The feared commodification of music is rhetorically haunted by metaphors elaborating a loss of control–an ugly, impersonal totalitarian threat to the artists’ unbridled creativity. But this confident vilification of capital as totalitarian in its control should give pause. As Slavoj Zizek maintains in Did Someone Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the Mis(use) of a Notion, “reference to a ‘totalitarian’ threat sustains a kind of unwritten Denkverbot (prohibition against thinking) similar to the infamous Berufsverbot (prohibition against being employed by any state institution) in late 1960s Germany” (3). The totalitarian threat capitalism presents to music, to borrow Zizek’s formulation, becomes “a kind of stopgap: instead of enabling us to think, forcing us to acquire a new insight into the historical reality it describes, it relieves us of the duty to think, or even actively prevents us from thinking” (3).
Zizek, Slavoj. Did Someone Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the Mis(use) of a Notion. London and New York: Verso, 2001.