top of page

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

bottom of page