When I first heard of the Spanish rewrite of the "Star-Spangled Banner" that has been released in time for the May Day pro-illegal immigration rallies, I said, "Well, that at least is more financially enterprising than anything you normally see from Mexicans in America, who have otherwise had so little impact on popular culture, despite their vast numbers."
But then I heard that it was created by record producer Adam Kidron. "That's funny," I thought, "Because 'Kidron' sure doesn't sound Spanish."
So, who is this guy?
Well, it turns out Adam Kidron is not Hispanic at all. Indeed, he's from a very interesting family. He was born in England, where his father, Michael Kidron, was a famous Marxist theoretician and his uncle, the late "Tony Cliff," was the leader of the largest Trotskyite party in Britain, the Socialist Workers Party or SWP.
Adam was a producer for a bunch of minor early 1980s New Wave musicians such as East German novelty act Nina Hagen, The Slits, Orchestre Rouge, and Scritti Politti. Many of the artists were leftwingers.
Here's something revealing from the website of an old anarcho-punk band called Zounds:
In the process of recording the record, the band involved themselves with Adam Kidron who was given production credits although his job was more a glorified engineer.
Steve, "We had a guy engineering called Adam Kidron, he was the millionaire son and heir of the Socialist publisher who owned Pluto Press. He was really funny and we were very naive and impressed by him. He talked us in to giving him producer royalties when we didn't even know what royalties were and we thought we were producing the album ourselves.... Adam hated guitars so we ended up with a far less powerful guitar sound than we would have liked. We were a guitar band after all."
To some people, being raised to want to overthrow capitalism seems to give them an excuse to behave like the worst kind of robber baron. Hey, don't blame me for what happened to these poor dumb guitarists' royalties, blame this rotten capitalist system, man! Come the Revolution, my true saintliness will finally manifest itself.
During the dot-com era, Kidron was a co-founder and CEO of the hip-hop website Urban Box Office Networks Inc., which went bankrupt in 2000 after hiring 300 employees, mostly marketing people. UrbanExpose.com wrote:
"After a year and a half of operation UBO has made approximately $150,000 dollars in revenue against nearly $50 million in spending."
Kidron has apparently now converted the remains of Urban Box Office into a Spanish-language record label selling reggaeton (Caribbean rap).
Adam's dad, the Marxist theoretician Michael Kidron, died in 2003, but it sounds like his old man would be proud of Adam's contribution to May Day 2006, "Nuestro Himno."
The Socialist Review began its obituary:
"Mike Kidron, who died last month, was probably the most important Marxist economist of his generation, although he never received the recognition he deserved from the academic Marxism of the 1970s and early 1980s."
Here is the conclusion to Wikipedia's article on Michael Kidron:
Kidron remained a Marxist committed to changing the world and therefore understood the necessity of developing a theoretical understanding of how the world works precisely in order to change it. His final article appeared in the Autumn 2002 issue of the International Socialism Journal on The Decline of Capitalism, and spoke of a sure and certain knowledge that another world is not just possible but demanded. As ever, the revolutionary role of the working class in the core countries of capitalism was reasserted and the goal of a communist society reaffirmed.
I remember IS [International Socialism] well from my student days in Britain in the 1960s. Despite the elegiac tone of the reminiscences I see on Kidron’s web archive, they were never anything but a bunch of thugs who would have happily brought the Gulag to Britain if they’d had the chance. It’s a scandal of contemporary culture that the MSM would never have been so indifferent to Adam Kidron’s backgound if he was the son of a Nazi.
According to one obituary, Michael Kidron’s last article before he died in 2003 was still “full of hatred” for the system that brought wealth to himself and his children. Obviously, Adam Kidron has inherited that hate.
Here are excerpts from Michael Kidron's lengthy obituary by Richard Kuper in the Guardian, as reprinted on Marx.org:
Michael Kidron, who has died aged 72, was an economist, a Marxist theorist, an agitator, an editor, a publisher and the co-author of the bestselling State Of The World Atlas (1981) and The War Atlas (1983)...
Kidron played a key role in developing a theory, that of the permanent arms economy, to account for the west’s long postwar boom and the strength of working class reformism...
His sympathy with the peoples of the so-called third world shone through his biting criticism of theories which romanticised their struggles. An internationalist, he always placed the peoples of the world above the interests of their states.
He was born in Cape Town into an ardently Zionist family. ... He left South Africa just after the war to join his parents, who had already emigrated to Palestine. There he went to the Tichon Hadash progressive school in Tel Aviv – where he rejected Zionism almost immediately – then on to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study economics... But Israel was a backwater for anyone not tied in to the Zionist project. So, in 1955 Kidron went to Oxford as a doctoral student...
He also developed a close working relationship with his brother-in-law Ygael Gluckstein who, under the name of Tony Cliff (obituary, April 11 2000), was trying to chart an independent Marxist course in the Trotskyist-infested waters to the left of the Communist party. [Emphasis mine]
Academic work provided a base for research and independent thinking, but also for political activity in the Socialist Review (later International Socialism) Group...
He also edited the quarterly International Socialism, which first appeared in 1960...
He was an academic at Hull University in the late 1960s and gave his wholehearted backing to the wave of student protest which washed over the country....
In 1972 he and his wife Nina joined Pluto Press, helping to make it one of the most influential socialist publishing houses of that time...
His lifelong project was to understand modern capitalism, to help replace it.
In the early 1990s, Kidron returned to that central project of his life – his attempt to understand (and write about) capitalism. It was becoming a vast intellectual project. Now that his conception of capitalism had broadened, he wanted to address it – not just as an economic system, but in its political, social and psychological aspects as well – capitalism as a truly total system. Alas, his planned book remained fragmentary, despite three-quarters of a million words in draft.
Dogged by illness, Kidron found it increasingly difficult to give the focused attention the subject demanded. But his conviction that an alternative was possible, indeed was being nurtured within the heart of the system, remained undimmed as new networked forms of communication and relationships undermined the command and control relations of earlier capitalism.
In the meantime, before the Revolution, Adam Kidron's sisters seem to be doing pretty well from the capitalist system. Beeban Kidron is the director of a long line of mostly lousy movies, the best known of which are the franchise-killing 2004 sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary (which enjoyed a $70 million budget but was critically-slagged) and the widely-despised drag queen comedy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Cassia Kidron is a photographer of ditches and girlfriend of another movie director, Oliver Parker, who has directed five films, including the unsuccessful 2002 adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest with Reese Witherspoon.
So, despite the family's evident lack of talent, you can't keep a good (or, to be precise, mediocre) Kidron down and out of the media spotlight for long!
- A reader writes:
I saw Adam Kidron last Tuesday at a conference. He was bragging about buying Al Sharpton's 1 million-person mailing list for use in his label-marketing efforts. He also complimented Sharpton's politics. Kidron, as you might expect, is a very articulate, affable, self-deprecating guy... For some reason, he didn't mention his silly song.
I'm sure you're shocked, shocked, that Al Sharpton's mailing list is for sale.
- By the way, I quite like the bloodthirsty lyrics to the Mexican national anthem -- it's muy macho con mucho sangre. Mark in Mexico, however, points out that the historical record of the Mexican Army's success in battle hasn't quite lived up to its anthem.