Saturday, 26 March 2011

The most unlikely note from James Dellingpole

In James Dellingpole’s populist book 365 Ways to Drive A Liberal Crazy (one wonders why it could not be 366)
No. 74 of 365

Reclaim rock for conservatism:
Sing “California Über Alles” by the Dead Kennedys, especially the lines

“Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face.”

Then remark how spookily prescient it was that an obscure, left-ish, 1970s punk band managed to predict the eco-Nazi tyranny of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although there have been numerous works of art and literature that most people without the experience I have gained over the past half decade would not recognise as “conservative”, what Dellingpole is trying to do here is - to put it logically - going a bit far.

Reading Robert Inchausti in Subversive Orthodoxy shows that many of the ideas promoted in the underground of the 1950s and 1960s were essentially conservative. A large proportion of this underground felt that government was intrusive on personal dignity and freedom (“philosophical anarchism”) because it did not allow people to pursue the life they most desired to as a result of intrusive regulations. These people viewed government as a threat to personal freedom to do things that were not harmful to others, seen especially in regulations of product standards that made it more difficult for the small businessman or craftsman.

In contrast, the worldview of the “punk” and the later rap revolution of the late 1980s was completely opposite. Although both were often scathingly critical of government, with the personalists it was because they felt government was taking money they had legitimately earned - in essence the whole basis of conservatism.

With punk, post-AC/DC metal and rap, criticism of government was in contrast because they felt that it restricted their absolute rights to do what they wanted and failed to provide them with the money and wealth that these ultra-materialistic urbanites wished for. Essentially and critically, these rights included the right to inflict any harm instantaneously desired on someone who they felt threatened or even restrained them in many cases.

The Dead Kennedys, who were hardly an obscure band, epitomised this value in songs like “Drug Me”, “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”, “Stealing People’s Mail” (which quite clearly condones theft), and especially “I Kill Children”, which anybody who sees a potential demographic time bomb in the Enriched World can analyse as a perfect anthem for the selfishness of the Boom Generation - beating even AC/DC. Then there is “Religious Vomit”, an anthem for selfish hypermasculinity like no other - easily beating Public Enemy and N.W.A. I have always thought that if Benjamin Wiker writes a Ten More Books that Screwed Up the World, he should include some of the major heavy metal and rap albums from the “punk revolution” and after. Although the Dead Kennedys never dented the Billboard Top 200, they were Top 40 in Europe, where radical secularisation has proceeded much further than Red America or Australia, so their cultural influence in the very things Human Events despises may be quite real. “California Über Alles” was an attack on Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and may have been noted by Dellingpole for being anti-Democrat - but as I have emphasised this in no way makes it pro-Republican or pro-small government. Brown in fact was quite fiscally careful, as Bill Kauffman has noted, and his hippie leanings were the antithesis of what hardcore and thrash stood for, but have roots which are related to the modern conservative “counterculture”.

No comments: