Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pink Floyd Political Science University - Part 1

It dawned on me the other day; if a modern pop song/message can survive 3 going on 4 decades, in some cases, it must have a certain human elemental truth about it beyond mere entertainment. There are not a lot of these 30, 40, 50 year old gems lying around in current consciousness. But there are still some Diamonds. Pink Floyd notably among them.

So I came to think of this as “Everything I’ve learned about modern politics I have learned from Pink Floyd.” This is part one of a series. There will be at least three of these entries, maybe more. As I continue to match up Pink Floyd songs with current issues, the potential list just keeps growing. While the entries vis-à-vis the song topics are not in Pink Floyd chronological order, the method by which the band looks at politics and justice is very well laid out, and that’s the order I’ll tackle the topics in.

Modern domestic politics after WWII begins with the Politics of Division; "Us and Them."


(A) Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.

(B) Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.

Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.

Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?

Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died…

Take a good listen and a good look at the lyrics. Each A and B section goes together. The A sections are nominally the musings of an ordinary person, and they develop in the song. First - “Hey, we’re only ordinary, and look at the shit going on.” Second – “The message I get is incoherent.” Third – “Nonetheless, I can tell what’s going on. It’s really about have and have not.”

The B sections. Here is the voice of the “Power”, and this voice develops along and against the lines of the sane person. First – “Go and die when I tell you to.” Second – “Do what I say, or else.” Third is most interesting since it’s the end phrase for the whole piece, and becomes a blend of the Us and Them sentiment. It is both the Sane and the alleged “Power” – first is the fully throated message from having detoured the life and values of the sane person “Out of My Way!” yet the sane voice returns with the result; for the war of the haves and have-nots, it is the have-not who is paying with his life. This snip from the American Political Science Review in it's conclusion about the influence of political science theory offerings of theirs from 1906-2006 says it:

James Fearon and David Laitin (2003), for example, argued in the Review that the material factors that favor insurgency are better predictors of civil and ethnic conflict than measures of ethnic or religious diversity, an argument that has great relevance for U.S. military tactics and strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Power voice is always countering against the normal, ordinary person voice. This is both the observation and the recipe to create an Us and Them frame of reference for the Politician to get what he/she really wants. Money and Power.

More on that behavior when we
Have a Cigar and talk about Money.

(part 2)

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