[Marxism] poetry and Trump
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 16:44:34 MST 2017
Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
>From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours’ eyes. . .
I had been intending quoting the above lines on Trump and was somewhat
chagrined to learn that I had been pipped to the post by Stephen Burt at
But I thought I would throw in a word of caution. Burt's article is very
much worth a read. His grasp of Yeats' poetry is very comprehensive, his
grasp of Yeats' politics much less so. But I think what most worries me
about Burt's advocacy of a turn to Yeats, is Burt's failure to recognize
the Nietzschean temptation.
The phenomenon of Left Nietzschean has puzzled me for a long time now.
Nietzsche was a through and through figure of the far-right. There is no
contradicting that with a reference to his madness. What he wrote he wrote
and much of it was vile.
But the appeal for leftist intellectuals, seems to me to be that Nietzsche
strikes a note of oppositionalism. His is the pose of the neglected
isolated thinker, artist, philosopher. We can glide over the facts that,
when he is being oppositional, he is bemoaning that we do not slaughter
the "botched", and that we have turned our backs on slavery, etc.
In the poem above Yeats is telling a friend to exult because the masses are
against him and his loss proves his worth. We must rather hold to a belief
in the masses. Not a naive one of course, but we must hold to the fact
that some 75% of Americans either did not vote or voted against Trump. So
there is no need to be "secret and exult". We must also rejoice in the fact
that Trump's party was thoroughly spoiled by the sheer mass of the Women's
One day of protest will not bring Trump down. Of course not. But even
given the uneven consciousness on display, the Women's protests were still
a carnival of resistance. And there is much in that to give us hope.
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