The trouble with cultural appropriation

In recent years, I’ve heard a lot of talk about cultural appropriation in the music industry. Not least about Miley Cyrus and the spectacle of ‘twerking’, but also Macklemore and Iggy Azalea (bog-standard targets). The charge of cultural appropriation alleges that these artists have stolen their style from black performers, and it seems clear that there is more than a hint of truth to this claim. But it shouldn’t be implied that this is just a cultural question. The more serious cases being the fact that there is a Blues root to almost all music today. Black talent has been … Continue reading

Keeping privilege in check

It is no coincidence that the decline of the Left as an organising force has been followed by various forms of depoliticisation. It has come in the form of moralism as well as in the culturalisation of politics. Not only class, but race, gender, and sexuality, have been reduced to ethical and cultural questions. It’s a kind of ‘lifestyle’ politics, not even identity politics. As if all we have to do is change our personal conduct and private attitudes then the system will be rendered humane. It’s all a matter of self-regulation, chiefly in language. If we take privilege-checking, it’s … Continue reading