On The Identity of Ideas
Something very curious happened in my home country of Brazil. The Secretary of Culture (yes, welcome to the third world) has recently released a bizarre speech. It has parts that closely resemble a speech by Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi Minister of Propaganda, in a video shot much like those of Goebbels, with a soundtrack by… Richard Wagner. And he did it all by accident.
This is a strange testament to the fact that A = A. An idea is what it is, regardless the intentions of its proponent.
Why do I believe it was an accident?
There is absolutely nothing to gain from it. Even if the Secretary was somehow, secretly a Nazi, exposing those beliefs in the context of the Brazilian political landscape had consequences as obvious as they were severe. The backlash was fierce, even from the far-right, and he was promptly fired by the President.
So how does such an accident happen?
Nazism was nothing more than nationalist socialism. The current Brazilian government - although far from racist or genocidal, and despite modest steps towards a free market - is essentially nationalistic. Because A is A, and nationalism is nationalism, there will always be similarities between nationalists - and these similarities will be even stronger when it comes to art, since its purpose is giving concrete form to one’s most fundamental values. A nationalist does not need to consciously copy another nationalist for their results to be similar.
Regardless of the particular ideology, to be a nationalist is to view world in a childish way. Instead of complex individuals organized in complex political systems, the nationalist views “family-tribe-nations”. Their worth is the worth of their group, and their group is only as good as its “father-leader”. Nationalist art will inevitably be about the glory of the nation, portrayed in simplistic terms by some quasi-mystical man displaying power. It will always use the same old tropes: forceful speech to disguise the weakness of ideas, centralized upward angles to induce a subjective idea of worth that is not earned, and sober colors to imply a wisdom that does not exist. It is the esthetic equivalent of a child impersonating an adult.
A is A. An idea is itself, whether in Germany, Brazil or the USA.
- January 21st, 2020