Song as a emotional and political attractor

In this interesting post, Andrzej talks about singing, and the political significance of breaking-out into song and the state infrastructures of em0tion.–Nicholas

Tunisia already signed a new, more democratic constitution. It is a small step toward rebuilding the state after the Arab Spring.

Using this example, I would like to discuss something different — the role of emotions in the making of politics. Such a statement is, today, quite obvious. We discuss the role of emotion in politics since at least Machiavelli. This subject takes Martha C. Nussbaum in her latest book Political Emotions Why Love Matters for Justice. But as an STS scholar, I think that we should be more specific and empirical.

What is interesting for me is looking for concrete emotional machines, emotional attractors, which are creating a political force. I am thinking about particular songs, which bring people together (remember Tarde’a law of imitation); I would like to threat such songs a attractors which starts, condense processes of self-organization.

Let me follow one of such songs, let begin form Tunisian version, by Emel Mathlouthi:

and other version of this song form Tunisia:

This song is a Arabic version of Catalan song “L’Estaca” written by Lluís Llach against dictatorship of Franco.

And it was very popular under title “Mury” as anticommunist song in Poland during Communist regime:

Maybe, if we care about “the State,” democratic politics and social emancipation, we should sing more? But remember that song is only a attractor — an empty container — which can be filled by different thing. This ambiguity is quite nice shown by Zizek analysis of Beethoven “Ode to Joy” in his last movie “Pervert guide to ideology”.

7 thoughts on “Song as a emotional and political attractor

  1. Yeah, when I was at the London School of Economics a few years ago, i heard a talk almost exactly liek that tune! That being the case, do you think that they are correct? (it seemed like an awful lot of inference to me)


  2. I thing, what kind of song is also important, this history of song is somehow black-boxed. this is a case of L’Estaca, in communist time, people who sing “Mury”, polish version, were somehow conscious that this is a history hidden in this song. Of course there not very well informed about this song, more important was that this is important freedom song. The same is in case of Tunisia. If look on political meaning, thing became complicated, this song was anti Franco (left), than in Poland anti communist (right), and now in Tunisia again is difficult to show what kind o politics is behind song (look Zizek)


  3. Hey, sorry that I am quite late with response, if You look for example how medieval armies where organized, You can see drums, bagpipers, songs, etc. It is a gravitation center of community. I think if we use word “attractor” we can see song as a starting point and something was is creating a shape of selforganization of networks. It is a little like this:


  4. indeed, we would (well i would) need a very concrete/detailed sort of phenomenological study of differing aspects/effects/environs before we rush off into speculations like say John Protevi might do.


  5. Really good point. Is there something about the song (i.e., the quality of people doing this together that in some sonic way unites people — maybe Durkheim would agree to that, who knows?) or is it in the content of the songs (i.e., their political lyrics bind people together of common mind/interest)?


  6. Hey, Andrzej: cool post. Could you tell us more about what this line means: “What is interesting for me is looking for concrete emotional machines, emotional attractors, which are creating a political force.” ???


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