Monday, 10 August 2009

The Dispossessed Majority: The Dissolution of Art

Quotes from Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority (Howard Allen, Cape Canaveral, Fl., 1981)

See also The Cultural Clash: The Secularization of Religion and The Cultural Clash: The Atrophy of Education

The Cultural Clash: The Dissolution of Art

This chapter, the first of three to deal with minority inroads into the nation’s culture, will be concerned with the artistic phase of the struggle [the Majority-minority conflict]. In the dispossession of the Majority, it is the Majority artist who so far has been the greatest casualty.

A basic assumption of contemporary Western thought is that democracy is the political form and liberalism the political ideology most generative of art. The more there is of both, it is generally agreed, the greater will be the artistic outpouring, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The corollary assumption is that once art has been liberated from the dead weight of caste, class, and religious and racial bigotry, its horizon will become limitless.

Of all modern myths, this is one of the most misleading. If anything, art, or at least great art, seems to be contingent on two social phenomena poles apart from democracy and liberalism: (1) a dominant, homogeneous population group which has resided long enough in the land to raise up from its ranks a responsible and functioning aristocracy; (2) one or more schools of writers, painters, sculptors, architects, or composers who belong to this population group and whose creative impulses crystallize the tastes, tone, and manners of the aristocratic leadership into a radiating cultural continuity.


The mere existence of an aristocracy, of course, does not guarantee great art. It has to be a vital aristocracy with its attitudes, manners, and ways of life firmly imprinted on the society in which it functions. It need not be, in fact it should not be, too wealthy. More important is the possession of a cultural conscience, plus the leisure and will to express this conscience in the form of art. To the artist an aristocracy is of immense practical value because it provides a cultivated and discriminating audience to keep him on the creative qui vive, as well as a sense of refinement and a set of critical standards that are both a model and an incentive for the highest quality of artistic craftsmanship.

Paradoxically, relations between artist and patron are generally more ‘democratic’ in an aristocracy than in a democracy. The aristocrat, having both by birth and upbringing acquired an easy familiarity with art, is quite at home in the company of artists and generally makes a practice of seeking them out. The self-made man, on the other hand, no matter how high he climbs in politics or business, can never quite shed his native philistinism. He may take an interest in art, often surreptitiously to avoid accusations of effeminacy, but he will always have difficulty moving freely in artistic circles.

The close alliance between art and aristocracy is also advantageous to the artist in that it facilitates personal acquaintance with many of the leading men of his day. According to Aristotle, tragedy only really succeeds when it concerns the fall of a great or noble man - a theory still uncontradicted by the most valiant efforts of liberal and Marxist dramatists. History or current events may provide names and plots but only close contact with the leading public figures of his time furnishes the playwright who tackles high tragedy with the meat and sinew of believable portrayal and characterization.

That great artists must belong to the dominant population group of a nation seems to be as unassailable as the law that great art grows best in aristocratic soil. A racial and cultural background similar to that of his patron makes it possible for the artist to avoid the usual psychological and social hurdles that often slow or break down communication between members of racially and culturally differentiated human groups.

The fatal flaw which denies the minority artist a place among the artistic great is his inherent alienation. Because he does not really belong, because he is writing or painting or composing for ‘other people,’ he pushes a little too hard, raises his voice a little too high, makes his point a little too desperately. He is, inevitably, a bit outré -- in the land, but not of the land. His art seems always encumbered by an artificial dimension -- the proof of his belonging.

In a non-aristocratic, heterogeneous, fragmented society which has become an arena of contending cultures or subcultures, the minority artist may concentrate on proving his ‘non-belonging.’ Instead of adopting the host culture, he now rejects it and either sinks into nihilism or returns to the cultural traditions of his own group. In the process his art becomes a weapon. Having sacrificed his talent to immediacy and robbed it of the proportion and subtlety which make art art, the minority artist not only lowers his own artistic standards, but those of society as a whole. All that remains is the crude force of his stridency and his ‘message.’

Perhaps the clearest proof of the art-building and art-nourishing qualities of aristocracy and racial homogeneity can be found in the history of those nations which have passed through both aristocratic and democratic, homogeneous and heterogeneous cycles. It was not in the First, Second, Third, or Fourth French Republics that the cathedrals of Chartres and Rheims were constructed, but in feudal France, when there was a dominant population group (the Teutonic) and the structure of society was aristocratic. The highest flights of English genius took place in the reigns of absolute, not constitutional, monarchs and before the English were absorbed in the enlarged and more heterogeneous citizenry of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The Rome of Augustus, who favored and protected the patricians and heaped restrictions upon plebeians, non-Romans, and slaves, produced the Golden Age of Latin literature. The Rome of Caracalla, who in A.D. 211 extended citizenship to all the free inhabitants of the Roman Empire, left little of artistic consequence. The Spain of Philip II, III, and IV, with all its religious bigotry and inquisitional zeal, was the era of Cervantes and Calderon, artists of a caliber that were not to be found in more liberal eras of Spanish history. Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, the culmination of Russian literary genius, flourished under the czars, not minority commissars.

Liberal dogma to the contrary, such popular goals as universal literacy are not necessarily conducive to great literature. The England of Shakespeare, apart from a much smaller population, had a much higher illiteracy rate than present-day Britain. Neither does universal suffrage seem to raise the quality of artistic output. When Bach was Konzertmeister in Weimar and composing a new cantata every month, no one could vote. Some 220 years later in the Weimar Republic there were tens of millions of voters, but no Bachs.

Great drama, which usually incorporates great poetry, is the rarest form of great art. Art critics and historians have been at some loss to explain why great plays have appeared so infrequently in history and then only in clusters - fifth-century (B.C.) Athens, late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England, seventeenth-century Spain and France. The answer may be that conditions for great drama are only ripe when artist and audience are in biological as well as linguistic rapport. Such rapport, unfortunately, is bound to be short-lived because the era of great drama is usually accompanied by large-scale economic and material advances which tend to soften national character, sharpen class divisions, and attract extraneous racial and cultural elements from abroad. To the great playwright a heterogeneous or divided audience is no audience at all.

Not only great art but all art seems to stagnate in an environment of brawling minorities, diverse religions, clashing traditions, and contrasting habits. This is probably why, in spite of their vast wealth and power, such world cities as Alexandria and Antioch in ancient times and New York City and Rio de Janeiro in modern times have produced nothing that can compare to the art of municipalities a fraction of their size. The artist needs an audience which understands him - an audience of his own people. The artist needs an audience to write up to, paint up to, and compose up to - an aristocracy of his own people. These seem to be the two sine qua nons of great art. Whenever they are absent great art is absent.

How else can the timeless art of the ‘benighted’ Middle Ages and the already dated art of the ‘advanced’ twentieth century be explained? Why is it that all the cultural resources of a dernier cri superpower like the United States cannot produce one single musical work that can compare with a minor composition of Mozart? Why is it that perhaps the greatest contribution to twentieth-century English literature has been made not by the English, Americans, Australians, or Canadians, but by the Irish - the most nationalistic, most tribal, most religious and most racially minded of all present-day English-speaking peoples. Modern England may have had its D. H. Lawrence and the United States its Faulkner. But only Ireland in recent times has assembled such a formidable literary array as Yeats, Synge, Shaw, Joyce, O’Casey, Elizabeth Bowen, Paul Vincent Carroll, Joyce Carey, and James Stephens. If, as modern opinion holds, liberal democracy, internationalism, and cultural pluralism enrich the soil of art, then these Irish artists bloomed in a very unlikely garden.

The historical sequence of large states seems to be race-building, nation-building, art-building, and empire-building. As the nation moves closer to imperialism, the people move farther apart. The binding forces of state are weakened by war, civil strife, and entropy, as the cultural shell is penetrated by outsiders. The aristocracy withdraws into an isolated decadence, its place taken by a plutocracy. Members of the once dominant population group mix with the newcomers and in order to compete are forced to adopt many of their attitudes and habits. Art becomes multiracial, multinational, multidirectional, and multifarious.

Much of Western art, particularly in the United States, is now in such a stage of dissolution. The surrealist painters, atonal jazz musicologists, prosaic poets, emetic novelists, crypto-pornographers, and revanchist pamphleteers say they are searching for new forms because the old forms are exhausted. Actually, they are exhuming the most ancient forms of all - simple geometric shapes, color blobs, drum beats, genitalia, four-letter words, and four-word sentences. The old forms are not exhausted. The minority artist simply has no feeling for them because they are not his forms. Since style is not a commodity that can be bought or invented, the avant-garde, having no style of its own, can only retreat to a styleless primitivism.

The dissolution of art is characterized by the emergence of the fake artist - the man without talent and training who becomes an artist by self-proclamation. He thrives in a fissiparous culture because it is child’s play to bemuse the artistic sensibilities of the motley nouveaux riches, assorted culture vultures, sexually ambivalent art critics, and minority art agents who dictate the levels of modern taste. It is not so easy to deceive those whose standards of taste were developed in the course of generations.

In a homogeneous society the artist has to contend with fewer sets of prejudices. He does not have to weigh and balance his art in order to be ‘fair.’ He need not be mortally afraid of wounding the religious and racial feelings of others. Though his instincts, opinions, and judgments often add up to bias, to the artist himself they may be the driving forces of his creativity. What really limit and devitalize art are not the artist’s prejudices but his audience’s prejudices, of which in a vast heterogeneous society like the United States there is an almost infinite variety. The artist has trouble enough with one censor. When he has twenty, his art becomes a day-to-day accommodation.

Aristocracies have been sharply criticized for freezing commoners into castes and classes. Yet the artist certainly stands a better chance in a state directed by a cultivated nobility than in one directed by a convention of Babbitts. By no means to the manor born, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Dostoyevsky managed to acquire enough social mobility in aristocratic societies to climb to the summit of artistic perfection. How many of these geniuses would have been flattened by the leveling pressures of present-day America is an open question.

Aristocracies have also been attacked for stultifying art, even though artists working in or believing in tradition-oriented societies have made many more artistic breakthroughs than soi-disant liberal or progressive artists. Aristophanes, who revolutionized comedy, Wagner, who revolutionized music, Dostoyevsky, who revolutionized the novel, and T. S. Eliot, who revolutionized modern poetry, were certainly not liberals. The proletarian or Marxist artist, on the other hand, hardly goes beyond photographic naturalism or childish doodling - the mandatory tractor art of the Soviet Union and the op art, pop art, and spray-paint art of the ‘free world.’

No great art ever emerged from isolation and no great artists ever sprang full-blown from the forehead of Zeus. Great artists are the products of schools of art, and their works are the peaks rising above a high cultural plateau. ‘First families,’ whose attitudes and tastes have been shaped by centuries of participation in national life, are not merely content to collect old art. They keep the schools busy elaborating and improving on what has been done before - the surest approach to artistic evolution. Conversely, the present-day ragtag collection of semiliterate millionaires, who speculate in art as they would in copper futures, spend their money on old masters and ‘name’ artists whose works can be resold at a handsome profit or given away at a handsome tax deduction. With no more demand for continuity in art, schools of artists disappear, to be replaced by artistic cliques. The arbiter of taste is no longer the art lover, but the art dealer. Art is transformed into artiness.

The patterns of artistic growth and decline outlined in the preceding paragraphs have already blacked out most of the creativity of the Majority artist. Today the Jewish American writes of the Jew and his heritage, the Negro American of the Negro, the Italian American of the Italian, and so on. But of whom does the American American, the Majority writer, write? Of Nordics and Anglo-Saxons? If he did and if he portrayed them as fair-haired heroes, he would be laughed out of modern literature. Consciousness of one’s people, one of the great emotional reserves, one of the great artistic stimulants, is denied the Majority artist at the very moment the minority artist feeds upon it so ravenously. Besides its other psychological handicaps, this one-sided, selective censorship obviously builds a high wall of frustration around the free play of the imagination.

Aware or unaware of the forces working against them, many Majority artists have fled abroad to seek the cultural kinship they miss at home. Eliot became a British citizen. Robert Frost was first discovered and published while living in England. Pound, who probably exercised more influence on modern literature than any other poet, settled down in Rapallo, and dabbled in European right-wing politics. Hemingway moved to France, Italy, Spain, Africa, Cuba, and eventually committed suicide. Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald spent many of their most creative years abroad and returned to gypsy-like, coast-to-coast peregrinations and an early death that was either helped along or brought about by alcohol poisoning.


All Majority artists necessarily experience the wrenching depression that comes from enforced cultural homelessness. Less than any other person is the artist capable of working in a vacuum. Prevented from exercising his own ‘peoplehood,’ the Majority artist looks for substitutes in minority racism, in exotic religions and Oriental cults, in harebrained exploits of civil disobedience, in African and pre-Columbian art, psychoanalysis, narcotics, and homosexuality.

The ban on displays of Majority ethnocentrism in art - a ban written in stone in present-day American culture - also reaches back to the Majority cultural past. Chaucer and Shakespeare have been cut and blue-penciled and some of their work put on the minority index. The motion picture of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist had a hard time being released in the United States because of the recognizably Jewish traits of Fagin. The masterpiece of American silent films, The Birth of a Nation, can no longer be shown publicly without the threat of picket lines, while Jewish-produced black ‘sexploitation’ films like Mandingo (1975), replete with the crudest racial slurs against whites, are shown everywhere. Huckleberry Finn was removed from the library - of all places - of the Mark Twain Intermediate School in Virginia.

Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn was attacked by millionaire novelist Leon Uris as ‘anti-Semitic.’ Southern high-school and college bands have been forbidden to play ‘Dixie’ at public gatherings. Even nursery rhymes and Stephen Foster are being rewritten and bowdlerized. A private school in Chicago actually changed the title of the theatrical performance of Snow White to Princess of the Woods for fear of being accused of racism. Meanwhile a tireless, clandestine literary vendetta is being waged against such towering modern writers, composers, and scholars, both American and European, as Eliot, Dreiser, Pound, Toynbee, Ernst Jünger, D. H. Lawrence, Céline, Roy Campbell, Wyndham Lewis, Kipling, Hamsun, Franz Lehar, and Richard Strauss. Their crime has been to have let slip some chance remark, written some poem, novel or essay, joined, or at least not opposed, some political movement offensive to one or more minorities. There is, of course, no countervendetta of Majority literary critics against artists who indulge in minority racism.

The power and sustenance that an artist derives from being part of a racially and culturally homogeneous community helps explain the success of William Faulkner, the one first-rate Majority writer who survived both as an individual and as an artist the nationwide uprooting of his cultural heritage. Faulkner was born, lived, flourished, and is buried in Mississippi, adjudged to be the fourth most illiterate state. Because they totally ignore the communal nature of art, liberals and Marxists can only treat Faulkner as a paradox. Environmentalist logic can no more explain why a supposedly backward state in the Deep South should produce America’s greatest twentieth-century novelist than why the most literate nation in Europe succumbed to Hitler.

Outside the South, American art has been overwhelmed by members of minorities. To lend substance to the allegation that the basic tone of American creative intellectual life has become Jewish; one has only to unroll the almost endless roster of artists, of Jewish or part-Jewish origin. The contingent of Negro and other minority artists, writers, and composers, though it cannot compare to the Jewish aggregate, grows larger every day.

The minority domination of the contemporary art scene is complicated by the presence of another, as yet unmentioned minority, unique in that it is composed of both Majority and minority members. This is the homosexual cult. Homosexuals, as is well known, are one of the two principal props of the American theater, the second being Jews. Jews own almost all the theater houses, comprise most of the producers and almost half the directors, and furnish half of the audience and playwrights. The other playwrights are mostly well-known Majority homosexuals. Combine these two ingredients, add the payroll padding, kickbacks, ticket scalping, and union featherbedding which plague all Broadway producers, and it is readily understandable why in New York, still the radiating nucleus of the American theater, the greatest of all art forms has degenerated into homosexual or heterosexual pornography, leftist and Marxist message plays, foreign imports, and blaring, clockwork musical comedies. It is doubtful if a new Aeschylus, Shakespeare, or Pirandello could survive for one minute on the Broadway of today.

The minority penetration of the communications media shores up minority cultural domination because the press, magazines, and TV are the transmission belts of art and, as such, its supreme arbiter. By praising, condemning, featuring, underplaying, or ignoring books, paintings, sculpture, music, and other artistic works the media decide, in effect, what will be distributed (and become known) and what will not be distributed (and remain unknown). A book not reviewed favorably or not reviewed at all in the influential, opinion-shaping columns of the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, Time, and a few ‘higher-brow’ weeklies and monthlies has little or no chance of getting into libraries or the better bookstores.

This effective winnowing process also extends to advertising. Books promoting minority racism are acceptable for advertising in most newspapers and magazines. Books promoting Majority racism are not. Not only would no major newspaper or magazine review The Dispossessed Majority, no weekly news magazine would run paid advertising for it. Press-agentry in the form of praise from columnists and television personalities is another tested means of lending a helping hand to minority artists or Majority artists who specialize in minority themes. Perhaps the most banal example of minority mutual admiration in the arts is the practice adopted by the New York Times Book Review of permitting books espousing Negro racism to be reviewed by Negro racists. For example, Die Nxxxxr Die! by H. Rap Brown, a fugitive from justice rearrested after holding up a New York saloon, received a generally favorable review, although Brown wrote that he ‘saw no sense in reading Shakespeare,’ who was a ‘racist’ and a ‘faggot.’

Throughout his life and career the minority-conscious artist identifies with one group of Americans - his group. In so doing he inevitably attacks the Majority and Northern European cultural tradition because Majority America is not his America. The Puritans are reduced to witch-hunters, reactionary pietists, and holier-than-thou bigots. The antebellum and postbellum South is turned into a vast concentration camp. The giants of industry are described as robber barons. The earliest pioneers and settlers are typecast as specialists in genocide. The police are ‘pigs.’ Majority members are ‘goys, rednecks, honkies,’ or just plain ‘beasts.’

To accommodate the minority Kulturkampf, a Broadway play transforms Indians into a race of virtuous higher beings, while whites are portrayed as ignoble savages, and the quondam heroic figure of Custer struts about the stage as a second-rate gangster. A Hollywood film shows U.S. cavalrymen raping and mutilating Indian maidens. A television play set in the depression years of the 1930s puts the blame for America’s ills squarely on the Majority and ends with a specific tirade against ‘Anglo-Saxons.’

But it goes far beyond this. A principal theme of modern Negro writing is the rape or violation of Majority women. In his bestselling Soul on Ice, which is required reading in the English curriculum of hundreds of colleges, Negro militant Eldridge Cleaver, a bail-jumping black leader who after a stay in Cuba and Algiers returned home and instead of going to jail started working the born-again Christian circuit, tells how he feels about ‘consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically’ despoiling white women. ‘It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law … that I was defiling his women ... I felt I was getting … revenge … I wanted to send waves of consternation throughout the white race.’

On the same page Cleaver quotes approvingly some lines from a poem by Negro writer LeRoi Jones: ‘Rape the white girls. Rape their fathers. Cut their mothers’ throats.’ Intercourse with Majority females, although on a more sedate and controlled scale, is a theme that also appears frequently in the so-called Jewish literary renaissance. The heroes of Jewish fiction often seek out Gentile girls because ‘there is less need for respect, and thus more possibility ... to do things that could not be done with a person one has to respect.’

Contemporary white artistic efforts are dismissed as ‘pimp art’ by LeRoi Jones on the front page (second section) of the Sunday New York Times. One Jewish author states, ‘The family is American fascism.’ A Jewish literary critic calls the late Thomas Wolfe, who had twice the talent of any minority novelist yet to appear in American literature, a ‘professional hillbilly.’ A leading Negro writer labels America, ‘the Fourth Reich.’ As mentioned previously, a literary Jewess describes the white race as ‘the cancer of human history.’

But the ultimate objective goes well beyond the destruction or denigration of Majority culture. There is an increasing frequency in minority writing of subtle and not so subtle appeals for the physical molestation and even the outright massacre of whites. Such was the message of LeRoi Jones’s play, Slave Ship. With the same vitriolic splash, Eldridge Cleaver writes approvingly of ‘young blacks out there right now who are slitting white throats.’ A black poetess, Nikki Giovanni, has a poem in a popular black anthology which contains these lines: ‘Can you kill/Can you run a Protestant down with your/’68 El Dorado/ .... Can you [obscenity] on a blond head/Can you cut it off.’ Julius Lester, another much applauded Negro writer, may have identified the minority artist’s real grudge - the radiant Western artistry that seems forever beyond his reach. Ranging as far afield as Paris, he calls for the destruction of Notre Dame ‘because it separated man from himself.’

The communications media and principal academic forums being closed to him, the Majority artist has no adequate defense against the blistering minority assault on his culture. He must avoid praising his own people as a people - and he also must avoid castigating other peoples, particularly the more dynamic minorities. The minority artist, on the other hand, wears no such straitjacket. He freely praises whom he likes and freely damns whom he dislikes, both as individuals and as groups. The Majority artist, with a narrower choice of heroes and villains, has a narrower choice of theme. Lacking the drive and brute force of minority racism, Majority art tends to become bland, innocuous, emotionless, sterile, and boring. Forbidden to explore the text and context of his collective consciousness, the Majority artist retreats to surrealism, science fiction, murder mysteries, fantasy, travel guides, and pornography. In the process he becomes the punching bag of the minority activist, who sees ‘man’s essential struggle as social, against other men, rather than the moral one against himself.’

Many potential Majority artists probably sense well in advance the roadblocks in the way of a successful artistic career and turn to science, where their creativity is less hampered. Similar situations in the past may illustrate why in the life span of nations the artistic efflorescence has generally preceded the scientific -- why Sophocles came before Archimedes, Dante before Galileo, Shakespeare before Newton and Faraday, Goethe before Planck. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry, but not the life sciences, are less controversial than art and in a divided, pluralistic society may be the last refuge of free expression and free inquiry. It has been said by Ortega y Gasset that ‘people read to pronounce judgment.’ The aphorism might be extended by saying that as nations become older and more divergent in politics, religion, class, and race, people read to soothe or excite their prejudices.

The glimmering of a great artistic era appeared in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth-century. In New England, New York, Philadelphia, and the South, a native American aristocracy was evolving out of generations of landowners, shipping magnates, army and navy officers, and government, church, and educational leaders. At the same time, schools of Majority artists were emerging, their growth rate synchronized with that of the budding aristocracy. It was perhaps no coincidence that the Hudson River Valley, the stamping ground of the first American aristocrats, produced the first great American writer, Washington Irving, the greatest American writer, Herman Melville, and the first American school of painting. The Dutch patroons of New Amsterdam had carved out their riverine estates decades before the founding of the Virginia plantations and while Boston was still a log-cabin theocracy.

The traumatic experience of the Civil War was not entirely responsible for putting an end to America’s great artistic promise. There was the overbrimming social fluidity which followed the war and made possible the settlement of the West. There were fortunes to be made - in commerce, in industry, in mining, in land - and as plutocracy waxed, art waned. There was also the New Immigration, which played havoc with the normal, organic processes of artistic evolution.

In the last moment of the Republic, when Roman culture was displaying signs of rigor mortis, Augustus stopped the dissolution of Roman art by halting the dispossession of the Roman Majority. The outcome was the Golden Age of Latin literature. It was not until Rome’s decline properly began - according to Gibbon, with the accession of Commodus in A.D. 180 - that the demise of Roman art and the Roman Majority could be considered official.

For the sake of the American Majority and of American art, it is to be hoped that the United States is now in its pre-Augustan, not its pre-Commodian era.

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