I wrote an article on this when I was having one of my email "discussions" (political arguments) with my dad. I don't see why all that time should go to waste so here you go, read or don't read.
this was sparked off by this hippy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOy3H4yyocQ&mode=related&search
Culture Is Not Your Friend (or something). This is actually two articles on completely different things.
Ok this is getting into a subject of discourse I find extremely interesting, so I hope you don't mind the long email.
I'm going to address what I percieve as your two main points one at a time.
1)- Why on earth should he bring anything to do with the appreciation of culture, whether it be classical or modern hip hop stuff into his argument?
- To bring culture at whatever level, that has given so much joy to so many people into his argument only diminishes and belittles his case
I'd like to open my argument by stating that just because something is enjoyed does not mean it is beneficial. That should be self evident eg. cigarettes or heroine, but to cite a less extreme example, lets say marijuana (in the instance of its use as a passtime.)
Marijuana in this instance is completely comparable to popular "culture" such as the TV Show Big Brother. A lot of people gain enjoyment from partaking but it "dulls the mind" of he who partakes. This kind of popular culture insults and partonizes the consumer: "You life is boring, what better do you have to do?" - goes equally for marijuana as "reality tv."
Either activity is undergone at the expense of the person in question engaging in activities that will expand their mind.
There are many theories as to why anyone might stand for such a base and insulting level of "culture." Some would blame education and upbringing. Others might say the consumers are inherantly weak minded or lazy.
A marxist might argue that to some people the pressures of life in our current society are such that in their leisure time they don't want to engage in activities that require them to expend energy, thus they use this time to escape from both boredom AND activity. (See Frankfurt Institute for Social Research)
This may be a good argument in some cases and not in others. Take what you might call a "layabout." This individual has no pressures upon him, yet he may well find himself glued to daytime television day after day... even in this instance though we find that after a while the telly starts to drive just about anyone nuts. I would posit that this is because the viewer starts to realise unconsciously that what they are viewing is insulting to their nature as an actualised and extremely intelligent animal.
I'm not certain what is the reason is for the popularity of what I would deem "regressive culture" (eg. I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Jerry Springer, Nike, The Gap, The Backstreet Boys, etc.) but I am certain that Regressive Culture Exists, and that is the point that I am making here. It is not beneficial to the consumer, and it is possibly even detrimental to society.
2)-there are undeniably many injustices in the world and many improvements can, with sound and considered policies on a worldwide scale introduced by the world's leaders. But with the crazy mindset of the fundamentalist leader of Iran, the President of Venezuela, Robert Mugabwe and a swathe of other African totalitarianists on the one side that's difficult task to achieve (sorry for the understatement!).
This is an entirely different issue and it is one that deserves rather more attention than I am willing to give it at the moment after having just written that last article.
First of all, I think a history lesson is required to understand the current situation:The west is responsible for virtually every despot that has come to power in the last century.
I will repeat that statement:
The west is responsible for virtually every despot that has come to power in the last century.
There is an old christian saying "don't look for the chip in someone elses eye when you have a log in your own," and this is extremely relevant to the current line of argument.
In many countries with extremely oppressive regemes there is the will for revolution. But we (the UK) actually train the anti-insurgent forces of these countries. We get paid to make sure that a just order doesn't arise in these countries ruled by the kind of filthy corrupt leaders you describe.
I'm sure you know already our part in bringing Rober Mugabe to power (as well as Saddam and the Taleban amongst others.) We are also not guiltless in the creation of the current situation in Iran, having played one side off the other prior to the first gulf war for the personal benefit of our military industry.
What then of the African totalitarians?
Well, third world countries are generally places that are rich in natural resources but for some insane reason all the profits from the consumption of those resources are enjoyed by people who don't live in those countries who somehow managed to steal ownership of them.
The Third World is not a naturally occuring phenomenon, it was created. By our leaders.
Our politicians kept the "African totalitarians" in power all this time for their own ends.
Returning to the quote "don't look for the chip in someone elses eye when you have a log in your own," I am far more concerned about the rise of totalitarianism in the country I am living in and our hegemon, America. This was of concern to me 5 years ago and all I've seen happen in those 5 years is my concerns further justified as law after law is passed to circumvent our most valued civil liberties.
pheeeeeeew, I hope this wasn't too painful for you,