Randolph Bourne, Modernism and The New Woman

The “New Woman” of Modern America rejected what it meant to be a woman in Victorian America. In the 19th century, women were either respectable and devoted to their families or were whores and prostitutes. The overwhelming majority of women got married and chose to live a respectable life. The Victorians thought that women were more religious and moral than men. Women were in charge of leading the moral and religious life of their households. This was the assumption that led to the passage of the 18th and 19th Amendments which established Prohibition and women’s suffrage.

The following excerpt comes from New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America:

“Two groups of Americans, women and blacks, emerged from the war with heightened expectations and new attitudes toward their place in society. The emancipated woman was the standard-bearer of the modern age. “When the world began to change,” the restlessness of women was the main cause,” observed the writer Hutchins Hapgood. While mainstream feminists fought for the vote, a radical vanguard, the New Women, sought sexual equality with men, including the freedom to love and access to birth control. The war accelerated the triumph of women’s rights, as it did that of Prohibition. “The greatest thing that came out of the war,” said Carrie Chapman Carr, a suffragette leader, “was the emancipation of women, for which no man had fought.”

Writing to a Midwestern friend, Randolph Bourne, who had sympathy for the compromises women made, provided a graphic look at the New Women:

“They are all social workers or magazine writers in a small way. They are decidedly emancipated and advanced, and so thoroughly healthy and zestful, so it seems to my unsophisticated masculine sense. They shock you constantly … They have an amazing combination of wisdom and youthfulness, of humor and ability, and innocence and self-reliance, which absolutely belies everything you will read in the story-books or any other description of womankind. They are, of course, self-supporting and independent; and they enjoy the adventure of life; the full reliant, audacious way in which they go about makes you wonder if the new woman isn’t to be a very splendid sort of person.”

It seems incredible now.

The “New Woman” has become synonymous with women.

The only reason the 19th Amendment was passed by a Victorian male electorate is because it was assumed at the time that male alcoholism was the social problem and that women were more socially conservative than men and giving them the vote would elevate the manners and morals of society. This gives you a sense of the distance we have traveled over the course of a century.

The “New Woman” was a literary creation of Modernism. This is how the ideal began to emerge in Henrik Ibsen’s play The Doll House (1879):

“HELMER: It’s shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties.

NORA: What do you consider my most sacred duties?

HELMER: Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?

NORA: I have other duties just as sacred.

HELMER: That you have not. What duties could those be?

NORA: Duties to myself.

HELMER: Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.

NORA: I don’t believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are — or at all events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no longer contain myself with what most people say, or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.”

There it is.

The Modern aesthetic ideal of self-exploration, self-expression, self-realization and self-fulfillment is a sacred duty on the same level of a woman’s moral and religious obligations to her family. The shift is that the claims of religion and morality have taken a backseat to an aesthetic lifestyle.

This is the philosophy of Oscar Wilde who believed “to become a work of art is the object of living.” It is the philosophy of Charles Baudelaire who believed in seeing beauty in evil. It is the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche who believed the art of the higher men was the bridge of the Übermensch and that creative geniuses were held back by the Christian slave morality of the masses. It is the philosophy of James Abbott McNeill Whistler in “The Ten O’Clock.” It is the philosophy of Théophile Gautier who believed in the religion of art. It is the philosophy of Walter Pater and Algernon Swinburne and Henry James and all the other late 19th century aesthetes who diminished the claims of religion and morality over life.

This was also the philosophy of Randolph Bourne, the “New Women” like Margaret Anderson and the first Moderns of the 1910s in America. These people were a radical vanguard who were living in bohemian enclaves in New York City and Chicago where they were experimenting with living out the new ethos of Modernism which they were absorbing from the European avant-garde and H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

From the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism:

“A historical figure as well as a literary phenomenon, the New Woman was named in 1894 in an exchange between ‘Ouida’ (Marie Louise de la Ramée) and Sarah Grand in the pages of the New American Review. The New Woman was a ubiquitous presence in fin-de-siècle literature and journalism concerned with debates about the ‘woman question’, and influenced twentieth-century ideas about feminism and gender. The New Woman novel, with its mapping of female psychological space and emphasis on female consciousness, shaped modernist fiction.

New Women were often political activists as well as writers, and agitated for reform on political and domestic questions. Most New Woman fiction rejects aestheticism in favor of realism; it deals with sexuality with a frankness that departed from Victorian codes of propriety and takes up issues such as suffrage, marriage, domestic violence, and the emancipation of women. In its realism, New Woman fiction departs from the aestheticism of the period, although some writers, like George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright), used the techniques of aestheticism to examine women’s experience.”

The following except comes from Christine Stansell’s book American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century:

“When Hutchins Hapgood looked back on the heyday of bohemia, it was the New Woman he cast as the movers of history, standard-bearers of the modernist telos. “When the world began to change, the restlessness of women was the main cause of the development called Greenwich Village, which existed not only in New York but all over the country,” he elegized. Throughout the left intelligentsia, the emancipated woman stood at the symbolic center of a program for cultural regeneration. Her enactment of destiny was considered a historical spectacle: “The awakening and liberation of woman … is not an event in any class or an issue between classes,” proposes the Masses in 1913. “It is an issue for all humanity.” The innovation of the moment benefited all, but they were thought particularly to aid women. Free speech allowed them to break a long taboo against female sexual expression, the new writing invited them to share literary enterprises monopolized by men, and bohemian politics accepted the fundamental premises of women’s rights and expanded on them. Indeed, freedom of thought and action and “the removal of the barriers between the sexes” went hand in hand.

Men like Hapgood, Max Eastman, John Reed, and Randolph Bourne saw themselves as coconspirators of the heroines of the day. In their writings, political pronouncements, and friendships with the opposite sex, they articulated fond expectations of the advantages that would accrue to all – themselves included – from women’s eventual triumph. “Feminism is going to make it possible for the first time for men to be free,” the Masses predicted. This was a distinctly American sensibility; it was to prove enormously influential in modern sex relations, more so than the explicit antipathy to women (misogynistic at worst, ill-tempered at best) that wound through high-modernist corridors in Europe. Pound, with his animus toward women editors and patrons, Wyndham Lewis, Filippo Marinetti, T.S. Eliot – these men had variegated relations to women artists and subjects, to be sure, but they were given periodically to overt scorn for the modern woman’s quest for self-determination or to muted anxiety that their sex was losing control.

Men of the American cultural left tended rather to extol sexual democracy in the same terms as they extolled the concord of workers and intellectuals. A militant belief in sexual equality was, ostensibly, common ground between men and women, and feminism, like the workers’ commonwealth, would liberate society from a gloomy past. The moderns believed that the crippling conventions of their parents’ generation had set the sexes against each other by segregating people into separate spheres – the female-dominated home, the male-dominated world. Modernity, with its generative powers of communication, would overcome the division and thereby put an end to the ancient battle of the sexes. A third space of reciprocity would nourish transcendent friendships unimaginable to earlier generations, the “true companionship and oneness” of men and women that Emma Goldman preached in her lectures on love. …

Men and women drew sustenance from their faith in the availability for work from in the cities, from anarchist-tinged beliefs in the power of emancipated individuals to transform themselves and others, and from literary representations of New Womanhood. Their promises were not enunciated in tracts or manifestos but, haltingly and fragmentarily, as ethical predispositions: in romantic love, work, political activism, and sociability. In fact, few of these experiments were as successful as their participants billed them. Instead, the structures of sexual modernism proved highly elastic in their ability to accommodate elements of the old sexual hierarchies. The persistence, even the consolidation, of men’s privileges within an egalitarian framework would prove a defining feature of twentieth-century American society. Ironically, despite all their good intentions, the bohemians helped construct the fundamental paradox of a sexual modernism that was also a patriarchal modernization. They were the very first generation to live with the promises and perplexities of what came to be seen, much later, as a great change in the lives of girls and women.

Feminism as a synonym for women’s rights was a coinage of the 1910s, transposed from the French féminisme, a word around since the 1880s. Associated with the newest of New Women, feminism betokened not just a claim to the vote or to making mothers’ roles in society more honored but rather to economic independence, sexual freedom, and psychological exemption from the repressive obligations of wifehood, motherhood, and daughterhood – a jettisoning of family duties for a heightened female individualism. The appearance of the term in the urban lexicon signaled the cohesion of a politics – better yet, a sensibility – of equality distinct from the nineteenth-century tradition, which had consistently stressed women’s roles within the family and marriage and repudiated any idea of women’s sexual desires independent of making babies. Like other specialties of the metropolitan intelligentsia, feminism was new, “so new that it isn’t in the dictionaries yet,” an advocate boasted. The mixture of utopianism and advertising hype – “the stir of new life,” “world-wide revolt against all artificial barriers,” the “complete social revolution” – propelled the term into the limelight. Like so much else that was happening, feminism denoted a world-transforming rupture. “We have grown accustomed … to something or other known as the Woman Movement. That has an old sound – it is old,” another adherent explained. “But feminism!” – that was something different. Magazines buzzed, not just the Masses and the Little Review but the family periodicals, the stodgy Nation, the grave New Republic. “The word is daily in the pages of our newspapers. The doctrine and its corollaries are on every tongue,” marveling the Century in 1914.”

“Feminism” was coined in the 1910s.

“Feminism” was the arrival of the “New Woman” in America from France. It is essentially nothing but Modernism applied to relations between the sexes.

Randolph Bourne was an aesthete who loved Nietzsche. He dreamed of “revitalizing” American culture through the aestheticization of everyday life.

“Bourne was a moral and cultural radical, to be sure. In the era when intellectual production centered on “little magazines,” he and his circle inveighed against sterility in education, the embalmed canon of a “genteel tradition” in letters, and the puritanical and Calvinistic strictures of Victorian culture. Bourne characterized himself as a “literary radical,” and his affection for Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau resonated in the cadences of his prose. Despondent about American shallowness, complacency, and conformity, he touted, in his most heartfelt personal expressions, the romantic ideals of “youth” and “life” as vital resources for the regeneration of democracy. …

Both the Greenwich Village atmosphere of youthful experimentation and revolt and the worldwide workers’ rebellion that exploded toward the end of the second decade of the twentieth century were implicit in Bourne’s refusal to put his finger to the wind before speaking fresh and vital truths. Idealism, aestheticism, feminism, friendship, music, reading, and impassioned discussion were for Bourne social ideals, as reflected in his judgment that all great art was ethical, imbued with religion and politics. When we recapture the Bourne who emphasized “social consciousness,” “human progress,” and “the bringing of a fuller, richer life to more people on this earth” as against “that poisonous counsel of timidity and distrust of human ideals which pours out in steady stream from reactionary press and pulpit” — words that still have bite in our own epoch of Fox News and greed-condoning mega-churches — then we will have gone some way toward ensuring that the ghost of Bourne still giggles down our streets.”

The Moderns liked to emphasize that feminism liberated men too from the expectations of conventional religion and morality. Now everyone could focus on enjoying themselves and developing their own lifestyles.

About Hunter Wallace 9620 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

31 Comments

  1. “Revitalization” of culture through total self-obsession and self-indulgence is actually the harbinger of a culture’s destruction. Abstraction, like in Dada, Absurdism, etc., is about the destroying norms and standards of reality, including ideals of beauty. Naturally, the opposite of what is true and beautiful becomes praised and promoted. We’re seeing that now, of course, with the Gillette promotion of morbid obesity and manly-looking trans shemale models being extolled as examples of feminine beauty.

    • The couple across the street had a first birthday party for their adopted daughter – looking at this baby as I held her(and she chewed on my reading glasses – lol) reaffirmed my long-held belief that there is nothing more beautiful than a blue-eyed, fair-haired White child.

    • @Boomer…

      ““Revitalization” of culture through total self-obsession and self-indulgence is actually the harbinger of a culture’s destruction. ”

      You, Sir, have been uniquely endowed with a gift that most of us do not have : you look at a complex situation, find the pith, and then articulate in in just such a way that one cannot fail to grasp the meaning and magnitude of it.

      I hope you appreciate what The Good Lord gave to you.

      Al the best to you and yours from the swamps of Northeastern North Carolina!

      • Thanks very much for the incredibly kind words, Ivan. They’re a most welcome surprise. I hope you and yours are also doing well.

        I’m trying to write in a simpler, more straightforward manner. I thought I was still being too verbose, perhaps still coming across in a pretentious, stilted fashion. Your feedback is helpful and appreciated.

  2. Next up, “Modernism and its cultural impacts on Ice Cream: Moose Tracks, a subtle flavor of degeneracy? You decide, but please click on this!”

    Haha. Surely there is nothing more important to discuss right now while our economy is coming apart, a tremendous power struggle between two factions of our common enemy rages (the election you spergs), most of our major cities are aflame, crime is skyrocketing, and all of a sudden UFO’s are a commonly acknowledged phenomena by the worlds militaries, (pretty weird tbqh fam) and we are beset by a mostly fake epidemic.

    No! Something called modernism, an abstraction with no empirical definition, is what we must focus all of our thought and autistic energy upon, because things aren’t going the way we think they should. And because Orange man is still bad!

    God I’m glad its hunting season.

    • You’re right.

      Now that we are in the heat of the 2020 election season and Trump is the president and the very foundations of society are crumbling around us, it is an excellent time to tune out and trace the root causes of it all to their origin in history. The world is obviously going to shit anyway and having Trump in office for a second term isn’t going to do a damn thing to stop it.

      • Everyone else is talking about that crap, OD is the only site presenting deep, socio-historical interest pieces; it’s good, leave it be. Everyone doesn’t need to be saying the same thing, otherwise there’d be no need for more than one site. Has anyone been ‘ruined’ by learning any of this? Keep up the good work OD.

      • More importantly than which clown serves as ringmaster, the background story on how we arrived at this present sorry state of affairs has been quite informative. I would say you’re something of a born historian which is why I first stopped by back when you did the history of Haiti – a very informative read for anyone here who hasn’t seen it yet. To tie it in to current events, does the Novus Orco Catholic female nominated by Cheetohead (and now endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce-Cucks and the surviving Koch oligarch – a very bad sign) know about the sacrifice which led to the founding of Haiti?? Betcha she does not. Even if she doesn’t, her endorsers might want the extra walnut sauce she imported regardless. Roberts is in their pocket for sure.

  3. ‘You’ve come a long way Baby’ . . . . . and now you’re a fat, disgusting ham-beast with blue hair, and countless tattoos and piercings. With no man in your life at 40 years of age, no kids (thank God!), and surrounded by cats, you’ve definitely proven what a superior woman you are!

  4. “Randolph Bourne was an aesthete who loved Nietzsche.”

    Really? Loved Nietzsche? Evidently, I’m in the group of Occidental Dissent commenters who are unclear as to what all these “moderns” thought they were taking from Nietzsche. L’art pour l’art? (“Art for art’s sake.”) Here’s Nietzsche on that subject:

    “L’art pour l’art.—The fight against purpose in art is always a fight against the moralizing tendency in art, against its subordination to morality. L’art pour l’art means, ‘The devil take morality!’ But even this hostility still betrays the overpowering force of the prejudice. When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless—in short, l’art pour l’art, a worm chewing its own tail. ‘Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!’—that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a ‘moreover? an accident? something in which the artist’s instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist’s ability? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life? Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l’art pour l’art?”

    Picasso? Whenever I think of his Damsels of Avignon, which, as I recall, I encountered in its full-sized unpleasantness, decades ago, in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (though I don’t know that that’s where it permanently resides), I’m reminded of the following:

    “If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. … What is essential in such frenzy is the feeling of increased strength and fullness. Out of this feeling one lends to things, one forces them to accept from us, one violates them—this process is called idealizing. … What is decisive is … a tremendous drive to bring out the main features so that the others disappear in the process.

    “In this state one enriches everything out of one’s own fullness: whatever one sees, whatever one wills, is seen swelled, taut, strong, overloaded with strength. A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power—until they are reflections of his perfection. …

    “It would be permissible to imagine an opposite state, a specific anti-artistry by instinct—a mode of being which would impoverish all things, making them thin and consumptive. And, as a matter of fact, history is rich in such anti-artists, in such people who are starved by life and must of necessity grab things, eat them out, and make them more meager.”

    To me, at least, it seems Nietzsche is an anti-modernist. He struck almost preemptively at modernism, struck at its roots while it was a sapling. When, to speak of them again, Picasso’s damsels come to my mind, the word that comes along with them is not “modernism” but “nihilism,” and I recall those opening words of The Will to Power, words jotted in a notebook as far back as the 1880s …

    “What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. This history can be related even now; for necessity itself is at work here. This future speaks even now in a hundred signs, this destiny announces itself everywhere; for this music of the future all ears are cocked even now. For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.

    “[W]hy has the advent of nihilism become necessary? Because the values we have had hitherto thus draw their final consequence; because nihilism represents the ultimate logical conclusion of our great values and ideals—because we must experience nihilism before we can find out what value these ‘values’ really had.—We require, sometime, new values.”

    • Nietzsche’s objection to art for art’s sake is that he saw the art of great men as the bridge to the Übermensch. Otherwise, he was in agreement with Oscar Wilde and the aesthetes that art should not be subordinated to traditional religion and morality. It is a relatively minor disagreement compared to the far more significant agreement on emancipating aesthetics from traditional morality.

      • It’s not a relatively minor disagreement. Nietzsche recognizes that l’art pour l’art is a cry for emancipation of art from traditional morality, but he says that l’art pour l’art is a meaningless response to the problem. If one side says l’art pour l’art is its motto, and the other side says that that string of words is meaningless, that’s not a relatively minor disagreement.

          • Without being terribly well-informed on the subject, I’ll venture to say Western art had been “emancipated” from Christianity for about a century by the time of Nietzsche. Those baroque church ceilings of the eighteenth century seem to have been the end of Christian art, and I’d guess most of those predate the French Revolution. What do we have in literature? “Paradise Lost”? “Pilgrim’s Progress”? Those go back even farther, of course; and the first, I gather, is just a war story, of the type Aryans have always produced and enjoyed. You personally seem to prefer “Game of Thrones,” which is the same thing but set in a fantasy realm other than the Christian heaven.

            What art that serves “traditional religion and morality” is on your list of favorites? What do you miss? At Occidental Dissent, you seem to speak favorably of the West’s Greek and Roman cultural heritage. What is it you admire there? That sculpture of the discus thrower? Is that traditional religion and morality? It’s ESPN.

            And as to those old church ceilings of Europe: Are they in Protestant churches? That’s not my impression, so traditional Anglo-Americans never had reason to miss them. Here in Philadelphia, the older Catholic churches—including my own parish church, whose construction probably commenced before I started elementary school—have that old-fashioned look. The windows of the cathedral, downtown, are high above street level, putatively so that traditional Anglo-Americans would be unable to throw bricks through them. All the American Catholic churches built since the ’60s look Protestant. What “traditional religious art” do you, Hunter Wallace, miss?

            The only “traditional religious” literature that’s widely-loved in the Red States isn’t even the Bible—it’s merely the Old Testament, because, again, it’s war stories. I don’t remember ever hearing a New Testament quote from the mouth of an evangelical preacher on TV. It’s always a theatrical “And lo, the Lord said unto Zebediah ….” Sheesh, Bible-thumpers’ love of Christianity is just a form of patriotism, of Aryan tribalism. If you don’t wave the flag–i.e., recognize long-dead Jesus as invisible, living ruler of an imaginary kingdom–they hate you, but they never quote a single thing he says. What’s just now come into my mind is the old D.W. Griffith movie, “Judith of Bethulia.” Have you seen that? Another Old Testament war story. Well, as I say—we have “Game of Thrones” now.

            What Nietzsche recognized was that the impossible, centuries-long exertion, by Aryan man, to see reality as consistent with the Christian scheme had bent but not broken the Aryan mind, which, in his time, was on the verge of snapping back into place with all the force of the tremendous tension with which that long exertion had invested it. He didn’t clear the way for “the moderns.” He simply saw them coming.

          • @John Bonaccorsi, Philadelphia

            In the end, Mr. Wallace and some of his readers, Mr. Bonaccorsi, will be unable to grasp the nettle of either Nietsche or modernism fully. They understand a lot of modernism, but the fact that they can’t even think about the possibility that it is essentially Christianity’s final reformation — and that modernism was lurking in Christianity all along — without being, in their opinion, damned, means they can never fully reach the final analytical step.

            They always fall back on the idea that “Christianity was once warlike, patriarchal, and nationalistic — the muscular Christians of old” as their ultimate argument.

            What they don’t perceive is that human culture isn’t a lightswitch.

            For example, everyone is always so fixated on the “Fall of Rome” narrative that fixes its fall in 476 AD that nobody notices Rome survived as the “Byzantine Empire” until 1453. The Arabs noticed, though — they called it “Rum,” i.e. Rome, and referred to the “Byzantines” as Romans, straight out.

            In a similar way, the ancient Aryan culture, what you might call the “pagan mindset,” survived strongly until the Reformation and Counter-Reformation gradually completed the full Christianization of Europe over several centuries. The medieval knights and kings with their tribalism, their “glory of war” concept and centrality of honor, courage, and loyalty to the Warband as their primary motivators, were basically indistinguishable from the heathen warriors we see in Beowulf. Beowulf is in fact a good example — an ancient, pre-Christian heroic epic with an awkward veneer of Christian homilies daubed slap-dash and superficially onto it, exactly like the European mind until 1500-1600.

            So when these people invoke “muscular Christianity,” “Crusader Christianity,” “Deus Vult Christianity,” etc. as a contrast to modern “Cuckstianity” or however they choose to describe it, they’re actually saluting a mindset that was at least 80% pagan, the ancient Aryan warrior culture, and 20% Christian at best.

            Christianity did eventually reform away the old pagan worldview, through Protestantism (which is far more Middle Eastern than Catholicism, at least the older Catholicism it supplanted), and eventually through modernism.

            Modernism IS Christianity, slightly repackaged by changing circumstances. “The meek shall inherit the Earth” — raising up the “minorities,” ie “the meek,” the incapable brown horde; “original sin” — White privilege; “there shall be neither male nor female, slave nor free, Greek nor Jew, but all shall be one in Christ Jesus” — the fanatical concept of universalism, open borders, feminism, gender-erasing insanity, and race-mixing turning humanity into one undifferentiated bovine mass all hailing Christ Jesus, er, “equality”; the missionary, abolitionist spirit that is clearly the same in both 19th century Christians (Protestants in particular) and identical in modern “anti-racists”; the centrality of guilt, sin, and self-flagellation, now applied to the entire race, etc.. They even plunked Hitler down as a placeholder for the Devil.

            What people like Hunter Wallace CAN’T understand, because it means giving up something they can’t give up, is that modernism isn’t an abandonment of Christianity. It IS Christianity, simply adapted to the current era, in which humans know too much about the world to have precisely the earlier Christian mindset, and therefore adapt its self-destructive self-flagellation and abnegation to a new world of racial politics.

            They also don’t know history well enough to know how alien some of the forms Christianity has taken are. Such as the veiled Christian women in the Middle East in the several centuries just prior to the rise of Islam, the description of whom sounds exactly like Muslim women.

            Modernism is Christianity adapted to new conditions. Which leaves convinced Christians opposed to modernism in a hell of an awkward position (pun intended).

            Nietsche was no modernist precisely because he was no Christian. Modernism is Christianity shapeshifting to survive in a new period. The anti-modernists like Nietsche effectively foresaw modernism, were groping towards an alternative returning to immemorial Aryan nature — based on tribalism, honor, and courage — as opposed to the alien imposition of Middle Eastern religion, but didn’t quite get there. Yet.

            (Don’t get me wrong; I think Mr. Wallace has a lot to contribute and I respect his right to disagree. But it’s with Nietsche that his personal, religiously-enforced blinkers are most evident.)

      • He did Demoiselles Davignon by candle light in a hooker’s basement. He thought he’d caught syphilis off a conquest and was paranoid about dying young. No one saw the painting until the 1920s and the old whore wanted it burned in 1907.

    • @John Bonaccorsi…

      Thank you, Dear John, for this excellent comment.

      Maybe Nietzsche, though unintended, has something in common with Chryst, in that both The Left and Right, Modernist & anti-Modernist seek to regard Him as one of their own.

      Maybe he had both impulses stirring through him, which, given the times in which he lived, would only be logical.

      After watching this ongoing debate, here at Occidental Dissent, for some time, it is what occurs to me to think.

      My wife and I send our best wishes to mama!

      • “Maybe he had both impulses stirring through him, which, given the times in which he lived, would only be logical.”

        Interesting you say that, Ivan. I’ll quote him again, this time from the penultimate section (number 16) of the first of the three essays that make up his On the Genealogy of Morals. By “good and bad,” in the passage I’ll present, he means the pre-Christian, aristocratic dichotomy, in which a “good” man is what we still mean when, for instance, we slap a friend on the back and say “Good man” when he’s been, well, manly. “Good and evil” is the Christian dichotomy, in which a “good” man is a righteous man. That, at least, is the simplest way I can think to sum up what he’s getting at. Here goes …

        “The two opposing values ‘good and bad,’ ‘good and evil’ have been engaged in a fearful struggle on earth for thousands of years; and though the latter value has certainly been on top for a long time, there are still places where the struggle is as yet undecided. One might even say that it has risen ever higher and thus become more profound and spiritual: so that today there is perhaps no more decisive mark of a ‘higher nature,’ a more spiritual nature, than that of being divided in this sense and a genuine battleground of these opposed values.”

        I will, indeed, relay the best wishes of your wife and you to my mother, to whom, I know, they will bring a smile and who will ask me to return them.

        • @John Bonaccorsi…

          Thank you, Sir, for you excellent and very kind reply!

          I am not sure if this latest quote from you of Nietzsche is indicative of where he stood on Modernism or anti-Modernism, but, it certainly was indicative of at least one side of him – the good.

          Not having pored over his works, nor having personally known him I am going to have to leave the judgement of the matter of this philosopher’s character to The Good Lord.

          Obviously, from a purely Orthodox Christian point of view, being preoccupied with morality and spirituality, without Chryst, and without The Holy Catholic Church, will be insufficient.

          There again, I leave it to The Lord.

          My favourite Western Philosophers are, and have long been Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Wen-Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Plotinus, Marcus Aurelius, Chaucer, Rabelais, Montaigne, Rousseau, Obermann, Jane Austen, Honore de Balzac, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Hardy, Nikolai Leskov, Ayn Rand, although, in the end, my philosophical home are The Russian and Serbian Orthodox churches.

          Have a great week!

          • I envy you, Ivan, your wide exposure to important writings. Not only am I very-little acquainted or entirely unacquainted with the works of just about every person you’ve named, I’ll have to go to Wikipedia to learn the identities of two whose names I don’t even recognize (Obermann and Nikolai Leskov). You seem to have strong knowledge, too, of several other important aspects of our world and of the West’s cultural legacy; and by coming here, to Occidental Dissent, I learn a great deal by reading your posts and the posts of several other widely-informed commenters, not to mention our host, Mr. Wallace, who has an enviable ability to digest, communicate, and remember a wide range and vast amount of information.

            Anyway, you’re welcome—and a good week to you, too.

          • @John Bonaccorsi…

            Thank you so very much for your very kind and gracious appraisal.

            Forgive me, but ‘Obermann’ was not the philosopher, but, the name of the best-selling book from the late 18th century by Senancour.

            So much for my formidable mental prowess!

            The book is, as you might expect for the era, extremely transcendental, in the most Byronic of ways. It inspired the Hungarian piano virtuoso, to write what I think his greatest piece, it aptly titled, ‘Obermann.’

            In fact, I, an inveterate peruser of antique shoppes, am fortunate enough to own an early 19th century edition of Senancour’s ‘Obermann’

            As to teaching I am happy to do it, but, the fact is that I am always learning from y’all here. Being here over much of the last ten years surely must be worth a Master’s Degree in political science!

            Mr. Griffin is a living compendium on all the U.S. and Southern History most will never know, not to mention a peerless investigative reporter.

            I have learned from so many here – most notably from Billy Jenkins, Michael Cushman, James Owens, Gryphon Alinor, Denise, Chloupek, Juri, Brabantian, Father and Captain John, Captain Schill, Boomer, yes, most certainly you, as well.

            Too many to name, in fact.

            That Occidental Dissent is still ‘fringe’ as one commenter recently put it, must be because, at least in part, it is way too brainy for most, as it is courageous to be so blatantly honest in an era of constrained intellectual conformity and overly-truncated chic philosophical posings.

            I must say that Nikolai Leskov intrigues me because of his favourite literary theme – that of the extremely Orthodox White Russians clashing against the then modernizing Mother Russia of the late 19th early 20th centuries

            Of course, Leskov is very Orthodox in his views, though, untypically for that sort of person, he writes in an entirely secular way.

            If you have any taste for classical piano, You can go to YouTube and check out the now deceased Cuban pianist, Jorge Bolet, play Franz Liszt’s ‘Obermann’, as it is truly Edgar Allan Poe in musick.

            Thank you again, My Friend!

  5. Today’s Eastern Europe is a time machine where you can actually see these same forces at work, at a much earlier stage

    Communism was a ‘deep-freeze’ that stopped the clock in those countries, which in 1950 were far more ‘traditional’ than the USA of that year

    So now these countries, they have only some part of the ‘feminism’, the first stage, but not the full-on LGBT & pro-migration, pro-minority manias … yet … tho you can see the ‘push’ beginning

    So in these countries you often see the ‘new women’ detaching from family life, at the lead of various protests, like Femen etc… there remain however many traditional women, now being encouraged by direct grants of governments such as Poland and Hungary when they have children … some women still not too different from USA housewives of sixty years ago

    The ‘anti-Muslim-migrant’ stance of these countries is grounded in Eastern Europe’s direct experience of minority in the Roma (gypsies) who have been there for something like 1000 years (originally from India and environs, it is generally thought) and never assimilated, despite major and multiple social engineering efforts by the communists … an oversized portion of prison inmates in these countries, are Roma

    On the other hand, Ukrainians migrating into the Slavic Eastern Europe EU, have adapted easily, given the closely related culture and even food, common ritual Christianity (even tho Catholic vs Orthodox), and the high language similarity of Slavic tongues

    Eastern Europe had a different strain of ‘communism’ than in today’s universities … the old Stalinism of Eastern Europe, was NOT Trotskyite globalism & cultural marxism … Stalinism was softly patriarchal, with divorce highly discouraged as ‘bourgeois’ if not for very serious grounds; and Stalin also believed ethnicity was real, fostering local languages etc

    Many assume Eastern Europe must follow the West into cult-marx hell, just with a delayed timeline … but the events in the USA and Western Europe, are giving Eastern Europeans such a wake-up jolt, it is helping Eastern Europe to lock down and pause the flow of changes such as evolved in the USA … will be interesting to see what happens

    Hungary’s Orbán has spoken out loud of his region of Europe, as being where European culture will be preserved against the assaults of modernity, and that his region needs to prepare to be a refuge for other European Christians beleaguered in what used to be their homelands

    • @Brabantian…

      I appreciate the complexity and depth of your comment, and, perhaps of greater importance, you are accurately analyze what is, and, indeed, has been, going on.

      One thing I would like to cogitate, however, and that is your attribution of Eastern Europe being in a time machine because of it’s being held in a kind of social cooler during it’s time behind The Iron Curtain, and your conclusion that Judeo-Bolshevism played out differently there than it has been playing out in the western part of The West.

      This is an excellent summary, because it is one that more fully takes into account the nuances of political-social interaction.

      To that end, I would like to add this – Eastern European Nationalism clearly won the war between it and Marx’s anti-Nationalist impulse, because it is Eastern European Nationalism which absorbed and contextualized Marxism, not the other way around.

      In the very brief clip below (between 00:6-00:14, you can see an older Hungarian Man, who came up in Judeo-Bolshevism, sum the Eastern European ethos – one that, in the end, cannot be affected by disinformational politicks, economick coercion, or the March of Time.

      And, yes, on an encore note, of those Modern Russians who yearn for a return to Stalinism, there is always to be observed that it is so, precisely because they feel Stalinism nurtured the nation, as opposed to tearing it apart.

      Incredible for Modern Westerners to contemplate, and yet, it is so – Modern Russians yearning for a return to Stalinist communism is as much Nationalistically driven as it is for any other reason.

      Thank you, again!

    • Stalinism and the Trotskyites are indeed very different faces of communism. Good job recognizing that, brabantian.

      I would argue that Stalinism had inherently nationalistic tendencies but it was driven strongly into nationalist territory by the German invasion, and the defection of 800,000 Russian soldiers to fight for the Germans, or about 1/3 of the entire Soviet forces in the West of Russian at the time.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTr7wTHDYE8

      Effectively, Hitler managed to “reform” or “reconfigure” the Soviet state into “nationalist communism” or “red fascism,” however you want to describe it, because of the USSR’s need to survive. To prevent defection to alternative nationalists, they became nationalistic themselves.

      Of course, the (((free world))) eventually wore them down, too, though not through direct confrontation, which they were afraid to try.

  6. “Eastern Europe had a different strain of ‘communism’ than in today’s universities … the old Stalinism of Eastern Europe, was NOT Trotskyite globalism & cultural marxism … Stalinism was softly patriarchal, with divorce highly discouraged as ‘bourgeois’ if not for very serious grounds; and Stalin also believed ethnicity was real, fostering local languages etc”:

    Good comment.

  7. Alright, Hunter, thanks for hammering home the correct view. I see that Bourne was on the wrong side of almost everything, except breaking with most of the Young Intellectuals in opposition to war, especially the “Great” war.

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