(Note bene: see the hit video, “The Politics of Dancing,” as it looks like it is blocked by YouTube.com from being embedded here)
For many of us, it’s maybe a lifetime ago since we even had to think about dancing other than just doing it. That wasn’t always the case in the US and Canada before the 1960s or in many other countries before the 1980s. The film, “How The Beatles rocked the Kremlin” is a wonderful piece about the huge but little known impact The Beatles had on the Soviet Union.
“How The Beatles rocked the Kremlin” (part 1 of 5) (update: this video also appears blocked by YouTube.com from being embedded here, so click the foregoing link to start viewing the film)
The film shows a bit about why and how the Russians and Ukrainians went wild for the Rock ‘n Roll musical form during the time of the early 1960s “British Invasion.” Much of the film allows any empire such as the US a good look in the mirror about how “governance” is conducted by a handful of people who expect absolute economic and political dominion, and, that much of what is seen and heard from the state-controlled media within the empire’s own borders is simply one tailored version of the relentless, self-serving propaganda repeated in convenient variations in its occupied lands. It’s sad when the people themselves buy-in to the propaganda– maybe because of some notion of “Manifest Destiny” or inherent cultural superiority– and are oblivious to their own oppression.
The thing about any media piece– as WikiLeaks shows us– is that state-controlled media outlets often participate in hiding the presence of agent provocateurs which can be hard to detect by themselves anyway. An excellent example of this point is demonstrated by “SQ police provocateur footage” and the required analysis from multiple sources (see more in “You, Me and the SPP DVD release” regarding the continued challenges to democratic Canadian self-governance). Corrupt or fearful journalists make the situation worse as pointed out by articles such as “State responsibility for Mexico’s self-censored media and “Wikileaks Redactions: It’s Not Just the Chinese that Bribe for Oil” (by emptywheel, Jan. 13, 2011).
In my opinion, the last ten year’s period in the US has had many features of the “Iron Rice Bowl” period in China. A political compliment of state-controlled media, there is a growing realization among Americans of a state-dictated and controlled religion in the US military (e.g. ‘Torture-linked Shrink’s Army Program Labels Some Soldiers “Spiritually Unfit”‘) and in the civilian population (e.g. “History of Violence: Christian boarding schools and the March 10 trial of Jack Patterson,” “Pro-Israel Neocons Right at Home at CUFI National Conference,” “Review: ‘With God on Our Side’ – Christian Zionist Movement Exposé,” “Nine Years After 9/11, Religious Extremism Is No Longer Limited to Islamic Radicals,” and “Obama Fails to Restore Separation of Church and State“).
Again it’s useful to look at other empires and analyse the techniques by which states introduce and manipulate cultural institutions– educational, religious and military– as it has implications for human rights and civil liberties. The life of indigenous political leader known by the governmental and religious title of Arjia Rinpoche, provides an unprecedented glimpse into this subject as it details Chinese and Tibetan history spanning the period of 1950 to 1998. An introduction to the historical account is presented in the book, Surviving the Dragon. When reading the book, it’s important to note that in the high-altitude Himalayan, nomadic-herder-by-necessity culture of Tibet (a way of living that has not been seen in the United States for over 170 years) monasteries are centralized centers of education, training and cultural preservation similar to the function that was performed by monasteries in Ireland as described in “How The Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe” (by Thomas Cahill, 1995).
“The Life of Arjia Rinpoche,” state-controlled religion and the historical significance of an indigenous leader’s role within and escape from China
In would seem that after a fashion, all authoritarian governments look the same given insider corruption. These days in the US the carefully constructed state-controlled media appears less of the oppressive Russian style shown in “How The Beatles rocked the Kremlin” and more of the loud angry and hateful version reminiscent of the “mass phase” of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (e.g. “History in Pictures: Rare Unseen Pictures: Be There” and embedded video). Loud voices screaming judgement and bloody retribution on radio (see “Living the Revolution: Radio” , “Smash the Old World!” and “Eyewitness: Cultural Revolution“) and television are coordinated as revealed in the I. Libby trial (see “A Peek Inside The Media Circus” by Christy Hardin Smith, Jan. 29, 2007). If one doesn’t understand this contrivance, an environment inundated with this both day and night can have the effect of distracting, overwhelming and bullying one into despair, submission and forgetfulness of one’s humanity and inherent freedom.
Already in 1929, discussions were underway within the Chinese Party leadership about which other class than the workers could bear revolutionary responsibility. One of the proponents who suggested focusing on the peasantry was Mao Zedong, who later emerged as the leader of the CCP and the founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Once the mobilization of the numerically much stronger segment of the rural population had become official policy, the question of how to address the peasants became tantamount. By and large, the fact that the majority of those living in the countryside was illiterate and could not be reached by the written word, forced the CCP to look for various means of visual communications to convey the programs and policies that the Party stood for: pictorial magazines, cartoons and comics, propaganda leaflets, public announcements, declarations, wall news papers, and costumed propaganda, often based on traditional local and folk examples, were widely adapted to this purpose. Some of these visual communication techniques were of distinctly Soviet origin, but they had been sufficiently Sinified in terms of contents to appeal to the population; others were based directly on traditional modes of expression popular in the countryside. Whatever their inspiration, the arts were to serve the political demands of the CCP. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, the CCP continued to use these and other communication media for propaganda purposes, with varying degrees of intensity and success in various periods. When Chinese society was politicized increasingly in the 1950s and 1960s, visual propaganda became to be seen as one of the most effective ways to propagate behavioural demands and attitudinal indications among the people.
(excerpt “Chinese Film- and Newsreel Scripts from the Cultural Revolution. Scripting Chinese realities – Documentaries for the people” by Stefan Landsberger ; my bold for emphasis)
One could argue that in an environment as described, the intention is that no one outside the political control structure is to have any psychological space for encountering one’s own mind– whether it be in the form of introspection, questioning and the act of meditation.
“Meditation is Like Drinking Water” by Sakyong Rinpoche
Such an environment– especially as in a kleptocracy as the US– also means the very limited access to information about the significant goings-on of society and the world outside it with the limitations eventually placed upon all forms of human expression as, for example, described by Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf. The BBC’s piece, “Audio slideshow: Art and politics in China” is an insightful presentation, however, regarding hoped-for developments within modern China.
Meanwhile, none of us have to wait for some mass movement. Each one of us can do what we can right now to make conscious efforts to protect and expand conscious self expression by participating in the creation and appreciation of all forms of art and art education. One of those things we can do is “Listen To The Banned.”
Like all other human beings, every individual musician is protected by a number of human rights. He or she has the right to freedom of association, freedom of religion, to family and private life, to food, housing and education, etc. – all according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All human rights are as important for musicians as they are for everyone else. However, two of these rights are of special relevance for musicians: the freedom of expression and the right to participate in cultural life. Together, these two offer a special protection of musicians against arbitrary censorship and persecution.
(excerpt from “Music – A Human Right,” FreeMuse.Org, accessed Jan. 15, 2011)
Music is a free expression of the ideas, traditions and emotions of individuals and of peoples. It may express musicians’ hopes and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their very identity as a culture. Yet these expressions may conflict with those of people in power. The ideas themselves may simply be unpopular or outside the current thinking or practices of a regime or special interest group. For there are those the world over who are threatened by the very nature of a free exchange of ideas. There are those who will stop at nothing to stifle them.
Music censorship has been implemented by states, religions, educational systems, families, retailers and lobbying groups – and in most cases they violate international conventions of human rights.
(excerpt from “What Is Music Censorship?,” FreeMuse.Org, accessed Jan. 15, 2011)
Music Freedom Day provides an opportunity to take a thorough look at the subject – in your own language, with your own perspective and in a manner that suits you. You can organise a concert or a seminar, produce a radio feature, show a film, write an article or just dedicate a song to Music Freedom Day.
(excerpt from “Music Freedom Day 2011,” FreeMuse.Org, accessed Jan. 15, 2011 ; the bold is my emphasis)