Trading places? Or mirror images?
0 comment Monday, November 17, 2014 |
At Steve Sailer's blog, following a post called The Ennui of the Left, there was one brief comment that caught my attention among a number of interesting comments.
That very prolific commenter, 'Anonymous', said this:
Steve, you're so wrong about post-WWII USSR. It was culturally conservative in a million ways. Its death was a giant victory for leftism - for gay rights, loose sexual morals, drugs, feminism, violent crime, ugly modernist art, etc. across a huge part of the globe.
Pre-WWII USSR was indeed leftist. It's ignorant to confuse them.'
It's pretty obvious to most thinking people on the right that we (the West) did not really 'win the Cold War', as the triumphalist rhetoric on the mainstream right still boasts. The mythology is that when Reagan said 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' that Communism sort of crumbled, or melted like the Wicked Witch doused with water, and before we knew it, the Berlin wall was down and the Eastern bloc countries were 'free.'
I've alluded before on this blog to the curious fact that the old Soviet communists were very prudish and very traditional in many respects on social/sexual matters. They may have been lenient in regard to making abortion widely available, and they may have been very 'feminist' in that they put more women into leadership positions, but in regard to culture they were much more conservative than we in the Western ''free'' countries were, even in the 1950s. The 1950s, remember, was the decade most American leftists describe as hyper-conservative and repressed.
I've told the story before of a news event that was reported when I was a child, when Soviet leader Khrushchev visited America. He was given a tour of a movie set, where the movie 'Can-Can' was being filmed. He disapproved of what he saw, commenting that ''the face of humanity is more beautiful than its backside.'' That was his broken-clock moment; he was right on that point. Nowadays, our entertainment media and pop culture are more than ever fixated on people's 'backsides' and on titillating entertainment and 'art'. We've gone from relatively tame scenes, like the one Khrushchev witnessed, to Lady Gaga and beyond.
The old Soviet Union disapproved of rock'n roll and jazz, and promoted classical and folk music. At the time, it seemed that our country perversely decided that if the Russians disliked these things and censored them, then they must be good, and that in defiance of our enemies, we would wallow in the things they tut-tutted about. I see the same sort of thing in regard to Islam's prudishness. Many 'conservatives' see our Western cultural and social decadence as an act of defiance against Islam, and a statement of 'freedom.' I think we have gotten a little confused here.
The anonymous commenter at Sailer's blog refers to 'ugly modernist art' which the Soviet Union banned. This piece describes in detail how the arts were censored and how the Soviet State made sure that all art had the correct political message, delivered in the correct style.
Works of art were censored for the following reasons:
"...* political reasons (criticism of the Soviet Union, CPSU, Soviet regime, particular political bodies and figures);
* political unreliability (temporary or permanent) of an artist, whose work was the subject of the publication;
* political unreliability (temporary or permanent) of an author of a publication;
* mentioning an unreliable person, unworthy fact or event in the text unless it was criticized (possible cuttings of the text or plates);
* generally prohibited subject (for instance: unofficial Soviet art);
* propaganda of fascism, violence or terror (horror films belonged to that category);
* pornography (a magic word - none of the censors could ever give a distinct definition of this term in their special vocabulary; the most frequent reason for art publications to become banned as most of the artists, since the ancient times, had made the studies of the nude models);
* themes, subjects, facts, events which caused or might have caused undesirable thoughts, associations or illusions not in favour of the Soviet state.
[...] The criteria for division of art of the past into two categories was quite simple: the work of art should bare or not some peculiar signs of progressiveness, such as themes of labour, struggle for justice, protest against the bourgeois society, pity for suffering, depiction of poor people, social and class struggle. For obvious reasons the mediaeval art, being the art which served the religion, was not worth studying.''
What seems to have happened by the late 1970s when the 'dam burst', as the writer says, was that the censorship seemed to have only whetted the Soviet people's appetite for what was termed 'decadent Western bourgeois' art and ideas. The Russians seem, since the fall of the old regime, to have plunged headlong into that Western decadence.
I remember when the so-called Iron Curtain came down being somewhat mortified by how fast the people seemed to embrace the libertine lifestyle, drugs, promiscuity, and the worst excesses of greed. Obviously they had not really believed in the stringent standards of their regime -- or were they just easily seduced away by rock music, blue jeans, porn, and the lure of easy money?
Just because our enemies hate the decadence they see in our popular culture, that is not justification for our taking pride in it or considering it a good example of 'freedom' as many people do.
But the question has often occurred to me: why was the old left socially and culturally conservative, honoring the best of classic Western art and culture, while the new left, the post-60s left, trashes our artistic and cultural heritage in favor of ugliness and corruption, worshipping the new and hideous rather than the old and aesthetically pleasing?
And now that the old Soviet Union seems to have been degraded culturally and socially, have 'we' won, or have they won? Or have we all lost? It seems that we have embraced some of the worst features of their leftism, and they have absorbed the worst of our ways.
Leftism seems to be able to morph itself into whatever form works best in the target society, like an opportunistic infection.

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