[Marxism] Fwd: Fascist art | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Aug 11 17:37:40 MDT 2014

This post has generated some interesting comments, including from Jim 
Farmelant. This one by Peter G. raises some novel thoughts about fascism 
and the intellectual:

I was taught in college and have always wanted to believe that Fascism 
was fundamentally lacking in intellectual content and artistic appeal. 
IMHO, this may be true of most fascists–there are pictures of 
Mussolini’s big men jumping through flaming hoops and showing off in 
equally clownish, proto-Putinesque ways that seem to rule out the 
presence of intellect and sometimes even of intelligence. Certainly 
nobody would accuse the obviously intelligent, if thoroughly tasteless 
(and of course monstrous), Josef Goebbels of appealing either to the 
critical intellect or to the wellsprings of artistic creativity.

But this article adds weight to a growing suspicion that fascism had 
more intellectual appeal than we were taught, and not just for outliers 
like the arguably crazy Ezra Pound. W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and other 
mavens of modernism had unmistakable fascist leanings–the poet Gabriele 
d’Annunzio let the fascist seizure of Trieste in 1919. Mussolini’s chief 
ideologue Giovanni Gentile, who ghost-wrote the foundation document of 
fascism for the duce, was described by the greatly respected Benedetto 
Croce as holding “the honor of having been the most rigorous 
neo–Hegelian in the entire history of Western philosophy” as well as 
“the dishonor of having been the official philosopher of Fascism in 
Italy.” Paul de Man, the Cornell and Yale professor who was a founder of 
and impresario for the movement in literary criticism now known as 
“deconstructionism” was, in the words of his former student Suzanne 
Gordon (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/04/deconstructing-paul-de-man/ ) 
“a Nazi collaborator, embezzler, bigamist, serial deadbeat, and fugitive 
from justice in Belgium.” The well-known if problematic case of 
Heidegger is by no means the only example of “real” talent lending 
itself to fascism.

Nobody was more dismayed than the noted Expressionist painter Emil Nolde 
when his beloved Nazis branded his art as “degenerate.”

“Real” artists and intellectuals in general–“good” ones–can all too 
readily lend their weight to damn near anything–and profound injustice 
can attract them as much as the opposite. And now we have the evidence 
of this exhibition.

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