Tuesday, August 12, 2008

War in Georgia

Matthew Collin, who has been reporting for the BBC during the recent terrible events in Georgia, is also the author of 'Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House'(1997).

His blog, This is Tblisi Calling, hasn't been updated since the war started, but there are some interesting reflections on the use of music in the simmering conflicts leading up to this week's violence. For instance, in May the Georgian government held a patriotic song contest: "The deputy culture minister, Mirza Davitaia, who’s running the show, says the state initially started the song contest for very practical reasons: 'When our friends were in the army, in the reserves, they found out there were no army songs,' he explains. 'Soldiers, when they run, they don’t have good Georgian songs [to sing]. In Soviet times they had Russian songs, and now they have nothing for this'."

More surreal has been the Georgian government's use of 70s pop acts in its campaign to rally support, including a concert by barely-remembered English band Smokie and sending Boney M in to play in South Ossetia with the Georgian president dancing along.

Sadly, Georgia's 2008 entry for the Eurovision song contest - Peace will Come by Diana Gurtskaya, does not seem to have been heeded by either side - even if the singer, a 'blind refugee from the separatist war in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia who now lives in Moscow... has been awarded medals for her cultural endeavours by both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili'. The lyrics might be fairly banal but still true: 'Look, the sky is crying cold bitter tears, weeping for the people lost in fear, While we fight for nothing... Kids with guns are always too young to die'.

Some background information on the conflict at Flesh is Grass; Bob from Brockley has links to various discussion. Must admit I am not particularly interested in various leftists/ex-leftists trying to decide whether to support 'plucky little Georgia' or 'anti-imperialist Russia', both states are implicated in this war and both seem to have targeted civilians.

No comments: