Friday, 26 May 2017

European art as the nazis envisaged

"Europe has always been a grand idea. But it is more flexible than we realize. We must deliberately invest it with the meaning we wish for it to have. If we don't, others will."

A new book about the history of nazism, now focussing upon its art policies, offers a warning that seems to be quite apt in these days.

The nazis rejected both democratic cosmopolitism and modernism, and wanted a European culture rooted in the 'Volk', and purified from 'decadent elements' among which the 'Jewish element' was, of course, the most conspicuous. They believed in 'purity' along ethnic lines and authoritarian directives, as a solution for the mess Western societies had got into after WW I, with their economic crashes and general confusion, also and especially, in the arts. (The resemblance with the rise of rightwing parties in Europe today is obvious.) The traditionalism that the nazis advocated was, of course, a perversion, and from their rejection of modernism should not be concluded that traditionalism is inherently fascist; if this were so, eating meat and heavy smoking and drinking would be necessary proof that one does not cultivate fascist sympathies - Hitler was vegetarian and did not smoke or drink. The entire project of a fascist European cultural reform was a sickening pipe dream of amateurs and diabolical nitwits.


Addendum April 2018:

All the more embarrassing that some great performers fell for the nazi perversion of culture, among which one of the great British conductors, Reginald Goodall, who was - apart from a great Wagner conductor - also an ardent supporter of nazism:

Passionate about all things German, in the 1930s Goodall openly sympathised with the Nazi regime, which he perceived as a defender of Germanic cultural traditions. Goodall also actively supported  Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, and he eventually joined the party just five days after Britain's declaration of war on Germany. He maintained his outspoken pro-Nazi views during World War II, the uninhibited expression of which once led him to be briefly questioned by the police. Goodall was known to refer to the Holocaust as a "BBC Jewish plot".

How is it possible that he became a 'Sir' and got a CBE? That he had a career at all after the war? He was protected by music's non-conceptual nature.

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