I’m bumping up my response to ATBOTL from the comments who raises some good points:
“American radical abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Charles Sumner were openly anti-white in the current sense long before modernists had any influence anywhere or even existed. Most significantly, they a huge following among average, non-elite middle class whites in the North going back to the 1820’s. There was a mass movement of anti-white politics in the American North, based around liberal Puritan, Quaker and Methodist preachers that began to shift our culture in an anti-white direction even when many of the Founders were still alive.”
We’ve discussed this to death for years now.
It is true that liberalism existed in the 19th century. It is true that the Second Great Awakening spawned various religious and moral reform movements which were supported by middle class, White evangelical Protestants in Britain and the United States. It is true that “antiracism” existed in some form within liberalism before there was an explicit term for it as the belief that all racial differences were environmental in origin and the result of “prejudice.” It is true that this culminated in the War Between the States and Reconstruction. The Fourteenth Amendment established black citizenship.
Liberalism and Romanticism combined to produce abolitionism. Abolitionist literature focused on the poor, pitiful suffering slave and the cruelty and wickedness of the White master. It is deeply sentimental. Slavery was also indicted as being economically backward because of the influence of laissez-faire economics. 19th century Americans argued over slavery and the rights of the negro due to liberalism. Immigration restriction was also something new as it developed in opposition to Chinese immigration to the West in the 1860s and 1870s. As damaging as all of this was though, the America that emerged in the 20th century was still not our America. It was moving away from Sumner and toward Jim Crow, Woodrow Wilson’s resegregation of the federal government, eugenics and the Immigration Act of 1924.
From Wikipedia on Charles Sumner:
“Sumner repeatedly tried to remove the word “white” from naturalization laws. He introduced bills to that effect in 1868 and 1869, but neither came to a vote. On July 2, 1870, Sumner moved to amend a pending bill in a way that would strike the word “white” wherever in all Congressional acts pertaining to naturalization of immigrants. On July 4, 1870, he said: “Senators undertake to disturb us … by reminding us of the possibility of large numbers swarming from China; but the answer to all this is very obvious and very simple. If the Chinese come here, they will come for citizenship or merely for labor. If they come for citizenship, then in this desire do they give a pledge of loyalty to our institutions; and where is the peril in such vows? They are peaceful and industrious; how can their citizenship be the occasion of solicitude?” He accused legislators promoting anti-Chinese legislation of betraying the principles of the Declaration of Independence: “Worse than any heathen or pagan abroad are those in our midst who are false to our institutions.” Sumner’s bill failed, and from 1870 to 1943, and in some cases as late as 1952, Chinese and other Asians were ineligible for naturalized U.S. citizenship. Sumner remained a champion of civil rights for blacks. He co-authored the Civil Rights Act of 1875 with John Mercer Langston and introduced the bill in the Senate on May 13, 1870. The bill was passed a year after his death by Congress in February 1875 and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875. It was the last civil rights legislation for 82 years until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1883 when it decided a group of cases known as the Civil Rights Cases.”
Charles Sumner reflected the liberalism of the Black Republicans. He was pushing for the political form of liberalism though (giving blacks equal civil rights), not the aesthetic form.
“Many modernist cultural figures, some of whom you discussed, were white supremacists, anti-Semites and right wing politically. You should carefully analyze the racial and political beliefs of historical figures before condemning them. Walter Gropius, for example, was not anti-white, but he was anti-Semitic. He even joined the NSDAP, although the NSDAP leaders didn’t like his modern architecture in theory, in practice they built most buildings according to his techniques, like everyone else in the world did since 1930. You can blame him for changing architecture, but understand that before modern construction techniques, most people in the West lived in homes that would not be legal to live in today. Those beautiful old buildings that right wing people like so much only served a wealthy urban elite. Average white people lived in tiny shacks or windowless tenement rooms with no bathrooms in the 19th Century. How’s that for populism? Only modern techniques of building lowered the cost of housing so that everyone could afford a clean, safe, pleasant home to live in. If we built structures today with the same construction methods as 19th Century neoclassical or beaux arts buildings, they would cost as much as aircraft carriers.”
Modernism is a sensibility like Romanticism. It is an aesthetic. It is not an ideology like liberalism or fascism. As a sensibility, it is compatible with liberalism, conservatism, fascism, socialism, anarchism, communism, etc. Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot were America’s most famous Modernists. Neither Pound or Eliot were progressive liberals, but both were Modernists. Ezra Pound supported Mussolini and fascism and was captured in Italy at the end of World War II and was charged with treason.
“This narrative about modernism is reductionist. Anti-white politics in America rose with the Second Great Awakening, crested in the years after the Civil War and then were displaced by a pro-white backlash among elites, inspired largely by Darwinism and Nietzschean philosophy overtaking the influence of liberal Protestantism. That backlash brought the Chinese Exclusion Act, the end of Reconstruction and the racialist era.”
Here is how I would frame the argument:
1.) Modern liberalism is responsible for America’s racial and cultural decline.
2.) Modern liberalism is a peculiar species of liberalism that originated in the early 20th century. It is primarily an aesthetic form of liberalism. The signature quality of modern liberalism which differentiates it from its ancestors is cultural liberalism or social liberalism. In contrast, classical liberalism was focused on the protection and extension of rights in politics and laissez-faire in economics.
3.) Modern liberalism is based on expressive individualism and cultural egalitarianism. Classical liberalism is based on utilitarian individualism. Modern liberalism wants to liberate the individual from the oppression of his or her cultural tradition in order to be able to express his or her (insert pronoun of choice) true self. Of course, it makes a glaring exception for non-Whites who are encouraged to retain their identities and cultures, which are there to stimulate modern liberals who are decadent cosmopolitans.
4.) Modern liberalism in the United States was born in the 1910s and can be traced back to the Young Intellectuals. The parents of modern liberalism are progressive liberalism and Modernism. I’ve been tracing the lineage of Modernism from the Young Intellectuals back to Baudelaire.
5.) Liberalism as an ideology has been around since the Enlightenment. Sensibility has changed across different ages though: Baroque (17th century), Neoclassical (18th century), Romantic (19th century), Modernist (20th century). The 20th century did not have the same sensibility as the Enlightenment or Romantic eras. We have not paid enough attention to this.
6.) The Victorian liberal differs in a number of striking ways from the Modern liberal. The former was racist. The latter is antiracist. The former was nationalist. The latter is globalist. The former was religious. The latter is secular. The former was confident. The latter has lost confidence. The former believed in order. The latter has rejected order. The former believed in cultural repression to encourage strong morals and elaborate manners. The latter believes in cultural liberation or that morality is a matter of opinion EXCEPT for the -isms and -phobias which either did not exist or were not associated with morality in the Victorian age. The Modern liberal is cosmopolitan. The Victorian liberal was an Englishman or an American and thought in terms of different nationalities as races and was happy to rank them. The Victorian liberal swelled with pride as he saw the pink map of British imperialism spreading across Africa and Asia. The Modern liberal believes this was the worst thing that ever happened in human history.
“Arch anti-modernist Evangelical Fundamentalist leader DL Moody was a massive supporter of racial integration and deeply hostile to racialism. His movement’s influence on our culture was massive and played a critical role in breaking white solidarity among culturally conservative Americans. Evangelical Fundamentalism’s Christian Zionism made American culture uniquely penetrable by Jews, by fomenting pro-Jewish attitudes not only among elites, but among the rural masses, who served a check on Jewish power in other societies.”
I’m not referring to “Modernism” in religion. I’m not referring to “modernization” or technological change. I’m referring specifically to the Modern movement in the arts in the late 19th and early 20th century.
“Prohibition was the key issue that moved young WASP Americans towards modernist cultural values. You would have done the same thing had you been subjected to a ban on drinking beer in college by elderly feminist crazies. Post collapse white nationalists like William Pierce and Revilo P. Oliver abhorred Prohibitionists and held that movement largely responsible for the collapse of WASP pride that happened in the first half of the 20th Century.”
Prohibition was a triumph of the Progressive movement which in those days was weirdly associated with social conservatism. The mainstream of the movement was “left-conservative” as opposed to “left-liberal.” Modernism arrived in America before World War I though. More than anything else, it was the World Wars which led to the triumph of Modernism in Europe and America.
“Many Remnant egalitarian classical liberal intellectuals, liberal Protestant preachers and anti-racialist, anti-Darwinist, Fundamentalist Protestants inside of the establishment and some socialist radicals, using ideas that predate modernism, were undermining white solidarity in America during the entire period from 1880 to 1910. It’s not a simple matter of European modernism bursting into America and making everything go bad.”
Wouldn’t you say White solidarity increased though during this period as the Civil War generation died off and America retreated from Reconstruction? Henry Cabot Lodge’s Force Bill of 1890 was the last gasp of it before the Plessy decision. Isn’t this reflected in the reception of The Birth of a Nation and the Second Klan in the 1920s? The new divide that was opening up in this period was between the elites and the masses.
“There was a racialist motivation for modern art and architecture. Aesthetic modernism in architecture and the visual arts was deeply tied to feelings among Northern Europeans in the racialist era that classical Greece and Rome could not be the sole influence for their culture, as these were not the cultures of their ancestors. Since pre-Christian(ie pre-Romanized) Germanic people had no high civilization, they felt that new forms must be created that expressed the “racial soul” of Germanic peoples. German Expressionism sought to reflect this racial soul symbolically and emotionally in art rather than abide by the Greco-Roman ideal of mimesis of the natural world as guiding principal. The artists and architects who pioneered this movement were largely White nationalists, White supremacists, Nordicists and anti-Semitic racialists whose beliefs and intentions could not have been further from the liberal anti-white zeitgeist of egalitarianism that had long been part British and French intellectual culture dating back into the 1700’s.”
If so, I haven’t come across this.
I will keep reading. I haven’t studied German Expressionism yet.
Everything that I have read has led me to believe that the primary inspiration for Modernism was the rejection by artists of the 19th century bourgeois and their philistine tastes. It was about the rejection of the masses and the rise of mass society in the late 19th century. The avant-garde was inspired by class hatred which is why they valued transgression against bourgeois tastes and morals.
“Aesthetic primitivism was attractive to these men precisely because their ancestors had been primitive tribal people who fought against and ultimately destroyed the Roman Empire.”
I get the impression that they were experimenting with Asian and African art forms in painting and music. They wanted to bust norms and boundaries.
“Modernism cannot be conflated with generalized anti-white attitudes, self hatred or egalitarianism. It could be argued that liberalism corrupted modernism more than modernism corrupted liberalism. Randolph Bourne was the son of a liberal Protestant minister and characterized himself as a liberal.”
As I said above, Modernism was compatible with liberalism and fascism. Ezra Pound and the Futurists in Mussolini’s Italy show that. It is the fusion of progressive liberalism and with Modernism in the United States that was problematic. American hegemony after World War II made it the norm across the West.
“His writings are reminiscent of the sentiments expressed by pre-modernist liberal American WASPs of the radical abolitions movement, albeit stripped of Anglo-Saxon superiority thought. Note that Anglo-Saxon superiority was often explicitly linked to Anglo-Saxon liberalism among it’s advocates going back hundreds of years. Anglos were claimed to be superior because they were liberal. In this thinking, they had little value as a people or culture apart from having liberal tendencies. That kind of argument was used against conservatives in the Anglo-Saxon world, who were accused of being secret agents of the Catholic Church or of being in conspiracy with Continental powers.”
Anglo-American ethnicity was unchallenged in the 19th century. Black Republicans like Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens were liberals who thought that civil rights should be extended to blacks, but they didn’t go beyond that to demonizing and rejecting their own ethnic groups. Americans took great pride in their ethnic heritage until well into the 20th century. It is worth noting that T.S. Eliot became a British subject and Ezra Pound spent World War II supporting Mussolini in Italy. It illustrates how Modernists are so commonly estranged from their own people.