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Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully

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In his youth, Hugo Burnham (born 1956) was the drummer for the politically radical band Gang of Four. But that was a long time ago. After being fired from the band, he played drums for a variety of groups, but failed to form a lasting attachment with any of them. (Note well that Gang of Four continues to exist and make excellent, politically-conscious music.) Then he tried his hand as a manager, but seems to have failed at that, too. Eventually he retired from the music business, and went back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Education. These days, he is a molder of student minds at the New England Institute of Art, where he is an Associate Professor of English. No longer a radical (obviously), he is pro-Obama liberal Democrat.

Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully

In his youth, Hugo Burnham (born 1956) was the drummer for the politically radical band Gang of Four. But that was a long time ago. After being fired from the band, he played drums for a variety of groups, but failed to form a lasting attachment with any of them. (Note well that Gang of Four continues to exist and make excellent, politically-conscious music.) Then he tried his hand as a manager, but seems to have failed at that, too. Eventually he retired from the music business, and went back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Education. These days, he is a molder of student minds at the New England Institute of Art, where he is an Associate Professor of English. No longer a radical (obviously), he is pro-Obama liberal Democrat.

On 2 November 2012, that is to say, four days before the presidential election, we posted the following message to our Facebook page.

I am quite convinced that the only reason "liberals" support Obama (despite his heinous policies concerning drones, NDAA, kill-lists, Guantanamo, refusal to prosecute CIA torturers and murderers, etc etc etc) is that such support flatters their illusions about themselves, ie, that they are liberals and not relatively privileged cogs, but cogs nonetheless, in an increasing fascistic machine.

Without the spectacle of Obama to support that illusion, “liberals” would have to confront truths about themselves they would prefer to ignore – because they feel powerless to do anything.

Before going any further, let us make clear that we are not “fans” of Facebook (FB), which we consider to be a deplorable spectacle. We only maintain an account on it because so many of our friends do. To “express” our conflicts, our FB account is an illegal one: it is maintained, not in our real name, but under a pseudonym. As the Situationist International would say, we are both “in and against decomposition.”

Of course, our posting concerning the support of “liberals” for Obama elicited positive reactions from our friends, our real friends, who, like ourselves are either anarchists or situationists. Our posting also elicited objections from people with whom we are merely acquainted. One “liberal” acquaintance claimed that he was personally “insulted” by it, and went on to rant about how it is important to re-elect Obama because of the dangers of having someone like Mitt Romney nominate candidates for the Supreme Court. As if we might be able to trust Obama to appoint Supreme Court justices who would vote to strike down Obama's own NDAA as unconstitutional! We de-friended this fool immediately, and announced that we had done so. We also asked, on that same thread, “Anyone else keen to be de-friended? Or [keen] to de-friend me?”

Hugo Burnham – who maintains a FB account in his own name (he is in and for decomposition) – was also insulted or offended by our posting about Obama. But rather than simply “de-friend” us, which would have been the honorable thing to do, or rather than remain “friends” and state why he disagreed with our critique, he chose to insult both us and our friends. He wrote, “Not sure I’m enticed by this circle jerk.”

Think about that for a moment: though he was sure that our discussion was “a circle jerk,” he wasn’t sure whether he was “enticed” by it. Was this inability to make up his mind fully an indication of his conflicts about voting for Obama, especially in the light of “his heinous policies concerning drones, NDAA, kill-lists, Guantanamo, refusal to prosecute CIA torturers and murderers, etc etc etc”? Or was his inability to make up his mind an expression of his conflicts about his own sexuality? Hmmmm, a group of men engaging in a circle jerk. I’m not sure if I’m enticed by this, or repulsed. No matter. He, too, was immediately de-friended.

And that’s where the matter should have ended, at least as far as Hugo Burnham was concerned. He got himself “de-friended,” which appears to be what he wanted to happen. But for some reason, Burnham could not restrain himself from sending us a personal message via FB: “Weak . . . very weak.” This “weakness” was, presumably, our personal intolerance for being insulted by people who are pro-Obama, which we consider to be a form of strength. Our response was simple and straightforward: “Bye bye.”

Once again, that’s where the matter should have ended. But it didn’t. Once again apparently unable to restrain himself, Hugo Burnham wrote to us again: “When a person has confidence in what they [sic] say . . . they [sic] can withstand dissent. Disappointed in your not being able to do so.” (Note that we have indicated this man’s inability – he’s an English professor, remember – to write a sentence without having a “disagreement” between singular and plural.) Our response was, once again, simple and direct: “If you think insults such as ‘circle jerk’ are dissent, you are sorely mistaken.”

Here this ex parte “conversation” took a turn. Instead of recognizing that “circle jerk” is indeed an insult, and that “dissent” must have some content (“I disagree with your circle jerk because . . .” or “I was insulted by your circle jerk because . . .”), Hugo Burnham, ex-radical and now supporter of President Obama, continued to insult us. “ha ha! Thin skin there, Son . . . . (And yet your second (?) post asked who wanted ‘un-friending’.) Disagreeing with your Amen Chorus in any manner is clearly rather too much for you. Like I said, disappointing.”

There are quite a few grammatical mistakes in this rant: “Son” should not have been capitalized, unless, of course, we are literally Hugo Burnhan’s son; the phrase we used, the phrase recognized in common parlance, is “de-friended,” not “un-friended”; and “Like I said” should have been “As I said.” But the most important mistakes concern this rant’s content: calling a discussion among like-minded people a “circle jerk” is not a form of “disagreeing” and, in fact, it is not so “in any manner”: it is an insult, and a possibly homophobic one. And, if Burnham is capable of recognizing that we would “de-friend” people who were insulted or offended by our theory concerning Obama supporters – it went from being a hypothesis to a theory when it was confirmed by the self-righteous offense that it caused among these self same Obama supporters – and that we would welcome being “de-friended” by people who took offense (good riddance), then he had no business complaining that he had been “un-friended”!

Here we begin to get a clear sense of who Hugo Burnham is: a patriarch, a member of the patriarchy of power, someone who refers to people just 3 years his junior as “Son” and repeatedly expresses his “disappointment,” as if we would actually give a damn whether he is “disappointed” in us or not. Our last message to this condescending patriarch was a plain and simple warning: “Write one more insult to me and I will complain to Facebook, claiming harassment.”

But Hugo Burnham, ex-radical and now supporter of President Obama, did not heed this warning. He ignored it and continued his attack. “Only a weakling crows to his circle jerk buddies whilst keeping dissent/disagreement hidden. Not impressed.” Note well the theme that emerges: “Weak . . . very weak” and “weakling.” People who either have children of their own or teach children will easily recognize this type of person: he’s a bully. Like Nelson Muntz in The Simpsons (“ha ha!”), he fancies himself to be “strong” and preys upon the perceived “weakness” of others, when, in fact, he is the “weakling” or, rather, he perceives himself to be a “weakling” and has an obsessive compulsion to to distract “negative” attention from himself and place it squarely on others. True to our word, we reported his harassment of us to FB, which took the immediate step of blocking any further emails, and will surely take other steps to dissuade this bully, this testosterone-addled patriarch, from harassing other members of the FB “community.”

Two reflections before we bring this little exposé to a close. First, anyone – or at least, any associate professor – who engages in harassment after being warned that he is committing harassment has tenure, and believes himself able to act with complete impunity. This makes him dangerous: possibly dangerous to the students under his professional care. Let those students be warned. Second, those who have expressed their disgust with Obama’s “heinous policies concerning drones, NDAA, kill-lists, Guantanamo, refusal to prosecute CIA torturers and murderers, etc etc etc” and have either refused to vote for any candidate or who have voted for a third-party candidate can expect that – if Obama is not re-elected – they (and not Obama himself) will blamed for that loss. And that blame will no doubt be expressed in “offended,” bullying, and patriarchal terms.

NOT BORED! 3 November 2012

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Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully | 5 comments | Create New Account
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Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully
Authored by: Bill Not Bored on Saturday, November 03 2012 @ 02:56 PM CDT

We can identify two types of Leftists: those who will, come Election Day 2012, abandon the Democratic Party and vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party or some other “third party” candidate; and those who will vote the re-elect Barack Obama. While the former continue to have illusions about representative democracy (they believe that their votes, entered as “protests” against the two-party system, will be noticed and registered by those in power), they have no illusions about the current president, who is – at least where foreign policy is concerned – as bad, if not worse, than his predecessor. But the latter have two tiers of illusions: about representative democracy, and about Obama himself, who they persist in believing is “one of them.”

We might have some sympathy for those Leftists who plan to vote for Jill Stein: they are anarchists in the making; all they need to do is lose their illusions about representative democracy. But, even in the most generous of moods, we can have no sympathy for those Leftists who plan to vote for Obama: they are fascists in the making; all they need to do add one more illusion, namely, that extremism in the “defense” of democracy is not extremism at all, but simply yet another step towards “reality.”

The Leftist becoming-fascists who will vote to re-elect Obama are able to do so because of their ability to set aside or ignore the president’s foreign policies and focus exclusively on domestic policies. Either they know that Obama’s foreign policies – his legalization of torture and murder by the CIA, his use of drones to perpetrate targeted and/or indiscriminate assassination, his refusal to close Guantanamo Bay, et. al – are criminal or they actively support those policies and are willing (for who wants it known that they support illegal activities?) to claim that such policies are “necessary” and therefore not illegal. Either way, they are able to assuage their own consciences by saying that Obama’s domestic policies are good, and that this “goodness” more than offsets the “badness” of his foreign policies.

In what does this “goodness” consist? In his insistence that Wall Street “banksters” (banker gangsters) should be prosecuted? In his insistence that the homeless, the working class and the unemployed should be given special attention and generous aid by the federal government? No: Obama’s “goodness” consists in his care for the so-called “middle classes.” And the best expressions of that care are not his political or economic policies as much as his cultural or social attitudes: he is pro-homosexual rights, pro-abortion, and so forth. He is “cool”: a fan of Hollywood actors and pop musicians, who are, in turn, fans of him. In other words, despite whatever problems there might be with his policies (domestic or foreign), Obama is a seen to be a good person. Unlike the Republicans – those greedy, racist, insensitive and “uncool” bastards – who are not good people, but bad people.

And that’s the key to understanding how many Leftists are able to vote for Obama: they see themselves as good people, too; and Obama reinforces their image of themselves as essentially good people. Their support for Obama isn’t really support for Obama: it is support for their image of themselves. Like Obama, they are good people who have been forced to do bad things; like him, they would do even more good things if only the “bad people” in this world would let them. That’s why it is so important to them to give Obama a second term: it is in fact a metaphor for their own desire for a second chance and “hope” (for a raise, for a promotion, for early retirement, etc.)

This why many Leftists will get offended, even angry, if you point out that Obama is a politician just like any other: you aren’t criticizing him; you are criticizing them. And if you mention that you are not voting at all or plan to vote for a “third party” candidate, they will claim that you are “wasting” your vote or, even worse, working to cost Obama the Good the election, when, in fact, if he loses, he will have lost because of his own actions, not because of the actions of the people who are disgusted with him.

And if Obama loses, and Romney becomes president, they will no doubt feel that they, too, have lost: that they too are “losers.” But what will they have lost? Their investments, their jobs, their mortgages? No, President Romney – the representative of the antiabortion, anti-gay-rights wing of the Business Party – will certainly protect all those things, at least for the wealthy (and, in comparison to the true poor people of this country, and especially in comparison with the vast majority of the people on this planet, the so-called “middle class” in America is in fact wealthy).

If Obama loses, the Leftists will have lost support for their illusions about themselves. Under Romney, they will have to face the fact that, as “citizens” of this capitalist society, they are in fact bad people: people who prosper due to social, economic and environmental exploitation; that is to say, people who have prospered and will continue to prosper due to the murderous foreign policies (and the paranoid, “national security”-driven domestic policies) of this country, neither of which changed when Obama replaced Bush, and won’t change if/when Romney replaces Obama.
Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully
Authored by: hugenjolly on Sunday, November 04 2012 @ 09:29 AM CST



I would like to address Bill Not Bored’s inaccuracies in his ranting attempt to discredit and insult me. I don’t really mind the attempt – I spent 25-odd years in the music industry…I’ve been insulted by professionals! But, I digress.

To describe the band I was a founder member of (for 6 years, and subsequently another two years in more recent times) as “politically radical” is more desperate than accurate, and certainly not what any of Gang of Four would say about themselves. After I left the band in 1983 (“fired”….so unusual in bands, right?!), I joined only one other band, Illustrated Man – but was invited, as a session-player, to drum with a few other acts over the next couple of years: Nikki Sudden, ABC, P.I.L., Samantha Fox, Nona Hendryx, and Stan Ridgway. It was fun, I was good at what I did, but ultimately I was not fulfilled nor was I making enough money to survive. This does not constitute “failed to form a lasting attachment with any of them”, Bill.

Note well’ that Gang of Four (who I remain friends with to this day) have had their creative ‘ups and downs’ in 35 years…the highest ‘up’ after I left being when Dave Allen and I re-joined for an album of re-recorded 25 year-old songs and some extremely successful touring in 2005-2006. Since then, the band has made one album, and is no longer making any music at all, Bill. Just so you know.

I then became an artist manager…working with Shriekback, Neil Arthur (Blancmange), Julian Cope, and a couple of others. I moved from London to New York and within 3 months was offered a job with Island Records. I spent the next 8 years working with Island, Imago Records, Quincy Jones’ Qwest Records at Warner Bros., and finally with EMI Music in Los Angeles. I maintain friendships with many of the acts I worked with negotiating the madness of the major label music industry. Returning to the east coast for family reasons, I returned to artist management and studio production for a year, before being asked to teach about the industry at the New England Institute of Art in Boston, where I still teach after 12 years. (Mr. Not Bored at least got that bit right!) I earned my Master’s degree in Education whilst teaching, and was awarded the rank of Associate Professor after 8 years, the highest academic rank that can be attained without a terminal degree.

Another inaccuracy of Bill's: I am a professor who is English, not an ‘English professor’. I do not teach English. If Not Bored were to ask a ‘professor of English’ he would be reminded that proper names and nouns are indeed to be capitalized; my use of ‘son’ was not as a descriptive noun (if he were my son…awful thought…I would describe him as such without the ‘s’ being upper case), but a proper name…used in the vernacular style popular with English people rather than American professors of English.

I do not have tenure, I am an ‘employee at will’. Piss the wrong person off, and I’m out of work. “Radical”, huh?

I do not “mold minds”, I teach and support, and guide and encourage critical thinking and the ability to keep an open mind - in the classes I teach, ‘Freshman Seminar’, ‘Political Science’ and ‘Interdisciplinary Studies’. I do try to set the example that alwasy "being right" is a fool's game. Self-doubt and compromise can be strrengths. People who are absolutely sure of themselves all the time are...absolutely wrong. Take heed, Not Bored.

The only danger I might pose is to self-absorbed (self-described) aging “radicals” who can bear no dissent, who cannot deal with the online jousting and arguing, or any degree of calling into question their self-righteousness, that occurs millions of times a day on Facebook! And while we’re at it, who, in their early-50s still calls themselves by their old punk name? Really, Bill Not Bored?!

Perhaps if Mr. Not Bored only wishes to be heard by, and hear from, his amen chorus (vulgarly known as a ‘circle’ jerk’, nothing ‘possibly homophobic about it), then Facebook is truly not his best venue. He admits here that he does not like Facebook, but that he maintains an “illegal” account….ooh – what a radical! “note well”, too that Bill Not Bored of Colossal Books (more or less of the “failure” he deems my music business career…which lasted 20+ years?) is a singular person, not “we” (“disagreement between singular and plural” much, Bill?) – unless, of course, he considers himself of royal blood. Not very ‘radical’!

So – I think I am done addressing this fellow’s rather inaccurate, rambling, brusied screed. I have attempted a re-balance of facts and details against the ranting of a sad, aging ‘radical’, who spends more time perfecting his own written verbiage than being in the real world – where people disagree, get into each others’ faces a bit online, get over it, get on with it, work with and for other people helping them manage and negotiate their own lives and careers. Where people have kids and do their best to help them learn to engage and understand that absolutism does not work, that people will disagree or be mean sometimes and to work around it, the best defense usually being a sense of humour – which, of course, is just not to be found amongst self-described sad old ‘radicals’ and anarchists. And that throwing bombs (from behind walls and then scurrying away), or putting your hands over your ears and going “Na na na na!” to shut out the things you don’t like, is, as I described in my messages, a weak way of engaging with the world. If Bill had indeed not given a damn about my being “disappointed’ in his manner of engagement (or lack thereof) with me, he would not have spent most of his Saturday morning writing this “expose”. (He should also ask a professor of English what exactly an “expose” is, for the future.) It is poor writing to rely on button-pushing words and phrases such as “testosterone-addled”, “patriarchal”, etc. – when knowing nothing whatsoever about the person targeted - beyond their music, their Wikipedia page, and a short spat on Facebook. When Bill calms down a little, I am sure he will at least acknowledge that.

The final lie by Not Bored was that Facebook, at his pleading, “blocked” my emails. (Reall 'anarchic radicalism', right....running for help to The Man?!) No, they did not. He did…as anybody can – by going to the ‘report/block’ button. There are not enough employees at Facebook (or anywhere else) to respond to every bruised ego, every dissed aging radical that somebody is mean to. Please, Bill – get real. Son!

I will end by thanking him for first approaching me, to be my ‘radical’ FB friend, offering an old (bootleg) tape of my band from 1981 in Ann Arbor. He sent it to me. Very kind.

I hope, in future, he stirs in a little realpolitik with his radicalism; I also hope he understands that many, many leftists/socialists/liberals/supporters of POTUS are also ‘disappointed’ with what they hoped he might be able to do in power. But, living in the real world, trying to raise kids, trying to stay working in a time when keeping your job is the new ‘raise’, we believe and hope that a second term will bring more, bring better, and set the country up for a better chance than to be constantly attacked by the extremist right. But to expect everything, to expect absolutism, is a sad old fool’s game…or the (wonderfully) naïve beliefs of a teen. And yes, ‘anything but Romney/Ryan’…you are a fool if you think Obama deserving to lose is more important than allowing these devious, venal, deceitful, downright-lying people to run the country.

“Bye Bye” indeed, Bill Not Bored. Good luck and good health to you, Old Man (…that English vernacular thing, again!). Try not to take yourself quite so seriously….and please, you’ll throw your back out with all that stretching to undermine me!

Thank you,

Hugo Burnham - in MA.


p.s. Most of Mr. Not Bored's other writing here is thought-provoking and jolly good. So much better than silly personal attacks.

Edited on Sunday, November 04 2012 @ 09:57 AM CST by hugenjolly
Hugo Burnham, ex-Gang of Four: Pro-Obama Bully
Authored by: Bill Not Bored on Sunday, November 04 2012 @ 11:20 AM CST


Ever since I attacked Obama, Hugo Burnham has been on the counter-attack, thereby confirming my observation that, despite any and all disagreements they might claim to have, the supporters of the so-called president literally identify themselves with Obama, and thus believe that an attack on their leader is an attack on them personally. These supporters need to keep illusions about Obama intact – not only within their own ideological (i.e., pathological) mindsets, but within the minds of everyone else, as well – because these illusions allow them to support further illusions about themselves. Without these two inter-related sets of illusions, these supporters of a "president" whose murderous reign has been even worse than that of George W. Bush could only come to the conclusion that, just like the “evil” Republicans, they too are bad people who live and prosper thanks to social, economic and environmental exploitation.

Now Burnham, as if wishing to confirm my further observation that Obama’s allegedly liberal supporters are fascists in the making, has come on to this website – to which he has never contributed before and about which he only just learned after doing a Google search for his name – and continued his attack. Like an enraged police officer who believes someone is a criminal but has no evidence that would support an arrest, Burnham has done something that no anarchist, anti-authoritarian or situationist would ever do: try to hurt me by revealing my screen names and linking them together with my real name. Of course, the administrator of this website hasn’t tolerated this violation of a basic rule, and has removed these references.

What little of substance that remains can be responded to quite simply: while we anarchists, anti-authoritarians and situationists would never vote for any candidate, and especially not a war criminal such as Obama, Burnham – a self-described “pragmatic socialist” – will not only vote to re-elect 1984, but will do the dirty work of the so-called Democratic Party by relentlessly pursuing its fiercest critics, even if this takes him into areas (such as this website) where people hate “socialists,” especially those who are “pragmatic” enough to participate in the sickening spectacle of electoral politics.

I have no doubt that the readers of this website, to which I have contributed for many years, will easily see the awful accuracy of my critique of pro-Obama Leftism and will take this most recent confirmation of its accuracy as yet another to reason to destroy it and everything it stands for, justifies, and accomplishes in the name of “democracy”: the systematic and brutal exploitation of people, animals and the rest of natural world.

Hugo Burnham, (STILL, in essence) Gang of Four: Anti-Coward, Not Angry!
Authored by: hugenjolly on Sunday, November 04 2012 @ 06:52 PM CST

Dear Mr. Not Bored,

Oh Dear...once more you play the victim, rather than the instigator of ill-mannered, falshood-ridden, ranting attacks on me. This all has had nothing to do with POTUS (who you originally did not attack, in your own words, it was “liberals” in a public post designed to annoy), but with your inability to accept dissent. Calling you out for bullshit has nothing to do with electoral politics. Not acknowledging your mis-truths is another facet of your lack of strength.  

More mis-truths about me that I would like to correct, if I may:

1.     1. I have indeed been to this website before (as a guest), as well as to your own site notbored.org, to read some of your writing. You know this because we have communicated in the past. You write well and are well-informed about (for instance) the Situationists, but much of your political writing (not all) I find less engaging, dense, and just dull. Intellectualism over reality. I did that in my 20s.

2.    2.  I do not google myself. I have an ongoing ‘Gang of Four’ Google-search set up (it is business), and up popped your cowardly rant. I wondered, “why here?” instead of on Facebook, where the spat started. It could have been argued or discussed in front of everybody who already saw, might have seen, or could see the original thread. That is what a gentleman would have done, instead of scurrying away to make a personal attack where you suspected you could lie and misrepresent with impunity – thwacking away at me from behind. Who is the “bully” here, now?

3.    3.  I am not voting for Obama. Yet another assumption you throw out in your self-serving manner. You call what is going on a “sickening spectacle of electoral politics”…yet you participate. And when challenged or disagreed with (or even accused of “circle jerking”!) you react by shutting down any opposition and then running away to whine in private. I did not search you out…you drew me in by continuing to bash me, by name and association, for anyone to see, without putting your name to it. Bad form, Sir…bad form.

The worst of people are those who are un-flinchingly sure of themselves, and who remind us all, ad nauseam, in increasing displays of dialectic Onanism. God, it is so boorish. You are either unwilling or unable to absorb corrections, to acknowledge humour, or even to see a hand extended gingerly in peace. Why are you so angry? It must be such hard work waking up to be you each morning. You remind me of Matt Groening’s old cartoon in The Village Voice so many years ago. Or Gollum.

Un-clench Bill, Old Dear. You will live longer. 

Do you ever just say, “fuck it.” And have a drink and relax with people you can agree to disagree with? Do you ever share anything of substance that is positive, that is about doing something for other people…or is it all spit and fury and verbal wanking all over people who “don’t get it”, and are therefore “fascists”, who don’t understand your absolute distrust and hatred of the world? Man, your turds must be so, so thin.

However....I wish you good luck, and Peace,

Hugo Burnham (not a screen name, not hiding behind one)

p.s. You may have the last word on this here,  Bill - I know you yearn for it!