By Larry Gambone
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The right both promotes and despises corporate culture. They promote it for obvious reasons – profitability and social control, but their more literate members despise it because they think they are above it. They idolize a “high culture”, but have little understanding of it.
I will use culture with a capital “C” to separate what could be called “high culture”, “serious culture” or “folk culture” from the mass of corporatist mind control twaddle.
To be a consistent reactionary, one must reject the whole of Modernity, for Culture after the late 19th Century is hostile to bourgeois society in both its traditional and managerial forms. The writers and artists are all rebels in one manner or another, even if they espouse no overt politics. How unfortunate for the racists that jazz is Black music!
How can any winger honestly claim to love Neruda, Picasso, Bob Dylan, or Miles Davis?
Ayn Rand (1) and Adolph Hitler were consistent cultural reactionaries. Both rejected 20th Century Culture in its entirety and saw it as some kind of nefarious plot to undermine white capitalist society.)
The right winger is forced to be a philistine or live in a state of denial. For if you examine the great cultural figures too closely, they were all opposed to the reactionaries of their day. Rightists who claim to appreciate contemporary Culture, love what they ought to hate and do so by pretending it isn't what it is. Or they live in complete and unrecognized contradiction like Eva Braun dancing to swing music.
Thus to be a reactionary is to be tormented by Culture. One's self-image is one of superiority over the bohemians, leftists, and people of color, but these are the very people who made that Culture. If the philistine option is chosen, one cannot help but feel culturally inferior, no matter how much the “intelektuls” and “crazy artists” are sneered at.
Artists are both the shamans and mine canaries of our society. Creating something new means going beyond the old, means breaking barriers. Creation is thus an act of rebellion and thus in its very essence is in stark contradiction to the reactionary who wishes to turn the clock back. Artists are society's mine canaries in that they warn, often decades in advance, of serious problems within the system.
1. Early in the twentieth century... works purporting to be art were created that were not, in fact, art at all... In many respects, it was more akin to madness, or to fraud, than to art.