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Spengler

Jay Z’s American Fascism

October 21st, 2013 - 8:57 am

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Ich kann gar nicht so viel fressen, wie ich kotzen moechte: I can’t eat enough to puke as much as I want to. The words of the  great German-Jewish painter Max Liebermann as he watched the Nazis march through the Brandenburg Gate came to mind as I saw Ron Howard’s Showtime documentary about Jay Z’s 2012 “Made in America” festival. We’ve seen this all before: the emotive orator with a twisted face evoking surge of rage from a mass audience that responds with rhythmic arm gestures. I’m late to this discussion, to be sure:

This is the face of American fascism. Compared to the confessed crack dealer and knifer Jay Z, to be sure, Adolf Hitler was a man of high intellect and deep culture. Jay Z, our most successful and wealthiest performing artist, honored White House guest and proprietor of a pop-culture empire, is no Hitler: he lacks the talent to field a political movement, and, fortunately, does not appear to hate Jews. Fascism, though, is not ipso facto directed against Jews. Mussolini began as an anti-clerical socialist with support from a great deal of Italy’s small Jewish community, and did not persecute Jews until Hitler told him to.

Who would have believed that a performing genre (it is a stretch to call it “music”) dominated by convicted and confessed criminals, brutally misogynistic, preaching and practicing violence, would come to dominate American popular culture? Jay Z, who brags of dealing drugs and shooting an older brother in his youth, and plead guilty to stabbing a record producer, could “help shape attitudes in a real (sic) positive way,” according to President Obama. Jay Z texts regularly with the president and is a regular White House visitor after opening Obama campaign rallies.

Jay Z’s message to the Philadelphia crowd that Ron Howard filmed last year is the same thing he puts on the airwaves, for example:

We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission
And deception is the only felony
So never fuck nobody without telling me
Sunglasses and Advil, last night was mad real.

Music, Jay Z told Howard’s cameramen, can unite people in a way that politics and religion cannot. Everyone is a genius, everyone is oppressed. He is the prophet of a new religion: African-American music has gone from Thelonius Monk to felonius priest. Violence is not only a legitimate form of expression: it is the only manly form of expression, as in his rap “D.O.A.”:

This might offend my political connects

My raps don’t have melodies

This should make niggas wan’ go and commit felonies

Get your chain tooken

I may do it myself, I’m so Brooklyn!

I know we facing a recession

But the music y’all making gon’ make it the Great Depression

All y’all lack aggression

Put your skirt back down, grow a set man

Nigga this shit violent

The explicit call to violence (including chain-snatching as a form of political expression) is a playful challenge to his “political connects,” namely the president. One should not conclude from this that Obama favors criminal violence, but rather that the popular response to Jay Z’s evocation of felonious rage is so great that Obama finds it convenient to exploit it. There is nothing at all new in any of this: we heard it before from Nietzsche in his evocation of the “Blonde Beast’s” life-affirming violence, from George Sorel, from Mussolini’s call for “creative violence.”

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All Comments   (10)
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Hi David
I'm fascinated by your suggestion that Christians, I'm a Catholic, should take a hint from the Orthodox Jews on how to be a minority in a (increasingly hostile) secular world. What should we do specifically? How does a community do such a thing?

Also, what do you think of Christians in developing coutnries coming and giving a re-charge to Catholicism for instance? Will this not help the religion to survive without closing itself off?
How do Muslims fit into this scenario as well?



26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why do the values of pioneering, free inquiry, self-reliance, free markets, individual liberty, and the entrepreneurial work ethic require the belief in any of the existing organized religions, let alone the divinity of Jesus Christ?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The well known line attributed to Chesterton seems to fit here, "When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything".
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why do the values of pioneering, free inquiry, self-reliance, free markets, individual liberty, and the entrepreneurial work ethic require the belief in any of the existing organized religions...

That's the standard line, and here's the answer: a people must have morals, ethics and law to make a society work. The secularists have proved especially poor at delivering on these things. Instead, they've replaced it with pietyy of socialism and the ascendancy of the state over individuals. Judeo-Christianity, in societal terms, is by far the most successful belief system in history.

So the self-important secularists - an expensive and damaging group - seek money to make things right, blowing off human incentive and responsibility, not to mention morals.

For example, Prez Barack Hussein Obama, who by all appearances is an athiest unmoved by the Judeo-Christian society in which he's led a la dolce vita, has persistently lied, evaded and obfuscated the truth, and has acted lawlessly, most recently with his illegal unilateral move to suspend the employer mandate for a year, thereby legislating from the Oval Office.

But wait, he's a secularist with the trappings of prestige conferred by Columbia, Harvard, and Chicago. And, as a amoral, he's ok with what he's doing and sleeps well at night, comfortable with his emptiness.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
All those things happened when people DID. I suppose we can conduct a lil' experiment and see if people can continue to build on that and maintain such a civilsation without a belief that life continues past the grave. Somehow, doesn't seem worth the trouble, though..........
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Correlation does not necessarily imply causality.

I know many technology entrepreneurs and engineers who subscribe to my values, but want nothing to do with organized religion (some who consider it a form of psychosis).
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And success as a tech entrepreneur or engineer says nothing about a person’s moral decency.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can counter that individuals that have no contact with the often stark and desperate lives of millions of individuals over more than a thousand years haven't a frame of reference for judging organised religion inter alia psychotic........'>........
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
You could add propagandist for Castro to Jay-Z's credentials (http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/marco-rubio-jay-z-beyonce-cuba-89792.html).

It's also ironic that the above mentioned documentary lauding Jay-Z was directed by Ron Howard. As a child actor Howard starred on the Andy Griffith Show, Hollywood's salute to traditional American values, when traditional American values were what Hollywood elites wanted to salute.

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Late to the discussion, sure, but sometimes it's when a random bird flies into your flue that you do you best writing and analysis. I read your essay on Torah Musings and also Jody Bottum's 10,000 word essay that started this whole discussion at commonwealmagazine.org.........

The disappointing thing thing about many of the comments criticising Jody's thinkpiece, whinged about how long and difficult it was. Coming from the self-proclaimed vanguard of the conservative movement, this is not encouraging. Bottum's Commonweal essay here:

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/things-we-share
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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