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Rush to judgement: How rock and roll became conservative

Here’s how the Canadian band Rush became the libertarian underdogs who helped change the perception of rock and roll as a leftist genre.

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When rock and roll music first came to prominence, it was considered rebellious, anti-establishment and even subversive. The product of mostly black American musicians, it quickly and sadly became a linchpin for white American racism.

When young white men started playing rock and roll, rock’s anti-establishment credentials remained much the same. A centrist or even centre-left public figure could barely embrace Chuck Berry any more than Buddy Holly without being accused of poor taste or trying to pander to ‘delinquent youth’.

It must be said that in the Soviet Union, black music was embraced without a hint of racism, although rock and roll still remained taboo, unlike for example, the vocal music of Paul Robeson which was beloved in the USSR.

When The Beatles came onto the scene in the early 1960s, things weren’t very different. The Beatles horrified many of the ‘old guard’ but throughout the 1960s as The Beatles became increasingly musically proficient, innovative and mature song-writers, they gradually became accepted by mainstream ‘centrist’ culture.

Leonard Bernstein who himself was controversial for composing jazz influenced music instead of sticking to conducting the works of Beethoven and other classical and romantic composers, famously gave The Beatles his stamp of approval , thus making it widely acceptable for parents to listen to their children’s records.

Again, contrary to mythology, The Beatles were treated much the same by the US and USSR establishments. Both broadly thought that The Beatles were a subversive influence on established culture, but Soviet kids, like American kids loved the Beatles and both got their hands on the records however they could.

The Beatles remain popular across generations in modern Russia, just as they do everywhere else. The harmless nature of the Beatles is made apparent by the fact that right-wing Americans thought the music was un-Christian, whilst many in the Soviet Union thought the music was decadent and bourgeois. It couldn’t really be both and in fact, it was generally neither, especially Paul McCartney composed tunes.

Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, when rock and rollers did decide to get political (which wasn’t as often as many would pretend to remember), it was almost always left, occasionally even far left.

But in 1976 that all changed. Whilst many remember 1976 as the year of ‘punk’, a movement often thought of as left of centre, it was also the year that rock’s first fully-fledged libertarian rock album was released; 2112 by the Canadian trio Rush.

The album, like many Rush albums after it, dealt with the libertarian themes of personal freedom against the encroachment of big government. This freedom included the freedom to play music, in this case rock music.

All of the sudden, rock music had gone from the ‘demon’  that was going to uproot civilisation, to a sacred individual right that could be infringed upon by big brother.

Just to make things abundantly clear, the album’s art work featured a lone man standing forcefully against a red star, said to represent collectivism.

2112

As Rush’s libertarian stance became more widely known, the famously snobby liberal to hard-left British music press took note. Although strictly speaking, libertarianism isn’t classical conservatism per se, many elements of libertarianism became adopted in the mid to late 20th century by the conservative movement in the US and elsewhere in the west, including in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

For the British rock press of the 1970s this was worryingly more taboo than paedophilia, something widely ignored in the British music industry of the time and for a long while after.

Things came to a head in 1978 when Barry Miles of the New Musical Express interviewed the band in London. Miles confessed that the only reason he got to interview Rush was because,

“I was the only one on NME who knew who Ayn Rand was – simple as that”.

He later described Rand (for whom Rand Paul is named, incidentally) as

“…an obscure ultra-right-wing American cult writer of the late 30s and early 40s”.

A more accurate description of Ayn Rand would be a Russian born novelist and political thinker who advocated for a kind of ultra-libertarian/hyper-individualism called Objectivism.  For the record, I do not subscribe to Rand’s views, but nor do I deride them as dangerous. Some of it is in fact quite interesting, not least because her views became increasingly influential after her death in 1982.

Rand became an inspirational force for Rush’s drummer/lyricist, the often cerebral and professorial Neil Peart.

Peart described the ‘Rush philosophy’ in 1978:

“You have to have principles that firmly apply to every single situation. I think a country has to be run that way. That you have a guiding set of principles that are absolutely immutable – can never be changed by anything. That’s the only way!

The government’s only functions are to protect the rights of the individual, therefore you need a police force and an army. You need an army to protect the individuals and a law court to settle their disputes …”

Of course this is nothing different than what one might here at a Ron Paul lecture or possibly even a Ron Paul lookalike contest. But in 1970s hard-left liberal Britain, it was sacrilege.

Of course, Miles obligatorily compared Peart’s statement to the guiding principles of Hitler. One must at this point understand that anything that wasn’t hard left in ‘too cool for school’ 1970s Britain, was automatically ‘fascist’. Hence this statement from Miles might shock, but it ought not to surprise. It wasn’t an original thought, but rather highly derivative of its time and place.

What is significant here though is not that a British leftist could misconstrue libertarianism so badly and frankly so insultingly, but rather, that rock had gone from left-wing rebellion to right-wing rebellion; at least in the eyes of the liberal elite.

Rush played complex progressive rock music and they often played it loud and fast. But it was the lyrics which raged against big government, Orwellian attitudes and venerated individual freedom from both the corporate and governmental machine, that segregated Rush from both the pseudo-Marxist lyrics of John Lennon as well as the ‘peace and love’ lyrics that many other rockers found solace in.

Interestingly, when asked about punk, which was the ‘new kid on the block’ in the UK at the time, Peart said that punk was a rebellion against socialism.

This shocked Barry Miles at the time, but interestingly, punk’s British founder, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) has come out with positions that many consider conservative. He supports Brexit and even was sympathetic to Donald Trump. Although Lydon still considers himself a leftist of sorts, he’s admitted that the socialist elite of Britain sold out the working class and turned their backs on individualism.

This tends to make Peart’s assessment of punk appear vastly more accurate than that of Miles.

Rush made it possible to play loud rock music and have a political view which many considered conservative. The final frontier was broken. The left had become the musical elite and the libertarians had become the screaming crusaders of rebellion, albeit with a polite Canadian accent.

In the Soviet Union of the 1980s, things again came full circle. Viktor Tsoi of the rock band Kino won hearts and minds throughout the world, though mainly in the Russian speaking world.

Tsoi

Tsoi’s poetic music was rebellious but also humanitarian in the most literal sense. He was not an ‘anti-communist crusader’ but rather he expressed the fact that Russians, like people everywhere, were sceptical of power and wanted to be able to connect more directly with their fellow men and women. It was classical Russian scepticism combined with classical Russian compassion, just as Rush was classical English speaking libertarianism.

In this since, Kino vindicated Rush. It was not the supposed conflict red flags or blue flags that made the post-hippy rock bands rebellious. It was daring to be human in a world of both left wing and right wing conformity that moved people and continues to do so. The music of Kino remains beloved in today’s Russia because of its universal themes.

Today, rock music has become post-political. There are still musicians writing political songs, but because the left-right controversy that burned so deeply in the 1970s and 1980s is over, it’s now ok for everyone to like rock and roll.

After many decades, rock and roll is conservative and like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky or jazz, which was once as derided as rock later became, it is for everyone, which is how it always should have been.

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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