The Coup/The Rough Guide to Undiscovered World
Written long enough before Sandy to be saved to my laptop
As a proud communist who's spent his career claiming the people are ripe for revolution, Boots Riley has at his disposal a rich, seldom-tapped seam of scathing rhetoric and concrete metaphor and fleshes out leftist analysis with humanist muscle and poetic integument. How many anti-school rants rise to "statistics is the tool of the complicit"? How many anti-hipster snark jobs match "You're the asshole ambassador/But your friends obey like Labradors/I vomited on the alpine decor/It's OK, your daddy's gonna buy some more"? But as he passes 40 it gets harder to deny that, ultimately, he's almost as deluded as the average H.P. Lovecraft obsessive, who at least understands he's on a fantasy trip. The songcraft on this hard-rocking hip-hop album is uneven by Riley's high standards--some are unclear, others longer on hook than wisdom. So when Das Racist and Killer Mike join in on the finale, I'm happy to be reminded that there are younger rappers ready to move Riley's vision worldward. Good for him. A MINUS
The Rough Guide to Undiscovered World (World Music Network)
Dumb title. If they're afraid to call it "world music fusion" because that sounds too cheesy, how about "polydiscovered" or "cross-discovered"? Gambian-Scottish reels, Cypriot-Chilean rebetika, Polish orientalism, like that. At its worst, which is pretty bad, New Age mawk wafts incenselike from its gentle shows of musical privilege. But pull the plug on the unspeakably polite English Arabists at track six and program past the peace-addled Africana at tracks nine-ten-eleven and you have a lively panoply of sounds you've never heard before. Most of them couldn't maintain your interest for more than a track, although I hope eventually to double-check that assumption with the gamelan funk of Sarutusperson. Instead they're held together by their hopeful, thoughtful, universalist curiosity, B PLUS
And now that you mention it, I think it's time for a different photo. Voila.
Nick C., you may be right; I wouldn't know. But I wasn't talking about the problems most countries have. I don't know what those problems are. I was talking about the specific problem of US-supported authoritarian rulers in countries like Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and Uzbekistan.
Thanks Brett. I am going to try to find those sources. Good for the files a the very least.
And I think you and others are right to point to Obama. I'm talking generically about the use of drones. There is good reason to be suspect of Obama, not least because of his apparent respect for Reinhold Niebuhr, whose so-called Christian realism departs (in my judgment) from the just war tradition because it tends to reduce all questions on the use of force to consequentialist judgments on doing what it takes to preserve democracy, no matter the cost to the 'bad guys'. (Michael Walzer did a similar thing in the massively influential Just and Unjust Wars with his 'supreme emergency' exception that tends to give democracies a pass on moral restraint when their existence is threatened.)
Needless to say, btw, Romney would be worse. Much, much worse.
I, too, will be glad to get back to music, but it's been fun.
What Irwin Nick said before is totally true - if it weren't for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia we'd be redder than Texas.
You were making so much sense for a while there Bob, and I'm still glad you're back, but I had a premonition that last post was coming - a bad premonition. The problems most countries have are most directly due to internal issues. Period.
Aw, it's no fun if you announce in advance.
If I was still doing poetry on a regular basis, I would play around with internet/computer translations -- you get funny, and occasionally provocative, language constructions. There's a good argument you write the best lines when you just throw down words with your conscious censor turned off and the machines do it with less inhibition than any fleshy thing could.
(Warning: lots of tedious gabble results, too.)
Rodney: I read every word of your thoughtful reply and I thank you. I didn't mean to imply that you hadn't thought carefully about these issues. I've cited a couple of sources (Gerges on al Qaeda in the Sept./2011 Boston Review, Bacevich's book "Washington Rules") that I think present substantive and intelligent arguments of the kind I don't pretend to offer here. These are certainly difficult questions, though accounts of, say, Obama's own study of just-war theory seem more like a fig leaf than they do evidence of a moral policy. One more piece of suggested reading, for those who think the morality/efficaciousness of drones is still debatable: a 9/25/12 article in the Telegraph (UK) titled "'U.S. drone attacks are counter-productive and terrorize civilians'" (not an op-ed, title is pulled from a Stanford/NYU study). (Sorry, don't know how to do links on this site.)
Tautology perhaps in the sentence, but I don't think it's fair to the whole argument. I do think it's fair to imply (as I take it you did) that terrorist is a loaded term. So, quickie stab before I go to eat:
I take it that a terrorist is someone who twists the just revolution tradition. (That tradition seeks to show how revolution against 'legitimate' authority is justified. I know Ockham wrote about just tyrannicide [and Aristotle, among others, distinguished between tyrants and monarchs, only the latter of which were legitimate], and Calvinists were critical in developing just revolution ideas in the West in early modernity.) What I would argue separates a terrorist from, say, a freedom fighter or just revolutionary are methods of warfare. Terrorists, as is implied in the name, make war not upon just political targets, but social ones. (And, yes, the difference between the two is complicated, but I do think it worth maintaining, which is a reflection of my strong commitment to the just war tradition.)
Just revolutionaries might kill civilians, but that is not their intent or purpose, but rather a negative effect almost inherent in the use of force in war and war-like situations. Terrorists aim at civilians. In World War II, the Allies engaged in state terrorism when they intentionally targeted civilian populations to demoralize the enemy.
I would distinguish terrorists and just revolutionaries from criminals in that they have political not (just?) anti-social ends. Assuming those ends are morally justified, then both the terrorist and the just revolutionary might be right in terms of ad bellum criteria in using force. The just revolutionary will also aim at moral action in in bello terms (proportional means and discrimination between combatants, which may include political targets such as elected officials, and non-combatants, primarily). Terrorists ignore just distinctions.
A further complication is international terrorism. Unlike domestic terrorists like the KKK, Islamist radicals do not fall within the jurisdiction of the United States, so policing options that might be available here are not available internationally. My own preference (at the moment, reflection and further data might change my mind), would be for covert ops and assassination, not drones, because they could likely be better controlled to minimize civilian casualties. But I understand why drones may practically be a better option.
All that said, unless drones are brought under a tighter international legal and political regime, I think they will be increasingly delegitimized. As an improvisation to a complex situation, they make sense; as permanent policy such unchecked use of power/force will tend to become corrupt (if it already hasn't).
And there can be no moral response to Islamist terrorism that does not address the just demands that underlay some (many?) Islamic complaints. Given U.S. support for corrupt regimes in the Middle East, we have made ourselves a fair taget for just revolutionary activities. But no one is a just target of terrorism.
Whoops. That wasn't so quick.
Edit: I shd add that I've been having internet problems and may not be able to respond to any thoughts.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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