The Poetic Right

Or, “Weaponized Artism”

I took a college class in Asian Art History years ago, which, at least in the history of India, could be renamed “History of Muslims’ Destruction of Art.” It struck a chord that resonated with me: centuries of religious/cultural monument-building and craft paved over by a new dynasty of foreign warlords, and that was then: today they opt to use dynamite on offending sculptures that now only exist in photographs and in still-living memory. Liberals now seem dead set on continuing the work of The Islamic State and its predecessors, and the defacement and destruction of American Confederate monuments in the South have brought me back to some of my worst fears.

While monuments and temples are all well and good, and their losses generally tragic, the destruction of visual art undoubtedly steals the spotlight from that of written words. In a previous video I spoke of how Leftists wish to cover up the written body of work of challenging politicians, particularly John C. Calhoun and his theories of statecraft and anti-federalism. But that is closer to attempted censorship and an outright coverup. Poetry has suffered just as much. Without a doubt, some of the best poets, even the most well known today, were Right-minded–at least anti-consumerist Romantics. I don’t mean “small government Jeffersonians,” I’m referring to the 20th century Monarchists, Fascists and the like such as Ezra Pound or Yeats. Their names and works survive in public schools throughout the Western World, but their politics have been hushed! Even if you were be taught about Imagism and The Cantos, you’d likely not hear a word about their origins, of Pound’s defecting to Italy before the second World War and being imprisoned in a US POW camp when he first penned them. Yeats believed so strongly in Aristocracy and the necessity (and nobility) of both an underclass and a ruling class that it permeated his daily life, living in a cottage adjoined to a restored, Norman tower in Ireland. Yet they would pretend that his ideas didn’t permeate his poetry too?

Why would someone on the Right be artistically inclined at all? It’s partly a rhetorical question–I don’t think anyone on the Far Right “hates” art; our reverence of the past is inseparable from it. But we all know that there is one side of the political spectrum which claims ownership of creativity (or post-modernism anyway). Poetry’s origins lie in song or chant–not just rhythm necessarily, but resonance: all parts resonating to form chords. The politics of the Far Right can most generally be described as derived from the Truth, and that is what permits some of the best writers and poets on the Right to be so impacting with their words. While Liberal-minded folks may be able to contend when the subject matter is more impersonal, their words on the human condition have always rung hollow–now more than ever with the advent of post-modernism.

The coming years will bring a rise in Right-wing art and literature, and a re-learning of artists that came and went unnoticed in the sphere of Liberal education, as the political Right delves deeper into tradition and human nature and seeks to find the Right’s place in art and culture. Just as Liberals (implicit or otherwise) have for decades published poetry compilations and collections to showcase their world view, there is now a response from the Right, one which will grow in size and strength.


3 thoughts on “The Poetic Right

  1. My compliments—a very interesting site, and a very interesting essay.

    I, too, have been contemplating the curious imbalance in the arts on the left and the right. I dearly hope that your optimism regarding the emergence of a new “Right-wing art and literature” is well founded. It will require a reworking of many of our ideas of art; precisely because the Right is implicated, as you say, with “Truth,” it will be the lot of our intellectuals to clear away certain misunderstandings of art which have become endemic in our time, and which artificially yoke the idea of art to the agenda of the political left.

    One of the deeper problems, to my mind, is that the great artist, unlike the great philosopher, is deeply beholden to his culture. There is no culture today, which means that things have to be turned on their heads: today it is the artist who must bring about the culture, not the other way around. This is an enormous and imposing task in the best of times, not to speak of our feeble days. We urgently must find that strength which you speak of at the very end of your essay. Perhaps the very need for it will show us the way to develop it.

    Out of curiosity, where do you see such prospects for us in the coming years as those you mention in your last paragraph?

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    1. You’re right to say that artists are a product of their culture, and the influence of post-modernism has essentially robbed of us entire generations of artists at this point, sadly. Because we naturally gravitate towards the Right (tribalism, nativism, etc.) there was an odd moment after the rise and fall of European fascism when the intellectuals of different nations had to explain to people why their most beloved cultural figures were actually wrong (like the arrest of Knut Hamsun of Norway who supported the pro-Norway Quisling occupation administration, or Ezra Pound of America who was arrested in Italy after working for Mussolini). Typically the response was to throw them in a hospital, declare them mentally unfit to stand trial, and be done with it, jotting down their support for fascism to senility (meanwhile the books and such these artists and writers continued to produce at this time would suggest otherwise).

      The reason I anticipate a resurgence in Right wing art and literature is because of the identitarian movements that have emerged across the West. And the people in these crowds don’t just obsess over their own heritage, I think it is safe to say that there is a universal admiration and study of the ancient masters in this movement as well: the Romans and Greeks and their classics in particular. In America I think there is indeed a wholly non-European identitarian movement in the revival of Southern culture and the on-going battle over the preservation of Southern history. At present it is like one big subversion of public schools, which may teach you a little bit about these fascist writers, but nothing about their politics, by going further and discovering the truths, realizing that far-Right ideas can and do indeed result in great works of art, and shifting away from post-modernism

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      1. “Because we naturally gravitate towards the Right (tribalism, nativism, etc.) there was an odd moment after the rise and fall of European fascism when the intellectuals of different nations had to explain to people why their most beloved cultural figures were actually wrong (like the arrest of Knut Hamsun of Norway who supported the pro-Norway Quisling occupation administration, or Ezra Pound of America who was arrested in Italy after working for Mussolini).”

        Indeed. Although I think the preferred tactic in the long run has been to suppress the memory of these artists altogether, or else to minimize their work. Take Ezra Pound for example. I was born almost in the same town as Pound, and I have been enamored of poetry since my boyhood, but the first time I can recall hearing Pound’s name in anything but the most circumstantial reference was when I moved to Italy. There are of course many reasons for this—the United States has a troubled relation with all its best artists—but I do suspect that a great deal of Pound’s unmerited anonymity in the United States is due to an instinctive will to lay aside inconvenient figures.

        “The reason I anticipate a resurgence in Right wing art and literature is because of the identitarian movements that have emerged across the West.”

        I agree that this is a promising sign. It is not without its hazard. In the first place, these identitarian movements are presently confronted by a host of urgent political and social circumstances. There is thus a sore temptation to make art serve the cause of propaganda or apologia. That to my eyes represents the death of art. Moreover, the best of art feeds of deep roots, but these identitarian movements are all new, and their roots are necessarily still shallow. The art they produce will tend to be equally shallow. The presentday artists of the Right must therefore seek to work against all tendency, forcing these roots deeper into the earth, even as they lift the blooms of their art upward so far as they may. That is new work; it requires a new art.

        It is with this as with so many aspects of our present attempt to resuscitate, refurbish, and recreate the Right: we too often resort to old models in new times. We are in desperate need of novel modes and manners. If you are right about the possibilities of art in our time, then it might be among the foremost responsibilities of our artists precisely to show us the way to these modes and manners; and this attempt itself might in its turn show them the way to an untried art.

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