Friday, March 29, 2013

Modernists unite over fear of "the mob"

The authors and artists we think of as "The Modernists" did have their divisions.

Some exalted Modernity's materialism and rationalism while others opposed rationalism (so they said) and sought to go back to an golden age of myths and rituals, a sort of anti-Modernity.

But virtually all of them happily re-united around an abiding fear of democracy and of being ruled by a "mob" of the lower middle class, working class and the defectives.

And an astonishing number wrote of "exterminating" these "lesser" classes.

We can say this for certain of many of the best known Modernists because they left plenty of private papers and have had enough interest from scholars to see that all of their private and public writing has had a through going over with a fine tooth comb.

But I suspect the lack of evidence that the lesser studied Modernists also held these quasi fascist beliefs indicates only a lack of evidence or a lack of scholarly interest, not a lack of such beliefs among them.

Ordinary middle to upper middle class people from the period 1910 to 1945 are even less likely to get studied in the detail that prominent people of that period have been.

But I suspect that a through sampling of what personal writings and newspaper reports from that period that do remain would reveal an amazing amount of quasi-fascist talk from ordinary well-to-do individuals all over the world.

Emphasizing once again that what separated hard core Nazi from soft core Yeats or Elliot was more an matter of degree,  not kind ...

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