Tuesday, September 8, at 8:00 P.M. Judson Hall (57th, Street east of Seventh Avenue),


“jazz [Black music] is primitive... barbaric... beat and a few simple chords... garbage... [or words to that effect]” Stockhausen, Lecture, Harvard University, fall 1958

Of all the world’s cultures, aristocratic European Art has developed the most elaborate doctrine of its supremacy to all plebian and non-European, non-white cultures. It has developed the most elaborate body of “Laws of Music” ever known: Common-Practice Harmony, 12-Tone, and all the rest, not to mention concert etiquette. And its contempt for musics which break those Laws is limitless. Alfred Einstein, the most famous European Musicologist, said of “jazz” that it is “the most abominable treason”, decadent”, and so forth. Aristocratic European Art has had a monstrous success in forcing veneration of itself on all the world, especially in the imperialist period. Everywhere that Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner and Stockhausen are huckstered as “Music of the Masters”, “Fine Music”, “Music Which Will Ennoble You to Listen to It”, white aristocratic European supremacy has triumphed. Its greatest success is in North America, whose rulers take the Art of West Europe’s rulers as their own. There is a Brussels European Music Competition to which musicians come from all over the world; why is there no Competition, to which European Musicians come, of Arab Music? (Or Indian, or Classical Chinese, or Yoruba, or Bembey, or Tibetian percussion, or Inca, orhillbilly music?)

Stockhausen is a characteristic European-North American ruling-class Artist. His magazine, The Series, has hardly condescended to mention plebian or non-European music at all; but when it has, as on the first page of the fourth number, it leaves no category for it except “’light music’ that can be summed up by adding a question mark after ‘music’”. Stockhausen’s doings are supported by the West German Government, as well as the rich Americans J. Brimberg, J. Blinken and A. Everett. If there were a genuine equality of national cultures in the world today, if there were no discrimination against non-European cultures, Stockhausen couldn’t possibly enjoy the status he does now. But Stockhausen’s real importance, which separates him from the rich U.S. cretins Leonard Bernstein and Benny Goodman, is that he is a fountainhead of “ideas” to shore up the doctrine of white plutocratic European Art’s supremacy, enunciated in his theoretical organ The Series and elsewhere.

There are other intellectuals who are restless with the domination of white plutocratic European Art. Maybe they happen to like Bo Diddley or the Everly Brothers. At any rate, they are restless with the Art maintained by imperialist governments. To them we say: THE DOMINATION OF WHITE PLUTOCRATIC EUROPEAN ART HOLDS YOU TOO IN BONDAGE! You cannot be intellectually honest if you believe the doctrines of plutocratic European Art’s supremacy, those “Laws of Art”. They are arbitrary myths, maintained ultimately by the repressive violence that keeps oppressed peoples from power. Then, the domination of patrician Art-which is aristoctat-plutocrat in origin, as Opera House etiquette alone shows - condemns you to be surrounded by the stifling cultural mentality of social-climbing snobs It binds you to the most parochial variety of the small merchant mentality, as promoted by Reader’s Digest - “Music That Ennobles You to Listen to It”. Even worse, though, the domination of imperialist white European plutocrat Art condemns you to live ammong white masses who have a sick, helpless fear of being contaminated by the “primitivism” of colored people’s cultures. Yes, and this sick cultural racism, not “primitive” musics, is the real barbarism. What these whites fear is actually a kind of vitality the cultures of these oppressed people have, which is undreamed of by their white masters. You lose this vitality. Thus, nobody who aquiesces to the domination of patrician European Art can be revolutionary culturally - no matter what else he may be.

The first cultural task of radical intellectuals, especially whites, today, is:
(1) not to produce more Art (there is too much already);
(2) not to concede in private that non-European culture might have an “ethnic” validity;

Whatever path of development the non-European, non-white peoples chose for their cultures, we will fight to break out of the stifling bondage of white, plutocratic European Art's domination.


Action Against Cultural Imperialism

359 Canal Street, New York, N. Y. 10013.

(April 29, 1964: First AACI Demonstration)

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