Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kultural Imperialism

Get your heavy metal bands off my lawn

Good to watch Dmitry and Vlad head-banging their way through Fireball with those prehistoric Brit rockers.

Well, OK, Vlad left before they got going, and Dmitry "sat stiffly in the centre of the front row, exchanging the odd word with Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller, his head occasionally twitching". But "towards the end he became a bit more animated, making the odd handclap and tapping his feet but staying rooted to his seat. A few places to his left, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB spy, stared at the stage impassively."

But still. You know... it's a start. At least they went along, and Dmitry reckons he owns the entire Purple back catalogue- even the one of their infamous '93 Birmingham gig (so pants it's been withdrawn from sale). He's almost certainly got it on his ipod, which is frankly much more credible than Gordo's supposed choices.

But this was the very best of British Kultur (oh yes) being openly embraced by the Kremlin. Smoke on the Water, right there, right in the heart of the evil empire, maybe in the very same hall where Stalin used to deliver those five hour speeches about western imperialist oppression. And to top it all, the Ruskies paid- real folding money, or perhaps one of those snow covered army lorries packed with gold bars.

This is one element of British culture that has clearly broken through the historic suspicions that exist between them and us. Down there at the margins of historical materialism, free market British metal has reached out and brought us all a teensy bit closer together.

Compare and contrast with that mighty quango the British Council. BOM readers will be familiar with the Council (see here for summary). It employs over 7,500 people in 110 countries all around the world. It costs £0.5bn pa, of which £0.2bn is a straight subsidy from the taxpayer, with much of the rest comes from "selling" services to other bits of the public sector (see here for latest annual report).

Nobody can explain WTF we taxpayers should spend half a bill on such a quango, or even what it's for- other than providing jobs, scholarships, and foreign junkets to nice middle class Brits like Stephen Kinnock and Bridget Kendall.

And in Russia it seems to have done nothing but harm. Indeed, the Ruskies think it's such a wind-up, they're trying to kick it out. Far from paying to have it visit the Kremlin, they want it gone.

We agree with them 100%. History surely tells us that the most powerful force for bringing peoples together by far is the mutual dependency and win-win of the market. Not any number of £0.5bn state quangos presided over by waffling has-beens like my Lord Kinnockio.

Besides, you could buy an awful lot of has-been metallers with £0.5bn pa.

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