Marxism through Nigerian music. An analysis of selected songs of Segun Akinlolu and Folarin Falana


Bachelor Thesis, 2017

69 Pages


Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE
General Introduction
Background of Study
Statement of Problem
Research Questions
Aim of Study
Significance of Study
Scope of Study
Theoretical Framework
Research Methodology

BACKGROUND OF SELECTED ARTISTES
Segun Akinlolu
Folarin Falana

CHAPTER TWO
INTRODUCTION

SOCIOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
Importance of Marxism to Sociological School of Thought
Importance of Marxism to Literature

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MARX'S THOUGHT
Critique of Capitalist Society
Adaptation to Hegelian Dialectic
The Materialistic Conception of History
The Dialectical Movement of History
Economic Base and Superstructure
Marx's Conception of Ideology
Marx's Economic Views
The State and Marxism
Defining the term Music
Music and Emotions
Music as a tool for entertainment
Music and Identity
Marxism and Music
Conclusion

CHAPTER THREE
THEMATIC EVALUATION OF THE SONGS OF SEGUN AKINLOLU AND FOLARIN FALANA
General Introduction

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF BEAUTIFUL NUBIA'S AND FALZ'S MUSICAL STYLE

IMOREMI

MATTERS ARISING BY BEAUTIFUL NUBIA
Recklessness and Dishonesty of Government

BOOSIT BY FALZ AND COBHAMS

WE LIVE HERE TOO
Revolutionary Tool of the Proletariat

MASTERS OF THE EARTH

HARVEST TIME

HIGHER STEPS

REVOLUTION TIME

THE PEOPLE ARE READY
War between Bourgeoisie and Proletariat
Exploitations by the Government on the Masses

OMINIRA

EVERYBODY KNOWS
Characteristics of a Marxist Society

LOCUST SEASON

THE SMALL PEOPLE'S ANTHEM

WEHDONE SIR
Conclusion

CHAPTER FOUR
Summary and Conclusion
Summary
Conclusion
Works Cited

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Art can be described as any form of creativity, which is visually captivating and portrays several ideas, beliefs and thoughts. Art is a product of man's imaginative constructions and the creation and modification of striking works, which tend to express their innermost perceptions. Art encompasses architecture, sculpture, crafts, photography, bead making, drawing and painting and also refer to dancing, literature and music.

Art has various purposes and performs different functions. These purposes and functions include communication, entertainment, inspiration, information, bringing to light what has been conceived in the heart of man. It is, furthermore, a tool for expression of concepts, which words will not capture sufficiently. Art carries brevity; it says much with little.

In one breath, literature and music are forms of art and they are very consequential to this project. So, it will be expedient to look at these concepts discretely.

Literature is a tool for reflecting the society and exploring several salient issues in the society. This is a well-known assertion, as literature has played a vital role in influencing decisions and exposing societal ills and inhumane conditions meted out on people of the society. Literature is also a kind of writing which is highly valued. It means that a work of art becomes the property of the public as soon as the writer publishes the work and the society attaches whatever meaning it feels to it not devoid of the socio-economic, cultural, political and physical milieu. Every work of art by an artist is backed up by certain ideologies which become the major thematic preoccupation in the work. Now ideologies that make up the- work may come from the immediate environment of the author or a universally accepted concept. These ideologies, often times, appeal to a certain group of people who bear a particular reference with that ideology which they deconstruct and construct to make that ideology acceptable to them.

George Gordon says,

Literature has triple function; still, I suppose, to delight and instruct us but also and above all, to save our souls and heal the state. This explains further the whole essence of literature which would rehearse the masses in the habits of pluralistic thought and feelings, persuading them to acknowledge that more than one viewpoint than theirs existed - namely, that of their masters. (82)

Music, a word which originates from Greek, is known asMousike, meaning, art of the muses. Music performs various functions ranging from religious purposes, to political functions, recreation or entertainment purposes. Music can be likened to an activity which involves timing, in relation to sound. It involves the vast use of various musical instruments and vocal performances. Also, music is therapeutic in nature and it also helps people relax and amazingly, scientific research has it that music has more benefit that it offers to the brain than just for entertainment alone.

Moreover, Music as a form of entertainment grabs the attention and interest of people. It creates great pleasure and amusement. Music mesmerizes its audience. Also, many aspect of music hold people's attention. It could be the sound, lyrics, beat, rhyme scheme, artiste or vocal quality and even the salient issues being addressed by the artiste.

However, music plays a major role in exposing these societal ills and provides panacea, which in one way or the other, serves as way out of the various societal imbalances. These imbalances are in various forms, degrees and are sometimes ideological; however, the influence of music on people cannot be over-emphasized.

Music explores several salient ideas and influences our minds while taking a position on some cogent ideas and issues. Society could influence music the same way music influences society in diverse ways and the connections are integral and persuasive. These influences ramify in different directions; it could be for pedagogical purposes, political emancipation, religious orientation, foregrounding cultural beliefs, reinstating societal beliefs, among other ways.

The aim of this project is to explore the various instances of social-economical differences that exist in the society, through the use of music. It will expose the various societal ills and vices and, in like manner, look out for instances of exploitations and various ideological tools used to oppress people who are at the lower cadre of the economy.

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Sociological Criticism has it that a work of art cannot be separated from the society from which it originates. It establishes how a work of art can be used to understand the various dynamics of a given society and highlights the various conditions of people in a particular society. An aspect of Sociological criticism is Marxism.

Morris Dickstein has it that Marxism Criticism, based on the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels:

...like other historical critical methods in the nineteenth century, treated literature as a passive product of the culture, specifically of the economic aspect, and, therefore, of class warfare. Economics, the underlying cause of history, was thus thebase,and culture, including literature and the other arts, thesuperstructure. (1)

The concept of Marxism derives from the economic and socio-political theory and writings of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, and, argues that capitalism, a socio-political system, in which the societal ranking is hinged on ownership of capital and other means of production, will inevitably produce internal tensions and discord within the society. Dickstein then concludes that “viewed from the Marxist perspective, the literary works of a period would, then, reveal the state of the struggle between classes in the historical place and moment” (1). Marx summarized his approach in the first line of chapter one ofThe Communist Manifesto, published in 1848: “.the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle” (Marx and Engels 18).

Furthermore, the consequence of this struggle, according to Marx, is the establishment of a great gulf between the rich (described as the bourgeois class) and the poor (described as the proletariat class). Hence, the society is engulfed in perpetual crisis, as opportunities are not equally distributed to all members of the society. This research work is centred on the analysis of songs and how music is utilized efficiently, as a weapon to express feelings and thoughts over socio-economic sensibilities or experiences all around the world. Some scholars have argued that literature has a way of illustrating universality in the unpalatable conditions of people around the world; therefore, music should not be left out and shall be viewed from that perspective.

Marxist literature is a loose term describing works of literature informed by the philosophy or the politics of Karl Marx. Although, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did not write much on what literature should be like, they indeed provide a platform or foundation upon which “ideal” literature should be built. Marxism portrayed through music provides a platform for the advancement of the proletarian struggle, as Marxist writers continually advocate for the abolition and abrogation of class struggle and oppression, by preaching unity of purpose among the oppressed.

Karl Marx advocates for proletariat revolution which will signal the end of class struggle in the society and encourages a communist society, which is apparently a classless society that will promote an egalitarian system.

The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie, therefore produces, above all, are its own-grave-diggers. It falls and the victory of the proletariat is equally inevitable. (77)

Moreover, as a cardinal principle, Marx argued that socio-economic changes could only be achieved through an organized revolutionary action of the over-exploited working class of any nation. Thus, the relevance of music, as a tool for revolution, can never be over­emphasized as it usually forms the basis of how the human mind works that is, the individual is influenced by what he or she constantly sees and science has proved that repetition helps the brain better and likewise has a way of affecting the psyche of people.

However, Terry Eagleton inMarxism and Literary Criticismgives more information about Marxism and what Marxists tend to achieve.

"Marxism,"... developed primarily as a way of examining historical, economic, and social issues, Marxist doctrine does not deal explicitly with theories of literature; consequently, there isno one orthodox Marxist school. but rather a diversity of Marxist readings. (551)

Eagleton stresses further on the complicated interrelationships between the socio­economic base and the institutions and values (including literature) which comprise the superstructure. But precisely because those relationships are so complex, awide variety of critical thought has been brought to bear upon them.

Thus, Eagleton takes,as his starting point, an analysis of how various Marxist critics have addressed themselves to particular questions of literary analysis. However, subsequent chapters ofMarxism and Literary Criticism, for example, explorethe role that the writer plays in advancing the cause of the proletariatand the extent to which literature is a commodity, as much the product of economic activity. Eagleton discusses the various problems attached to the critical study of Marxism as botha form of practice and a form of ideology or theory.

What is the relationship between literature and ideology? How does literature develop out of the life of a society? Are there formal laws of literature which serve to distance it from the forms ofthe material world? Is the primary function of criticism to describe, to explain, to interpret, or to evaluate? To what extent is language separable from society, and is ideology separable from language? (552)

Eagleton makes reference to various consequential questions that Marxism tends to give answers to. These questions, however, seem difficult for some other forms of modern theories, like psychoanalysis, structuralism, and so on,to answer. He also points out how these modern theories play their roles in shaping Marxism as a theory.

Towhat extent has Marxism, itself a body of theory, been influenced by other modern intellectual currents such as psychoanalysis, existentialism, structuralism, and semiotics? Marxism is a living body of thought, seeking to answer questions such as these, which are often ignored inother approaches to literature. (552)

Marx then indulges himself inthe foregoing by speaking about howthe society maintains a form of cyclical illogicality. Such that the new is built on the old, that is, the new structures of the upper class continues to be built on the old and weak base structure of the working class, therefore, giving room for a form of continued exploitation and degeneration, leading to a total collapse of the system. Marx believes that there is acycle of contradiction, tension, and revolution which will ultimately continue because,

Stable societies develop sites of resistance: contradictions build into the social system that ultimately lead to social revolution and the development of a new society upon the old... There will always be conflict between the upper, middle, and lower (working) classes and this conflict will be reflected in literature and other forms of expression -art, music, movies, etc.(188).

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Overtime, the capitalists have always controlled the means of production in the society and have made the poor always beg for resources that are supposed to be equally owned by everyone in the society. They also give the proletariat stipends, for the work done, but it will make them come back for more, as it will never suffice, because the little they get is a psychological instrument to make them come squatting for more.

Likewise, politicians are known for deceiving the society and will promise them several infrastructures before they get into power. However, they trample on the rights of people and do not fulfil their promises.

Howbeit, one of the functions of music is to educate, which means exposure in relation to knowledge and it is an avenue to exposethe ills in a society and could also mean proffering solution or solutions, as the case may be, that will help to heal these ills.

Furthermore, music has, overtime, been confined to lyrics and sounds alone whereas, it goes beyond that. Music has risen above being for entertainment alone and has gradually risen to a point where utmost attention must be paid to its content; message being passed by the artiste.

However, this research work will focus on how music, whose primary goal is to entertain, can also be used to reconnoitre a society's socio-economic imbalance and explore the knock-on effects of socio-economic delineation in a given society. This project seeks to check the effects that socio-economic delineation carries and also to speak to this marking out by paying close attention to music which cannot only be used for entertainment as earlier said.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

A major objective of this study, through the meticulously selected songs, is to provide answers to the following questions:

1. How do these songs portray socio-economic imbalances in Nigeria society?
2. What is the main reason and origin of these human-social imbalances?
3. How do these human-social imbalances shape and affect the society at large, that is, the effect of these socio-economic imbalances?
4. How does the proletariat react to these human-social imbalances, in the society?
5. What mechanism or techniques can be used to achieve socio-economic balance in the society?

However, it will also try as much as possible to answer these questions below because they are also consequential to the success of this project:

6. What is the social class of these musicians and how has this shape their songs?
7. Which social class does the song claim to represent?
8. How do both social classes interact or conflict?
9. What stances do these artistes, consciously or unconsciously, try to reinforce?
10. What stances do these artistes, consciously or unconsciously, try to subvert?
11. What conflicts are evident between the standpoint the songs champion and those it portray?
12. Whom does it benefit if the salient issues exhumed in the songs are eventually looked into and addressed?

AIM OF STUDY

The aim of this study is to succinctly and meticulously pay close attention to these songs and to expose how these exploitations affect people of a given society by using the Marxist theory, a branch under the Sociological school of thought, as a major framework. It will look out for the various ideologies and ideological state apparatuses used by the bourgeoisie on the proletariat.

Furthermore, it will examine how these ideologies are either subtle or coerce in their forms and how they tend to recolonize and, at the same time, muzzle the potentials of people of a particular society, by turning them from individuals to subjects through various mechanisms and constructs.

The study aims to create awareness, through music, as a medium of revolutionizing a way out of the country's present social-economic incoherence.

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The significance of this research work is to show how a society like Nigeria is modified with widespread political, social, religious and economic corruption, oppression, instability, injustices, lack of tolerance and fairness and other social vices which has faced and defaced the structure of Nigeria and Nigerians, as the case may be. This will be achieved by critically evaluating and analysing the carefully selected songs, in order to be able to move away from the idea that songs can only narrowed down to entertainment.

SCOPE OF STUDY

This research work will focus mainly on songs as one of the literary materials to be used for this research and will look over into some literary texts that can succinctly help to achieve the aim of this research. These songs will cut across Hip Hop,Afro pop, R and Band then Soft Music.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The Marxist theory, which is a branch under the Sociological School of thought, shall be adopted. The theory posits that writers are “societal crusaders” and that every work of literature must seek to address the imbalances in the society, with the aim of achieving an egalitarian society where equality will be the order of the day.

The theory sees the society as a ‘theatre of war', where the rulers (bourgeoisie) and the ruled (proletariat) are in constant struggle. The bourgeoisies are always trying to suppress and maintain absolute domination over the oppressed, so as to maintain a class-oriented society. The goal is to expose the ills and vices perpetuated by the capitalists by analysing and examining these songs from Marxist perspective using socio-political, socio-cultural, socio-economic and ethno-religious perspectives that are portrayed in these songs, as measuring yardsticks.This work will not only look out for instances of exploitation by the rich on the poor but will also consider exploitation of the masses by the government.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

For the purpose of this study, both the content analysis and thematic analysis approaches will be used. Content analysis refers to the critical study and examination of record or printed materials, while Thematic analysis deals with analysing, evaluating, dissecting and recording (recurrent) patterns, within data, so as to foreground a phenomenon or phenomena, as the case may be, in order to depict the prevalence or prominence of certain ideas. These materials, which include songs, literary texts, etc., will be thoroughly analysed to adequately achieve the set goal.

BACKGROUND OF SELECTED ARTISTES

SEGUN AKINLOLU

Segun Akinlolu, with the stage name Beautiful Nubia, was born in Ibadan on 11th of November, 1968. He is a Nigerian, songwriter, music composer and the band leader of Beautiful Nubia and the Roots Renaissance; Nigeria's foremost contemporary folk and roots music group which was established in 1998. The artiste invited several young musicians in Lagos to form a backing band to which he gave the name, The Roots Renaissance Band, as earlier stated above. Beautiful Nubia's songs are rooted in rich folkloric traditions with the content of his songs built in themes which cut across all sphere and culture of life, such as, hard work, value, life, the respect for nature and learning to live in harmony with others.

Moreover, his music speaks for the voiceless and champions the dream of a balanced society, where individuals are truly free and equal. It preaches love and tolerance but also urges people to stand and defend their rights when trampled upon anywhere in the world. Throughout the years, Beautiful Nubia has remained the songwriter and bandleader of this group, contributing through his acoustic guitar and percussion.

However, he started writing songs at a very young age. He drew his early influence from the traditional culture which was prevalent in the form of oral poetry, theatre, music and folklore. In 1997, he establishedEniObanke, a music production and marketing company, under which his first album was released in 1997. All other recordings have been released on this label and, I must say, at this juncture, that the company recently commenced the first- ever folk and roots music festival in Nigeria, theEniObanke Music Festival (EMUfest).

Beautiful Nubia, as he is widely known, graduated from the University of Ibadan with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 1992 and worked as a Vet Doctor for about 8 years. He also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma from the Nigeria Institute of Journalism and he has several merit awards to his name.

FOLARIN FALANA

Folarin Falana was born 27th of October, 1990 in Lagos State. Folarin Falana, popularly known by his stage name as Falz, is a Nigerian rapper, actor, comedian and songwriter. Falz was born in Lagos State. His father, Femi Falana is a Nigerian human activist and renowned lawyer while his mother Funmi Falana, is also a renowned lawyer as well. He completed his basic and secondary school education at St. Leo's Catholic Primary School, Ikeja and Olashore International School, Osun State respectively. Folarin Falana was called to the bar in 2012 after graduating from the Nigeria Law School, Abuja. He is an alumnus of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom after graduating with an LLB honours degree in Law.

Falz began his career, as a hobby, while in secondary school after forming a group called "The School Boys" with his friends, before his professional career as a music artiste began in 2009. Falz shot into limelight after his song titled "Marry Me" (featuring vocals from Poe and Yemi Alade) won him a nomination in the "Best Collaboration of the Year" category at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.

He currently owns an independent record label called, Bahd Guys Records. He is known for portraying struggles and socio-economic distinctions that exist in the society and how the society is hierarchically structured; songs like “Boosit” and “Wehdone Sir” portray these.

Falz describes his style of music as "Wahzup music" It is the fusion of comic lyrics with the contemporary hip-hop in a faux Yoruba accent. Falz's ability to maintain a thought and get his point across, while switching accents, infusing funny punch lines and delivering all of it, in a way that makes the listener follow along, is nothing short of impressive.

CHAPTER TWO

INTRODUCTION

This chapter shall focus on reviewing several literary works related to music and Marxism and how these materials have been able to succinctly account for the ideology of Marxism and also how they explore the various tenets embedded in the theory. This chapter shall also account for the various forms of music and how music can be used for various functions.

SOCIOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT

Every literary work is a product of the society, therefore, writers cannot write outside the scope of what is obtained in the society. Sociological approach to literature, borne out of the urge to mirror the society, study its origin, growth, and how human societies are being structured with close reference to human behaviour and relationship, is a means to an end which explains several phenomena which aid in evaluating, understanding and interpreting how humans co-exist in a society.

This approach studies man as an entity which exists in a society, placing much emphasis on its interactions, that is, with the sole aim of looking out for how its relationship with other entities in the society affect the human life and society at large. To broadly explain, Sociological approach is just a means to an end that is,it is not an end in itself but rather it goes along and encompasses several other items which give it a wider understanding. The end products of Sociological school are, Historical Criticism, Psychoanalytical Theory, Biographical Criticism, New Historicism, Feminism and Marxism. These theories are all under Sociological school of thought and they aid in the analysis, evaluation and interpretation of both the human society and literary works.

Kenneth Allen says “Sociological theory consists of abstract and testable propositions about the society relying heavily on scientific method which aims for objectivity, and attempts to avoid passing value judgment” (10).The aim of this school is to mirror a society without being biased and by proving beyond doubt, through personal beliefs and observations, a particular idea; it relies heavily on subjectivity.

IMPORTANCE OF MARXISM TO SOCIOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT

Sociological theory is a canopy that houses other theories which deals with human behaviour, and since no theory is sufficient in itself, hence, the emergence of Marxism as a theory under the Sociological school of thought which also has to deal with various societal issues ranging from social, economic, political inequality and imbalances, among other things.

Marxist theory was introduced by Karl Marx in the 20th century; a very consequential literary and critical theorist whose article,The Communist Manifestohas proved to be a resourceful material that cannot be over emphasized. It recognises that art is a process through which humans get involved and can express their innate desires and that literature is a contextual product of these reflections. Marxists regard literature as both production and reflection of culture and society.

Therefore, the political aim of Marxism is to understand the social and political world in order to change it. The sociological aim is to understand human society and the relationship that exists among them which make them co-exist even when there is friction. The economic aim is to understand the various economic structures created by humans which make them live either in harmony or otherwise in the society and, also, to understand how the society is able to harness the various resources at its disposal for the benefit of all and to make the society a better place. The cultural aim is to look out for the cultural heritage of a society, develop them and make sure that they are well synchronised to promote peace and harmony. The psychological aim is to study, how the human mind works, how humans behave and how their behaviours make or mar the society.

IMPORTANCE OF MARXISM TO LITERATURE

Marxism is of great importance to literature because it is not only a political, economic, and social theory but also a form of practice which can be related to the society. It is a theory which is very philosophical and goes beyond accounting for instances of economic, political or social differences that exist in the society but other branches of modern criticism are hugely indebted to the various insights of Marxism. Some of the various branches of Sociological approach draw from the wells of Marxism and the latter produces a lot of insightful additions to the former. According to M.A.R Habib, something peculiar to Marxism is that it is not only a political, economic, and social theory but also a form of practice which, basically, supports all modern schools of thought. Habib then went further to commend the impact of Marx's ideas on modern world history which he describes has been very great in amount.

His impact. embracing sociology, philosophy, economics, and cultural theory. has also generated a rich tradition of literary and cultural criticism. Historicism, feminism, and deconstruction, postcolonial and cultural criticism - are indebted to theinsights of Marxism, which originated from the philosophy of Hegel.(527)

Writers, who are Marxist in their orientation, believe that a work of art itself is a social institution and has a specific ideology that is functional. Marxist writers believe that the work of literature is not a work of divine inspiration or pure artistic endeavour, but,that it arises out of the economic and ideological circumstances surrounding its creation.

Sometimes regarded as realist fiction, Marxist literature seeks to validate the contribution of the struggle for emancipation, as Achebe posited that:

It is clear to, me that an African writer who tries to avoid the big social and political issues of contemporary African society will end up being completely irrelevant like that absurd man in the proverb who leaves his burning house to pursue a rat fleeing from flame (52).

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, another Marxist African writer observes that, Marxist theory helps in shaping the mind-set of the writers by expounding on the ills of the society using the language that can key into the understanding of basic concepts and terminologies, a Marxist writer should direct his creative dexterity at bringing into limelight all colonial vestiges as exhibited by conservative leaders who still play the tunes dictated by foreign forces.

Marxist theory is influenced by New Criticism. However, it adds a sociological element as found with critical theory (Frankfurt school) and considers art as a manifestation of the society. According to Kenneth, works of arts, including literature, “are strategic naming of situation” which allows the reader to better understand and “gain a sort of control over a societal happening through the work of art” (310).

Macebuh argues that if literature reflects the society, then its subject matter should not be alien to the society, .rather, the subject matter should be consolidated by the outlook of the society, and it seeks to address such issues with a view to making the society more equitable and just and that is what Marxism has come to do to literature because it is the only source of change that can be felt (55).

Marxism did not shoot out of a tree rather it developed due to the urge of critics to mirror the society in which they belonged. It originated from the socio-economic writings of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. Both authorities have it that labour is a great tool that is wielded negatively and positively to the benefit of the bourgeoisie. It is believed in this school that labour, if not properly managed, will eventually rebel against the constituted authority controlling and ruling them. Capitalists take advantage of the labour, manipulate them and use them to their desire. These exploitations are carried out by several institutions put in place by the capitalists to control the proletariat.

Terry Eagleton in his book,Marxism and Literary Criticism, explores the concerns of Marxism andthe various issues it address.

"Marxism," . developed primarily as a way of examining historical, economic, and social issues, Marxist doctrine does not deal explicitly with theories of literature; consequently, there is no one orthodox Marxist school (as there is an orthodox Freudianism), but rather a diversity of Marxist readings.(551)

Eagleton, went further by saying that Marxism, as an ideology, addresses several issues and provides answers to various, critical societal questions. Marxism is not only a theory but an ideology whose goal is to make propositions that will give room for the desired change.

What is the relationship between literature and ideology? How does literature develop out of the life of a society? Are there formal laws of literature which serve to distance it from the forms of the material world? Is the primary function of criticism to describe, to explain, to interpret, or to evaluate? To what extent is language separable from society, and is ideology separable from language? (552)

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF MARX'S THOUGHT

InA History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to Present(2005), M.A.Rafey Habib extensively discusses, six fundamental principles of Marxism, as highlighted by Marx, These principles are: Critique of Capitalist Society, Adaptation to Hegelian Dialectic, The Materialistic Conception of History, The Division of Labour, Marx's Conception of Ideology and Marx's Economic views.

CRITIQUE OF CAPITALIST SOCIETY

This principle accounts for the various capitalist exploitations present in the society and suggests solutions that can help to eradicate these exploitations. Marx criticises capitalism and abhors what can be referred to as, concentration and centralisation of means of production in one hand. This action has made economic gain and benefit in the hands of the bourgeoisies and has hindered the circulation of economic power. According to Habib,

Marx attempted systematically to seek the structural causes behind . a system of capitalist exploitation and degradation, and to offer solutions in the spheres of economics and politics.. Marx's main objection to Capitalism was that one particular class owned the means of economic production: The bourgeoisie. has centralized means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands (528).

Furthermore, a Capitalist society gets raw materials from the society and if the source is not replenished, then the society will quietly go into extinction as the land gets weakas degradation continues. It is expedient to note that the proletariat are being subjugated and made to experience several unpalatable circumstances, while constantly recreating the various means of production. According to Habib,

The correlative of this is the oppression and exploitation of the working classes.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion as the proletariat, the modern working class, developed; a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers.are a commodity. (528)

Marx's third objection is the imperialistic nature of the bourgeois enterprise (Habib 528). Capitalism popularizes itself by making sure that every way through which it can promote its ideologies are engaged. Capitalism strives because there is the need for the expansion of market and the ever increasing growth of the labour market which gives room for the injection of more labour into the market as demand is ever increasing.

In order to perpetuate itself, capitalism must spread its tentacles all over the world; the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production . . . The need of a constantly expanding market . . . chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe.(528).

In summation, according to Habib, “the bourgeoisie creates a world after its own image. capitalism reduces all human relationships to a “cash” nexus, self-interest, and egotistical calculation” (528). A society that continues in the ways of the bourgeoisie will ultimately crumble and in a short while, there will be nothing left to build on as all means of production will collapse and, ultimately, there will be revolution which will bring about the end of reign for the capitalists and the air of revolution and communism will fill the atmosphere.

ADAPTATION TO HEGELIAN DIALECTIC

The Hegelian Dialectic is a philosophy of G. W. Friedrich Hegel which proposes a unified panacea to every philosophical problem by developing and formulating a reasoning process that will be so efficient to interpret and explain reality by making direct use of dialectic method. It deals with developing and enhancing a stage of the reasoning process to create another and still maintain the various proponents of the first. This requires great thought and a wide range of broadened perspective to analysing what really is reality and what it shows.

According to Habib,

The dialectic is often characterized as a triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. It would be more accurate to say that, in Hegel's hands, the dialectic had both logical and historical dimensions. it was a way of thinking about any object or circumstance in a series of increasingly complex and comprehensive stages. (528) There are several stages highlighted which address the Hegelian Dialectic. The first stage accounts for the apprehension technique which allows those in control of the means of production to be able to directly dominate the labour. The next stage sees the labour as a non­independent entity but leans on the relationship it creates with those in control of the means of production to be able to survive. Each stage supersedes the previous stage but retains what was essential in that previous stage.

In the first stage an object was apprehended as a simple datum, as simply a given fact about the world; the second stage adopted a broadened perspective which saw the object as “externalized,” as having no independent identity but constituted by its relations with other objects. The third stage. viewed the object as a “mediated” unity, (528).

The importance of this approach means that several things being done based on “irrational theology and superstition” will be reorganised and depend henceforth on rational thinking which will then remove the total power that the bourgeoisie possess and be distributed across all levels. Habib says the importance of the dialectic for Marx:

…Stems from his awareness that the “freedom” Hegel speaks of is the freedom of the bourgeois class to bring down the economic and political edifice of feudalism and absolutism whose social hierarchy rested on irrational theology and superstition: society could now be organized on rational principles, a freer market economy... (529)

Habib then concludes by stating that the importance of the Hegelian Dialectic is that it is a powerful political tool, which, if harnessed well, can be used to “negate a given state of affairs” (529). This means that it can be used to pull down the constructs formed by the upper class. It is a process through which the phases created or utilised by the various realisations of the Hegelian Dialectic can go above the next phase such that the ideas of the previous phases become more powerful even at the creation of another phase.

It also furnished Marx with a model of history not only as driven by political and ideological conflict but also where earlier phases were “sublated,” both preserved and transcended, in their negation by subsequent phases (529).

THE MATERIALISTIC CONCEPTION OF HISTORY

This concept, that sees history as driving force for class struggle, will be treated under two subheadings. They are: “The Dialectical Movement of History” and “Economic Base and Superstructure”

THE DIALECTICAL MOVEMENT OF HISTORY

It is believed that no society is free of class struggle and that the history of a particular society tells on the level of the class struggle that is prevailing in such society. Hence, Marx, inThe Communist Manifesto, claims that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (40). This is based on the idea that every society has a history of class struggle, either through the analysis of the relationship between slaves and freemen or boss and servant and these are factors which contribute to class struggle in the society.

According to Habib,

Marx alludes to the history of class conflict from the ancient world to his own times: between slaves and freemen, patricians and plebeians, lords and serfs. The major class conflict in modern times is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat or industrial working class (530).

In order to get freedom, Marx says that revolution is the only means through which all forms of exploitations can stop, hence, Habib, says “that a given economic and political system cannot be abolished by mere thought but by a revolution (530).” That is, reasoning alone will not stop exploitation but by standing up to it because what we do not move will not move. As earlier mentioned, the reign of the capitalist will only come to an end if the conditions for means of production completely deteriorate and are completely exhausted but before then, there must be a revolution.

And, just as the capitalist mode of production superseded the feudal mode, so the capitalist mode will give way to socialism. It is the bourgeoisie itself which creates the instrument of its own destruction: the proletariat, on the one hand, who will unite against it; and, on the other hand, increasingly destructive economic (sic) crises which are internal to the operations of capitalism(530).

Habib assertion above is that despite the history of capitalism and exploitation in a society, socialism will still have its way,such that the major instrument of fall, which will signal the end to the reign of the bourgeoisie and capitalism, is also a handwork of the upper class themselves; the tool for deconstruction, reconstruction and revolution is, therefore, believed to be formed by the hands of the exploitative upper class.

ECONOMIC BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE

Marxists believe that the society is structured on what can be referred to as base structure (economic base) and superstructure. This base structure is referred to as the proletariat who are the producers of the society; the society is structured on them and they are the ones on which the society is built on. The base structure, in other words, can be referred to as the foundation of the society. They are the determinants of what happens inthe society and are sometimes called infrastructure.

Louis Althusser says that the infrastructure or economic base is basically the unity of the productive forces and the relations of production while the Superstructure contains two ‘levels' or ‘instances'. They are:

The politico-legal (law and the State) and ideology (the different ideologies, religious, ethical, legal, political, etc.).It is easy to see that this representation of the structure of every society as an edifice containing a base (infrastructure) on which are erected the two ‘floors' of the superstructure, is a metaphor. (5)

Althusser believes that the superstructure leans on the base structure and cannot build any structure when the base structure is not standing firm. The superstructure supports itself with the foundation; base structure. This makes the superstructure and base structure a form of parasite and host; with the parasites being superstructure and the host being the base structure.

…to be quite precise, a spatial metaphor: the metaphor of a topography (topique). Like every metaphor, this metaphor suggests something, makes something visible. What? Precisely this: that the upper floors could not ‘stay up' (in the air) alone, if they did not rest precisely on their base (5).

The superstructure relies heavily on the economic structure for support and economic benefit. Like Althusser said that the superstructure does not “stay up” in the air but needs support from the main source of economic growth. The base structure is the main source of production because they are the labour which the capitalist use in production, even though the capitalists still control the means of production.

Habib, says:

The main premise of the materialist conception of history is that man's first historical act is the production of means to satisfy his material needs. The production of life, through both labour and procreation, is both natural and social: a given mode of production is combined with a given stage of social cooperation. (530).

According to Habib, the historical phase serves as the bedrock for any form of social, political and economic exploitations and this consciousness is driven hard into the psyche of any member of a society. Therefore, if this consciousness about life is not first of all discovered, it will be difficult for any form of ideological movement to strive and thrive, because it is only afterwe have passed through some of these historical moments,

Can we speak of men possessing “consciousness,” which is, itself, a “social product.” Hence the realms of ideology, politics, law, morality, religion, and art are not independent but are an efflux of a people's material behaviour: “Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life” (530)

THE DIVISION OF LABOUR

This is a division of material and mental labour amongst the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It also means that there is division of labour amongst the bourgeoisie in which there is division of industrial and commercial labour from agricultural labour. This division of labour works in a way in which work is distributed among labour depending on the product the capitalist wants to produce since there are several works available and enough commodities to produce. Habibexplains by saying that:

This model of superstructure and economic base furnishes the form of Marx's analyses of state, class, and ideology in terms of the history of the division of labour. Marx traces various stages of this history, affirming that they are effectively different forms of ownership. (530).

[...]

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Details

Title
Marxism through Nigerian music. An analysis of selected songs of Segun Akinlolu and Folarin Falana
College
Adekunle Ajasin University
Author
Year
2017
Pages
69
Catalog Number
V1133701
ISBN (eBook)
9783346513465
ISBN (Book)
9783346513472
Language
English
Tags
FALZ, BEAUTIFUL NUBIA, SOCIOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT, Music and Identity, Marxism and Music, Importance of Marxism to Literature, The State and Marxism, Music as a tool for entertainment, Music, Sociological school
Quote paper
Omogbolahan David Abiola (Author), 2017, Marxism through Nigerian music. An analysis of selected songs of Segun Akinlolu and Folarin Falana, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1133701

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Title: Marxism through Nigerian music. An analysis of selected songs of Segun Akinlolu and Folarin Falana



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