Occasional Notes: Political-Aesthetic Musings

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

Related Post Roulette

50 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Additional Theory:

    The Nikolai Volkov Theory. As a child of the 80’s, you remember booing Nikolai Volkov fondly. When hearing the Soviet National Anthem, you remember Howard Finkel asking you to “please rise”. Whenever you hear the opening verse, you’re booing him in your mind’s eye… who wouldn’t turn it up?Report

  2. Trumwill says:

    Cultural Relevance: Communism survives as an ideal in a way fascism doesn’t, and not necessarily because of liberal complicity alone. We can’t neglect communism’s significant roots in Christianity, either.

    I think this is a big part of it for a lot of people. A lot of people. Most people, really, are sympathetic to the stated aims of Communism. In its pure form, if it didn’t require a kitchen full of broken eggs without the real appearance of an omelette, it sounds truly delightful. The same really can’t be said for fascism (unless you’re on the top).

    Of course, this completely doesn’t apply to libertarians. So I don’t know what your excuse is…Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    If ever there was a repeatedly-jumped shark, it’s Balloon Juice. It’s like reading goddamn 4chan anymore. To quote Adrian Belew:

    what was deluxe becomes debris,
    I never questioned loyalty,
    but this dead end demolishes the dream
    of an open highwayReport

  4. North says:

    Communism, at its heart, had criticisms of capitalism (particularly the capitalism as was practiced at the time of communisms’ birth) that were both pertinent and fair. I don’t think fascism ever had much of a similar supporting foundation.

    Horrors of the USSR aside their anthem is musically a powerful piece. Especially if you don’t speak Russian and don’t have subtitles; I’ve never heard any other anthem mention a specific politician (Lenin) as much as the Soviet one does. I have to admit I never much fancied the US anthem very much but such is to be expected from a song organically evolved and adopted from a drinking song. The Soviet anthem, on the other hand, was doubtlessly carefully bred for soaring grandeur and impact.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to North says:

      Good points all around, although you might find it interesting that the Dutch national anthem is entirely about William of Orange.Report

      • North in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Fascinating Jason. I’ve never heard it before. As a minor counter argument, though, Het Wilhelmus was centuries old before it was adopted as a national anthem for the Dutch state whereas the Soviet Anthem was written specifically as a national anthem.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

      For quite a while, the Russian national anthem had no words.Report

      • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Yes indeed. But only because it took decades to finally agree to scrub Stalins name out of it. The old monster had a long reach apparently.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

          As someone’s who’s killed quite a few Communists, I found it truly grotesque to read the reports of how sincerely Stalin’s death was mourned in the USSR.

          A Kurdish friend of mine once told me Saddam’s wicked and completely unprovoked war on Iran was the metal from which the Iraqi identity was forged. I watched the Battle of Khorramshahr off the satellite feeds, the largest and most savage city fighting since Stalingrad.

          The American national anthem makes me grin. The rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air…. Dolly Madison saving a few important relics, the British troops eating dinner in the White House before burning it to the ground. Yazid was right, nothing like a good ass kicking to forge up a national identity.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

            A recent poll said that 1 outta 6 Russians consider Stalin to be their greatest leader.

            Maybe we should, you know, send them the funding to post a few more guards around his tomb or something.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

              It’s my considered opinion the Russian people were put upon this earth to teach mankind what suffering really looks like, lest the rest of us resort to unnecessary whinging, always so distressing to The Almighty.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

                An old joke.

                Nelson Mandela, Richard von Weizsäcker, and Mikhail Gorbachev all have an audience with God.

                Mandela asks “when will my country finally be okay?”, God says “50 years” and Mandela starts to cry. “That’s not in my lifetime.”

                Weizsäcker asks “when will my country finally be okay?”, God says “100 years” and Weizsäcker starts to cry. “That’s not in my lifetime.”

                Gorby asks “when will my country finally be okay?” and God starts to cry.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Man that’s a good one.Report

              • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

                BlaiseP that sounds quite plausible to me.Report

  5. gregiank says:

    Fascism still seems to be around, at the very least in the various neo-nazi parties in the US and other countries. Does Fascism have a specific ideological core like Communisms. I’d suggest it doesn’t but that many of the key elements of Fascism are still around: aggressive nationalism, racial purity, and the authoritarian style are all prevalent and advocated by large groups.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to gregiank says:

      I’d argue Fascism’s ideological core is Modernism. The efficiencies of the Corporation, muscular leadership, Leader as Glorious CEO.

      Communism only emerges from feudalism. When you don’t own anything, you don’t understand why owning land and shares of stock might be a good thing. As Frank Zappa observed: “Communism will never work because people want to own things.”

      Fascism only emerges from nationalist kooks who’ve just lost a war.Report

  6. gregiank says:

    Oh, also– The Decemberists are highly overrated.Report

  7. Mike Schilling says:

    Speaking of personnel decisions, is research fellow an entry-level position, or can you work your way up to it from goon?Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I’d save the name “goon” for someone trying to infiltrate a private meeting under false pretenses. Or trying to intimidate a peaceful political gathering of any type.

      Other than that, I’m with Balko:

      I hereby condemn the rude security guard for his rudeness. And for his empty threat of arrest. I’ll go even farther. I’ll go ahead and condemn rude private security guards everywhere. I also condemn any cretinous bastard who would dare trample the civil liberties and free speech rights of a political opponent by surreptitiously canceling his lunch reservation. Finally, I also condemn anyone who would ask a political opponent to leave a private conference on private property that said opponent has attempted to infil . . . Wait. I can’t condemn that. That just makes good sense.

      But all that other stuff. Consider it condemned. If you could see me right now, you’d see a (handsome) face seething with righteous anger (or possibly smiling).


      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Does “infiltrate” means staying at the same hotel, or saying “I’m a reporter and I have some questions?” And it’s funny how protesters protest when they’re on the right side, but “intimidate” when they’re on the wrong side.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Does saying you’re a reporter mean you can never be ejected from private property? Even if you’re uninvited?

          Because if so, I’m staying at your house tonight.

          And again, I’ll save the name “goons” for the more than two dozen people who got themselves actually arrested.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            1. Gain access to (an organization, place, etc.) furtively and gradually, esp. in order to acquire secret information.

            I’m not seeing how this applies to someone who says “I’m a reporter. See my camera here?”.

            And I’m a bit surprised to see you assume that people who were arrested actually did anything wrong. Especially in the same thread where you invoke Balko.Report

            • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Did he have an invitation? If not, he didn’t belong there, and he absolutely was trying to gain access furtively. The claim stands.

              As to whether the protesters were really doing something wrong — a fair point. It’s conceivable that they weren’t breaking any laws.

              Yet I would expect a highly anti-Koch article like the one in Politico to at least attempt to make that claim, and it didn’t even try.

              Why do you suppose that would be?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                1. Attempting to avoid notice or attention; secretive.

                “Hi, I’m a reporter. This is my camera. Can I ask you some questions?”


                And, let’s see, you get offended when someone suggests that you should have an opinion on columnists for a magazine you’re associated with, but I’m supposed to guess why a Politico article is written a certain way?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I recommend the NASCAR solution. Instead of bespoke suits or the open-collar variant, paid-to-play pundits would wear jumpsuits with the logos of their corporate sponsors sewn on in prominent places. And don’t forget the baseball caps, that’s where the alpha sponsor goes. And the drink bottle.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Congressmen too?Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                As long as blog commenters have to wear the insignia of their employers, too.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Since you bring it up, have you ever considered the advantages of using a truly state of the art open-source integration and orchestration framework?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Yes, that would be a very good start. Weepin’ John Boehner should also be allowed to smoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, as in the Olden Times. Nowadays, he’s reduced to handing out checks from his tobacco sponsors down there on the floor. But only cigarettes from his tobacco sponsors: they might take exception to him puffing on a Gauloise or some other Furriner Cigrit.Report

  8. Will says:

    I stopped taking Balloon Juice seriously when I realized that they’re terrible writers. If some future historian does a longitudinal study of the blogosphere, they’ll quickly realize that a lot of folks had the good fortune to get in the game early and have been coasting on rep ever since.Report

  9. Sam MacDonald says:

    Will nobody ask the important questions? Fair enough, I shall:

    Which country music artists pass muster for you, Jason?Report

  10. Sam MacDonald says:

    I grew up on goofy dance/pop country like Charlie Daniels and we still bust it out when we’re drinking. It’s fun. One the other end of the spectrum, I’d say it’s “interesting” to listen to David Allen Coe. On a daily basis, I prefer the old-timey stuff like Willie Nelson. As for new, I like Old 97s. Rascal Flats might be the worst band in the world.

    I spent some time in college classrooms comparing lyrics from gangster rap and harsh county guys like Coe. It’s basically the same stuff, through and through.Report

    • I like Willie Nelson a lot. Most new stuff – meh. I like the ‘alt-country’ stuff a lot more.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I knew I’d get a “well, duh” if I mentioned Neko Case.Report

      • RTod in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Whenever I’m talking to someone who likes country music and they ask “hey, do you like country music?,” I tell them how much I love Lyle Lovett, or kd lang, or Uncle Tupelo. And they always tell me that’s not country music.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to RTod says:

          Country/Techno! Stuff you can line dance to.

          Like Cotten-Eyed Joe.

          (I’m not a fan, particularly. I just wanted to get that song stuck in your head.)Report

        • MFarmer in reply to RTod says:

          RTod, and your point is?Report

          • RTod in reply to MFarmer says:

            I know nothing of country music.Report

            • MFarmer in reply to RTod says:

              I don’t know anything about any music except what I like when I hear it. I grew up being a connoisseur of rock, and if anyone said they like the Dave Clark 5, I’d throw up — or Paul Revere and the Raiders — or The Monkees — or even The Kinks, except near the end, they seemed to get it — but Bubble-Gum rock was not rock. Even Eric Burdon and the Animals had to prove themselves to my refined taste. But since the 70s I haven’t liked much — Springsteen was good, and I always a appreciate a new Leonard Cohen album, but something seriously wrong happened to music, and good song writers. Aside from rock, I liked folk, and John Prine was a good Dylan/Cohen follow-up . The only band that’s flipped my switch has been Old Crow Medicine Show.Report

              • RTod in reply to MFarmer says:

                I remember when I was young genres were very important to me; it was almost tribal. I’m now where you are Mike; I like what I like. Even simple pop things that I would have felt beneath me at 16 I can enjoy now. Life is good.Report

        • Sam MacDonald in reply to RTod says:

          The thing is.. it really is about wearing it on your sleeve. The sawdust on the floor matters. Or.. the lack of sawdust on the floor matters. And I expect people to play their role! r at least try. The tired old question of authenticity rears its head here. Taylor Swift? She knows not of heartache and the other things she sings! But for some reason, we don’t really care that Johnny Cash didn’t really shoot Delia in the side.

          Again, you see this all the time in hip-hop. All that discussion about whether 50 Cente “really” got shot that many times. But it matters. Can’t have a poser. But the bio never really holds up in the way the purists want to. I always knew that David Allen Coe murdered a guy and taught Charles Manson how to play guitar. Then I found out… maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not.

          But now he plays with the remnants of Pantera, and Willie plays with Snoop Dogg, and I am glad.

          I just can’t stand the fakers like Rascal Flats.

          Consistency is not my strong suit.Report

          • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

            Maybe that’s why I like a lot of the old prog and glam rock. Nothing short of very powerful psychedelics could ever convince me that David Bowie was actually a very musically inclined alien. Once I know it’s a story, it’s fun again.Report

          • Trumwill in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

            Taylor Swift? She knows not of heartache and the other things she sings! But for some reason, we don’t really care that Johnny Cash didn’t really shoot Delia in the side.

            Because it’s plausible that someone in Cash’s demographics could have those kinds of stories to tell. Or could be relaying a story from someone he knows. It provides the illusion of credibility.

            I’m not sure how you can make a distinction between Cash and 50 Cent, though…

            It’s along these lines that I am unconvinced it matters that Milli Vanilli was lip-syncing (until they got caught and the illusion was shattered).

            (I’m actually not sure I agree with you about Swift. But I’m going along for the sake of this comment.)Report

            • Sam MacDonald in reply to Trumwill says:

              Let me clarify: I am saying that 50 Cent and Johnny Cash are the same. Or at least eerily similar.

              Although Cash really is a poor stand-in for Coe in this regard. Hard core Coe fans scoff at Cash in the way that GG Allen fans scoff at Metallica.

              I find the whole thing fascinating. But I also know that my smug meta analysis makes it basically impossible to ever just listen to anything unless I am drinking.Report