How Western Civilization has been destroyed through Music and the Arts
One of the significant aspects of the current revolutionary madness sweeping the nation is the unrestrained assault on the cultural artifacts of Western Christian civilization. In effect the attack on monuments and the nomenclature of Army forts, schools and streets, and on so much more is emblematic of something more profound and irreparable, an assault on what those symbols signify.
In a broader sense, this assault portends a basic denial of the richness and nourishing fruits of our culture and what that culture has given us. For that denial goes far beyond visible symbols in copper and granite or in place names. We have seen this in the increasing demands for a Taliban-like “cultural cleansing” of our society. And thus the mounting attacks on our artistic heritage—on those works of art that remind us of what our civilization has created and, indeed, of its bounty, goodness and creativity that have helped fashion who we are as a people.
In this climate of nihilism the remarkable art, the superb literature, and the great classical musical heritage which have held us in delighted rapture, are being despoiled, even withdrawn from accessibility like the film classic “Gone With the Wind” (now no longer available via HBO video platforms). In some cases this has resulted in de facto or outright banning. And if a work of our heritage is simply too significant to be erased, then it will be re-cast and reinterpreted to support the revolutionary agenda.
Penalties are now routinely meted out to the guilty defenders of the two millennia of inherited Western culture. Thus, as we watch statues memorializing Confederate heritage destroyed and symbols commemorating Washington, Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, Father Junipero Serra, and others brought down, we also should understand that this vandalism encompasses far more: the abolition of the historic inheritance and rejection of twenty centuries of civilization.
The guardians of our patrimony may utter a mild demurrer, but more commonly, they accede to and go along with this radical transformation of Western culture. It is not as much for fear of being called “racist” or a defender of “male privilege,” rather, too many of our cultural elites are possessed of the same “wokeness” that dominates the streets, if a bit more rarefied.
The effects are particularly dramatic in performance music. Our musical expression gives voice to our joys, our sadness, our triumphs, our beliefs, and how we view ourselves; it is critical to our understanding of the civilization around us. Yet for decades there has been a constant effort to undermine and reshape that expression to fit a progressivist, post-Marxist mold and agenda. A concentration on race and gender is all-consuming. “Anti-racism” and “feminism” have become the benchmarks for this transformation.
Over the past half century and longer progressivists have been largely successful in restructuring what is sometimes termed “higher culture”—an appreciation and understanding of the role in our society of inherited art, literature, music, and architecture—and altering its relationship to most average citizens. When I was a boy, for instance, classical music was programmed regularly and popularly on commercial radio—the major local station at that time in Raleigh, North Carolina, WPTF, featured both the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturdays and a classical music program every night at 8 p.m. Network television offered us the long-running “Voice of Firestone” and “The Bell Telephone Hour.” Widely-viewed programs like Sunday prime time’s “Ed Sullivan Show” would feature Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson and coloratura Joan Sutherland.
While many of my school chums from sixty years ago didn’t really get into classical music like I did, they at least recognized its significance and resonance in society, that it was an integral part of our inheritance, and that it surrounded and annealed and helped define our culture and made that culture more complete. Maybe they didn’t listen to the Met, but we all knew the themes from those popular TV programs like “The Lone Ranger” (with its use of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”) or “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” (with the “Donna Diana Overture,” by Reznicek). And who can forget Elmer Fudd belting out a cartoon version of Richard Wagner—“I killed the Wabbit!”
This is one area where a lot of us Gen-X parents have failed. Too many of us grew up where our Boomer parents filled the music space by leaving the television on, and thereby failed to instill our children with the habit of a classical soundtrack to their lives. The average Gen-X or Millennial probably can’t even name their five favorite composers in the way they can readily name their 20 favorite bands.
I was fortunate in this regard with regards to my parents. My mother had one Beatles record, one Beach Boys record, several Bill Cosby comedy records – she had been friends with his wife Camille in college – and a whole collection of various symphony recordings of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi. She would also take us to the symphony from time to time, and I eventually developed a taste for Dvorak, Haydn, and Wagner.
But it’s never too late to get in the fight. A few years ago, I decided to give Leoš Janáček a try after reading about his work in a Haruki Murakami novel, and while his Sinfonietta leaves me cold, his Complete Piano Works are in the regular rotation, and in fact, are playing on my music system right now.
And on a totally tangential note, this beginning of an interview with Murakami is a hilarious classic.
“I prepared for my first-ever trip to Japan, this summer, almost entirely by immersing myself in the work of Haruki Murakami. This turned out to be a horrible idea. Under the influence of Murakami, I arrived in Tokyo expecting Barcelona or Paris or Berlin — a cosmopolitan world capital whose straight-talking citizens were fluent not only in English but also in all the nooks and crannies of Western culture: jazz, theater, literature, sitcoms, film noir, opera, rock ’n’ roll.”
I’m wondering how we can use UATV on this front. It occurs to me that if high-quality public domain recordings can be found, or permissions can be obtained, we could create a classical music channel that might be of some utility in this regard.