Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Language of Violence

I read the other day a piece about how hiphop culture (as a whole, not including outliers) is actually very conservative. It embraces not only misogyny and heterosexism, but also the corporatist money culture. The aspirations of hiphop culture are not to change the power structure of our society, but rather to become a part of it.

I have read that there are two paradigms of power, power-over and power-with. The first kind, power-over, is the system we live with today. Very wealthy people and corporations basically run our lives, sometimes extra-legally, but usually quite legally, since the government is in their control. Very few politicians, Democrat or Republican, resist their corporate overlords, and most protest movements, e.g. the tea party, are actually made of corporate shills and dupes, and are designed to blow the steam of an abused citizenry while actually further entrenching the power structure already in place.

Power-with on the other hand is a system of consciously shared power, based on an ethic of concern. Power-with means that I see that it is to my benefit that you also have all the things you need to live, whether food, clothing and shelter, as well as safe schools, safe streets, and a culture that affirms your unique worth as an individual. It is a melding of the communitarian with the diginity of the individual. We used to dream of bringing about a culture of power-with in our society. Those dreams have fallen.

We will be stuck with power-over until such time as sufficient numbers of individuals outgrow the desire to have that structure in place. In the meantime, only individuals can truly make a difference, first in themselves, then in their communities.

In the meantime, I'd like to share an old video of one of the earliest outliers in hiphop, an anti-bullying hiphop song from 1992, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy performing "The Language of Violence":

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