Friday, June 09, 2017

The Gut People

In the last post I talked about the pseudo-Right and I wanted to expand on this theme a bit more. Rightness and Leftness are in themselves meaningless terms except in so far as they have become labels associated with a series of traits and behaviours which appeared to be opposed to each other. In fact it would be far more accurate to call the polarities conservative and liberal since the positions taken by each represent more a dispositional orientation rather than than a principled one.

Jordan Peterson elaborates on this much further in this excellent short video.

The bottom line here is that people vote according--and chose their political orientation--according to their temperament.  What this means is that people vote more with their "gut" than with their "head" and the  Feelz trump Reelz when the mob acts. The politics of the masses are limbic rather than cerebral.

The problem with this feelz based approach to reality management is that it tends towards a cognitive simplification which may be woefully inadequate to the task at hand. One of the reasons Marxism fails is because its cognitive model of the world--which even low IQ knuckleheads can grasp--does not map adequately on the reality of human nature and the means of production. But it would be a huge mistake to think that cognitive simplification is of exclusive domain of the liberal temperament, Conservatives are quite capable of "intuitively simplifying" as well. Which brings us to the psuedo-Right.

If I had to define the Pseudo-Right, I would define it as those of a conservative disposition who refuse to acknowledge reality. Reality, in this instance, is not rhetorical "reality" but objective Truth, since it makes them feel bad.

Many of the Alt-Right, for instance, are quite happy with moral degeneracy provided its ethnically pure. The problem is that even an elementary understanding of history will show that no stable or prosperous society has ever been built on moral degeneracy. It's a belief that is miscalibrated to reality. But lounging poolside in a white brothel sure feelz good.  Likewise those of a traditionalist disposition wondering why it all went to Hell in a handbasket fail to understand that many of their "traditional beliefs" were miscalibrated to reality, and had the rug pulled out from them when reality intervened. Change induces bad feelings and these feelings must be avoided. Hence no change.

One of the huge problems with Western Anthropology has been the definition of man as a "rational animal". This presupposition permeates many of legal, theological and political theories and like all of the most toxic heresies is partially true. The reality is that we are capable of rationality on some of the time and with effort. We are people of the mind, only in exception, for the rest of the time we the people of the gut, the people of intuition.

Bonus: For those of you who are interested, Jordan Peterson further elaborating on this theme.

Double Bonus: Jordan Peterson isn't a fan of the Alt-Right. (Note for the gut people. He didn't dismiss it outright, but pointed out that much of its thinking is undeveloped and simplified. In other words, they have some good points but aren't bright or calibrated to the Truth.)

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pseudo Right

One of the reasons I harp on so much about the concept of Truth as a foundational principle of the Right is because it serves as a litmus test helping differentiate the Right from the pseudo-Right.  What I mean by the pseudo-Right are ideologies and positions which appear Right wing but actually aren't, and it's my belief that the pseudo Right is perhaps the most dangerous threat to the resurgent right  as the danger from it is subtle and not easily recognised.

Most people have an intuitive grasp of what it means to be "Right" however intuitional approaches to the subject lack a fair amount of precision, and this ambiguity of meaning leaves a lot of room for error to creep in. Furthermore, the conflation of the Right with Conservatism, just serves to make the problem worse.

Reality calibration is a prerequisite of successful action. If we define the Right as those who uphold the Truth, then the anti-Right will be those who uphold some form of error. Right politics, viewed through this definitional understanding, ceases to become an issue of Right vs Left, rather it's an issue of Right vs wrong. However, current definitions of Right and Left seemed based more on inutitional approaches rather then objective ones. This way of tackling the classification is rather wooley and leaves lots of room for error to creep in. Defining the Right as a sort of Anti-Left--makes no demands on reality calibration and does nothing to protect the Right classified ideology from holding positions which are flat out wrong.  Intuition is not infallible, and as the Master teaches, one can fall from both the right AND left side of the narrow path.

Indeed when you think of the "Right" or  "Conservatism", several intuitive concepts come to mind; the respect of tradition and place, social order and homogeneity, a preference for orthodoxy and an extremely limited tolerance for novelty, disorder and deviancy. Thinking about the right intuitively tends to result in a list of features which are associated with the concept without actually defining it. What you end up with this approach is not a definition but a laundry list of features which feel "Right," and any ideology which expresses these features is thus classified accordingly.

Here's Michael Oakeshott's famous definition of what it means to be "Conservative"

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.
Nicely written, with a list of features, but no definitional understanding.

However, using this laundry list approach results in some quite bizarre results.  The Politburo of the Brezhnev era, could quite rightly be classified as the "right or "conservative" faction, opposed to the progressives of the time, despite espousing an openly Marxist vision of the world. Stalin, who felt that homosexuals were degenerates would likewise using this approach be classified as of the right. On the other hand, Pope Francis, who has not changed one iota of doctrine, but is favour of some innovation, is frequently called out as a Commie on the more Traditionalist web spaces. Using Oakshott's definition,  Pius X and Leonid Brezhnev would both be classed as "Rightists" or "Conservatives."

 Clearly we have a problem.

What really becomes apparent when you look at mainstream classifications of Left and Right, is that the polarity refers less to substantiate ideological positions than it does to where the parties sit with respect to the big five personality traits. This is why National Socialism and Traditionalist Catholicism get lumped into the same group because, superficially, they posses traits which are associated with the right in the mind of the cognitive miser. Never mind the fact that they both rest on ideological substructures which are inherently hostile to each other.

The problem with the associative approach to the definition of the Right, is that anyone can qualify as Right, as long as a critical amount of associative features are present in their ideology, no matter how wrong everything else is. 1488'ers and Paleoconservatives are thus "Right wing" even though they are hostile to each other. The victim in this state of affairs is Truth itself. Nationalism, for example, which I believe rests on some pretty solid psychological and biological facts, gets smeared though guilt by association with the excesses of 1488'ers making it difficult to raise as a legitimate subject of discussion. Furthermore, some ideas of the Left, which may have some legitimacy to them are out of bounds because they are not "associated" with the Right.

If you look at this from a metahistorical approach, you can see the role of the Left is to pummel the Truth from the outside and the role of the pseudo Right is to undermine it from within, and part of the reason why we have not been able to mount a successful defence is because we cannot delineate friend from foe because we don't know what the rules of membership are.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Litmus Tests

I thought I'd return to this comment by Z man since I felt it dealt with an issue which needs to be addressed on the Right.
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?
I feel it addresses one of the fundamental issues affecting the Right at the moment; What does the Right actually stand for? From what I can see, the only commonality that unites all the Right factions is the belief in nationalism, everything else seems to be up for grabs. Some factions are OK with homosexuality, others are not. Some seem to be happy with sexual promiscuity as long its for white people only, others are happy for a nationalistic socialism, others want nationalistic capitalism. From what I can see, in the new Alt-Right, Paganism, Atheism and Christianity can rub shoulders together with Gay socialists, as long as they embrace nationalism. Who said that the Right wasn't liberal.

While we are all united on the subject of nationalism and are united in our opposition to the Left the fact of the matter is that on many other issues some members of the Alt Right are in agreement with some of the ideas of the Left. The Natsocs seem pretty cool with sexual degeneracy and socialism, ideas which were never part of the Right stable. The fact of the matter is that there are huge points of disagreement between the different factions of the Alt-Right with nationalism cannot paper over. Unfortunately nationalism is not going to be enough and its pretty obvious that the at some point the various factions of the Alt Right are going to chew each other up over these not insubstantial differences, going to be a pretty hollow victory when in the moment of triumph we destroy it all by slashing at each other over the other points of disagreement. 

It's this blogs contention that what it means to be Right is more to be is much more than nationalism or ethnic identity. Rightness, in the end, is living in accordance with the Truth.

The concept of Truth is an important one, and why an understanding of the subject is important in any consideration of "Rightness". The other day I saw floating somewhere on the internet a comment which ran to the affect of, "If you want to offend someone on the Right tell a lie, if you want to offend someone on the Left, tell the Truth", which I though was pretty close to a practical definition of what it means to be of the Right. Solzhenitsyn, on of the unrecognized prophets of the Twentieth Century understood the significance of this and realised that the fundamental task of man was to live not by lies.

Living the in the Truth involves four fundamental principles as I can see.

The First Principle is the acceptance of the the idea that there is a Truth, in other words there is a reality.
The Second Principle is that we know reality through the empirical experience of it.
The Third Principle is that there is a duty of obedience to it.
The Fourth Principle is that there is a commitment to the free expression of it.
The Fifth Principle is that correct action can only come about through acting within the Truth.

Truth is the foundational pillar of the Right, and any ideological outgrowth which deliberate violates its commitment to it is automatically excommunicated. How the Right differs from Conservatism is that Conservatism prefers old lies to innovative Truth.

However things aren't that simple. Real world application of the these principles is predicated on their being a common understanding of the concepts of Truth, Reality, Empirical experience and moral character. Change these fundamental definitions and the nature of the principles change as well. Hence the importance of metaphysics, since it imputes the semantic content to these words.

Which brings us to religion.

Now, when I use the term religion I'm using it in its most expansive sense. At its core, a religion can be thought of a set of metaphysical propositions; statements describing the nature of being and reality, mechanisms of causation, ontology, etc. Relgions are definitional understandings. Taking this approach, Atheistic Positivism is just as much of a religion as any pagan sect. Atheism affirms the denial of any existence outside the empirically experienced. Christianity affirms the there are modes of existence which are beyond perception by normal biological means. The point here is not about the competing claims, rather,  how you understand reality is going to influence how you understand the concept of Truth and  what it means to be Right. Therefore a "Right" Atheist or Pagan is going to understand those five principles differently than a "Right" Christian.

The other thing about metaphysical systems differing Religions is that each system's metaphysical propositions end up defining what constitutes good and evil. However, the metaphysical system that is Positivism/Atheism is flawed because it cannot generate values and ends up silent on the subject. Refer to Hume's Guillotine before debating this matter further.  A Right that lays its foundation on Atheism can be as accepting of homosexuality as transgenderism  just as much as it can of genocide. This makes Right litmus tests administered from a Positivistic perspective seriously limited. A Positivistic right is going to be far more "inclusive" simply because it can't make for distinctions of moral value. Ideological systems which cross moral lines are not excluded.

For the Christian Right, Marx and Hitler are both outside the camp since they espoused principles which are wrong and have no room for them in their house. The litmus test of Christian Rightism is conformity to Christian reality.  The Test for Rightism under Christian rules is far more restrictive.

This is why any understanding of the right has to take into account metaphysical principles, i.e. religion. It is this blog's contention that this is the main issue affecting the West today. The shift from the Christian world view to the Atheist undercut the foundations of Western society and set forth a series of cultural transformations which are eating it up from the inside. The problem isn't Right and Left, the problem is Right and Wrong.  Fascism is just as much of a lie as socialism though of a different political polarity.

Solzhenitsyn spent a lot of time trying to understand where the 20th Century went wrong, especially as it pertained to Russia.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Comments on Zman's Iron Law of Conservatism

Recently a blogger by the name of Zman put up an interesting post, The Iron Law of Conservatism, which asserts that conservative organisations over time tend to drift Left. I felt was very good and one which I think warrants some comments. Zman writes;
The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?

The same is true of anti-racism and egalitarianism. How can these be rejected when they are inventions of the West? Of course, the Alt-Lite makes no attempt to reject these as that would get them in trouble with the Left. That’s what opens the door to, and requires them to accept, the defining feature of the dominant orthodoxy. That feature is the blank slate. As McInness goes to pains to point out, if a hotep brotha is on the Trump Train, he has a place at the table of the Alt-Lite, a cherished place.

That’s the fatal flaw that was the undoing of the Buckley Right. The Alt-Lite has no affirmative argument. Instead, it is a list of things it is not and most of those things are to their Right. That firewall they are building to their Right, just as Buckley did with Kirk and with the paleocons, comes at the expense of any defensible line of demarcation between themselves and the Left. That leaves them open to entryism, corruption and subversion, which is why the leading opponents of Trump are all Buckley Conservatives.
One of the reasons I've been harping on the subject of Fascism lately is because best it illustrates the entryist problem as it pertains to right wing politics. Ask almost anyone about Fascism, and where it sits on the political spectrum,  and more likely than not they will locate it on the Right. Yet, as this blog and the objective historical record shows it was a child born of the Left, riddled with its genetics and from its outset was ready to wage war against traditional European society and its underlying foundations.

How does an movement become considered a member of the Right when the ideas of Marx are its conceptual foundations is not something that gets talked about much in Rightie circles, yet, if you think about it, it would appear to be a rather serious problem.

It's my contention that one of the reasons why the Right has been a continual losing proposition in the 20th Century is because it has failed to develop an doctrine, or litmus test, on what it means to be "Right". This failure has led to "infiltration" into the ranks by elements which are subversive and thus the Right is caught in a continual pincer grip, attacked from the over Left from the outside and the covert Left from the outside. It's hard to defeat the enemy in front of you when you're being stabbed in the back.

How we arrived at this state of affairs deserves a book length treatment, but briefly, I think a lot of this has got to do with the fact that prior to the French Revolution the world was Right wing by default. Anyone attempting to change the world had to argue for the change first with the result that Left wing tradition of justifying itself developed quite a formidable body of supporting argumentation which gave it some form of superficial intellectual coherence, Right wing ideas, on the other hand, were simply assumed by many and not much thought was given. Furthermore, the Christian religion did the lions share of Right wing defence by prohibiting by morality that which could not be rebuked by argument. With the collapse of the Christian religion, the whole "Right" defence was dealt a mortal blow.

The significance of this latter collapse shouldn't be underestimated. With the demise of Morality all that was left was intuition and tradition, with the preference for tradition, when it all comes down to it being a temperamental matter, the so call "Conservative disposition."

The problem with this "dispositional" approach to politics and culture is that things are assumed to be Right wing by virtue of them "feeling" right wing. Therefore any ideology which emphasises order, authority, patriotism and identity is assigned to the right of the political spectrum by its associated qualities with the "Right" disposition.  Fascism, Catholic Integralism, Neoconservatism and the Soviet "hardliners" are all put on the right despite totally incompatible underlying philosophical foundations.

Then there is the problem of political "framing".  Perhaps the greatest victory the Marxist-Leninists ever achieved was convincing everyone else that theirs was the only "authentic" interpretation of Marx™,  and labeling everyone who opposed them as "Reactionaries". How conservatives ever played along with this idea is beyond me--further proof that they really are the stupid party-- however the historical record shows that the rebranding of Fascism was hugely successful, allowing Nationalist Marxism, i.e.  Marxism v2.0™to be percieved as of the Right. After all, all those Nuremberg rallies feel "Right" don't they.

The successful branding of Fascism, and other ideologies as a right wing phenomena meant that membership to "Right Club" was based on the feels rather than pedigree. However the differences in their respective philosophical underpinnings meant that the members of Right Club were, in the end, incompatible. Furthermore, the pragmatic attitude of "you don't punch to what feels the Right" makes sure that the entryist problem remains entrenched.

The solution to this problem is for the Dissident Right to develop a litmus test of membership. Yes, in a sense, it is a sort of 'purity" test but it needs to be done in order to stop the movement from being subverted from the inside. I think if any other bloggers are interested, I think it would be worthwhile to make a concerted effort on this subject over the next few weeks.

The Z man proposes this as a sort of test:
The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics. It’s why Libertarianism, in its current form, not right wing. The Reason Magazine crowd are sure that all you have to do to fix Haiti, for example, is end the licensing of barbershops and other small businesses. And legalize weed, of course. In other words, they get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.
I think he's nearly there but just misses the mark. The Natsocs satisfy the above criteria and as we have shown on this blog they're clearly they're from the Left.  In fact, the more you think about it, even most of the Left can in someway be made to fit that schema of things. The Left have their notions about biology as well as the libertarians, the point is that they are wrong.

This leads us to the what is the distinguishing feature of Right wing belief is its commitment to Realism. The reason I don't believe in the blank slate approach to human nature is because it is disproved by the empirical observations of human life. The reason on I don't believe in biological Calvinism is because education does make a difference, but there are limits.

The great error of 20th C Rightism has been that it has been based on the "feels" rather than the "thinks". And any litmus test of Rightism has to go beyond the "feels" with all the "will to power", "comfort in Tradition", and other associated intellectual shit and concentrate on reality calibration. The underlying principle of Rightism is that 2+2=4 no matter how inconvenient or how bad it makes us feel. Chesterton saw where we were headed years ago and saw that in the end it will be a battle between those who asserted the Truth and those who preferred something else.
Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.

The Litmus Test of Rightism is a belief in the Truth, any other test misses the mark.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's Looking Grim

An intermission from our studies on Fascism.

Samuel Francis, recognised that the fundamental weakness of the Middle American Radicals was their failure to develop a cadre of intellectuals and leaders who would be able to implement their desired changes. He recognised that the absence of such members in the movement rendered the it susceptible  to "decapitation" by the professional managerial class who who would co-opt and neutralise it.  The actions by the Trump administration over the past few days confirm this prediction.

For the life of me I cannot see how the attack by the U.S. on Syria serves any of its interests or the interests of the Syrian people. I actually believe the Donald Trump is a decent guy and I imagine he would have authorised the attack on "humanitarian grounds" but for the life of me I don't understand why he is so selective in his humanitarianism.  There are plenty of other places in the world where military action would bring real benefit to the suffering of the people--without threat of intervention with Russia--and yet the U.S. turns a blind eye.

And how does the U.S. action actually help the Syrian people? Assad by all accounts is the least worst of the combatants and there  appears to be a continual flow of refugees towards the areas he controls. There are no "moderate rebels", and the question needs to be asked, who then are the Americans supporting?

The only winners in this idiotic escapade are the Sunni/Turkish/Israeli axis who get to see Assad's success reversed and Al Quaeda triumph. It's a lose/lose situation for everyone else.

By all accounts Trump isn't a rocket scientist but it doesn't mean that he is stupid either. As President, his view of the world is shaped by his prior knowledge--which appears to be limited--and the current image of it which is presented to him by his advisors.  It's this indirect ability to affect the President's actions which confers upon them an indirect Presidential power.  I think many people from the non-mainstream Right have been dismayed by some of his advisory picks, principally those of his relations whose influence is disproportionate by the virtue of family sentiment. This dissident Right hasn't paid enough attention to this matter and it appears that their movement has been decapitated through by mechanism. The Neocons and the Israeli lobby are in charge again. When "Never Trumpers" like Bill Kristol are cheering Trump's actions you know that middle America has lost. Bannon's our last hope but it appears that he is grimly holding on and that his time is numbered.

Before anyone thinks I've gone all Natsoc think again. My position is that of John Mearsheimer's who does not equate Jewish as synonymous with the Israeli lobby . In fact one of the big problems for the Israeli lobby is getting enough Jewish people to get on board. This is quite simply the penetration of one government into another and directing its military and foreign policy.  During the Cold War the Russians were able to exert an enormous amount of influence on U.S. policy by putting "fellow travelers" into positions of advisory influence, thereby influencing foreign policy. Alger Hiss was an Episcopalian.

What's been really interesting to see is the limited nature of the response by the U.S. military on Assad which seems to suggest that there is a pushback going on. There's plenty of evidence that he was given advance warning of the attack and the targeting suggests that the Americans weren't really serious about going after him. It's almost as if the U.S. military was rebelling  didn't really want to get into a fight.

My own observations suggest that there a huge divisions forming in the U.S. government. The Army doesn't really seem to be that keen on adventures. The intelligence agencies on the other hand, seem to have been "penetrated" and are "gung ho", and God only knows what is going on with the Law enforcement agencies.  It's not a good picture. I think the U.S. is in real danger of some kind of civil war or military catastrophe.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Nazi Art

“mainstream Modernism has been sealed off from ideological and aesthetic contamination by the Third Reich.”

One of the things that I found interesting while reading Griffin is his approach to the whole subject of Fascism. Unlike many other writers on the subject, Griffin tries to understand the subject of Fascism as the Fascists understood it themselves.  His attempt to understand it in no way condones it and its pretty apparent that Griffin finds the ideals of Fascism repugnant. Still, what I found interesting is Griffins need to defend himself from charges of fascist sympathy or the "normalisation" of it by taking this approach. What became apparent to me is that mainstream academia has preconceived notions of how to "correctly" approach the subject, lest suspicions of fascist sympathy be levied.

It appears that academia, till recently, demanded that Fascism be seen through a certain lens. Trying to understand Fascism as a product of Marxism and Modernism is a definite faux pas, while seeing Fascism as an aberrant evil outside the Modernist vision seems to be emphasised, particularly the notion that Fascism is a form of malignant resurgence of the "Right". The precise definition of the Right being ambiguous since rigorous analysis tends to throw up uncomfortable resemblances. Socialist academia's hostility to Griffin is pretty obvious because as you burrow down the rabbit hole you realise that both emerge from the same sewer of ideas. 

Getting people to interpret Fascism "correctly" solves a lot of uncomfortable problems for the Left. It emphasises the distance between them and Fascists. It allows anyone the Left considers "Right" of itself to be smeared by association with the ghastly crimes of the the Natsocs. The standard academic trope is that Nazism was an outgrowth of nationalism and the academic's response the the rise of nationalism is reflexively to look for Nazis under the bed, yet the nationalism of Wilhelm and George did not give birth to the gas chambers and concentration camps.  Obviously more research needs to be done.

Furthermore, by interpreting  the "Right" as reactionary phenomenon, i.e being a product of the Old World, with its Churches, Monarchs and social order, it invariably casts progressivism and Modernism in a good light. Most Righties are pretty dumb, and they obsess about superficiality instead of substance but it is here where rubber hits the road. The role of Leftist academia is to portray Modernism as a good and it definitely muddles the message if Nazi's are seen drinking from the same font.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating insights in Griffin's book concerns the subject of Modernism in Nazi art. For me, it was real "red pilling" with regard to Fascist culture.

I imagine that many people have seen the Monuments Men movie and know how the U.S. Army tried to save many artworks which were stolen by the Nazi's during the Second World War. But what gets little mention is the fact that the "Monuments Men" weren't just there to find lost masters, they were also tasked with the duty of finding any art which they felt glorified Nazism and to bring it back to the U.S.  Over ten thousand art works were looted confiscated by the U.S. Army, with some of it making its way to back to Germany in 1986. What's interesting about these artworks, is that firstly, they're almost impossible to get access to, and secondly, the Nazi era artworks that we have been allowed to see have fostered the notion that the "Nazi" approved art was old fashioned and traditional. However what this hidden body of work demonstrates is that Nazi art was in its own way highly modernistic.

Griffin's books mention Gregory Maertz, a professor of English at St John's university who quite inadvertently stumbled upon a lost trove of Nazi art held in the U.S. and Germany, and who now devotes some of his time in furthering academic research into the subject.
GM: In the first place, I’m trying to create a new discipline in art and cultural history by restoring to the historical record what I have dubbed the "anti-canon" of Nazi art. The main vehicle for this effort was my discovery a few years ago of the largest extant collection (nearly 10,000 pieces) of art produced during the Third Reich. Created by the United States Army in 1946-47, the collection was held in protective custody in the U.S. from 1947 to 1986. The fun part of working on this project has been the research travel and interviewing people who were involved with the creation of the collection and its subsequent controversial history. In addition to museums and archives scattered across the United States, my research has taken me to Italy, Austria, and all over Germany: to secret depots in Munich and Berlin, former hiding places for Nazi art in the Bavarian Forest near the Czech border, and obscure museum storerooms in the German provinces. I had a particularly thrilling experience in February 2002, when I was the first scholar in 50 years to see a large part of the U.S. Army’s Nazi art collection[ED]. Returned to Germany by American authorities in 1951, the 1600 works of art had been considered lost until I entered a heavily guarded facility in eastern Berlin, noted its jaw-dropping contents, and realized that I had struck gold.

How you would have imagined that the subject of Art in Nazi Germany would have been a legitimate source of research with normal access restrictions in place............. and yet it isn't. Why?

Maertz  has published a book, The Invisible Museum, which deals with this subject--which I can't find any copies of-- and what I found interesting was Maertz's difficulties in getting access to the work, even for scholarship purposes. Apparently its still a very politically sensitive topic.  Maertz wanted to hold an exhibition illustrating the similarity between Nazi, Communist and New Deal (!) art but this was judged verboten.

Maertz gives a good lecture (with .pdf) where it certainly does appear that the link between Nazism and Traditionalism was emphasised while the emphasis between modernism and Fascism downplayed. The image of Nazi art as being antimodernistic was deliberately curated

The images in this post are from the "Invisible Museum" that I've been able to find on the internet and are for fair use.
They were all freely displayed in the museums of the Third Reich.

The Thrid Reich was not some kind of traditionalist restoration project. It wanted to usher in it own version of a modern new world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some More Thoughts on Griffin's Modernism and Fascism

One of the themes that comes across strongly in Griffin's book is the sense of "spiritual" dysfunction in European society at the end of the 19th Century. What becomes apparent is that while there was the triumph of Positivism, which bore fruit in terms of scientific discovery and material power it came at a cost to the "inner life" of European man which was profoundly unsatisfying on a spiritual level. Durkheim called this unease Anomie.

Now Anomie is an interesting thing, some people seem perfectly fine with it, or at least accept it. On the other hand, as Griffin shows, there were many who were horrified by the mechanistic and deterministic universe that Positivism i.e. science, promised. It was these men, who while admiring the technics of Science, wanted to fill the void left by the metaphysics of it. It was these men that took part in the "revolt from Positivism" and laid the foundations of Fascist ideology.

It is Emilio Gentile who, by combining impeccable archival research with sophisticated conceptualization, makes the most authoritative pronouncements on Fascism's 'modernist' credentials, and in so doing explicitly imparts the term connotations that corroborate our primordialist perspective. He asserts that 'Fascist modernism sought to realize a new synthesis between tradition and modernity, without renouncing modernization in order to realize the nation's goals of power'. It was through the `sacralization of politics and the institutionalization of the cult of the fasces' that Fascism attempted to fulfill the key ambition of modernist nationalism, 'the construction of a lay religion for the nation'. Fascism's futural dynamic and civilizing mission emphasized by both Ventrone and Gentile is amply borne out by Pier Giorgio Zunino's comprehensive account of the matrix of Fascist ideology as inferred from the torrent of publications that poured forth from the new regime. He documents the way that for most Fascists the new state's mission to 'lead Italy out of its humiliating condition of marginalization' was linked to a much more ambitious goal, namely to 'spread the seeds of a new civilization in which the main problems inflicting contemporary society had been finally resolved'. Under Mussolini Italians were encouraged to feel they were living on the threshold of 'a new civilization whose essence as yet no-one can know', a 'third time', a 'new epoch', a 'new cycle'. Zunino insists that the countless texts, speeches, events, and rituals mass-produced under Mussolini aimed not to 'manufacture consensus', but to fill his most fervent supporters with a 'longing for tomorrow' and 'thirst for [making] history'." 
 By 1930 convinced Fascists at every level of society were now crowding onto the craggy outcrop of rock where once only Marinetti and a small artistic elite once stood enjoying the heady Nietzschean experience of standing 'on the last promontory of the centuries'. The experience of Aufbruch lauded by Expressionist poets had been democratized, the sense of an ending replaced by the heady sense of a beginning. Emilio Gentile himself draws attention to this factor when he claims that 'the principal impulse of fascism stemmed from its "movementist" and Dionysian feeling for existence, from the myth of the future, and not from a static contemplation of the past'. This futural dynamic is only apparently belied by the cult of Romanness (romanita) that came to assume such importance under the regime, for it too was 'celebrated modernistically as a myth of action for the future'. In the words of Giuseppe Bottai, the most technocratically minded of the Fascist gerarchia, the regime's fascination with Rome sprang not from erudition, not from books, not from so-called "dead history"', but above all from its capacity to inspire action in the present. Fascism meant to carry out 'not a restoration but a renovation, a revolution in the idea of Rome'.

Now there's a lot to unpack here, but the point I'm trying to get across is that they were attempting to "construct a new religion", a palliative to the anomie bought about the Enlightenment* led transformation of Western society. In many ways, the best way to think about fascists is that they were "romantic" socialists, providing a socialism that catered not just for the body but one which catered for the "soul". It needs to be understood that Fascism was more than a government organisation it was a pseudo religion. It gave people a purpose, a sense of belonging and justification for their acts. Perceptive readers will note that there was no mention of a return to Christianity. Italian, and German Fascism both wanted to form a new mythic religion which was specifically Christian lite. So in a sense, from the vantage point of this blog,  whether you think of Fascism as either modernist or reactionary it really doesn't matter, what matters is that it was anti Christian at its core. Hard core Nazi's specifically saw Christianity as a corruption of the "mythic" [Ed: invented by themselves] Aryan ideals and wanted it expunged. It was a competing weltanshauung to theirs. How anyone can square this claim up with European history is beyond me. But hey, intellectual consistency has never been a feature of mass movements.

Griffin extensively illustrates how modernist approaches were used to project this "new religion" onto the community. Furthermore Fascist aesthetic ideals seem to yield more to human nature than Western contemporary art does now. It's rejection of the deformed, the ugly and the repellent shouldn't be seen reactionary, rather Fascism's Dionysian dynamic was complemented by an art which reflected these values rather than challenged them. There was no doubt allowed with regard to the legitimacy of the aesthetic vision. Art was not there to dialogue with the ideal, it was to serve it.
Fascism had no problem with modernist art or technology as long as it was subordinate to these ideals and Griffin shows with numerous examples the embrace of Modernism by the Fascists.

It's a hard going book, and Griffin is sometimes excessively verbose but I think in many ways he brings across the appeal of Fascism in a way that Gregor doesn't. Fascism wasn't just a response to the social crisis of the early 20th Century it was also a response to the anomie bought about by the dechristianisation of Europe.