Thom Yorke, answering readers’ questions:

You said in an interview once that you don’t like the idea that a banker could be listening to your music. Have you lost hope in people in the banking system? Or do you think artists can influence bankers? Katarzyna Slopien

I think artists can influence only through making music that challenges people, excites them and flips them out. Music that repeats what you know in ever-decreasing derivation, that’s unchallenging and unstimulating, deadens our minds, our imagination and our ability to see beyond the hell we find ourselves in. My problem with bankers or, rather, the banking system is, that it’s the ultimate expression of “Fuck you, buddy”. There is no communal human consciousness, no will to co-operation, we are all slaves to the market. It’s as if it has always been thus. It hasn’t.

These bankers have made personal fortunes by stealing, exploiting and destroying our assets, our workforce, our resources and our planet. All protected, assisted and now bailed out by our governments using our money. High priests to a false god that they’ve done very nicely out of, thank you very much.

That’s the rant over. In answer to your question, I guess lots of them are around my age and I know a few, and I am very aware of having led a very different life to most people my age. I hate to judge on an individual basis but I think whatever wealth has been accumulated in this sphere has not made those who have done it necessarily happy.

I hope, like I said, that sometimes music, maybe even my music, would help unravel the fear, cynicism and greed that stands between us and changing this shit for good. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll wake up tomorrow and say: “You know what? Fuck this. I’ve found my conscience, it was in the suit that’s just come back from the dry cleaner’s and I’m going to jolly well use it.”

Oh, Thom. Are you still on this silly romantic kick? There is no salvation for abstractions like “humanity” through some sort of objectively inspiring “art”; there are only individuals finding contingent meaning and inspiration where they can. What I mean to say is, fuck your derivative, unchallenging, snobbish clichés about how we will finally be free when the last bankster has been strangled with the guitar strings of the last Nickelback. Fear, cynicism and greed are equally integral parts of what it means to exist as a human, both collectively and individually; the progressivist notion that they can be neatly delineated and surgically excised, leaving only the “good” bits behind, is one of the oldest delusions of humankind, and ironically responsible for no small amount of suffering itself. We’re never going to all be inspired by the same things at the same time or desirous of the same ends by the same means. Let me guess: that thought depresses you? Let me reassure you: it doesn’t necessarily have to.