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What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?

 

 

What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?

 

A recent documentary discussed yesterday, on National Public Radio, reminds us of the US instigated and supported slaughter in Indonesia—in cooperation with Indonesian military forces—of somewhere between 600,000 to one million Indonesians. 

 

(You can hear one version of this story, here:

 

http://www.wbur.org/npr/150149910/exposing-indonesias-cold-war-comm...  )

 

If one begins to trace simply the number of direct and indirect US military interventions in the Muslim countries since that time, or since the beginning of the last century, the quantity of them would appall the average American, and perhaps compel US citizens to take stock of the sheer masses of people killed by such US action over the years in what we call "the Islamic World."

 

In the Muslim areas of the Philippines alone, many hundreds of thousands were killed, as part of the US occupation of that region during and after the Spanish American War (1898).   Mark Twain, in 1906, wrote in disgust, with much cynicism and sarcasm, about the US slaughters in just one of the battles:

 

The next heading blazes with American and Christian glory like to the sun in the zenith:

 

"Death List is Now 900."

 

I was never so enthusiastically proud of the flag till now!

 

http://www.is.wayne.edu/MNISSANI/cr/Moro.htm.

Comments on the Moro Massacre by Mark Twain (March 12, 1906)

 

 

One could list about 35 US military interventions in Muslim countries from that time until today, during which significant numbers of Muslims were killed.

 

Add to that all the colonial activity of France and UK, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent betrayal of the Arabs via the Sykes-Picot Agreement (according to which, Arabs were promised their freedom during the period 1920-1922, as Turkish Ottoman rule was being overthrown, only to discover when the Turks were defeated, the Arab peoples were now part of the British and French Empires respectively). 

 

People in the West have to wonder why there is no love lost between the Arab and Muslim peoples, and their former colonial masters; and Muslims and the US government—the current (neo-colonial) master of much of the Arab World and many parts of Africa, both Muslim and Christian. 

 

So what effect does this have on Culture in general, and World Musical Culture in particular?

 

My own view is that a sort of "Berlin Wall" has been built in the minds of many Westerners, between "Western Music," and Eastern Music (especially Muslim, or Arab, Turkish and Persian Music).   This is partly evidenced simply by a careful examination of computer composer software, which is not yet even designed to allow for any sophisticated use of Arab tunings.  (Logic X has, out of scores and scores of possible tunings, only one Arabic tuning, called "Arab empirical."  I am grateful, actually to have even that).

 

I think the hostility of the US, the condescension and marginalization of Arab and Muslim culture, by the West as a whole, is obvious, palpable, and deleterious in the extreme.  There are too many examples to cite, and I dare to suggest that those who have not visited the Middle East, or lived in the region, may not even notice that there is such a thing as Middle Eastern culture, other than that which is caricatured and distortedly presented by the mainstream US and Western news and media outlets.

 

What effect do composers think this may have on the ability of Western musical culture, or World musical culture, to create, in an open and tolerant environment, a new musical synthesis of cultural import—one that may sooth and uplift the world, bring it together, and allow the dissolution of false boundaries that keep human beings apart from one another?

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Hello Roger,

What in all of this do find significant or meaningful, if you could say in a few words.

I wonder how much of this you can literally believe, given that so much of it is paraphrased (the predictions about World Wars I and II, and the 3rd World War).

You really think Mazzini predicted that in the 1870's ?  

We would need an exact quote, I think, before we could even consider it to be possible.

What in all of this do you really take as gospel, Roger?  



roger stancill said:

O, you asked, do you want to comment on that.... yes, it was your standard vandalism.

now try this on for size.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWXxwk2g288       RS

 

 

Hi Bob,

 

You said, "... what New Yorkers think now has nothing to do with what I said. What they think now is an irrelevant tangent."

 

Why?  You were the one who brought up what New Yorkers thought about 9-11.  Why is what New Yorkers think suddenly irrelevant?  New York has a lot of good musicians, composers and conductors, so they may indeed may be very relevant, in this context.

 

"I do apologize for saying that you constructed the question, the argument and the answer."

 

No problem.

 

"That was my bad. But I do believe that the question was asked so that you could once again complain about US policy."

 

What's wrong with complaining about the negative effect which US foreign and military policy has on life, the well-being of the millions killed (and the countless numbers wounded) and the negative effect that has on the state of the arts, music, and the state of culture in general?

 

War is bad for culture.   What's wrong with saying that? 

 

Also, I wasn't simply complaining about "the US," but about Western imperialism, Western colonialism, and neo-colonialism as well (which includes the history of imperialism wrought by Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, China and Russia, for that matter).  No one can calculate the number of musicians murdered, composers killed, or the number of musical instruments destroyed by all those imperialist incursions.   We could also talk about Turkish imperialism, if that hadn't died such a decisive death a hundred years ago.  They can barely hold on to the territory that they have now. Arab Imperialism hasn't been around in any meaningful way since before the rise of the Ottoman Empire, in the 14th century.

 

"I’m not talking about Muslims in general. I’m talking about the groups that fly planes into buildings, or go into a town and kill everyone not of their sect, or bomb publishers. I have already said that I have nothing against Muslims, in general."

 

I am glad you are not talking about Muslims in general.  That's good.  But who are the Muslims you are talking about?   "Flying planes into buildings?"  Who does that any more?  What's a "bomb publisher?"  I am not familiar with that term.    (You didn't say whether you thought, as most New Yorkers do, that 9-11 might have been "an inside job" or whether it was "allowed to happen."  Do you have an opinion on that?  It makes a difference, perhaps, on how you view US foreign policy.)

 

"Well, I never said the majority of Muslims dislike Westerners. I have never spoken to any radical Muslims, have you?"

 

Years ago I spoke to a Kurd who claimed he was a revolutionary, struggling to free his people from Turkish domination.  That was in the mid 1980's. He was not hostile towards Americans. He wanted the Southeastern part of Turkey to become independent. He was a Muslim.  I suppose you could have called him "a Muslim radical."

 

My question for you is still, who are these Muslims you appear to be worried about?  I mean, you admit they don't threaten you, your city, your county, or your state, don't you?  What's your exact concern? 

"And I do not believe 9/11 was an inside job."

My question really was, "Do you consider it possible that it was "an inside job," OR that the administration in question "allowed it to happen?"  So the query is slightly broader than your answer implied.

"We all know your position on US foreign policy, which you have stated over and over since your very early posts here."

I am not sure if you do understand or know what "my position on US foreign policy" is  (as if I or anyone can merely have one position, that can easily be stated).

[Any more than I know what your position is, exactly].

In any case, I am asking people to state their views, specifically with regard mostly to Arab/Islamic - Western relations, and the effect on culture.   

Oh, Charlie Hebdo.  Thanks for explaining that.  Okay.  I understand your point.  (And in this context, you and I would probably agree, it doesn't matter it was bombed or attacked in another way.  That attack merits full and total condemnation by any civilized person-- I think we will be in total agreement on that).

[Just as US bombings of al-Jazeera bureaus, and assassination of journalists in the Middle East are also worthy of condemnation].

You said,

"Of course Al Qaida and ISIS aren't out to get me, in particular. But if I should happen to be a victim in one of their attacks, I'm sure that would be fine with them."

You have made one or two statements resembling this one before.  I don't really understand what it signifies in the context of this discussion.  You are talking about what might happen.  I am more focused, I think, on what has happened, and what is happening today, and its effect on culture in general.

I am not disagreeing with your statement (any more than I would disagree with the statement:  The US government does not care that US soldiers killed unarmed journalists in Iraq [and they were more concerned about prosecuting the individual who revealed the fact]).

Are those "attitudes" or acts of aggression equally worthy of condemnation in your view.

Have you seen the video of US helicopter pilots slaughtering unarmed journalists in cold blood?  

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/45-45/1427-vid...

(Just curious).

That is a clear enough question, is it not? [I've tried to concentrate on musical matters in this thread, but no luck :-) ]

To me the death of even one single human being in the name of whatever irrationality (neo-imperialism or fanatic fundamentalism) is one too many, so there is my short answer.

Perhaps we should start from the beginning though, (if we had the time, that is).

What is this Middle East problem all about, when did it start and how did it change face throughout the millennia?

Herodotus (an Asian Greek, and perhaps a bipolar personality) says that the first act of aggression was made by the Europeans against the Asians and he blames the Greeks for it in his reasons for the Persian wars, namely the abduction of Phoenician beauty princes Europe by Zeus, a European supreme deity, and he carries on with the abduction of Helen by Paris and the Trojan war, and so forth.

To this (Europe's) abduction and the attack on Troy the Persians led by Darius and Xerxes responded much later by destroying the Ionian cities and attacking Europe.

Much later the Europeans led by Alexander the Great responded to this aggression by attacking and dissolving all Asian states (and Egypt).

 

Roberto Calasso (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Calasso) attempts to redress all this in his 1988 book "The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony" stating that Europe (the princes) was very willing to be abducted in the first place, but nonetheless the eternal fight between Asia and the West started and it is still active and he justifiably wonders whether it is in our nature and we secretly or openly enjoy this fight.

A little later on (than Europe's abduction) Israel became a conscious civilization attributing its origins and genealogy to Yahweh and his human representatives, Abraham and Isaac.

Another conflict thus started between polytheists and monotheists (both Asian and European).

Towards the beginning of the Byzantine era the world was aware of the existence of petrol in the general area and of some of its possible uses.

Much later on the Arabs became historically conscious under Islam and they contested the Hebrew interpretation of deity and its blessing on their particular nation. They said the chosen people are not descended from Isaac but from his half brother Ismail, their ancestor.

Thus a new conflict started between two monotheistic nations, both Asian.

In the mean time the Hebrew god had separated in his two main versions of Christian and Jewish which were already at war, so their conflict was added to the Arab conflict and we had three warring fractions in the known world.

As if the Arabs did not have enough war to keep busy they attacked and conquered North Africa and the Iberia peninsula, but luckily the French stopped their advance at Poitou and a few centuries later they responded with the crusades, albeit one of them was also against their fellow Christians in Constantinople.

Later on Ottomanism, feudalism, nationalism, capitalism and communism emerged and they joint immediately all pre-existing conflicts.

And so we are in the not so happy situation that we are today were ideological and financial interests get confused very easily and blood of innocent but also inflexible people on both camps keeps being spelt, while we are or could be aware that maybe we could use petrol in a much better way rather than burning it for energy. It is a very valuable natural resource and we are wasting it (both East and West) for financial gain, thus wars become inevitable.

Did all these conflicts stop the emergence of so many rich and varied cultures?

I don’t think so, but I leave open to myself the option that we could have been doing a lot better.



Olmnilnlolm said:


In any case, I am asking people to state their views, specifically with regard mostly to Arab/Islamic - Western relations, and the effect on culture.   

"That is a clear enough question, is it not? [I've tried to concentrate on musical matters in this thread, but no luck :-) ]"

 

Sorry about that.  I may have strayed a little.  We can get back to that, if you like.

 

"To me the death of even one single human being in the name of whatever irrationality (neo-imperialism or fanatic fundamentalism) is one too many, so there is my short answer."

 

Excellent.  With a statement as logical and concise as that, I am tempted to say, "Great!"  "Well said!" and then simply pack up the thread, roll it up, trace it back through the labyrinth, and put an end to the whole discussion.

 

"Perhaps we should start from the beginning though, (if we had the time, that is). ... What is this Middle East problem all about, when did it start and how did it change face throughout the millennia?"

 

Those are problems worth considering.  So perhaps we might not want to be too eager to stop the discussion.

 

"Herodotus (an Asian Greek, and perhaps a bipolar personality) says that the first act of aggression was made by the Europeans against the Asians and he blames the Greeks for it in his reasons for the Persian wars, namely the abduction of Phoenician beauty princes Europe by Zeus, a European supreme deity, and he carries on with the abduction of Helen by Paris and the Trojan war, and so forth."

 

Interesting.  I was just re-reading that exact series of passages from Herodotus a few weeks ago.   If everyone would just give everyone's women back to each other, and all the gold were returned, and Troy rebuilt, and so on, that could solve the whole problem.  I've been to Troy, and it's still in pretty bad shape.  Needs a lot of work.  As it is now, it's simply a sort of tourist site, for us to remember the "bad old times" of that unfortunate war that we all remember so well, despite its antiquity.

 

In any case, Zeus should definitely give Europa back.

 

"To this (Europe's) abduction and the attack on Troy the Persians led by Darius and Xerxes responded much later by destroying the Ionian cities and attacking Europe.

Much later the Europeans led by Alexander the Great responded to this aggression by attacking and dissolving all Asian states (and Egypt)."

 

Yes, and Republicans in the US seem to have some sort of residual unconscious memory of the "evil Persians," which they can hardly put into words. (As well as a desire to emulate Alexander, though they are hardly conscious of that either.  They must have seen the film version, though). Republicans will pass their congressional resolution soon (next week), to start the ball rolling for another war against Darius, Xerxes, Mossadeq, the Ayatollah, Ahmadinejad, they don't care who (as long as he's Iranian, and there's oil there).  Luckily, we heard the news today:  Obama has enough votes (just over 1/3) in the Legislature to uphold his veto. His policy and the agreement may hold up.  But it's truly sad that A MAJORITY of members of Congress want to go to war with Persia/Iran.  I think many members of Congress would go further than Agamemnon did with Iphigenia, and not only sacrifice their own daughters to the Gods, to get the winds to blow, but slaughter their sisters, wives and cousins, if that's what it took.  We 'Mericans are a bloodthirsty lot.

 

"Roberto Calasso (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Calasso) attempts to redress all this in his 1988 book "The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony" stating that Europe (the princes) was very willing to be abducted in the first place, but nonetheless the eternal fight between Asia and the West started and it is still active and he justifiably wonders whether it is in our nature and we secretly or openly enjoy this fight."

 

It's an old custom, of course.  Some American soldiers do like (on occasion) to rape Asian women (and there are protests against this in Japan, on Okinawa, even now).  Perhaps if we could get Euro-Americans (Westerners) to marry more Persians, Arabs and Easterners, things would be better.  Rumor has it that Queen Elizabeth murdered Diana, rather than have her "run around with an Arab," but I think that documentary might have been banned in the UK.  So the whole idea of "marriages of mutual consent" between East and West are still not fully sanctioned in all cases.   It's better, according to Washington and London, just to rape the whole Middle East (and that may include Persia, too), and all the while accuse militant groups like ISIS (another hated foreign goddess) of doing most of the rapes. 

 

"A little later on (than Europe's abduction) Israel became a conscious civilization attributing its origins and genealogy to Yahweh and his human representatives, Abraham and Isaac. ... Another conflict thus started between polytheists and monotheists (both Asian and European)."

 

Yes, and "Philistine" (Palestinian) is still a term of abuse, in the West.  So we know that's not going in the right direction any time soon.

 

"Towards the beginning of the Byzantine era the world was aware of the existence of petrol in the general area and of some of its possible uses. ... Much later on the Arabs became historically conscious under Islam and they contested the Hebrew interpretation of deity and its blessing on their particular nation. They said the chosen people are not descended from Isaac but from his half brother Ismail, their ancestor. ... Thus a new conflict started between two monotheistic nations, both Asian."

 

There is something to that, though one wonders if that conflict would be any where as severe as it is today, if the West were not continuously "stirring the pot."  During one generation we "the West," (i.e. the Germans, with a little bit of pan-European help), and some in the European East (Russians, Poles and Ukrainians) almost succeeded in totally exterminating "Jewry," and now the West (even France) takes their side in Israel, (apparently, and perhaps for only a little while) to apply the old divide and conquer technique.   Saudi Arabia and Israel are practically allies today, and that came about so gradually, that hardly anyone notices the odd contradiction in it.

 

"Did all these conflicts stop the emergence of so many rich and varied cultures?"

 

Well, yes. You forgot about the total extermination of Carthaginian civilization, and who knows how many more? Does the West have to destroy EVERY civilization in Libyan North Africa so thoroughly? Just a couple of years ago, the US, France, Italy, and UK did it again.   [And yes, the Libyan Jamahiriya was a unique and original civilization, with a character of it's own, which, in spite of what Americans were taught to think of Gaddafi {he was quite admired by Africans} DID NOT NEED TO BE BOMBED TO BITS, or have its leader assassinated.  So said almost all people in Sub-Saharan Africa, though their suggestions about peace talks were ignored.  Why?  Because African opinions and African culture does not matter in Paris, Washington and London. I suppose that culture is the next to be destroyed, if it hasn't been already.]

 

I am surprised you don't mention the ruthless suppression of the genuinely free democratic Greek City States, that began when the Roman General Flamininus appeared to save the Aetolians and all Greek democratic confederations, against the onslaught of the Macedonians. (Titus Quinctius Flamininus, circa 200 BCE) That admirable Roman may have been a genuine liberator.  But his successors annihilated what was worthy and outstanding in Hellenic political civilization. Corinth was deliberately and utterly destroyed.  Athens totally enslaved. So I would hesitate to deny that great culture and great cultures have not been lost.  We in America (and probably in Europe) still have not recaptured to this day much of what was good and essential to the true spirit of democracy (having adopted instead, the tepid and rather oligarchical spirit of the Roman Aristocrats—the founders of the American Republic admitted as much; and you wont see or hear THIS on the "History Channel," on cable TV, in the US , or in the UK, certainly).  The Westerners have "eaten their own," (I'm not simply talking about Cronus swallowing his children, the French Revolution, Goya, Napoleon's troops in Spain as well as the rest of Europe—there's so much more); and if they hadn't done such a good job of "eating their own," then perhaps they might not be so terribly eager to eat up the rest of the world, as they are attempting today. 

 

 

We really have no clear idea how much of our past culture, or cultures, were lost ... precisely because they were destroyed.  (We don't even know how much of current culture is being destroyed as we speak.) Start with the library in Alexandria, which Caesar himself burned.  It's amazing we have any records of democracy at all, given that democrats, as such, were the losers, 200 years before the birth of Jesus.

 

I think Josiah Ober has done an amazing job (in the English language, at least) of trying to recover something from history of the essence of genuine democracy, insofar as it is possible, from original Greek Sources.

 

If we in the West can separate hatred of the East from the original Greek democratic thought, then we may become somewhat more enlightened  (and why shouldn't we be able to, seeing how Aeschylus was able to portray "The Persians" more sympathetically than US news shows do today).  But who is going to get Americans to read Aeschylus nowadays.  There is almost an active ban in US theatres and on US TV networks of ancient Greek drama (People might learn too much).  Medea remains somewhat popular, and is shown every few years or so.  If there were a modern version of "The Trojan Women," or Andromache, showing the death cries, mourning, and absolute misery of countless thousands of Arabs and Muslim women throughout the world,  their sons and husbands, killed by US and NATO bombs (making Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Achilles son, Neoptolemus, look like angels of mercy by comparison), then one wonders what effect THAT LITTLE PIECE OF CULTURE might have on contemporary thinking.  [And we might also think, what kind of musical accompaniment should that work have?]

"I have never been in a situation where I had to kill someone. Could I even do it? And how would I deal with it if I was able to do it? Killing someone just has to do strange things to you. Do I clam up and become cold hearted about it. Do I make some sadistic game out of it? Do I try to pretend it never happened? What horrible things does it do to me? It's easy to say that we should just do away with war, but that's not going to happen. I know you are going to ask why I feel that way. I don't have an answer."

 

Those are some very thoughtful reflections.

 

In the long run I am sure it will be easier to "do away with war" than it will be to continue waging it, for the human race as a whole.

 

Right now there are about 193 countries in the world.  How often do we reflect upon the fact that the vast majority of them are not at war.  Even in the US it's getting harder, in many ways, to get the people to support wars.  After Vietnam, the "powers that be" had great trouble getting the US to get involved in wars.  People didn't want to be drafted, so they abolished the draft.  They had to start up waging wars again, in the 80's with little "winnable wars," like the one in Grenada, and a few years later, in Panama.  Obama felt great pressure to get the US "out" of Afghanistan and Iraq, but didn't quite succeed.   Don't you think public pressure is very, very much against war these days, especially "boots on the ground?" (though I'll warrant, US legislators are less reluctant). In the UK, when the US pressured the Brits to go to war in Syria, the Parliament (under great pressure from the public) voted AGAINST going to war. That was the first time in modern UK history that the Parliament, as a body, voted against a Prime Ministerial motion to take the country to war.  Now the UK is bombing "just a little bit" to go along with the US in Iraq, but they don't really want to do it much beyond that, as the US does. 

 

Most people living in the world today don't kill each other, or even injure each other with weapons; and most people don't feel inclined to go to war in order to make life more interesting (which they did want to do, centuries ago, when war seemed more heroic than it does now).  People would rather watch TV, take a trip to Acapulco or visit Paris, if they had enough money.  Few people are rushing to the recruitment office to get on the next flight to Afghanistan, Somalia or Niger, so they can fight some Muslims.  People have a sense it's probably not as glamorous as some of the Army and Navy ads make it appear.   "Join the Air Force, visit strange lands, and kill the people who live there," is the real slogan, and most people know that.  (My father was a pilot in the Air Force, and he knew that. He was lucky enough NOT to have been told to go out and actually drop bombs on people, and he was glad to have been that fortunate.)   

 

Today, Ukraine boils up, and fizzles out; and neither Russia nor the West really wants a big all out war there.   The European Union with all these immigrants flooding in from North Africa and Syria has seen that these wars in close by regions are just useless, and cause endless problems.  More people living today have heard good music than have gone to war.  The anthem of the European Union, from Schiller and Beethoven's Ode to Joy, declares (as no anthem in Europe had before) "All men are brothers." That does make a difference in the way people think, in spite of the continual set backs.  If you read the literature about general attitudes towards war, written through history, you can see a huge change in the way war is thought of today, compared to back in the late 1800's.  The League of Nations was a noble project, the fruit of great hope, but a failure.  No one even thought of, much less worked out a detailed idea of a "League of Nations" before the philosopher Kant. (Mid-18th century).  The United Nations has only been slightly better, but it has not failed totally; and there is no reason why it cannot be improved and successful.  It's only been less than one century in the entire history of the human race that we have even had an international body dedicated to doing away with "the scourge of war."   Don't you think it's a bit early to throw in the towel and say, "it's impossible for humankind to do away with war?"   

 

At present, it's important to stress that most heads of state, and most nations do not want to be involved in war, and they often seem to get involved reluctantly, without much public applause for getting involved.  War music has become boring, and none of it has been very popular since "Over there! ... The Yanks are coming."  People don't enthuse over war at all, and haven't certainly since Korea and Vietnam. Anti-war songs, written during the Vietnam War, are still more popular than any "pro-war" songs of the past and present.  What amazes me more than anything is how much effort it takes to really get people moving to go to war.  It's much harder to get people in a warlike mood than ever.  Actually getting involved in a war is harder than going about your usual business.  Authorities really have to make up a lot of propaganda (most of it lies), and hit people over the head with it, continuously.  They really have to get them to hate some leader or ethnicity (one they hadn't much even thought about before) to get a war going.  And war becomes very tiresome very quickly. 

 

So all in all, I would say, in light of what people are learning, and as education very gradually and slowly improves world wide, war itself is doomed to go the way of the horse and buggy.  The belief that war is a viable or useful way of solving conflicts will eventually go the way of the belief that one can diminish the evil in society by burning witches. 

 

Whether Custer was a lunatic may not be so important.  People don't see him as a model for human behavior, and that may make the difference.  Martin Luther King and Gandhi are looked upon far more favorably, without a doubt.  Figures like that in world politics and in activism are relatively new.  There are bound to be many more.

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