rough music



I was reading entries from over the summer months, getting caught up, on the running online journal that is Robert Fripp’s DGM Diary. A particular note caught my attention, with Fripp’s references to “Rough Music“, a term I had never heard or read before. If you are not familiar with Fripp, the fairly well known English guitarist is also somebody fitting the descriptions of composer, bandleader, teacher, philosopher, and small business proprietor.

Fripp often writes about how much of his time, attention, and energy is, and has been, taken up by continual demands of the business part of the music business. That, unfortunately, seems to include huge amounts of the above wasted on dealing with a steady stream of general dishonesty and madness in the business of music. Reading Fripp’s writing in his online diary provides a large quantity of insight and commentary on his ongoing load of dealing with the business of music, and the picture is clear. A very large portion of that involves not merely dealing with the business matters, but struggling with unbelievable amounts of dishonesty and nonsense, including a period of years beginning around the beginning of the decade of the nineties, around twenty years ago, involving his former management, that he refers to as The Endless Grief. As a regular reader of the Financial Times newspaper (he refers to it often including photos of a story he finds at the moment), he refers frequently to some present moment story of some egregious business practices coming to light, pointing out that, for him, dealing with experiences of dishonest, deceptive, and generally malevolent business practices of assorted banditry is old news.

You could regard much of what Fripp talks about as things cut from part of the same general cloth as stories about the Koch Brothers, for example.

Now, as I write, current events of the moment include the protest being called “occupy Wall Street”. The newest blog column from James Kunstler talks about it and hits things with a floodlight as he usually does.

To quote just a short excerpt that hits a part of the story on the head:

 It is cosmically ironic, of course, that the same generation of Boomer-hippies that ran in the streets and marched through the maze of service roads around the Pentagon has become a new “establishment” more obtuse, feckless, greedy and mendacious than the one they battled with over 40 years ago. I guess they just don’t see that their time has come to get right with reality – or get shoved aside and trampled. The essence of the OWSer’s argument is pretty simple: they’ve got a raw deal; somebody dealt them a bad hand; someone ran their society into a ditch and not a goddammed one of the older generation will set in motion the machinery to correct the situation, or even acknowledge it.

Any time you want to even try to talk about the general state of things in “Wall Street”, anything involving the world of “finance”, the general world people collectively refer to as “The Markets”, and corporate business, you’re into an insane huge incomprehensibly complex mess. That being one of the main points about the whole mess. Even the characters at the upper altitudes regarded as the very top of the top smart kids of the class turn out, if you start to examine anything seriously, to really be just as befuddled about what the fuck is going on as any of us peasants. All of that, the whole incomprehensible complexity is at the heart of the whole most fundamental point. Sound basic concepts of commerce and trade among humans as fair exchange of value for value, for mutual benefit, of people doing good useful work, and investment in same, are largely shoved aside and even simply crushed by an array of factors and misbehavior, including all the bizarre insane clown casino games we’ve seen, with people at the top of the financial and corporate heap very happy as long as they can just keep a buzzing churn of transactions going, any transactions, and slice their cuts out of them.

If you don’t mind (and I would presume that DGM would not mind the following being distributed as part of public discussion of business principles), I point to a statement on business principles from the Discipline Global Mobile website. Scroll down to the the part about “DGM Business Aims” and focus on the list of features of “The Ethical Company” which also includes examination of characteristics of “ethically challenged” business practices. Hard to put it much better than that. One of the particularly notable items in that, in the context here, is the statement “It is a sad commentary on current business and public life that this needs to be written or debated“. Absolutely.

In the face of all the insane complexity and misbehavior and general destructive madness that’s so thoroughly pervasive, there are people who are seeing little that can be done other than a bit of “rough music” to let the people responsible know how they feel about it, and direct people’s attention.

One thing about this is that it’s revealing to notice some of the reaction to the story of the protest. A couple of comments from people online caught my notice. One of them said that they thought these people (the “occupy Wall Street” protesters) were “just being used” and “nothing for America to pay attention to”, another called the people involved “useful idiots”. These comments and the background are a topic unto themselves, but I’ll pass on that right now. The short version, based upon what I know of the people making the comments, is that I suspect something, this has the distinct aroma of being something stemming from influence of one of America’s more well known, and highly paid, fountains of endless bullshit and confusion, Glenn Beck. I really don’t have the patience right now to look into what Beck is spewing about the matter right now, but I have a distinct hunch about what’s happening in that department.

There’s just what’s currently seeming like a perpetual problem of people unable to get even a general grip on reality as things actually are, as the national political circus swirls around endless, high volume blasts of confusion, lies, and general nonsense and delusion swirling around politics (and everything else, whether really poltical or not, sucked into this) as some sort of Team A versus Team B sports contest.

We have President Barack Obama, elected on the idea of sorting out the rotten madness of the entrenched political games of national government, with the combination of assorted characters just as entangled in the Wall Street and corporate world as anybody involved in the administration, as Team Republican has aggressively done everything possible to undermine him in any possible way since even before he took office. Between the barrage of sabotage effort bullshit flying at him, and, I believe is almost certain, people around him pressing him constantly to not “rock the boat” in economics and finance, not disturb the house of cards everyone wants to pretend is just fine, not much that’s realistic and of serious practical use for the long term future is happening. A large part of the whole problem, or, I should say, collection of problems, is that in all the political gamesmanship insanity, even what I said just now is going to be taken up and seized upon as something very different from what it really means.

Given what I do definitely believe is steady pressure from people around him to maintain status quo, combined with a bombardment of shrieking that anything other than complete acquiescence to the Republican Party is a communist conspiracy to destroy the United States, and the continuing serious problems of any high level politicians in American politics today depending on patronizing large corporate and wealthy individual donors, there is, at least so far, a serious avoidance of facing reality squarely and getting on with telling people that we have a lot of work to do, and not everything is going to be all it has been cracked up to be. You can find this in any chatter with sound bite phrases like “getting credit flowing for consumers and getting our economy growing again”. This kind of thing gives you a clue about the general maintenance of a shared pretense, or delusions, about how things have been, how they are now, and where we’re heading. It fails to face up to a couple of fundamental things that can’t be ignored, and the more they are ignored, the worse the problems will be. One of these being that the idea that “growth” is possible as a perpetual, never ending thing, and the other, how much of perceived “economic growth” over the past few decades has been mostly a kind of shared consensus hallucination and carny act game of debt treated as “wealth”, and increasing debt as “growth”.

There’s all kinds of deluded insanity in American politics about “energy policy”, and almost no factual realism and sane reason. It was noteworthy to see things proceeding during the election campaign for President in 2008 and watch both Barack Obama and John McCain indulge in fantasies about “clean coal”, or nonsense about ethanol replacing petroleum as the fuel of choice to keep those internal combustion engines turning.

Look around now, and there’s a steady stream of idiotic nonsense from the Republican encampments about Obama’s “failure in energy policy” with the contention being that this failure in energy policy is in not indulging the deluded insanity that says we need to charge full speed ahead in sucking up every possible remaining drop of crude oil within U.S. territory, along with any substance that can be processed into something like crude oil, just as fast as possible. The extra irony is that even as the chatter in that realm flows, the reality is that while Obama has been in office oil extraction activity within the U.S. has increased.

I’m not going to go through another round here of reviewing the oil situation, but I will just point out that there’s irony, no humor, in Obama dealing with oil mainly by acquiescing to the Republican Party demands (and delusions) about oil, even as they blaze away at him for his “energy policy failures”, and not doing anything I can see to really get Americans’ heads around the reality of the present and future of petroleum.

In the meantime, Americans are continually pelted with the mendacity and madness of the circus of the present day Republican Party and worse factions, that basically don’t think the Republicans are, I don’t know, Republican enough. The general contention of the factions I’m talking about seem to broadly see the Republican Party as “not conservative enough”, although that gets into another whole area of detachment from reality in a lot of cases, something I alluded to the last time out here, “conservatives” who don’t seem to know how to conserve, other than some vague idea of going back to some real or imagined past or maintaining a status quo of everything being frozen and required to be exactly how they think everything and everybody ought to be.

Looking at the politics of the moment, especially in the arena of the current circus of people battling to be the Republican nominee to run for election as President in 2012, it’s a strange and ugly brew. It seems to follow a general layout where people are apparently to choose from Project For The New American Century military empire jingoism, corporate plutocracy (which seems to overlap some with the Ayn Rand devotees, another subtopic of its own), fundamentalist evangelical Christian Dominionists (who seem to manage to avoid most of anything Jesus said most of the time), or the John Birch Society, or maybe some bizarre and horrific hybrid of the above. Through it all people buy into all the “tea party movement”, played like a two dollar banjo by characters like Dick Armey and the Koch brothers. Add in the noise from Fox News and AM radio, and Glenn Beck spewing fiction and confused nonsense acting as if he’s a professor teaching history and political science, to an audience that buys it all because they don’t know enough to see that he’s completely full of shit.

What a horror show.

Given all this on display while real problems go unacknowledged and unrecognized, never mind being seriously addressed, it’s no surprise some people are getting to their limits of fed up.

It’s almost funny that I see bits of comment that seem to vary between criticism and outright mockery of the people involved in the “occupy Wall Street” protests for not having clearly defined issues and goals. Looking at the broad, pervasive, insanely complex mess that has people so frustrated and outraged, you have to ask, how can they? How can you fit everything that’s an issue, among so many different people, in so many ways, with so much incomprehensible complexity, on to a fucking cardboard sign or a little sound bite or chant slogan. It’s a clue of things when you find Alan Greenspan interviewed about the whole mess of the topic of “derivatives” and even he admits he couldn’t quite fully understand what the hell was going on.

You won’t find much help in this by watching CNBC or the Fox Business network or any of the “business news” programming, as you’re bombarded by multiple graphics of market trading data streaming by as people in suits chatter about all kinds of statistical analysis and bullshit about “innovation in new financial products” and that sort of thing.

The end of Democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” –Thomas Jefferson




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