The Marxist War On Art And America
Have the Marxists won, even though the Soviet Union lost? America’s moral courage in confronting the “evil empire” was a truly heroic act; but in the aftermath of the Soviet bloc’s dissolution and America’s unrestrained bid for liberal hegemony over the world, we let our guard down. Not to external foes, but to internal ones.
Over the summer and fall of 2020, America’s cities and public landscape burned and were vandalized. As Nancy Pelosi said when questioned about whether these vandals would be sought and prosecuted for wanton destruction of private and federal property, “I don’t care that much about statues.” Her attitude, perhaps symptomatic of many Americans, needs to be repudiated because it is a blank check for destroying our heritage, history, and moral consensus.
Plato, in his Republic, infamously banned the poets and artists. Why? Because Plato argued, they offered a false vision of the truth and the good life. Plato was himself an artist. He wanted to be a dramatist before turning to the nascent seed called philosophy. His animus against art wasn’t against art, per se, but was against the story that the artists and poets of his time communicated. What Plato understood is what Marxists understand and most Americans sadly can’t see: Art tells a story.
Walter Benjamin, the chief Prophet of the New Left, wrote that all art is “based on another practice—politics.” What Benjamin unleashed was a new campaign to destroy Western civilization by making us hate our own history and heritage and the story that our public landscape, the treasures of our civilization, told. Or as Griselda Pollock said, “The reality is that anything the Europeans have touched is contaminated by their money and disciplined by their gaze, imprinted with their power, and shaped by their desire.”
Michael Oakeshott, perhaps the world’s foremost conservative philosopher in the mid-twentieth century, is indispensable for us in understanding the left’s destructive impulses. “[T]he real spring of collectivism is not a love of liberty, but war. The anticipation of war is the great incentive, and the conduct of war is the great collectivizing process,” Oakeshott once wrote. And war is the animating spirit of the left. If there is no war, then the left must invent a war.
Our public landscape, statues, sculptures, and paintings tell us a story. It is the story of American grace, progress, and freedom. From the Mayflower to the Founding Fathers, to Abraham Lincoln and the crosses and Stars of David that line Arlington Cemetery, America’s lost moral consensus is manifested in the treasures of our civilization celebrating America’s people, history, and progress from a few courageous pioneers and settlers to a sprawling nation from sea to shining sea that overcame many obstacles to establish a more perfect union and continued to create a more perfect union as time went by.
The left’s sudden vandalizing spirit to our public memorials and landscape should not be surprising. For America’s public landscape is the treasure of all, but insofar as it tells the real story of freedom, progress, and opportunity, the left understands that it must banish or, better, destroy our statues, paintings, and all that is embodied by our public landscape.
It has been drilled into our heads, ad nauseum, that America is an irredeemably racist country, as well as sexist and economic oppressive. The 1619 Project isn’t the spearhead of this ideology. It is just the latest and most potent manifestation of an ideology that goes back to the mid-twentieth century. But the 1619 Project should be seen as a blessing in disguise for all Patriotic Americans. For it unequivocally proclaims what we must understand: The left hates America and is threatened by our memorials of love and truth.
What the 1619 Project exudes is the very spirit of politicized art and aesthetics that Walter Benjamin advocated. The original sin of slavery taints America’s public life and every aspect of her civilization. What is most ingenious about the left’s language is how it evokes an eschatological, millenarian, and religious struggle—the war for righteousness takes on a spiritual and moral dimension that perfectly preys on people who are abandoning religious practice and find its false substitute in political vandalism, barbarism, and destruction.
But the Marxists in America have a factual problem on their hand. If America is as irredeemably evil as they claim, then why are many of the oppressed and exploited peoples clamoring to find refuge in the country that is still the last best hope for humanity’s aspirations for God, freedom, and opportunity? Well, the Marxists must conjure up some hocus pocus magic and stir it in a cauldron—the masses are enslaved by a false consciousness!
Thankfully, the Marxist elite exists to tell them what they should really believe and feel and join them in the march to the New Jerusalem to be inaugurated on earth once all the vestiges of evil America are destroyed: Christianity, the white middle-class, the patriarchy, free markets, and all those works of art that otherwise remind us of American goodness, grace, freedom, and progress.
Thus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even Frederick Douglass are not safe from the anti-American left’s decapitating mob because, as long as such statues stand, they are an enduring reminder that American Marxists peddle a false story. Washington reminds us that America was not born in slavery but in freedom. Lincoln reminds us that America is always true to that founding spirit of building a more perfect union. And Frederick Douglas reminds us that America bleeds with a spirit of reconciliation and unity.
The stories that these men tell -- and oh, yes, it's problematic that they’re all men, too! -- is a threat to the Marxist story of an evil and irredeemable America, an America that cannot be forgiven and needs to be purged, exterminated, and destroyed. For in a world where grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation do not exist because God does not exist, well, there is only power and extermination as Raskolnikov says before his apotheosis.
Down, then, come the monuments and statues honoring America’s history of grace, freedom, and progress, and up to the new landscape of race, class, gender struggle, and “liberation.” All art will become media of the Marxist story. For the medium is the message.
We must, therefore, counter the Marxists at every stage, turn, and level. For to let them have a monopoly on our cherished and sacred history, monuments, and landscape is to let them have a totalizing monopoly over American life. It won’t be long until the paintings that adorn the Capitol, John Trumbull’s Surrender of General Burgoyne and Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, along with other such important moments of American freedom and progress like William Henry Powell’s Battle of Lake Erie, will be burned because they are testimonies to white supremacy, which is what all Marxists now parrot in unimaginative collective unison.
The Marxist war on art is the final campaign for Marxism’s domination of America. Make no mistake, they are waging a war. When the last stories of American freedom, progress, and reconciliation are eliminated, the Marxists will have their monopoly on power; not a dictatorship of the proletariat, but a dictatorship onto themselves. And they will wage another war against all of those who they claim have “contaminated” the world.
IMAGE: Portland Washington statute vandalized. YouTube screengrab.