Discussion:
More on the Roots of Terrorism
(too old to reply)
Austin, Andrew
2005-07-23 19:56:29 UTC
Permalink
An alternative interpretation (features of which I am skeptical) also finds that the prevailing explanation advanced by political elites is misguided. This explanation is advanced by Olivier Roy, who has an editorial out today in The New York Times: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/22/opinion/edroy.php. You will see that he is in agreement with those who argue that the violence is anti-imperialist in nature, but he claims that there is some leftish push beneath all this. It is this aspect of his thesis that he has to sell me on. Does anybody have any comments on this angle?

Some background on Roy from SourceWatch:

His views on these depart radically from those prevalent in the Bush administration. Rather than depicting it as a clash of world-view or civilization he considers the activities of Al Qaeda to be mostly a typical secular anti-imperialist movement, using religious motives as a cover. From "Radical Islam - a Middle East phenomenon or a consequence of the globalization of Islam?" published by the Open Society Institute:

'Roy compared contemporary Islamic radicals with leftist radical groups of the 1970s, such as the Red Brigade in Italy and the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany. He asserted that political considerations fueled the September 11 attacks.

"The violence that we see now has little to do with Islam, it's nationalism," Roy said. "These guys are fighting American imperialism, they are not fighting Christianity."

"A significant number of al Qaeda members, especially non Saudis, are "born-again" Muslims, defined as those who have recently embraced Islam, and many of whom have lived the West and had lengthy exposure to Western culture. Mohammad Atta, the reputed ringleader of the September 11 attacks, became a born-again Muslim while living in Hamburg, Germany, Roy noted. Between one-third and a half of those in terrorist networks are those who could be characterized as born-again Muslims," Roy estimated.

'A vital, if currently underappreciated trend is that radical Islam is developing in the West and is being exported to the Middle East and Central Asia". Roy cited the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which calls for the non-violent reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate across the Middle East and Central Asia, as an example of the current trend. Hizb is based in London, but its supporters are increasingly active in Central Asia, working underground to undermine established authority in the region.'

"London is the Mecca of radical Islam," Roy said, adding that those willing to engage in radical activity, including terrorism, "don't convert for Islam, they convert for political purposes."

To the degree Roy's view is accurate, then attempts to portray conventional Islamism as inspired by Mawdudi and the Wahabist figures of the 20th century as responsible for the current upsurge of energy in the Islamic World constitute disinformation and propaganda of the most profound sort, designed to get traditional Muslim authority and global American power at odds, perhaps to clear the way for what amounts to left-wing revolutions in the wake of invasions, but in a form that appears more like Islamic revolution.

Retrieved from "http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Olivier_Roy"
daniels
2005-07-23 21:41:56 UTC
Permalink
On Louis' homepage, there are a lot of essays about the arts. There is
an excellent essay about Schoenberg's opera, Moses and Aaron, for
example, and essays about jazz and film and Abstract Expressionism.
Louis even writes about enjoying a performance of Wagner. These essays
are what got me to sign on to this list. I assumed that many other
comrades were just as interested in the arts as Louis.

Louis says somewhere that the only thing he was ever good at was
radical politics. The only thing I'm good at is being an artist.

I'm not a scholar or a theorist or anything at all like that. I'm a
poet whose most important (to me) work is the translation of Brazilian
poetry. I have a very modest reputation among non-academic poets around
the country. My ties to academia are so tenuous that they might as well
not exist at all. I'm not interested in making it, but I would love to
move to Brazil one of these days, and if I can find a way to do so, I
surely will. I dropped out of high school, worked as a dishwasher and a
cook, a furniture mover, house painter, etc etc, and am almost entirely
self-taught.

I spent a long time playing electric bass in rock bands. I studied
music (all music) assiduously, on my own and with friends, because I
figured it was my responsibility to be an excellent musician, to learn
as much about rhythm and harmony as I possibly could. I practiced 8-12
hours a day for long periods of time. I played along with Cachao
records, Eddie Palmieri records, so I could learn the clave. I learned
hundreds and hundreds of jazz standards. I never wanted to "make it."
What I wanted to do was play hugely powerful, loud music, to take the
music of the Albert Ayler Trio (Gary Peacock) and electrify it, play it
in a power trio. When I was in my mid-30's, after almost 20 years of
dealing with rock musicians who had no inner sense of time and utterly
reactionary ears, drummers who couldn't keep time, musicians who were
incapable of comfortably hearing anything more complex that a perfect
fifth, I finally found a small group of musicians with whom I could
stretch out and achieved my goal for a little while. We had a band
called Witches and Devils, and we had a small but appreciative
following in the SF Bay Area.

In 1995, something terrible happened in my family, my life changed and
I turned to my love of poetry and the Portuguese language. I began to
translate poetry seriously and earnestly. A little later on, after
rading the BRazilian poet Ferreira Gullar, I began to realize that my
sympathy for the working class (I come from a bohemian family, and was
raised in NYC, in the projects on 93rd and 1st) was actually
revolutionary feeling, and I began to read Marx and Engels and their
followers.

I was raised around great jazz musicians. My mother worked as the
coatcheck girl at the Village Vanguard a couple of nights a week,
including Monday, when the house band, the great Thad Jones-Mel Louis
Orchestra, played. My mother's boyfriend was Vernon Martin, Rahsaan
Roland Kirk's excellent bassplayer. Vernon, who was a tremendously kind
man, and who treated me like a son, took me to hear all the jazz
musicians in clubs like the Vanguard and Slug's, and he took me to
concerts of classical music, too. I was an extraordinarily shy boy with
a ferocious stutter (I still have it to this day, though it's not
nearly as bad as it was). Vernon introduced me to John Coltrane after
hearing his great quartet frightened me; Elvin Jones shook my hand, and
I became a huge fan at the age of 8, in August, 1964, four months
before Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme.

Vernon taught me that all music belongs to us. I was very lucky in that
way. Vernon tuned a cello in fourths and started to teach me the
rudiments of jazz bass. It was Jimi Hendrix, Cream and the MC5 that
made me want to play the electric bass.

When it becomes too expensive, as it will one day, perhaps within our
lifetimes, to power a rock band, even in a small club, or to power a
rave; when it becomes too expensive to achieve that volume, what will
happen to those musics? What's to stop certain forms of music that
depend on electricity for their power and computer chips for their
complexity from becoming just as much a badge of wealth and power as a
symphony orchestra?

For every Public Enemy or Coup, there are thousands of Sean "Puffy"
Combs wannabes. For every Jimi Hendrix or Rage Against the Machine,
there are thousands of Metallica wannabes. For every Charles Mingus,
there are tens of thousands of deluded musicians yearning to live the
"rock and roll" celebrity lifestyle.

Do you assume that someone who loves classical music doesn't also love
jazz, rumba, tango, samba, merenge and bonga? Why should such a person,
who studied classical and jazz harmony and rhythms from all over the
world, look down their nose at rock music? Eddie Palmieri and John
Coltrane knew/know harmony backwards and forwards. They were able to do
what they did because of their knowledge, not despite their knowledge.

Do you really believe that when the revolution succeeds - as it must,
if we are to survive as a species - that people will stop wanting to
hear Brahms symphonies? Or that people will suddenly cease learning to
play the cello? Or that the music of Pierre Boulez will never be
performed again? Do you really believe that people who hear yearning
for freedom and deep meaning in the music of Olivier Messiaen are
reactionaries?

Music is for people, for all people. What keeps the working class from
learning the cello or the oboe and playing great music of the past? The
cost of musical education. The RC's need to keep that music for itself.
You know the reasons. And people who look down their noses at things
they don't understand. Some music takes time to understand, to
appreciate. Most poetry does, too. Being a revolutionary doesn't
necessarily mean you're not a reactionary in terms of the arts.
Trotsky, Voronsky, Lenin and Krupskaya warn against philistinism. The
history of the Russian Revolution teaches us to be very wary.

The premiere of Shostakovich's Gogolian opera, The Nose, took place in
1928. You know who went to that performance? Fucking factory workers
went to that performance. It was a huge success. I repeat, a huge
success. Stalin later condemned it, and Shostakovich, that
contradictory musical genius, endured years of oppression, and real
fear for the life of his family and himself. His string quartets should
be heard by everybody. His string quartets belong to everybody.

All art belongs to us. Certain forms of art have been stolen from us.
Until you realize that, you will never be able to reach people who are
like me, fellow travellers, artists full of revolutionary feeling and
human solidarity who are attacked and treated like reactionaries
because we love and study and work in the arts. Not all of us are
snobs. Some of us certainly are.

That is why I railed in my post. Forgive me for not having been
clearer.

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
Artists have a lot to teach all of us. Whose side are we on? Red Virgin
Soil, who published fellow travellers like Mayakovsky, or the
proletcult reactionaries who were all eventually murdered by Stalin,
the man they toadied up to?

Be nice to us fellow travellers. Most artists worth the name are
naturally be on your side, becasue when we are worht the name, we yearn
for artistic freedom in a society that appreciates what we do. We may
be a little confused politically, but we are full of revolutionary
feeling, and will do everything in our power to help the revolution
succeed, if you treat us with respect and help us to learn what you
know even while we teach you what we know.

Yours in solidarity,
Chris
Les Schaffer
2005-07-23 22:21:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by daniels
All art belongs to us. Certain forms of art have been stolen from us.
no need to be apologetic about your posts on music, i for one am reading
them avidly. i heard some jazz/fusion the other nite at a local club and
was blown away. someone told me the stuff reminded him of Miles Davis' A
Silent Way, that i gather eventually launched John McLaughlin and the
Mahavishnu Orchestra, among others.

am also interested in Shostakovitch, as his Fifth Symp. was one of the
first pieces of classical music i was exposed to as a kid, along with
Copland's Appalachian Spring.

les schaffer
Louis Proyect
2005-07-23 22:57:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Les Schaffer
am also interested in Shostakovitch, as his Fifth Symp. was one of the
first pieces of classical music i was exposed to as a kid, along with
Copland's Appalachian Spring.
les schaffer
I plan to get around saying something about Shostakovitch's "Song of the
Forest" at some point. This is an oratorio in praise of Stalin's
forestation projects and supposedly the composer at his socialist realism
worst. Late night I was listening to WKCR, the Columbia station, and heard
it in progress and was knocked off my feet--of course, I was in bed at the
time, so no harm done.

It is Russian chorale music at its best. Fantastic harmonies, with boy
singers playing a key role.

There is no version in CD now so I had to order it from Victor Kamkin, a
New Yorker who has a vast inventory of goods from the former Soviet Union.
Imagine my surprise when a *vinyl* record showed up. I had to convert the
thing to digital and will put some selections on the Marxmail website.

When it was playing on WKCR, I called into the station and spoke briefly to
the DJ. We agreed that great music can be composed even under a
dictatorship. Just between me and you, I think that classical music lost a
lot when it became too cerebral. I say that despite being a big fan of
Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron."

Nowadays, I don't listen to classical music much because it has a certain
sameness that comes from listening to it for the last 50 years or so. I
just can't sit through a Vivaldi concerto or a Strauss waltz. Mostly, I
listen to popular music from other countries, like Algerian rai, etc.

At any rate, I will have more to say about Shostakovitch later on, my
favorite composer all in all.
daniels
2005-07-24 00:03:00 UTC
Permalink
Thank you, Les.

Many sincerely committed fellow travellers feel beset and misunderstood
when the people with whom we so desire to share our love and knowledge
of the arts react with scorn. We know the potential in each human
being, and we have struggled, alone and together, to find our own
potential as artists. It's a very short step to radical politics.

That scornful reaction, and the hurt that follows, keeps way too many
of us from fully identifying our revolutionary impulse, and, sometimes
out of despair, sometimes out of cynicism, sometimes out of simple
spite and stubbornness, sometimes out of cluelessness, way too many of
us, even before our revolutionary feeling has the chance to find its
way to radical politics, turn to the RC and its values as a road to
success (which is not granted very many of us, anyway, even when we
fully interiorize RC values). It's a temptation I've managed to resist,
but the arts are full of talented, intelligent, sensitive and
revolutionary people who have lost their fire and their hope. Some of
them are or have been friends of mine. Louis' essay about Jackson
Pollock is great on this.

---

Miles Davis was such an amazing musician. His sound on trumpet is
totally unique. He was one of the few musicians to be a "sound
innovator": a musician who so changed the very sound of an instrument
that one short note is recognizable as being produced by that musician,
and that any imitator is instantly recognized as such.

Other sound innovators: John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix,
BB King and Jack Bruce, the bass player from Cream.

Miles Davis was one of the greatest musicians and bandleaders in any
genre who ever lived, and you gather correctly: he invented jazz
fusion. Nearly all the good jazz fusion bandleaders were in his band
for a time and learned everything from him.

If you want to check out something amazing, listen to Miles' albums
"Agharta" and "Pangaea," which were recorded live on the same day in
Tokyo in 1974 - "Agharta" was the matinee performance. By that time,
the band, which had been together pretty much as a unit for 2 years,
was so attuned to Miles and to each other that they had the collective
reflexes of a symphony orchestra led by a great conductor.

The music is sometimes fierce, sometimes achingly gentle, sometimes
sunny and bouncy, and sometimes rocks like you wouldn't believe, with
massive, distorted basslines by Michael Henderson (who came from
Motown) and insane Hendrix-on-steroids guitar solos by Pete Cosey (a
former Chess Records session player). And sometimes it's as free as
Albert Ayler ever was. The drummer and percussionist are at home in any
style. And it all turns on a dime. This music sounds to me like freedom
and rebellion, which inmy opinion is part of the reason Miles was so
castigated for doing what he did in the 70's. When he had his comeback,
he never again reached those heights. But everything he recorded up
till the mid-70's is worth hearing. Some of it is so beautiful it
hurts.

To repeat a point that I made before, Miles Davis didn't spring out of
thin air. His father was a middle-class physician, and could afford to
send Miles to Julliard. (Thelonious Monk went to Julliard, too, for a
short time, until he learned enough to be Monk!). He learned European
harmony inside and out, from his teachers and from his best friend, Gil
Evans, the (white) jazz arranger.

Apart from total prodigies, of which there are very few, every musician
has to struggle just to become proficient. And it is even harder to
learn to play jazz. It takes a lot of very hard, persistent work. Miles
Davis took typical bop phraseology and (in part because of his
technical limitations) stripped it down until all that was left were
the few notes he needed to light us on fire or break our hearts. His
solos exemplify the potential of human beings when we are courageous
and perseverant in our work, and his bands exemplify the power and the
beauty that can arise from long-term collective endeavor.

Yours,
Chris
brad janzen
2005-07-24 00:13:38 UTC
Permalink
Wow daniels, looks like you've had quite an
exciting life! I too am a huge lover of music of all
types-jazz, classical,
hip-hop, folk, etc etc...right now, my economic
situation does not allow me to buy CDs, much less
musical instruments....but I'm almost finished with
college, and then this will change. I really love art
in general, but especially music books and film. I
love the cultural diversity that large cities provide,
and I plan to move to NYC after I graduate.
First instrument I played growing up was the
piano. I also play guitar, and like to "dabble" on
any instrument I can get my hands on. Unfortunately,
I've been out of practice for several years. But
there's a piano in the food court of the Student Union
that I've been playing on lately. Right now, the only
piano book I have to play from is a book of 20th
Century Russian music...usually, nobody says anything
while I play, but yesterday I was playing a
Shostakovich piece- interestingly enough- and someone
liked it and wanted to know the composer (piece was
"Three Fantastic Dances".
Anyway, don't know much of the history of these
composers. Assuming my information is correct, I've
never really been a fan of what I know about Stalin's
attitude towards the arts (seems a very overly-rigid
interpretation of "socialist realism").
There is also a Prelude by Kabalesky that I enjoy
playing. Also, there's a couple pieces from
Khatchaturian's "Adventures of Ivan" which I enjoy
playing....I also like Shchedrin's Polyphonic
Notebooks, which is about the most "experimental"
stuff I've worked on I guess...what do you know about
these artists?
Look forward to more posts about art and culture
(including any worthwhile films and music, that may
have broken "mainstream")...one film that's getting
distribution which I'm curious to see is the new
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"...the reviews it's
been getting so far sound pretty good.
Also, I'm a fan of John Waters' films, and recently
rented and enjoyed "A Dirty Shame" (just don't rent it
Blockbuster's and make sure you get the NC-17 and not
the R-rated "Neuter Version")...
It's hard to pick a favorite John Waters movie, but
right now I think it's a tie between "Cecil B
Demented" and "Serial Mom".
Great art exists under all kinds of societies.
Human expression is a basic need....but like many of
you on the list, I look forward to a day when art can
advance freed from the oppressive conditions, and
commodifications of capitalism...I like to think that
under socialism, Mozart, Coltrane, Woody Guthrie,
Catie Curtis (pop-folk artist from Boston area I like
a lot) and the Coup will be at least more widely known
than say Britany Spears ;-)
Also, speaking of metal, one album which I
recently rediscovered from my high school days, and
which I still love (and find refreshingly punkish
compared to what many would assume) is the very first
Motley Crue album (more they became megastars and lost
their edginess)--Too Fast For Love. I think that
album has two of the best "rock ballads" (for lack of
better term) ever, with "Merry-Go-Round" and "Starry
Eyes"....I know this sounds like a strange
recommendation probably, but don't dis it until you
hear it....
I also enjoy most of the punk music that Anagram
Records puts out. Peace.
in
artistic solidarity,

Brad


__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
daniels
2005-07-24 00:22:06 UTC
Permalink
Louis, I totally understand how you feel about classical music having
lost something when it became, as you say, too cerebral. Like Pound
said about poetry dying when it gets too far away from song, something
in music dies when it gets too far away from dance.

Some of the music is very thorny and even sounds unpleasant when you
first hear it. But Schoenberg's music, for example, is no more (or
less) cerebral than Bach's. The system is different, and it's just a
matter of getting used to hearing it. Not that anybody should
necessarily want to spend the time, or even has the time or
inclination... I mean, it's not going to change your life! Or maybe it
will, maybe it will... change your ears, anyway!
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Les Schaffer
am also interested in Shostakovitch, as his Fifth Symp. was one of
the
Post by Les Schaffer
first pieces of classical music i was exposed to as a kid, along
with
Post by Les Schaffer
Copland's Appalachian Spring.
les schaffer
I plan to get around saying something about Shostakovitch's "Song of
the
Forest" at some point. This is an oratorio in praise of Stalin's
forestation projects and supposedly the composer at his socialist
realism
worst. Late night I was listening to WKCR, the Columbia station, and
heard
it in progress and was knocked off my feet--of course, I was in bed
at the
time, so no harm done.
It is Russian chorale music at its best. Fantastic harmonies, with
boy
singers playing a key role.
There is no version in CD now so I had to order it from Victor
Kamkin, a
New Yorker who has a vast inventory of goods from the former Soviet
Union.
Imagine my surprise when a *vinyl* record showed up. I had to convert
the
thing to digital and will put some selections on the Marxmail
website.
When it was playing on WKCR, I called into the station and spoke
briefly to
the DJ. We agreed that great music can be composed even under a
dictatorship. Just between me and you, I think that classical music
lost a
lot when it became too cerebral. I say that despite being a big fan
of
Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron."
Nowadays, I don't listen to classical music much because it has a
certain
sameness that comes from listening to it for the last 50 years or so.
I
just can't sit through a Vivaldi concerto or a Strauss waltz. Mostly,
I
listen to popular music from other countries, like Algerian rai, etc.
At any rate, I will have more to say about Shostakovitch later on, my
favorite composer all in all.
_______________________________________________
Marxism mailing list
Marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/marxism
Paul H. Dillon
2005-07-24 01:07:33 UTC
Permalink
Thinking of the question the limits of art is really one of the limits of
the audience. Bach wrote music for princes but also for public religious
celebrations and drew melodies from folk music as did most later composers
until we get to the 20th century, it seems. Looking at the relationship of
music to the dominant productive forces perhaps Schoenberg's new system
really reflects the condition of alienation under industrial capitalism:
the total separation from natural responses to certain harmonic (3rds, 5ths,
6ths, etc.) and certain combinations of those steps into sequences;
industrial capitalism's total alienation of consciousness from what Marx
called a metabolic relationship with nature. there is a planet in Frank
Herbert's Dune, totally covered with industrial constructions, steel,
grating, steam shooting out of hidden duct, no evidence of sky or trees,
perhaps the people on that planet would be able to really groove to a
musical system like Schoenbergs. Remember that the Golden Mean, the
Fibonacci series and other harmonic relations express themselves as forms in
nature and also as forms that seem most aesthetically pleasing (Nautilus
shells, etc.) --yes I'm an out of the closet Hegelian! Schoenberg seems to
represent some absolutely alienated consciousness, attempting to create a
new system of music ex nihilo . . . perhaps it will prove to be a new
geometry for a future transcendent music, the same way the non-Euclidean
geometries were for physics, but it hasn'[t happened yet, in fact minimalism
would seem to indicate a regressive tendency. Going down?

I once saw Borges in a small lecture hall where people could throw out
questions to him. Someone asked him about Joyce, Borges said he loved Joyce
up through Ullysses. Finnegan's Wake might have been brilliant, a true
synthesis of literature, but it was simply unreadable. Claude Levi-Strauss
(in the intro to La Pensee Sauvage) also wrote similarly about Schoenberg --
how does the audience participate?

Form abstracted from form lose its historicity and consequently its essence
.. it would be very interesting to apply Moretti's marxist techniques for
the analysis of literary genres to musical ones though, fairly simple
methodologically.

But it's all changing, the internet is demolishing the concept of
individual author even as I write.

Paul
Paddy Apling
2005-07-24 09:57:22 UTC
Permalink
Another MUST-READ thread !!!

Yes, the "fights" amomg music-lovers between clasical, jazz, folk and
pop are as unfortunate and disruptive as the fights between left and
ultra-left in the labour movement.

If I were asked what my most memorable of the concerts I have
attended were I should probably say
Vaughan Williams' 5th Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall, Sonny
Rollins at the BBC Jazz 625 recording, and two concerts at St.
Partrick's Hall, Reading University - one with the late Tubby Hayes
(leading British jazz saxophonist), and one with Ravi Shankar.

But in contrast to those among us who attack classical music, I well
remember enthusing over lunch in SCR, about a concert by Barney
Kessel at the Old Gaol, Abingdon that we had been to the evening
before and being pooh-poohed by a senior member of the Music
Department for enjoying jazz.

Paddy
http://apling.freeservers.com
daniels
2005-07-24 01:25:24 UTC
Permalink
Brad, actually, my life has been spent mostly closed up in a string of
rooms, practicing, studying, writing and translating! It's been
exciting for me, because solving technical problems, whether in music
or poetry, is a thrill, for some reason, that I've never understood,
but otherwise, it's mostly been a lot of hard work and
soul-searching... but it does satisfy me very deeply.

There's an excellent site about Soviet music, which was maintained by
the late Ian McDonald:

http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html

MacDonald is not so great on the Shostakovic controversy, but there's a
lot of info there. I don't know about MacDonald's politics, either. He
sort of goes both ways.

Oh, yeah, check out Scriabin's piano music. There's a late piece called
"Vers la flamme"... holy shit...

Schedrin I don't know about. But a google search will fill you in!

I like heavy metal, too. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, a lot of it,
despite the lyrical content, which is usually pretty dopey, but the
music can rise to the pure sound of righteous indignation and
revolutionary fervor, as far as I'm concerned. The last album by Bad
Brains, "Quickness", is incredibly powerful.

Bands like Metallica sound robotic to me, and there's not a bit of
improvisation in most of their music, apart from the guitar solos,
which are seldom really improvised, and are just a matter of running
the scales as quickly as possible, in patterns that lie easily under
the fingers. Anyone can learn to do that, given enough time and
persistence. But to play a logically-constructed solo takes a musical
intellect and a sophisticated understanding of time in music (which is
what allowed someone like Jimi Hendrix to play such stunning guitar
solos; that same rhythmic sophistication is a very large part of what
makes the music of all the African and Middle-Eastern and Asian and
their diasporic cultures so exciting). And the lyrical content can be
awfully misogynist, braggardly, lumpen and just plain silly. Silliness
is OK; the other stuff is just stomach-turning.

I don't know all that much about Stalin as a personality, mostly
because I'd rather read about someone like Rosa Luxemburg, any day. But
people I know who have actually taken the time to read his "theory"
have told me that it's just as awful, just as stupid as he himself
seems to have been (shrewd, ruthless cunning is not really the same
thing as intelligence), and even a passing familiarity with his
biography is terrfiying. He persecuted people and murdered people who
disagreed with him. Musicians and composers disappeared. Artists were
forced to submit to proletcult notions of art. The great poet
Mandelstam was basically hounded to death. An engineer who told Stalin
that the submarine designs he favored wouldn't work, disappeared.
Lysenko thought that if you sowed wheat in the snow it would toughen it
up, and Stalin went along with all of it. I have a very difficult time
understanding the mind of someone like that, and partof the reasonj I
try to understand Marxism is to come to such an understanding.

Yes, great music was written in Soviet Russia. The Shostakovich
oratorio that Louis mentions is terrific. But Shostakovich's most
personal, most moving work, like the string quartets, were supressed by
the composer himself. His supremely tragic choral and vocal symphonies
were heavily criticized. I suppose he just got tired of dealing with
the bullshit, and had to protect himself.

Peace,
Chris
Paddy Apling
2005-07-24 11:01:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Austin, Andrew
An alternative interpretation (features of which I am skeptical)
also finds that the prevailing explanation advanced by political
elites is misguided. This explanation is advanced by Olivier Roy,
who has an editorial out today in The New York
Times: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/22/opinion/edroy.php.
You will see that he is in agreement with those who argue that the
violence is anti-imperialist in nature, but he claims that there is
some leftish push beneath all this. It is this aspect of his thesis
that he has to sell me on. Does anybody have any comments on this angle?
I would agree that there may be something in this approach (how often
in the past have we seen that an important thesis can arise from
right-wing propagandists).

If we recall the writings of the Levellers at the time of the English
Civil War - "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the
gentleman" (Gerard Winstanley) the challenge to the take-over of
feudal power simply by the nascent bourgeoisie was completely cast in
terms of "fundamentalist" (Puritan)
Christian religion - as indeed were the acts of the bourgeoisie
themselves - remember Cromwell's government banned May Day
celebrations and even the celebration of Christmas (apart that is
from mere attendance at divine service) - attitudes which probably,
contributed well to the restoration of the monarchy on his death.

Are we perhaps too taken up with visions of Ayatolla Khomani in Iran
and his Cromwell-like takeover of the Shah's regime and too little,
because of our fundamental ignorance, with the basic thoughts and
understanding of most of the common people in the nominally-Muslim
countries. Surely there almost all utopian (at least) thoughts of
the future are cast within (substantially on the basis of) the
dominant religion, Islam?

And even later, thinking of Tom Paine (having just read Mark Lause's
thesis - thank you Mark !!), contrast the acclaim and activity which
resulted from Paine's Common Sense and - (tho' rather _less_ at the
time) from his Rights of Man - and the opprobrium heaped on him
following the publication of the Age of Reason by the leaders of the
American Revolution, who had been so much influenced by his previous writings.

Mark's thesis gives an extremely welcome review of the links between
Paine (and his Deist thoughts) and the incipient labour movement in
the early United States - but it is well to recall at the same time
that this movement was at the time extremely small and could be
regarded as simply consisting of cranks and sectarists. It was not
until the WWW that socialist and even trade-union thinking made real
inroads into the thinking of substantial masses of the American working-class.

How far is this likely to be paralleled in developments in the Arabic
countries?

I suspect the answer is that, at present, we just do not know,,,,,

Paddy
http://apling.freeservers.com
hari.kumar
2005-07-24 14:38:14 UTC
Permalink
Chris writes:
Sat, 23 Jul 2005 14:41:56 -0700 (PDT)
The premiere of Shostakovich's Gogolian opera, The Nose, took place in 1928. You know who went to that performance? Fucking factory workers
went to that performance. It was a huge success. I repeat, a huge success. Stalin later condemned it, and Shostakovich, that contradictory musical genius, endured years of oppression, and real fear for the life of his family and himself. His string quartets should be heard by everybody. His string quartets belong to everybody.
Chris:
I share the general tendency expresed to date on the music of Shostakovavtch.
I might ask however:
(i) Whether you have mistaken 'the Nose' for the 'Lady Macbeth of Mitensk"?
I have not previously heard of allegations of a condemnation of the 'Nose'.

(ii) Much opinion on Dimitr Shostakovavitch is based on the alleged 'memoirs' by prepared by interview with Volkov.
Maxim - Dimitri's son, has stated in a German report that the entire thing was a fabrication.
Indeed the 'mystery' of Dmitri is quite a clouded one.
For what it is worth, Bland's view of Shostakoviatch is one that I personally agree with in large part (For Bland: At:
http://www.allianceml.com/AllianceIssues/A2004/STALINART.html).

Bill got one thing definitely wrong however, he placed too much credence on the same Volkov memoirs I note above.

Yours In harmony - at least on Shostakovitch's music & his chamber works in especial.
H
Jack Cade
2005-07-24 14:36:04 UTC
Permalink
Unlike Robert Pape, Olivier Roy seems part of the US-UK
obfuscation of the issue. Typically citing the fact that the Iraq
war came after 9/11 and not before. He dismisses the roots of
Islamic terrorism in the Middle Eastern conflicts as simple to
formulate and difficult to achieve in the first few paragraphs of
his article.

Even then his analysis is not as keen as Pape's. Pape understands
that suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation
(especially the stationing of 150,000 US troops in Saudi, the
guardian of the five holy places) rather than Islamic
fundamentalism. If it was fundamentalism that was the real cause
then there would be greater participation from the large Islamic
fundamentalist countries like Iran and the Sudan.

He characterises Islamic converts as 'rebels without a cause' and
compares them to the 'ultra-leftists of the 1970s' the
Baader-Meinhof gang and the Brigade Rosse in Italy. This is
bizarre, even idiotic. What possible comparison can there be?

Jack Cade
Post by Austin, Andrew
An alternative interpretation (features of which I am
skeptical) also finds that the prevailing explanation
advanced by political elites is misguided. This explanation
is advanced by Olivier Roy, who has an editorial out today in
http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/22/opinion/edroy.php.
You will see that he is in agreement with those who argue
that the violence is anti-imperialist in nature, but he
claims that there is some leftish push beneath all this. It
is this aspect of his thesis that he has to sell me on. Does
anybody have any comments on this angle?
hari.kumar
2005-07-24 14:55:52 UTC
Permalink
Chris:
My error in part - But I think this may be a misunderstanding - reflecting the nature of the 'ultra-leftist' organisations in the Arts in USSR around the late 1920's-1930's:

From:
Elizabeth Wislon: "Shostakovavitch - A Life remembered"; Faber press; London 1994; p. 71:

"No musician could afford to ignore the implications of RAPM's militancy.. The musicologist Daniil Zhitomirsky, an exact contemporary of S, made his early career in the circles of RAPM & PROKOLL. In 1929 he wrote a polemic article in the journal Proletarsky Muzikant condemning S's opera 'the Nose', noting that S had 'strayed from the main road of Soviet art'. After the dissolution of RAPM in 1932, Zhitomirsky.. changed his radical ideological position. While he became increasingly sympathtetic to S, he could never be counted amongst the circle of the composers friends";

RAPM - was one of the inheritors of the traditions of Proletkult - which I would argue was indeed 'ultra-leftist'.
Similar utlra-leftist positions in the sciences have been noted in that early Soviet era.

Hari Kumar
Austin, Andrew
2005-07-24 15:24:43 UTC
Permalink
I agree with the points you've made, Jack. Roy creates a strawman of Pape's position by confusing time order.

From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu on behalf of Jack Cade
Sent: Sun 7/24/2005 9:36 AM
To: 'Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition'
Subject: RE: [Marxism] More on the Roots of Terrorism

Unlike Robert Pape, Olivier Roy seems part of the US-UK obfuscation of the issue.
daniels
2005-07-24 22:16:52 UTC
Permalink
Hari, thanks for that info. I was mistaken. It's true that The Nose
wasn't as heavily criticized as some later works. It got a couple of
bad reviews, but that's no big deal. Later on, it got much worse.

I guess what really riles me most is that DSCH and his music were used
by ideologues. That's nothing new, and the case of DSCH doesn't rile me
more than my general disgust over art being used to perpetrate RC
ideology. But the case is instructive. The USSR used him as proof that
everything was fine and dandy, and the USA used him to decry the
oppression of artists in the USSR (as if artists aren't oppressed here
in the USA, along with 99 percent of everyone else) and to prove that
everything was just fine and dandy in the good old capitalist USA, that
our RC were the ones who really liked their wacky little pet artists,
and those Russians were perverted monsters. All of us here know the
stink of that crap.

He was also used as a symbol of the greatness of the Russian people
during WWII, their sacrifice and nobility, when the USA and the USSR
were allied. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine, wearing a
fireman's helmet, after the publication of the Leningrad Symphony.

The Volkov memoir has been used by various people. Some musicologists
and historians have embraced the memoirs to discredit others who have
condemned DSCH for being a cowardly little apparatchiki, a toady, or
whatever, and then extending that condemnation to his music and to the
former USSR. I don't know the truth of the matter, and in any event,
I'm always left wondering what anyone else would do, during and after
the purges, faced with all that. Everyone knew what was going on.

Well, none of it hurts the 8th Quartet, that's for damn sure.

This is all really contradictory, and right now, in this stage of my
life, I don't know how to answer it, except to insist on artistic
freedom.

Given the history of all the various artistic techniques and movements
and tendencies up till now, I don't think anybody can predict what the
arts would be like in a society in which creative activity is seen as
part of life, something people did, in no way more or less important to
life than making a pair of shoes or cooking a meal or cleaning a toilet
(I'm deadly serious - this is how I look on my work as a translator and
poet, and how I felt when I was a musician) and we all had a lot of
leisure time to use as we pleased.

But I'm willing to bet that the arts would flourish immensely. When
nobody has to worry about putting food on the table, when nobody is
forced to sell their labor, and education is free for the taking,
people will probably do what pleases them, and many if not all of us
will make our own art, including music, as we did for ages. The gulf
between audience and performer/artist will disappear, because more and
more of us will have a decent knowledge of the techniques and
procedures of music, which is not exactly rocket science, by the way.
Music is not really all that hugely complicated, and everything seems
complicated and confusing until you learn it, until you get
acclimatized to it. I bet that we'll start making music at home and
making art to an extent unknown since the death of the great
hunter-gatherer societies, and that some of that art will be totally
wacked-out, because some of us will still want to see what happens when
we do such-and-such.

Some of us will wish to devote our lives to the arts. Others will wish
to be athletes. Others will wish to be mathematicians, philosophers,
political theorists. Others will live simple, contented lives. None of
these things are more worthwhile than the others, and everybody will
work in some way, because that is what humans do. If for some reason a
person can't work, they will still be cared for, in the decent society
we desire. And anybody who wished to spend the time to learn to play
Bach sonatas with ease and fluency would have the time to do so.

All the distinctions - high-brow, middle-brow, low-brow - will
disappear because no one will be using art for anything but the
fulfilment of human potential, and the pleasure of making things, alone
and together.

Art demands one thing only of the artist, and that is persistent
dedication to technique: practice. What an artist does with that
technique is up to the artist, but artists who care deeply about
humanity definitely tend to make the best art.

Nobody can predict what people will choose to do in the kind of society
we all hope for and work toward. But you can be sure that bullshit
artists will not get very far with an audience filled with informed
people who can play musical instruments, compose a fugue, paint, write
poetry, whatever, and who are free of bourgeoisie attitudes about art.

And people will probably give anything a chance.

I assume that many people would compose, paint, write for the simple
pleasure of it, and put it all in a drawer somewhere, or show i to
their friends, perform it for or with their friends, when they felt
like it. The kind of ambition that ruined the lives of artists like
Pollock, and turned Aaron Copland into a composer of "American"
cliches, might very well no longer exist.

That a gang of bureaucrats take for themselves the right to dictate to
anybody what art is or should be, well, it's really unfortunate. I
don't believe for an instant that the USA is any better than the former
USSR in this regard. Whether you regulate the arts by means of the
market, as happens here, or by bureaucratic diktat, artists will not
cease exploring technique and experimenting with forms. Certain artists
feel compelled to take things as far as they can go, to push the limits
of what is acceptable as art. The problem isn't in the experimentation,
but in official reception of art, fetishization of the artist, the arts
markets, snobbery, class entitlement and non-constructive reactions to
it, ownership. And the punishment of artists for their curiosity and
impulse to create new forms is simply tragic, no matter if the
punishment occurs in the offices of a union, or in the marketplace.

When Zhdanov condemns Akhmatova, he was right in some ways. But is he
all that interested in allowing workers to form their own opinions? The
real solution to all of this is an education in the arts. When the
proletariat, the working class no longer exists because class no longer
exists, and the arts finally again become a part of life for anybody
who wants to make any kind of art in any kind of way that pleases them,
then people will begin to see the difference for themselves, and will
take poets like Akhmatova, or leave them. Poeple will think differently
about life, won't they? And if art is a way to look at life, then the
arts will change in unforeseen ways, and it will be very complex and
contradictory, but we will all of us decide what we enjoy, and leave it
at that. There will be room for almost anything in the arts, and nobody
will think twice about it. We'll just walk away, and no one will care
at all, not even the artist, who will keep creating. The arts will
belong to us again.

It has always been apparent to me that if there's one thing that scares
the shit out of the RC, it's the prospect of a fully-informed, aware
population. They don't want us capable of making our own decisions
about anything at all, not even art.

Yours,
Chris
daniels
2005-07-26 11:21:59 UTC
Permalink
http://www.allianceml.com/AllianceIssues/A2004/STALINART.html

Hari, you posted this link in an earlier email. I'm reading it, and
thinking about it, and will respond in some way, hopefully not
long-windedly, but probably somewhat ham-fistedly!, pretty soon.

I'm suddenly fascinated by the idea of "naturalism" in music, and am
trying to understand what that meant to Zhdanov. Hopefully, Ian will
have something to say about it, too.

Yours,
C
Paddy Apling
2005-07-26 12:48:32 UTC
Permalink
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 13:39:05 +0100
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
From: Paddy Apling <e.c.apling at btinternet.com>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Bill Bland on Socialist Realism
Post by hari.kumar
http://www.allianceml.com/AllianceIssues/A2004/STALINART.html
Hari, you posted this link in an earlier email. I'm reading it, and
thinking about it, and will respond in some way, hopefully not
long-windedly, but probably somewhat ham-fistedly!, pretty soon.
I'm suddenly fascinated by the idea of "naturalism" in music, and am
trying to understand what that meant to Zhdanov. Hopefully, Ian will
have something to say about it, too.
Hallo Daniels,
I knew the late Bill Bland personally, both during and after
WW2. He was an optician who lived in Ilford, Essex and worked for
the London Co-operative Society.
He was director of an amateur film made about Ilford, probably in
the early 1950s, of which I have now only vague memories, but
remember that at least one sequence was shot in my parents' house,
rebuilt in 1949 after its destruction by the V2 rocket in February 1942.
Bill later was much involved (possibly Secretary?) of the
Anglo-Albanian Friendship Society, presumably implying that he
became something of a Maoist..
We moved away from Ilford in 1959 - but I met him once much later
when we were both visiting Marx House library in Clerkenwell Green,
London (the house where Lenin edited Pravda during his stay in London).
I might say I have never previously heard of the existence of the
Stalin Society.
Paddy
http://apling.freeservers.com
daniels
2005-07-26 13:46:52 UTC
Permalink
Apologies to Ian Pace, who doesn't like to toot his own horn, for all
the right reasons, but I want to mention that CDs of performances by
Ian are available, and to urge everyone interested in any kind of music
to read Ian's interviews. He posted the links a couple of days ago. Ian
does a great job explaining why the music he performs with such
commitment is culturally important, how it is misused by certain people
and why it belongs to all of us.

Further down, I mention some other composers and performers.

First, I'll mention the CD that I own. It's an import in the USA, and
might be a little hard to come by, but is worth the effort. I won't
comment except to say that Ian is really, really good at what he does:

"Tracts", on the NMC label, piano music by various excellent British
composers.

I've heard one of Ian's CDs of music by the British composer Michael
Finnissy, and was impressed, to say the least, but am not familiar with
the music. I plan to familiarize myself, given the time to do so. And
I'd like to familiarize myself with more of Ian's CDs, budget
permitting.

A couple of months ago, at a friend's house, I listened to the recent
(Spring 2004?) double-CD of Ian playing a piano concerto that he
commissioned from the French composer Pascal Dusapin, along with some
of Dusapin's etudes (which I haven't heard), if I remember correctly,
on the Montaigne label. I know some of Dusapin's music very well, like
his 2nd string quartet, "Time Zones" (Montaigne, coupled with Henri
Dutilleux's quartet, "Ainsi La Nuit"), played by the always amazing
Arditti Quartet. And the CD "Concertos", also on Montaigne, which is
terrific. Dusapin is sometimes criticized for not being difficult
enough, or too easy to listen to, too accessible, or something, go
figure... I'll buy this CD, sooner or later, or will trade some other
CDs for it. A DVD comes with the CDs, but I don't know what's on it.

Another CD by the Arditti Quartet on Montaigne is Luigi Nono's gorgeous
string quartet, "Fragmente -- Stille, An Diotima". This is late Nono,
when he began to write music that whispers to you. Luigi Nono
(Schoenberg's son-in-law) was a deeply committed communist, and his
earlier music is more obviously full of revolutionary feeling, grief
and rage over murdered comrades, hope for the future. For an example of
his earlier music, there's the Deutsche Grammophon (Polygram) CD with
"Como una ola de fuerza y luz, for Soprano, Piano, Orchestra & Magnetic
Tape" and two other pieces, one of which is performed by the great
pianist Maurizio Pollini, also a communist.

Another piece by Nono is "Il Canto sospeso", a vocal and orchestral
piece with texts from real last letters home from anti-fascist
resistance fighters who have been condemned to death. The only
performance I've heard, by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio
Abbado (Sony Classical), is out of print right now, but can be picked
up used. I'd like to hear another performance of this, because Abaddo
and the performers may have sentimentalized the music, or performed it
in such a way as to "normalize" it, defang it, so to speak (and also
"Como una ola..."), but it's still very moving.

All of this music was written for close listening. Like Coltrane's "A
Love Supreme", it expresses very complex emotions. Whenever I've used
it as background music, it's only made me feel nervous. When I take the
time to dig into this music, interesting things can happen. Sometimes
I'm not in the mood to be taken where the composers want me to go.

Yours
Chris
Jack Cade
2005-07-26 14:27:50 UTC
Permalink
There is a long biography (on what seems a wasted and futile life
to me) at:

www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv7n2/blandobit.htm

Some of his writings are

www.marxists.org/archive/bland/

Jack Cade
I knew the late Bill Bland personally, both during and after
WW2. He was an optician who lived in Ilford, Essex and worked
for
the London Co-operative Society.
He was director of an amateur film made about Ilford, probably
in
the early 1950s, of which I have now only vague memories, but
remember that at least one sequence was shot in my parents'
house,
rebuilt in 1949 after its destruction by the V2 rocket in
February 1942.
Bill later was much involved (possibly Secretary?) of the
Anglo-Albanian Friendship Society, presumably implying that he
became something of a Maoist..
Continue reading on narkive:
Loading...