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The Clash's music was often charged with left-wing ideological sentiments.[95] Strummer, in particular, was a committed socialist. The Clash are credited with pioneering the advocacy of radical politics in punk rock, and were dubbed the "Thinking Man's Yobs" by NME.[96] Like many early punk bands, the Clash protested against monarchy and aristocracy; however, unlike many of their peers, they rejected nihilism.[45] Instead, they found solidarity with a number of contemporary liberation movements and were involved with such groups as the Anti-Nazi League. On 30 April 1978, the Clash played the Rock Against Racism concert in London's Victoria Park for a crowd of 50–100,000 people;[97]Strummer wore a T-shirt identifying two left-wing revolutionary groups: the words "Brigade [sic] Rosse"—Italy's Red Brigades—appeared alongside the insignia of West Germany's Red Army Faction.[98][99]

 

Their politics were made explicit in the lyrics of such early recordings as "White Riot", which encouraged disaffected white youths to riot like their black counterparts; "Career Opportunities", which addressed the alienation of low-paid, routinised jobs and discontent over the lack of alternatives; and "London's Burning", about the bleakness and boredom of life in the inner city.[100] Artist Caroline Coon, who was associated with the punk scene, argued that "[t]hose tough, militaristic songs were what we needed as we went into Thatcherism".[101] The scope of the band's political interests widened on later recordings.

The title of Sandinista! celebrated the left-wing rebels who had recently overthrown Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and the album was filled with songs driven by other political issues extending far beyond British shores: "Washington Bullets" addressed covert military operations around the globe, while "The Call-Up" was a meditation on US draft policies.[102][103] Combat Rock's "Straight to Hell" is described by scholars Simon Reynoldsand Joy Press as an "around-the-world-at-war-in-five-verses guided tour of hell-zones where boy-soldiers had languished."[103]

The band's political sentiments were reflected in their resistance to the music industry's usual profit motivations; even at their peak, tickets to shows and souvenirs were reasonably priced.[45] The group insisted that CBS sell their double and triple album sets London Calling and Sandinista! for the price of a single album each (then £5), succeeding with the former and compromising with the latter by agreeing to sell it for £5.99 and forfeit all their performance royalties on its first 200,000 sales.[104] These "VFM" (value for money) principles meant that they were constantly in debt to CBS, and only started to break even around 1982.[1]