved for Britain’s anti-war movement.
20,000 men in Britain refused to fight
6,000 were imprisoned
80 died in prison
34 were sentenced to death.
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi Hip-hop artist, campaigner and playwright who has appeared on BBC TV and Radio, Channel 4, ITV, Al Jazeera, MTV BASE, SBTV and Novara Media. He has written for the Guardian and Ceasefire Magazine.
His critically acclaimed music has received millions of streams on Spotify, sold over 25k albums digitally and garnered over 45 million YouTube views. His independently released album Soundtrack to the Struggle (2011) charted #6 in the UK RnB chart, #9 in the UK Indie chart, #14 in the UK Download chart and #57 in the UK Albums chart. He has worked with Immortal Technique, Wretch 32, Akala, Dead Prez and The Outlawz. He is part of the supergroup Mongrel alongside members of the Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles and Reverend and the Makers. The band released their album Better than Heavy in tandem with the Independent newspaper. The band were invited to Venezuela by then-President Hugo Chavez, with Lowkey eventually travelling to Caracas and performing at the Community of Latin American States and Caribbean States (CELAC) celebration in 2011.
He was included in MTV Base Best of the Best UK MCs two years in a row. Charting at #10 in 2010 and #7 in 2011.
Lowkey has been lauded in the Houses of Parliament by the MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad as a “poet laureate for Grenfell Tower.” This praise was in recognition of his release Ghosts of Grenfell, which featured on BBC Radio 4’s World at One and enjoyed public support from Russell Brand, Frankie Boyle, Lilly Allen and JME. His community work around the Grenfell fire led to his recent appointment as director of performing arts for the Kids on The Green charity, assisting rehabilitation of children in the area.
Lowkey is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and an active supporter of Stop the War Coalition. He accompanied George Galloway on his siege breaking Viva Palestina convoy bringing aid to Gaza in 2009.
He has also lectured alongside academic Norman Finkelstein during their tour of universities in the United States in 2010 to mark the release of his book, This Time We Went Too Far.
Lowkey was commissioned by Theatre Royal, Bath to write a Hip Hop version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was performed there and was also performed as part of the Edinburgh Festival.
He is currently completing an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.