Hip-hop music hasn't been this politically urgent or charged with energy since NWA and Public Enemy protested police brutality and told us all to ‘Fight the Power!' in the late 80s and early 90s. Although, if you didn't yet know, it's probably because the rappers of today's protest songs and new faces of popular dissent aren't in New York or LA and are definitely not on MTV, the news or any big music blogs. They are, instead, central figures in the global protest movements that have been sweeping through both the Arab and African worlds over the past year.
In today's New York Times, Sujatha Fernandes, author of Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation, had an illuminating op-ed piece on this nascent phenomenon, highlighting the crucial role that hip-hop is currently playing in galvanizing global revolutions. Whether it is by calling out repression and corruption, sustaining the popular energy of the movements or, in some cases, even helping promote community development and political alternatives, hip-hop has been instrumental in the ousting of repressive regimes and dictatorial control.
Costica Bradatan describes Malcolm Bull's new book, Anti-Nietzsche, as a work that is not "about" Nietzsche but one "with" Nietzsche. Writing in Times Higher Education, he praises Bull as an "excellent writer of philosophical prose" and admires his writing for the way that it
plays with Nietzschean topics andthemes...experiments with them by undermining, inflating or taking them to the extreme; in order either to validate or invalidate them, it systematically pushes them to a breaking point.
Bradatan identifies Bull as a disciple of Nietzsche, but only "in a profoundly Nietzschean sense, which means he is obliged to rebel against his master." This is something Bull openly acknowledges, suggesting that his project in this book is not to provide a "post-Nietzschean, view" (unlike other critics who he believes "appropriate Nietzsche for their own ends,") but to produce a, "post-Nietzschean anti-Nietzschean perspective" that is designed not "prevent" us from getting to Nietzsche, but to "enable us to get over him."
Writing in the Glasgow Herald, Alastair Mabbott argues that Stephen Graham's Cities Under Siege has "the potential to be an agit-prop classic," but laments the fact that it is not geared towards a more "general" audience. Linking Graham's discussion of the way that "'military dreams of high-tech omniscience' have lodged firmly in the civilian sphere," to the recent crack down on the Occupy movement, Mabbott writes that, "there couldn't have been a more timely moment for publication."
In a considered response to Graham's book, Mabbott advises us not to, "rush to the window to see what's changed" outside, as we are "unlikely to spot the difference straight away": our cities are gradually transforming, being "reshaped for military convenience." The tactics learned in Iraq and Afghanistan have come full circle and are now being applied to cities at home. Mabbott points out that, "after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the US Army talked of reclaiming New Orleans from 'insurgents.'" He goes on to elucidate Grahams "dystopian vision," suggesting that,
If Orwell's vision of a boot stamping on a human face sounded too melodramatic a vision of the future for you, then try to imagine the city you live in functioning like an airport, an image of all-too-convincing banality.
A year on from the revolutionary uprisings in Egypt, PhilosophyFootball.com has produced a "Tahrir Square" t-shirt honouring those who took to the streets to demand the overthrow of President Mubarak. Verso have teamed up with PhilosophyFootball.com to offer you the chance to win a copy of Paul Mason's Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere and one of five t-shirts, whose unique design is based upon the city traffic signs leading up the square which became the focus of the world.
View the t-shirt on PhilosophyFootball.com
To win the prize, simply answer this question:
Tahrir Square used to be known as Ismailia Square, named in honour of Isma'il Pasha, the former Khedive of Egypt, but in which year was Khedive Isma'il deposed?
Email your answer with your preferred T-shirt size, name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close 31 January 2012, no purchase necessary to enter.
Andrew Ross, reviewing Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America, Verso's new book of essays and reflections on the Occupy movement, thinks we may be looking forward to an American Spring, or at least a resurgence in grassroots activism across the United States. In the meantime, he suggests we take advantage of the lull in antipathies to assess the impact and lessons of OWS.
Occupy! reads, according to Ross, "like a series of diary entries – on-the-ground vignettes, testimonials of events, and snap analysis of where it might all be heading." It's a good starting point, then, to pull apart the complex tangle of ideologies, grievances and ambitions that make up the movement. Unsuprisingly for an urban movement of predominantly young people, Occupy has been adept at creating its own media outlets. But perhaps incoherence is programmed into the ideological structure of Occupy–Carl Wilkinson, writing for the Financial Times, certainly thinks so, claiming the "essays, diaries and sketches...reflect the protest's freeform nature and lack of coherent message."