An important essay by Tom Simon:
For about a hundred years now, ever since the First World War broke the confidence of Western civilization, it has been fashionable to praise subversion. Art, music, and literature, as many of the critics tell us, are not supposed to go chasing after obsolete values like truth or beauty; they are supposed to shock, to wound, to épater les bourgeois – to subvert the values of society. Here is a fairly typical example, from the literary critic, John Grant:
It must meddle with our thinking, it must delight in being controversial, it must hope to be condemned by authority (whatever authority one chooses to identify), it must be at the cutting edge of the imagination, it must flirt with madness, it must surprise.
Grant is prescribing goals for fantasy, but the same demand has been heard in every genre and every art form, much to the harm of the arts. Most people don’t share Grant’s ideological preoccupations; they see the arts not as vehicles of propaganda, but as entertainment. Trying to get yourself condemned by authority may be good sophomoric fun while you are doing it, but it makes a dull spectator sport. Considered as entertainment, it has no virtue except novelty; and it has not been novel since about the 1920s. This is one reason why the ‘serious’ arts see their audiences shrinking year after year, until they are only maintained in precarious existence by public subsidy.
Part of the trouble comes from that apparently blank cheque, ‘whatever authority one chooses to identify’. In practice, this always means the same authority: the ghost of Mrs. Grundy, the narrow-minded, puritanical, bourgeois authority that lost most of its power in 1914, and does not exist at all anymore. If you rebel against a different authority – the Chinese Communist Party, or the rulers of militant Islam – you will not find the critics so approving. They will call you reactionary or even neocon, and the hand of Buzzfeed will be raised against you.
For the world of art and literature is largely dominated by the Left, and the Left is dominated by people whose world-view is inherited from their great-grandfathers. In this view, we need labour unions to defend us against the peril of child labour, Big Government to defend us against Standard Oil. America is one false move away from theocracy and Jim Crow; Europe is one false move away from another World War. Nothing can save us except a wonderful new panacea called Socialism, which has never been tried before, and with which nothing can possibly go wrong. These, in the main, are the ideas of the Left even today; and the people who believe these things have the nerve to call themselves Progressives.
They call for progress; but they are still trying to progress from 1914 into 1915. They call for subversion; but the thing they are trying to subvert no longer exists.
Superversivity is an important concept. It is the philosophy of the builder rather the destroyer. It is the ideal of those opposed to the pinkshirts, to the SJWs, to the de facto Chantry Guild that infests every modern institution and organization and pasttime that seeks to disqualify, redirect, and destroy everyone and everything that is insufficiently supportive of their societal subversion.
It is our job to build Western civilization’s intellectual redoubt and ensure that the next generation is even more resistant to the poison than we are. Because eventually, the infestation will burn itself out and collapse due to its internal illogic and inconsistencies.
I have but one criticism of Mr. Simon’s piece. He implies that the neocons are the enemies of the Left. This is not true. Neoconservatism has always been of the Left and is, in itself, a form of subversion.