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Political Music

Legitimization and Contestation


Edited By Tomasz Bichta and Anna Szwed-Walczak

In the 12 chapters of this book the authors argue for the universal presence of music in public space and social relations. The examples of American, British, Hungarian, Polish and Russian music serve to elucidate two functions of political music, that of legitimizing and contesting political power. Both satirical songs with their ironic commentary on specific events and people as well as protest songs undermining the system corroborate the universal character of the legitimizing and delegitimizing function of music. The book is addressed to readers interested in countercultural movements and politically engaged music, especially to students of political studies, sociology and cultural studies.

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Utopian Literature as a Source of Inspiration for Rock Music: The Case of George Orwell’s 1984


Wojciech Ziętara1

Abstract: The chapter is an attempt to systematize the content analysed during the course “Political Utopias as Literary Genres” offered to students of Journalism and Social Communication at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland. The terminology of utopian literature is presented, with a distinction made between anti-utopias and dystopias. The chapter is primarily of a descriptive character. On the basis of the classic dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, it presents constitutive features of a totalitarian regime to discuss three selected examples of rock musicians finding inspiration in the novel, namely David Bowie, Radiohead and Muse.

Keywords: political utopia, rock music, Orwell, Bowie

The concept of utopia was introduced by Sir Thomas More, the author of a socio-political narrative titled Utopia published in 1516.2 The title referred to a fictional island that More reflected on in his work. It needs to be emphasized that even though Utopia was a state organized in the best possible way, it was not a perfect one. Raphael Hythlodaeus, a Portuguese traveller and at the same time the narrator and participant in the dialogue in Utopia, uttered the following memorable words: “Thus have I described to you, as particularly as I could, the Constitution of that commonwealth, which I do not only think the best in the world, but indeed the only commonwealth that truly deserves that name.”3 It is worth pointing out that the fragment cited...

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