Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.

Friday, June 18, 2004

"On eBay"
by Chumbawamba.

[From the liner notes:]
"The military have known the importance of this museum. I showed them where it was. There's no reason why this should be looted. I fully expect to see some of these looted items show up on eBay in coming weeks" (McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago, one of the world's top Mesopotamia scholars, after the museum looting in Baghdad.) Writing in The Independent, journalist Robert Fisk said this of the looting: "For Iraq, this is Year Zero; with the destruction of the antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology and the burning of the National Archives and then the Koranic Library, the cultural identity of Iraq is being erased. Why? Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?" French writer and critic Jean Baudrillard made sense of what happened in Baghdad when he said that the West's mission was to make the world's wealth of cultures "interchangeable", and to subordinate them withing the global order. "Our culture, which is bereft of values, revenges itself upon the values of other cultures." When Donald Rumsfeld was asked about the theft of Iraq's cultural treasures he quipped: "Stuff happens. It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. Free people are free to make mistakes ad commit srimes and do bad things." He further joked, "Television is merely running the same footage of the same man stealing a vase over and over," and added that he "didn't think there were that many vases in Iraq". According to Baudrillard, war's primary aim is to normalise savagery, diminish any resistance but also "to colonise and tame any terrain, geographical or mental." By imposing Western culture on Iraq and allowing its own history to be decimated, America is merely making the world's cultures interchangeable. Making everything taste the same, and making nothing have any real value. Here, swap you a Big Mac for this vase.

[Lyrics:]

Mr. Kokoschka, it just happened again--
They struck the museum like a hurricane
All of our culture, it's dead and it's gone
From Babylon, baby, back to Babylon

There's stuff you find along the way
And stuff you leave behind
And it all ends up as stuff that you can buy
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon

In old Baghdad, they're dusting off the antiques;
It's the fourteenth Guernica we've had this week
I got twenty-five dollars for a Persian vase
Hold the critique, I think I'll go large.

That stuff inside your houses
And that stuff behind your eyes
Well, it all ends up as stuff that you can buy
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon

They're building a tower out of wrappers and cans
And now we speak in a language that we all understand
T-t-t-t-t-t-tounge-tied and starry eyed...
It's the ancient history of old school ties.

There's stuff dressed up and truth
And then there's stuff dressed up as lies
And it all ends up as stuff that you can buy
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon
On eBay
From Babylon back to Babylon