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On The Jungconservative Variant of Politics and Art

Ulus Baker

Lecture notes of the course 'Sociology of Fine Arts and Music' given with Ünal Nalbantoğlu.

It is well known that totaliter regimes generally, and young conservatives particularly, hate “cosmopolitanism” and fragmanted society. The latter is the very source of fear of absence or loosing identity. What conservative thinker, Moeller van der Bruck, said, I think, could be thought with what Goebbels wrote in a letter: “we who shape modern German politics feel ourselves to be artistic people, entrusted with the great responsibility of forming out of the raw material of the masses a solid, well- wrought structure of a Volk.” (Buck- Morss 1992) And, these also can be thought with the expression in Leni Riefenstahl’s film, which was produced for Nazi propaganda in order to militarize the society for the aim of making war, as an invitation to “mass sacrifice, destruction, murder and death”: “Germany is Hitler and Hitler is Germany.” This evidently claims that Hitler represents and also embodies German nation. It is the dream of Total State linking total Weltanschauung and total domination. It needs to construct, to product “the German people in, through, and as a work of art;” the Nazi myth as Lacoue - Labarthe and Nancy call.

To be effective, myth needs two things one of which is “a total belief, an immediate, unreserved adhesion to the dreamed figure,” the other is the type as concrete -flesh and blood- form of identity purified by removing all contradictory, treatening elements, i.e., race. The total adhesion to the race would require to be represented as creative blood. This briefly counts why art was exclusively placed in efforts to construct a German nation.

Wagner’s performance to create a total work of art is a representative of unification of German people. It was not only aesthetical but also political performance setting an identification process into motion. Music, theatre, drama, poetry are combined in order to create a total environment and an illusion that “work of art is reality sui generis.” This is the key to fascist aesthetics; individual is to see him/ herself as part of the integral body- an aesthetic making perception “anaesthetized.”(Buck- Morss 1992)

As Benjamin emphasizes, “all efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war.” However, aestheticization of politics, as seen in Nazism, also means “a fusion of politics and art, the production of the political as work of art.” (Lacoue- Labarthe and Nancy 1990)

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