Why do our cosmopolitan elites hate their own people?
There are two popular theories in our circles that explain this phenomena. The first theory holds that it is the result of a Jewish culture of critique. The second theory holds that liberalism has degenerated our culture. While there is a great deal of truth to both of these theories, it ignores a crucial third element which is the rise of Modernism and the impact that it had on elite attitudes.
The following excerpt comes from John Carey’s book The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride & Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939:
“Ortega’s ideas recall those of Nietzsche, who prefigures many of the developments we shall be concerned with. Nietzsche similarly deplores overpopulation. ‘Many too many are born,’ his Zarathustra declares, ‘and they hang on their branches much too long. I wish a storm would come and shake all this rottenness and wormeatenness from the tree!’ Where the ‘rabble’ drink, all fountains are poisoned. Zarathustra also denounces the state, which overwhelms the individual. It is ‘the coldest of all cold monsters’. In it ‘universal slow suicide is called life’. It was invented for the sake of the mass – ‘the superfluous’. Nietzsche’s message in The Will To Power is that a ‘declaration of war on the masses by higher men is needed’. The times are critical. ‘Everywhere the mediocre are combining in order to make themselves master.’ The conclusion of this ‘tyranny of the least and the dumbest’ will, he warns, be socialism – a ‘hopeless and sour affair’ which ‘negates life’.”
As John Carey goes to explain at length, Modernist intellectuals who were alienated by the rise of mass culture answered Nietzsche’s call to declare war on the masses in the 20th century.
“The old, sick and the suffering suggest themselves as particularly ripe for extermination. Nietzsche affirms that ‘the great majority of men have no right to existence, but are a misfortune to higher men’. He blames the corruption of the European races on the preservation of sick and suffering specimens. The breeding of the future master race will entail, he warns, the ‘annihilation of millions of failures’. The actual method of annihilation is generally left vague, both in Nietzsche and Lawrence, but Lawrence has a chilling passage in a letter of 1908, in which he explains to Blanche Jennings how he would dispose of society’s outcasts:
“If I had my way, I would build a lethal chamber as big as the Crystal Palace, with a military band playing softly, and a Cinematograph working brightly; then I’d go out in the back streets and main streets and bring them in, all the sick, the halt, and the maimed; I would lead them gently, and they would smile me a weary thanks; and the band would softly bubble out the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’.”
The humiliation and annihilation of the masses is a theme that runs through Modernism:
“The intellectuals could not, of course, actually prevent the masses from attaining literacy. But they could prevent them reading literature by making it too difficult for them to understand – and this is what they did. The early twentieth century saw a determined effort, on the part of the European intelligentsia, to exclude the masses from culture. In England this movement has become known as modernism. In other European countries it was given similar names, but the ingredients were essentially similar, and they revolutionized the visual arts as well as literature. Realism of the sort that it was assumed the masses appreciated was abandoned. So was logical coherence. Irrationality and obscurity were cultivated. ‘Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult,’ decreed T.S. Eliot.” How deliberate this process of alienating the mass audience was is, of course, problematic and no doubt different from case to case.”
“I would suggest, then, that the principle around which modernist literature and culture fashioned themselves was the exclusion of the masses, the defeat of their power, the removal of their literacy, the denial of their humanity.”
This is a good example of it in E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End:
“When early twentieth-century writers depict beneficiaries of this reform – representatives of the newly educated masses – they frequently do so with disdain. The effort of the mass to acquire culture is presented as ill-advised and unsuccessful. E.M. Forster, for example, in his novel Howards End depicts a lower-class young man called Leonard Best, who works as a clerk in an insurance office. Leonard lives in a nasty modern flat, eats tinned food and is married to a vulgar young woman called Jacky, who is, Forster tells us, ‘bestially stupid’. It would be false to pretend that Forster is wholly unsympathetic to Leonard. His loyalty to Jacky verges on the tragic. But what Forster cannot condone is Leonard’s attempt to become cultured. If only his ancestors had stayed in the countryside, he might have made a robust shepherd or ploughboy. But like thousands of others, they were ‘sucked into the town’, and Leonard strives to educate himself by reading the English literary classics and going to symphony concerts. Despite these efforts, Forster makes it clear, Leonard does not acquire true culture. He has a ‘cramped little mind’; he plays the piano ‘badly and vulgarly’. There is, Forster assures us, not the least doubt that Leonard is inferior to most rich people. ‘He was not as courteous as the average rich man, nor as intelligent, nor as healthy, nor as lovable.’ The novel has a cautionary ending, for Leonard’s wish to obtain culture proves fatal. Attacked by one of his upper-class characters, he symbolically grabs at a bookcase for support, and it falls over on top of him, so that he dies of a heart attack. Such are the dangers of higher education, we gather, when it is pursued by the wrong people.”
As nationalists, we identify with our own people or with “the masses.”
Modernism is about the rejection of the masses and particularly the traditional culture of the 19th century bourgeois. It is based on a strong feeling of alienation from the masses.
As I joked to my wife, I am an intellectual who is deeply reactionary in the abstract, but kind, laid back and fairly egalitarian in temperament. In contrast, Modernists are often egalitarian in the abstract, but deeply reactionary and elitist in temperament. The only thing that progressives believe in more deeply than abstract equality and progress is how much they do not like the ordinary American!