Nomenclature: Entartete Kunst.
In 1937 the Nazis put on exhibition in deliberately cramped facilities in Munich the confiscated works of modern artists they despised: Entartete Kunst, “Degenerate Art”. A spare, neo-Classical building was opened at the same time to house the art of National Socialism. Art was considered degenerate for its style and content: Dada, expressionism, cubism, and abstraction were verboten. Paintings and sculpture that did not idealize war, portrayed urban life, or presented the human form in ways that may seem strange or grotesque were likewise condemned. Along with degenerate art, the Nazis ridiculed and banned much modern music, especially jazz: the latter was associated in particular with the racially-inferior Blacks, and the Jew of course was the conspirator and polluter “underneath the lot” (to borrow T.S. Eliot’s phrase).
Nazi art idealized reality: men were chaste, blue-eyed, blond-haired young “Aryans”, all muscle and soldierly discipline. Women were busty Frauleins created for farm work and child rearing. The landscapes conformed to the vile, tribalist Nazi fantasy of Blut und Boden, “Land and Soil”. Nazi cultural policy followed the guiding principle of Gleichschaltung, “co-ordination”, that was applied to the civil service and the professions. Just as Jews and other inveterate “racial” and ideological enemies of fascism were rooted out of law, medicine, and teaching and were replaced by Nazi candidates, so works of degenerate art were removed from museums and replaced by the art of the NSDAP. Jews were slated for extermination; degenerate art was destroyed.
The Nazis had begun their project to gut culture, though, with books: German university students, who seem in retrospect uncannily like the social justice warrior thugs of Berkeley and other benighted American campuses today, made bonfires of the works of Thomas Mann and Sigmund Freud, Erich Maria Remarque and Franz Werfel, Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Albert Einstein and Heinrich Heine.
Entartete Kunst in the first instance today is America’s public sculpture, from Christopher Columbus just about everywhere, to the statue of President Theodore Roosevelt in front of the Museum of Natural History in New York that he founded, to that of the abolitionist and Civil War hero Hans Christian Heg at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. The BLM/Antifa mob have decided that this art is degenerate and that they have the right to deprive its public viewers and owners, us, of it, and to put something else there. The first targets of this artistic vanguard of the cultural revolution are heterosexual, “white” Christian males whose talent and dedication made them extraordinary. American history itself, and their achievements in that historical record, has been identified as evil and must be erased and replaced.
Here in Fresno, California, disgruntled social warrior storm troopers have threatened to destroy the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the campus of the local state university. His crime: he is supposed to have expressed racialist opinions once, and to have slept near a little girl another time. Nothing else he accomplished is considered of any value, least of all the strategy of Satyagraha, non-violence. In Portland, Oregon, a left-fascist mob vandalized a statue of an elk. Yes, the quadruped with antlers— no, not a member of the men’s club. Why an elk? Evidently celebration of America’s wonderful natural heritage— the purple mountains’ majesty and fruited plain— is not allowed, because anything that paints this country in a favorable light, anything that portrays it as beautiful rather than ugly, is Entartete Kunst.
During the pogrom against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles last month, the rioters daubed anti-Semitic slogans on a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis in the last months of World War II. The Soviets arrested him during the liberation and he died in the Gulag. He was “white”, Christian, European, and (as far as I know) heterosexual. Anti-Semitism is the soul of BLM/Antifa: the dead hand of the SS reached out in sunny Los Angeles, this year, to kill the memory of a hero.
In England, a statue of Sir Winston Churchill is pulled down, because he favored the British Empire. Never mind he stood up to Hitler long before the Soviet Union or the United States did. Never mind that he wanted to take military steps to derail the Holocaust, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not want to even hear of it. But then, helping the Jews would be a strike against him, not for him. Anti-Semitism is the heart of the platform of BLM/Antifa: one has to repeat this unpleasant truth again and again. Churchill meant to defend the people of the Bible, Christ’s own people, from extinction. And that is unforgivable.
And then there is the poor Little Mermaid of Copenhagen, yes, Hans Christian Andersen’s lovely little creature, resting her bronze fins on a rock in the harbor. Her statue had “Racist Fish” painted on it some weeks ago: a bit silly, it would seem. But let’s look more closely. What is a mermaid if not a hybrid? She is half-human, half-ichthyic. That makes her, by Hitler’s definition, a Mischling, or “mixed-race” subhuman. Then, she is a fish to whom racist sentiments are imputed: she must believe herself superior to other sea creatures. That, too, accords well with the Social Darwinist idea, adopted as a credo by the Nazis, that human racism is natural, since all of life in the animal kingdom is an eternal struggle between inferior and superior species and races, the former by its very nature destined to try to subvert the latter. The noble, warlike Aryan herring (pardon the pun, Herrenfisch) must fight to the death against the nefarious, devious little Semitic sprat! Racist fish. Perhaps the Danish social warriors who abused the Little Mermaid don’t want to be taken that seriously, to have their motives parsed too deeply. Or to be ridiculed. Tant pis.
Americans are no longer permitted look at art as art, and museums may no longer acquire art based on the criterion of excellence. As in Nazi Germany, the criterion is now the artist’s “racial” or sexual identity. In Munich in 1937, art certified as not degenerate had to be made by “Aryans”. It is the same now, here, and only the categories are different: the critic and museum buyer must favor art-by-women, or art-by-“people of color” (whatever that means), or LGBTQ art. The latter category has nothing to do with ancient Greek sculpture, or the works of Michelangelo or Leonardo, who were “white” and male and therefore to be de-accessioned, purged, canceled, erased, liquidated. LGBTQ has nothing to do with homosexuals, who are just people who are attracted to others of their sex but who do not necessarily share an ideology in common. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sold a Mark Rothko to buy some work by artists of the approved genders and ethnicities. Rothko was a heterosexual male Jew, ergo his work is degenerate and dispensable, to be replaced by ideologically approved art. Gleichschaltung in action, Entartete Kunst disposed of.
The Russian Jewish art history professor Igor Golomstock once showed his rapt students in Moscow a slide of a painting. It showed a healthy, blond young family: Mom, Pop, big brother, and Sis— listening with rapt attention to the speaker of their cathedral-like wooden radio receiver. Dad holds a rolled up newspaper in his hand. The hands of the Soviet young people shot up: It’s Popov’s (or Ivanov’s, or whoever’s) famous painting of a family listening to Stalin’s speech, they chorused eagerly. Golomstock pointed out the newspaper clutched in the manly paw of Paterfamilias: it was the NSDAP’s Völkischer Beobachter, not the CPSU(b)’s Pravda. The Nazi painting was nearly identical to its separated-at-birth Stalinist contemporary. His point having been made, the troublemaker was promptly fired: Golomstock emigrated to America and published a fine book, Totalitarian Art. It is unlikely he could publish it here today, at least not without the requisite servile revisions extolling feminism, queer theory, people of color, etc. In the Soviet Union, not very much indeed distinguished Socialist Realism from, well, National Socialist Realism; and those degenerate “Formalists” who would not conform and obstinately made art for art’s sake were lucky to lose just their jobs and not their heads. As in Nazi Germany, cultural policy extended to music: Prokofiev, Khachaturyan, and Shostakovich are but the three most prominent composers whose careers and lives were ruined by Stalinism. Russians tell a one-liner about the Jewish violinist who is walking down the street, followed by two music critics in plainclothes.
In Communist Czechoslovakia, after the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, many writers, musicians, and artists were blacklisted and had to find menial jobs to survive. One was Vaclav Havel, may his memory be for a blessing, who was later to become the first President of the free Czech Republic of today. Until an American version of the Velvet Revolution comes about, it might be a very good idea for a young person interested in a career in the arts in America today to learn the trade of a plumber, mechanic, or electrician, make a living, raise a family, and paint in the evening and on weekends. Unless she is an LGBTQ left-fascist of the appropriate skin color or ideological training, with the right network of like-minded friends, her painting, sculpture, or song will like a lonely blossom wither unseen in the desert air.
As the coronavirus rages and the economy totters, we will most likely witness greater outrages against the masterpieces left-fascism has classified as degenerate art. The Taliban dynamited the Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan a few months before 9/11. Is Mount Rushmore safe? American libraries are openly discussing plans to change their collections so as to shift the focus away from “white” middle-class readers. What will happen to the offending books taken off the shelves? How long before familiar canvases of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or Monet will be sold to purchase more work by unknown but safe Parteigenossen? More important, what will you do to stop it, before they come after you, too?
Categories: Chronicle of Current Events