Political Art & the Diagnosis of the Right’s Ideas Being Made “Reasonable”

It is an interesting set of ideas I have spinning off in my head at random as of late. You see, the way I think is I try to grasp a topic or idea, and then let a flutter of others pass through my third eye and then try to construct some narrative out of them. Usually I will try to solve a puzzle, or I will repeat a thought in my head long enough till this mental bumper sticker makes sense with other thought patterns of issues that I have — one of which is the phrase “making our ideas seem reasonable.”

I am chewing this over recently because I happened to stumble upon the comedian Sam Hyde’s mock-lecture at Rutgers University recently, an academic institution not exactly known for tolerating other, “heterodox” shall we call it, forms of political opinion.1 2 The thought came up when someone asked Sam about the behaviour or reaction of the students in attendance for this feat of performance art, so, in the comments section of the video, he stated that most them were surprisingly open minded, sufficiently reasonable enough to find it humorous, and this was due to a rather telling phenomena: when giving them a venue, a “safe space” as it were, even at a steeply Left-leaning university with well funded and media-enabled cultural Marxist student groups, fellow students will reveal their level of free thought and express or agree with opinions they wouldn’t dare openly espouse among their professors or fellow students.3

To me, this is a very curious statement precisely because it is indicative of the poisonous and fœtid state of popular political discourse in the media and among ordinary people in meatspace today. No-one can have any intellectual or even emotional honesty when conversing with fellow lumpenproles in the Current Year, especially when when having opinions that, while not necessarily being blatantly hateful, “shocking for shock’s sake” edgy, or the like, nevertheless falling outside of the norms of the cue card that is overton-window-approved thought, and all for fear of the repercussions, both real and imagined. We all seem to know this on the Right — from neoreactionaries, anarco-capitalists, Alt-Righters, to the weakest of the most milquetoast “cultural libertarian” Milo Yiannopolous acolytes — we all come to the same conclusion, or rather, the same basic reality which is this: we have whole generations now of people who have grown up with largely Left-wing influences of varying degrees, and have been told their whole lives how to think due to the various normalizing power apparatuses like education systems, the media, Hollywood, etc., and furthermore, a reason for this reality we can all somewhat agree on is that this is in part (once again, to varying degrees) due to the failure of leaders, politicians and thinkers on the Right who believed culture did not matter, or that economic arguments can “win over” people with rationality and common sense, an argument that has largely failed. I also will add that the reason this argument failed is because of shortsightedness of the Right-wing intelligentsia, thinkers like Roger Scruton and Allen Bloom, government neoconservative think-tankers and mainstream libertarians, and basically anyone out of the Chicago school who had a say in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If they had the wherewithal to stop demonizing new-Left thinkers like Foucault and Derrida for five seconds and actually read what they said, not only would they have figured out the nuanced way in which power works, but also would have figured out that this is how the post-modern Left in the past fifty-plus years has largely thought about things and how they continue to view the world now. Look around us today, lo and behold, the Left, in terms of the way they have gradually taken over culture, academia and the media using Alinskyite tactics, has largely followed Foucault’s conceptions and enumerations on the idea of power/knowledge and the “regimes of truth” as if they were blueprints of political action rather than critiques.

However, I am not capitulating to any notion that the new-Left has a monopoly on “the truth” — that would be an absurd stretching of my argument, also an ironic statement considering the post-modern elements of the new-Left have largely attempted to murder objective truth and first principles. But we must give credit where credit is due. The credit I shall give to the new-Left is to its unique understanding of human emotion and the way people formulate political thinking. People think on these things about society and how it shall be governed out of their various influences and emotive dispositions, rationality or cost-benefit has little to do with it, and there has been a whole slew of literature on this subject.4 As Bloom noted in The Closing of the American Mind, the Left made a systematic effort to split up Marxism, turn it into critical theory, and disavow the “vulgar” (more like real or orthodox) economic form of Marxism that was meant for the working proletarian classes, to instead formulate a “new” style of critical Marxism, a Marxist critical theory that has all the trappings of culture, literature and of the human arts and sciences that the Frankfurt philosophers were obsessed about. This appealed to the upper-middle class students during the 60s and 70s who were easily radicalized without the need of stuffy and boring Marxian economic analysis, and it landed them and all the other thinkers of the new-Left in the spot of being the apex of authority on every matter of “culture” and art.5 Education, Culture and Art is where the human heart dwells, reason has very little sway in people’s political opinions or picture of a just society.

So, let me bring you back to that little bit of rambling at the beginning, an idea spinning in my head — rather, the assumption the Left makes that I hear time and again in relation to cultural outlets: if the Right, regardless of idiosyncratic differences we all have, was to mount a serious cultural opposition in the form of media, all of the arts and entertainment, then our ideas will be “legitimized” and this is “dangerous” because it would provide an alternative way of thinking about political issues that would lead to “bigotry and hate.” This is exactly the hypocritical logic that drove the click-bait-sphere in its persistent demonization campaign of Sam Hyde and Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace. No show or form of art in a mainstream outlet can be tolerated for very long if it breaks the Leftist narrative, and of course the Left black-balls any cultural opposition whilst in the same breath, standing up for and supporting the clear majority of art and entertainment in the West that has a Left-wing bias that is either latent or explicit. Hollywood is also still persistent in lamenting and romanticizing the exaggerated McCarthyism era whilst maintaining a puritanical cultural neo-McCarthyite regime of its own.6 Of course, by now I shall say we mustn’t think this is some grand actively-guided conspiracy, but a greater manifestation of the continuous chain of pedagogy/indoctrination of predominantly Left-wing social institutions. In other words, the writers for any major show or movie, the producers, reporters, gallery owners, etc. tend to come from the same uber-chic Leftist schools, and ride in the same yuppie upper-crust major city circles that also mutually reinforce everyone’s cocooned worldviews. Sam Hyde has an excellent breakdown of what exactly happened, and what lies certain click-bait bloggers used to justify their witch-hunt of World Peace.7 In particular, the head editor of Buzzfeed, Joe Bernstein, who got into a heated interview with Sam, wrote ridiculous articles trying to work over the executives at Adult Swim by playing the guilt-by-association fallacy on Sam and Million Dollar Extreme, maliciously linking them to the supposed hate-filled trolling actions of certain fans and accusing World Peace of being “the Alt-Right’s first comedy show” (I trust all of you fine readers not to give Buzzfeed any more clicks, I am simply putting the links here for academic integrity).8 9 10

In the said infamous interview between Bernstein and Sam, there is a point where Sam becomes apathetic. Probably realizing the interview is some elaborate but not very well thought-out fishing expedition on the part of Bernstein, Sam turns things around and starts probing into Joe’s education, why he writes, and ultimately ending with the insult that must have struck a nerve considering the output of articles, “you will never write for The New York Times!”11 To me, this little troll, this mocking bravado on the part of Sam Hyde, reveals something about media and entertainment in the Current Year, namely, its utter;y absurd, vapid banality — not to mention its narcissistic self-image and unwarranted sense of self-importance. Bernstein seems like a pastiche of a real journalist, idealizing the demi-Gods at his favorite urbanite rag The New York Times, and Buzzfeed being an archetype of what net-journalism has become: wrought by a seemingly obsessive dedication to churning out click-bait article after click-bait article filled with empty, wisdom-less trendy Pablum. The utter arrogance of our globalist cultural gatekeepers in their assertions that alternative art and media will somehow “legitimize” ideas they determine to be “bigoted” and “hateful” is astounding, hence the reason I say with all the might in my breath: we need to move forward and produce quality art, entertainment and academic output — do as the Left did in the 60s and 70s and subvert the outlets of culture from within while promoting quality intellectual and artistic projects. We see all around us the grotesqueness of corporate-backed “conceptualism” in modern art, the terrifyingly low-standards and death-throes of modern journalism, the disgusting state of modern television entertainment that does not even attempt to hide its biases and with every opportunity, gleefully legitimizing hedonistic apathy. We live in the age of the “endless stream of trash,” Theodor Adorno called the modern culture industry.12 We see all of this and more; what I like to call the Lena Dunhamification of Hollywood and media, that being the capitulation of more debauchedly obscene content, more displays of hyper-politized identities and more promotion of the insanely myopic worldviews of millennials.

In a sense, it is only a relatively recent phenomenon that the Right has ceded all output and control of culture and fine art. As the wonderful review by Jonathan Bowden on the excellent work by Kerry Bolton, Artists of the Right states, significant literary and artistic figures such as Yeats, Tolkien and Pound sympathized with traditionalist ideas and rejected the decadence and materialism of modernity.13 It is a long-held misconception that the Right can never produce “good” art, or that we are all philistines lacking sensuality and artistic creativity. Any art historian with an ounce of seriousness and integrity (two of my favourites being Roger Kimball and the late Robert Hughes) can see that the lives and opinions of artists throughout the ages are much more nuanced than the Leftist academics in art schools and universities will have you believe. In fact, the father of modern art Paul Cezanne himself was a deeply rural-dwelling conservative figure that dreaded the Parisian city life and the bohemian circles his fellow impressionists traveled in.14 15 It is rather an invented perception that came out of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries that artistic endeavors are perceived as being woefully in the hands of the progressive “smart-set,” the New York/California bohemian hipsters and art radicals that claimed to tear down the fabric of the establishment, while only really tearing down the fabric of artistic standards and beauty. However, despite all of this, the endless deconstructionism and obscurity for obscurity’s sake of modern art and conceptualism, and its dominance in the art world and in art schools, are slowly but surly being challenged with the advent of other “outsider” art movements gaining the interest of the public. I shall write more about this in the future, but representation and nature in art is slowly making a comeback. People wish to admire skill and representation again after the long and confusing post-war period of modern art, whether it be in fine art or illustration, and movements such as the visionary artists, the “plein air” (outdoor) art movement, and neoclassical portraiture is gaining new ground. Even abstraction is more eye-catching to most when it is inspired by nature or the basic elements of design and representation. There is even a rebellion in comedy and alternative forms of net-based entertainment against the politically correct harpies of cultural gate-keeping, in which Million Dollar Extreme has led and continues to lead the charge on YouTube for the better part of ten years. The Right must answer the accusation of utilizing art to make our ideas appear “legitimate” by saying, “Yes, of course!”

We shall wage an artistic and intellectual insurgency, we shall legitimatize our ideas by speaking to the inner-most spiritual sensibilities of people wishing to escape, or at the very least fugitively re-assemble the machinations of nihilistic post-modernity, and attempt to, in subtle ways, distort the assembly-line style vacuity and licentiousness of products churned out by the culture industry. The Right must become artists, visionaries and intellectuals, and, although they are helpful in many ways, no-one needs more economists and number-crunchers.

1. Ciccoita, Tom. “Rutgers Student Claims He Was Fired from Newspaper for Being Conservative.” Last modified: Nov, 3, 2016. Breitbart News. [http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/11/03/student-fire-university-newspaper-staff-conservative/]

2. Bokhari, Allum. “Fake Blood and War Chants: Milo Yiannopoulos Event at Rutgers Disrupted by Feminists, Black Lives Matter Activists.” Last modified: Feb, 10, 2016. Breitbart News. [http://www.breitbart.com/education/2016/02/10/fake-blood-and-war-chants-milo-yiannopoulos-event-at-rutgers-disrupted-by-feminists-black-lives-matter-activists/]

3. Hyde, Sam. “Sam Hyde @ Rutgers — How to “Make It” as an “Artist” — : ) : ) : ) — *ғʀᴇᴇ ᴘᴀɴᴇʀᴀ*” Million Dollar Extreme. Dec, 26, 2015. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hkov3QcCpQ]

4. For example, See the Bryan Caplan book The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (Princeton University Press, 2007).

5. Bloom, Allen. The Closing of the American Mind. (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1987): 217-227.

6. See M, Stanton Evans. Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. (New York: Crow Publishing Group, a division of Random House, 2007).

7. Hyde, Sam. “HydeWars #005 – Moving Through Seasons.” Hydewars. Dec, 10, 2016. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi59NJn9Vr0]

8. Bernstein, Joe. “The Alt-Right Has Its Very Own TV Show On Adult Swim: Adult Swim’s Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace is identity content for trolls.” Buzzfeed. Last modified: Aug, 26, 2016. [https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/the-alt-right-has-its-own-comedy-tv-show-on-a-time-warner-ne?utm_term=.ovaPALp48#.qs66P3jBW]

9. Bernstein, Joe. “Adult Swim Talent Want The Network To Cancel Its Alt-Right Comedy Show: Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace is a favorite among Donald Trump’s online meme army. Will the comedy network’s stars get it canceled?” Buzzfeed. Last modified: Nov, 16, 2016. [https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/adult-swim-talent-trying-to-cancel-million-dollar-extreme?utm_term=.thVaLb6PY#.bnqeMZboa]

10. Bernstein, Joe. “The Underground Neo-Nazi Promo Campaign Behind Adult Swim’s Alt-Right Comedy Show: Weev, the notorious white supremacist hacker and troll, appears to lend his support to the “awesome dude” behind Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace. (Warning: detailed descriptions.)” Buzzfeed. Last modified: Sept, 13, 2016. [https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/neo-nazi-promo-adult-swim-million-dollar-extreme?utm_term=.ueLvyB0Pn#.ieqZGbBod]

11. Hyde, Sam. Bernstein, Joe. “My Amazing BUZZFEED Interview w/”Viewtiful/Blockhead” Joe Bernstein!”. Million Dollar Extreme2. Aug, 25, 2016. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb7zN_b3GZA]

12. See the chapter “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as mass deception” in Dialectic of Enlightenment. (Adorno, Theodor. Horkheimer, Max. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1987, 2002).

13. Bolton, Kerry. Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence. (San Francisco: Counter-Currents Publishing ltd. 2012).

14. Claudia. “Cezanne And Sensibility.” Museworthy. (WordPress: Feb, 20, 2014). [https://artmodel.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/cezanne-and-sensibility/]

15. Collings, Matthew. Impressionism: Revenge of the Nice. Documentary. (Channel 4, BBC: 2004). [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BSdUjWpN0Q]

Gio Pennacchietti

Gio Pennacchietti is a Writer, impressionist painter, Jungian Traditionalist and philosophy/political science grad in the world's first post-national country. they say the personal is the political, i say instead: "the spiritual is the political". My blog: https://gioscontentcorner.wordpress.com/ my art page: https://www.facebook.com/giantartproductions/ contact me on twitter: https://twitter.com/giantgio

5 thoughts on “Political Art & the Diagnosis of the Right’s Ideas Being Made “Reasonable”

  1. Very good and well researched read! I enjoyed this a lot; thank for for this.

    Something I am wondering though: do you considered the 4chan culture of memes (pepe, kek, etc.) to be part of this right wing insurgency in art?

    1. thank you very much for the comment. i think meme culture in a way has been proven to be somewhat effective as long as the memes themselves are not appropriated by other forces (as they often are) but i generally have a lot of criticism towards channer meme-magic culture. to me they seem like a cultural dead end, or a replacement for genuine spiritual expression in the age of post-modern apathy. memes have their place, but the goal should not be to let memes take over our thinking to the point where our banter of yesterday becomes today’s sincerity. i think we need to promote stimulating artistic works, memes seem to work on the lower levels of discourse on the net. however i do find it interesting how the utilization of the Internet’s satirical nature of memes can cause the mainstream media to implode from within. for instance, Pepe being labeled a “hate symbol” by the southern poverty (lie) law center, or Hillary having that pepe article on her campaign website…everyone knows its just memeing, its the internet being the internet, and everyone can see the monolithic feat of absurdism in the establishment flipping its lid over a cartoon frog, in this case memes became an effective solvent that eroded the consensus reality, or at the very least exposed the huge gap between how people gather and spread information on the internet as opposed to how things are done in the “officialized” institutions such as media and academia. in a way yes, the application of memes is an artform, like a cyber absurdist act of participatory art, where the reaction to the meme itself becomes the art piece. but memes always transform or become stale and there is no way of controlling their evolution or devolution, especially when the memes become a replacement for genuine thinking (cough cough, the 14/88er kids on twitter, cough cough). i hope i have answered your question despite my rambling, but it is a very interesting question!

  2. This was a great article. Oddly, it reminds me of this recent Tucker Carlson Interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubiBJK3PVMU – where he talks with this College Senior from the University of Chicago about something the Senior wrote about for school. The College Senior was a lefty, and he was advocating for an interesting position: that there is no point in “discussing” or “debating” with members of the Trump administration because of the very fact that they are in power. This College guy basically admitted this idea to Tucker, and for some reason it blew me away. I was like, “this guy’s basically advocating for violence and revolution because discussions and debates solve nothing and mean nothing when you’re not in power”, all without receiving any criticism from his fellow Lefty’s. Then I realized that this young Lefty actually “gets it”, whereas so many of us conservatives have this “free speech and the economy will solve everything” kind of attitude.

    Its nuts how the Left was a better practical (or maybe more machiavellian) view of things, something which the Right has just started to pick up on. It begs the question though: how come the Left live by ideas such as “screw debate lets cause revolution till we have power” so easily, whereas the Right try to avoid these ideas as much as possible, promoting free speech or a “better economy” or “more jobs” instead? Its a weird phenomena

    1. @safespaceplaypen,

      Maybe because the Left have no qualms about ‘playing dirty’ to achieve their goals, whereas the Right still hold on to some kind of gentlemanly code of honour and try to ‘play fair’.

  3. Excellent article. I wonder about the origins of this leftist desire to eliminate right wing points of view. As the article stated Marxism was once primarily concerned with economic issues, the ownership of the means of production, etc. Part of the answer is found in the infamous Time Magazine “American Malvern” article. The horrors of two world wars, and the existence of nuclear weapons brought about a desire to suppress all conflict, individual or group differences, and cultural differences. From Time’s abstract of the article:
    “These are the high spots of organized U.S. Protestantism’s super-protestant new program for a just and durable peace after World War II:

    >Ultimately, “a world government of delegated powers.”
    >Complete abandonment of U.S. isolationism.
    >Strong immediate limitations on national sovereignty.
    >International control of all armies & navies.
    > “A universal system of money … so planned as to prevent inflation and deflation.”
    > Worldwide freedom of immigration.
    > Progressive elimination of all tariff and quota restrictions on world trade.
    > “Autonomy for all subject and colonial peoples” (with much better treatment for Negroes…”

    There is the new left.

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