Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mein Kampf

Chapter 11 Part 1

By Richard E. Noble

We are still involved in Adolf’s analysis of the causes of the collapse of his nation and its inferior status after its defeat in World War I. Even the world of the artist must bear its burden of blame, for it too had become Bolshevized, by Cubism, and Dadaism.
“...Sixty years ago an exhibition of so-called dadaistic ‘experiences’ would have seemed simply impossible, and the sponsors would have been sent to the mad house...”
I have the feeling that Adolf would not like a good deal of the art of our day and age. But what is Art but the reflection on, or observation of the world surrounding the artist, and/or possibly his personal inner turmoil in adapting to or confronting or challenging its premises. Do we stifle Art and Artists because we don’t like what they tell us about ourselves, or even themselves? In Art we see not only the beauty and the heights to which that society has aspired, but also its short comings, hysteria, and schizophrenia. Artists have always been stifled by convention.
Today, we have similar arguments concerning what is acceptable in the public art world. There are many today who would not only like to stifle Art and the Artists, but even History and the Historian. But this is also a part of the human history of the beast we are discussing.
Today we have History revisited, or Revisionist History. One group is constantly accusing another group of rewriting History with a personal political slant or bias. Right now you and I are involved in reading Adolf’s interpretations of the events of his time. There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the mind of the world at large, that his interpretation is prejudicial, and ‘revisionist’.
There are forms of Art, movies, music, and theater today that I personally can do without. But the question is, if I had the power, would I ban it to everyone? This is a question in every society, and has been a question throughout history.
It is curious to me that those who seem to be the most ardent defenders of what is called free enterprise or total freedom with regards to money - money above morality, life and limb - are at the forefront of every form of restriction of freedom elsewhere.
We should interpret the art that we see about us and use it for our political and spiritual edification. If the artistic criticism is valid, use it as a guide to improving the society. If it is truly insane and serves no legitimate purpose, the society at large will or at least should reject it.
The work of the artist seems to be much like the traffic lights on our roadways. I think that they can be used to tell us when to stop, because we are heading in the wrong direction; when to use caution because the road ahead may present problems.
Trying to suppress art and the artist would appear to me to be a denial to an outstretched hand. My guess is that the Dadaist and the Cubist movements were active expressions of either a conscious or subconscious awareness of some societal problem. I know very little about this type of art or what it represented.
Today we have problems in the arts; in the theater, in the movie theaters, in books, on the internet. We have problems with drugs, guns, violence, pornography, sexual mores; we have problems in the military, in the business community, in the schools. All of these things should be looked at and analyzed as aides in helping to promote a healthy society.
What are these perversions and anomalies telling us about the people around us, and what wheels can we turn to help change any negative direction that they may be pointing out. These things are all speaking to us. They are telling us about our frustrations, our economics, our education, our immaturities, and our ignorance. But what exactly they are pointing out is the difficult part to determine, and how to correct the problems, even more difficult.
Adolf saw the problems and charted a course; the wrong course; a course lacking in intellect and bent on revenge and destruction. But, obviously, there were many of a like mind in Adolf’s society and the world about him or he simply would have been the laughing stock of his day.
Adolf now goes into his reverence for the past.
“… If, therefore any new idea, a new doctrine, a view of life, or also a political as well as an economic movement tries to deny the entire past, or wants to deride it, and to make it valueless, for this reason alone one has to be extremely cautious and mistrusting … A genuinely blissful renovation of mankind would always and forever have to continue to build in that place where the last foundation ends ...”
With regards to this point, I am today in complete agreement. I am not a revolutionary who seeks to destroy the foundations of the past. I doubt if I would have been a supporter of even the American Revolution. The Notion of “taxation without representation” certainly would not have been a rallying cry to me for the sacrifice of my life or the taking of the lives of others. This point was well within the bounds of negotiation, or even subterfuge as far as my limited reading on the subject is concerned. The tea that was being dumped on Boston at the time by the British or East India Company was even cheaper than the tea currently being sold at market on shore, and that was including the horrid tax.
Today I live in a society where I am certainly taxed without representation. The American government is certainly not represented by the people of my ‘class’ nor are they concerned with the issues that seem most pressing to me. Nor do I have a say in where my money will be spent, or even in our declarations of war, or military interventions, or treaties. I am still hoping to one day live in a Democracy where all of the people of the nation are represented; where the economic concerns of the ‘people’ of the nation are primary; where freedom from fear and freedom from want would also be inclusive of old age, medical treatment, pregnancy and child birth and employment and education. But even with all of these disagreements, I am not ready to go off into the woods and join any revolutionary forces. I have the right to speak my views and deny my participation in what I consider unjust causes. I can join along with others who are in agreement with my point of view, as long as I am willing to accept the consequences of my opposition.
For the most part I think Adolf is once again concerned with his Bolshevik opponents who were even as late as 1923 tearing down the structures of their past and attempting to build an entirely new system - a new system which appeared to be based on the destruction and total opposition to all of what had previously been established.
But, nevertheless, I certainly do agree that much of what was being criticized was justified. Certainly the pursuit of profit without concern for morality, justice, and even human life were justifiable complaints. Somehow Supply and Demand had become a religious principle. It must be obeyed like one of God’s commandments, or a fundamental scientific maxim. Why?
Today, as after World War I, we are still selling guns and weapons to people who shouldn’t have them. The excuse is that, if we don’t somebody else will. Then I suppose that we should be selling children drugs also. If we don’t, somebody else probably will.
After we sell the weapons to the bad guys, we then have to go and get them back at a cost of a million times the profit somebody made in selling them in the first place, not to even mention the cost in human life. Does this make sense? Penny wise and pound foolish, they used to say. Could morality actually be cost effective?
We fight for gun control at home, with handguns and ‘toys’. Then sell nuclear weapons and the like abroad unrestricted.
People who live in countries who have no food to eat and rags on their backs drive around their towns in tanks and sporting machine guns and automatic weapons. Something here is not right.
Adolf’s final comment in this section with regards to art, I think reveals where he is coming from.
“...For if the time of Pericles appears incorporated in the Parthenon, so does the Bolshevistic present in the cubistic grimace...”
But in the cubistic grimace we see not only the picture of the confusion and debate of the culture of the time, but also the artist’s continual search for new methods of expression ... hence creativity. And isn’t this good? Isn’t this exactly what we should expect from art? Adolf is trying to turn his likes and dislikes, his prejudices and opinions into political policy. Adolf is clearly not the kind of a man that we would want to rule a diverse world. His rapture on the German people I can only attribute to their single mindedness as a nation or society. But it does seem by the rise of dictatorships all over the world at the time indicative of a mood greater than simply German nationalism. If cubism presented a ‘grimace’ to Adolf, what would he see in some of our present day rock and rap stars?