Sunday, November 24, 2019

social attitudes and the arty set

Since the end of the Second World War social attitudes have changed dramatically. They have changed so dramatically and so fast that it’s naïve to think that this has been entirely a natural development. It has been, to a very large extent, manufactured. Manufactured consciously and deliberately. But how and why?

Right-wingers blame the commies, or the Cultural Marxists (they mostly seem to think that commies and Cultural Marxists are pretty much the same thing). On the dissident right opinion is divided. Some think it was the commies. Some think it was an international Jewish conspiracy. Some think it was the Freemasons. Or immigrants. These are not very satisfactory explanations so I’m going to propose an alternative explanation. It was the Romantics. Before you start taking up a collection to buy me a tin-foil hat just bear with me for a moment.

The Romantic Movement emerged at the end of the 18th century and flourished until the mid-19th century but it never really went away. Many of the assumptions and attitudes of the Romantics became permanent fixtures of western culture. One of the most dangerous was the cult of the Creative Artist as Outsider and Social Rebel.

Lord Byron provided the template. Byron was also the first true celebrity. He was famous for his poetry but mostly he was famous for being Lord Byron, Poet Superstar. He was the first artist or poet to live a rock star lifestyle. Byron also added an essential element to the newly emerging Artist as Social Rebel cult - sexual deviance and sexual promiscuity. The Creative Artist had to break the social rules and the easiest and most obvious rules to break were those governing sexual morality.

Those who followed in Byron’s footsteps were inevitably hostile to tradition in general and to Christianity in particular.

But something else happened during the 19th century and accelerated dramatically during the first half of the 20h century. The worlds of art and literature and the theatre went from being fringe worlds to being very influential and very powerful worlds. In the 1790s a bestselling author like Ann Radcliffe could expect to sell maybe 5,000 copies of her latest novel. By the 1950s bestselling authors were selling millions of copies of their novels. While this may have benefited mostly the writers of popular fiction yet another development was happening. The massive expansion of education meant that millions of people were being exposed to the works of the writers of literary fiction.

And the world of the theatre was supplemented by the world of the movies. A play might reach thousands of people. A movie would reach millions. Public museums and the emergence of rock star artists like Picasso and Pollock and Warhol created a mass audience for the visual arts. Pop music increased the reach of the arty crowd even further.

The arty/literary/theatrical/cinematic world was now immensely powerful and immensely influential. It was a world that was in a position to promote agendas, if it chose to do so.  And it most certainly did choose to do so. It was a world still very much dominated by the cult of the Creative Artist as Outsider and Social Rebel. It was inevitable that the agendas it was going to promote were going to be based on breaking social rules. It was even more inevitable that these agendas were going to be based on attacking traditional sexual morality.

Social attitudes towards sexual morality did not change. They were actively and deliberately changed. The arts/entertainment world played a huge rôle in this. It wasn’t a communist plot and it wasn’t Cultural Marxism. The idea of Cultural Marxism was that the Cultural Revolution would prepare the ground for a political revolution. That idea was effectively abandoned decades ago. The Cultural Revolution became an end in itself.

It also wasn’t a Jewish plot. Of course there were Jews involved since Jews gravitated towards the arts/entertainment world.

Mostly the Cultural Revolution and the manufactured changes in social attitudes that have accompanied it were driven by the heirs of Byron - misfits who see themselves as courageous social rebels and persecuted outsiders. Misfits with an aura of glamour. Misfits out for revenge.

2 comments:

  1. The first generation of romantics were (sometimes unorthodox, but passionate) Christians - Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge (who was, indeed, a major theologian of Anglican Christianity).

    Byron, Shelley, De Quincey and their women were the second generation (actually about 15-20 years later) - who turned against Christianity.

    But it was not romanticism, as such, that was the radically destructive group - but the anti-Christian 'romantics'. Their descendents include the New Age - who are typically 'anything but Christianity' - including a strong liking for Sufi-Islam.

    As usual, it was anti-Christianity/ atheism that characterised the destructive type of radical.

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