The Rise of Modernism

I’ve been skipping all around the world.

In this article, I will try to sum up the case that I have made so far and where I am going with this argument, which is that the rise of Modernism is central to understanding our decline.

In his book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America, Eric P. Kaufmann argued that the American elite became modernist, cosmopolitan and antiracist during the first three decades of the 20th century. WASP elites began to reject their own ethnicity and “Anglo-conformity” which was the process by which European immigrants came to America and were expected to assimilate into the American nation. Instead of assimilating into a common American culture, European immigrants were encouraged to retain their own culture and enrich an otherwise sterile, bland and philistine Anglo-America. This idea which gained traction on the Left in the 1920s was later broadened into multiculturalism.

Modern America, which is our own age, began in the Roaring Twenties. In the 1910s and 1920s, the Victorian establishment of 19th century America was discredited by World War I and our present day “mainstream” came into existence. The modern Left, which is left-libertarian, emerged in this period when the Young Intellectuals broke with Progressivism. The Progressive Era had a different idea of progress which was left-conservative, not left-libertarian. The modern Left was created when Modernism arrived in America in the 1910s and fused with progressive liberalism in Greenwich Village which rejected the old culture of Victorian America. The result was a new aesthetic form of liberalism – cultural liberalism or social liberalism – which valued expressive individualism, cultural egalitarianism and individual “experience” and is focused on transgression or cultural liberation whereas classical liberalism had been focused on the extension of political rights and laissez-faire economics.

In his book The End of American Innocence, 1912-1917, the historian Henry F. May describes the beginning of this turbulent transition between Victorian America and Modern America in the years before World War I. The Victorian establishment maintained what George Santayana labeled the Anglo-American “genteel tradition” which valued moralism, progress and culture. Traditional moral values were held in high esteem by virtually all Americans who were optimists who took great pride in scientific and technological progress and the growth of material comfort. This worldview was wedded to reverence for traditional British and American literary culture. The young Moderns of the Chicago Renaissance and the Village Renaissance rebelled against the culture of Victorian America, which they dismissed as shallow, moralistic and materialistic, and embraced the new culture which swept into America from Europe.

The roots of Modernism can be traced back deep into the culture of 19th century France to the poet Charles Baudelaire, the author of The Flowers of Evil, who argued that evil could be beautiful. In his book Scènes de la vie de bohème, Henri Murger had romanticized the carefree life of young artists in Paris who lived in the moment like gypsies attached only to a small group of self chosen friends. The French poet Théophile Gautier called for art for art’s sake – the autonomy of aesthetics from morality – and rallied his fellow artists against catering to the tastes of bourgeois philistines. Gustave Flaubert declared himself “bourgeoisophobus” and led the way in attacking the culture of the bourgeois in Madame Bovary. This project was carried on by Émile Zola in the late 19th century. Édouard Manet broke with tradition and carried Baudelaire’s call for a new art for a new age into painting. In the French Third Republic in the late 19th century, this all built up into the cult of the artist. Henceforth, art would be about art and it would increasingly be about expressing the subjective inner world of the artist. Art would cease to be about objectively and faithfully depicting the divine or nature. As artists focused on depicting their inner selves, art would be liberated from the restraints of society, morality, rationality and ultimately from reality itself. The thing that mattered was the autonomy of the artist as the creator to express himself.

In the late 19th century, avant-garde poets, painters, novelists and playwrights began to march European high culture toward self-absorbed transgression against bourgeois cultural norms. At roughly the same time, Darwinism landed a major blow against Christianity. There was also an explosion in the size of Europe’s population. Alienated intellectuals began to have nothing but contempt for the masses. Friedrich Nietzsche and Oscar Wilde began to develop the novel idea that aesthetics shouldn’t only be autonomous from the limits of religion and ethics, but above them. Nietzsche argued that the masses were herd animals and slaves who held back the self-realization of higher men with their slave morality. Religion and traditional morality were bullshit masks for power relations. As the traditional limits of religion and morality began to crumble, the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen invented the ideal of the liberated New Woman and H.G. Wells popularized free love and the World State.

Naturally, people who were exposed to all of these new ideas and who began to see the world this way and reject the constraints of their traditional culture, i.e., Moderns, wanted to seek experience, cultivate their own lifestyles and live among other people who shared the same beliefs, values and mindset. In the decades before the rise of the mass media, they migrated to bohemian enclaves which arose in major cities like Montmartre on the Right Bank in Fin-de-siècle Paris, which was the epicenter of it. It was in these enclaves that a new Western culture was germinating in which the Modern self would be liberated from all restraints. It was inspired by Modern art which Picasso described as “a sum of destructions.”

It is one thing to imagine a small group of eccentric artists like Baudelaire and Whistler living this way. They were working with a small canvas. What happens though when it becomes normal for everyone to live this way because this is the ideal that is promoted by film and television?

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Modernism leads to the destruction of all taboos. Foucault, the philosopher most quoted and referred to by the “aesthetics over norms” lot, wanted the normalization of pedophilia. As do most in their skeevy circles, like Judith Butler, the pre-eminent feminist “theorist,” who wrote positively about incest.

    • Modern Liberalism destroys more than taboos; it also fanatically destroys all standards except the standard of not having any other standards. Anything goes except saying anything doesn’t go. It is like putting your nation in a vat of hydrochloric acid and putting on a lid so it cannot escape. Being fat, which was shameful sixty years ago, is now widely accepted for an example. We just get all wrought up over the standards that exist for the benefit of others, not just yourself and rightfully so. Defending standards which do nothing except hurt those who do not hold them seems like a fool’s errand.

      • Pat- That’s called Anarchism, or more appropriately, “Antinomianism.” Denial of the Law of God.
        which brings us to the Deicides. The Jews.

        Having read most of these columns, Brad, I am willing to concede your historical trajectory. But you seem very leery of pointing out the ONE RACE that came into power, and emigrated to the USA, as the WASP’s were indulging in their ‘play-acting’ of being ‘naughty.’ Yes, the WASPS did all this, but who PROMULGATED it to the Masses? Who NORMALIZED it for the Masses? WHO ENSHRINED IT VIA SPECIOUS LAW for our enslavement? Cui bono, in other words?

        That’s the question that’s missing from all this analysis.

        On a separate topic, as an FE-interested individual, I have looked at some rather bizarre sites, books, etc. And came across this one – “The Holy Grail of Our Flat Earth” by one Martin Liedtke.
        Now, even I have a hard time with some of the ‘insights’ about stuff from these folks; but, having seen the lies and obfuscation of the PLandemic cohorts, I then read this article over at Anglin’s DS site-
        wherein he (Anglin) notes that the NYT wrote that “…a top military police officer sought out weaponry like powerful sound cannons and a device that “causes targets to feel an unbearable heating sensation,” an Army National Guard major told lawmakers in written testimony.”

        Sound cannons. Anyone else encountered this before? I’m now wondering if Liedtke is as insane as I had heretofore thought…

      • That’s always what I say. Liberalism is out to tear down all standards. The problem is, if you want to have Civilization, you must have standards.

    • @Boomer…

      “Modernism leads to the destruction of all taboos.”

      Absolutely – they want to play tennis without a net, while controlling your mind to accept all outballs as in.

  2. the whole point of (((“modernism”))), i.e. the

    kosher Culture of Death, is

    to liquidate Western Civilization

    and the White Race.

    • “the whole point of (((“modernism”))), i.e. the kosher Culture of Death, is to liquidate Western Civilization
      and the White Race.”- Boomer Lass

      Translated, that means, “Christendom and Adamic Man.”

      “In the end, all the churches will WORSHIP Antichrist.” – Fr. S. Rose

      “Who is antichrist, but that race which denies the Messiah has come in the flesh?”
      – paraphrase of I John 2:22

      “We will not have that man to rule over us.” – Jews to the Roman governor, Good Friday
      [cf. Lk. 19:14]

      “I don’t believe in a ‘God-in-general,’ if I can put it that way; I never have, to be quite frank. I think things have to be specific and they have to be local. ” – Dr. Jos. Farrell

      “Christianity is our only real enemy since all the political and economic phenomena of the bourgeois states are only its consequences,” Rakovsky, says. (All page citations from Griffin, Fourth Reich of the Rich, 1988, p. 264) – ‘Christian’ Rakovsky (born CHAIM Rakover in 1873) was a veteran Communist insider…

      “… the passage suggests Rabbinic willingness to take responsibility for the Execution of Jesus. No effort is made to pin his death upon the Romans……. Jewish apologetics that “we could not have done it” because of Roman sovereignty ring hollow when one examines the Talmudic account …
      (“Jesus in the Talmud,” Steven Bayme, American Jewish Committee National Director, Professor of History at Yeshiva University, September 24, 2003)

      • Jesus Christ is The 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, God The Son. He IS God. The only reason He died on the cross was because He chose to. I think we all tend to overlook this obvious fact.

  3. Maybe ideology follows the material conditions. The Industrial Age was barely 150 years old when “modernism” happened.

    For years the right-wingers have complained about the “breakdown of the nuclear family” and fretted about birth rates, but marriage has always been an economic institution, and economic – material – conditions changed significantly in the modern era. It shouldn’t be surprising that these institutions changed as material conditions changed.

    You see the same with religion. During the age of discovery, as Europeans explored the world and came into contact with non-Christians, fewer wanted to declare that most of humanity would go to Hell because they didn’t accept some particular form of Christianity.

    It’s hardly surprising that the “WASPs” – the “Anglos” – became universalist as they started engaging in global imperialism. Alexander the Great had his generals marry local women to unify his empire – how are the modern Anglos any different?

  4. Hunter,

    It might be useful if you defined what “modernism” means and what it doesn’t. If Darwin were alive, he would probably be surprised to see himself described as a modernist. This was a Victorian squire who feared that birth control would lead to promiscuity. Yes, he was agnostic, but so were most people of his time.

    I don’t deny that modernism, however you define it, has created many evils. But it doesn’t follow that those evils will go away if we get rid of modernist institutions. All of our institutions are infused with the current zeitgeist, and that includes the British monarchy and the Baptist Church. We cannot hit “reset” and go back to 1850 or whatever.

    • It really is a good thing, that we dont have to rely on the british monarchy or the baptist church or any other church for our salvation. Just remember to address our lord as father and you ask in the name and blood of will be heard, those who dwell on thee earth , for your own sake dont forget that.

      • @Terry…

        Of course I totaly agree that it is a good thing that our salvation is not reliant upon these unsavoury entities.

        The problem is, however, that much of our life is affected by them, because these entities have a considerable impact on the lives of our communities, which, in turn, wreak havock upon us and our families.

        All the best to you, Dear Terry!

        • I agree ivan and thank you for your kind words. When people study the word of the lord themselves, they are self inpowering. Which begets confidence and strength., to the dads out there teach your sons to pray, read the word of god to them. Learn together, i beg you all dont send your sons i to combat without proper training and weaponry. You could do know better as a loving dad that to be the priest of your own house.

      • Terry- your protestant schismatic belief in ‘Jesus, the Bah-bull, and me’ is so filled with heresy and error, I cannot even begin to address it. But here goes….

        1) If you consider the Word of God to be self-attesting, (hallmark of the Reformation, just to put it all into historical context for the pagans on the board….) then you have to submit to the points contained therein. First point- “…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” II Pet 1:20, ESV

        I’m using the ESV, because it’s not as easy to hide behind the truth, from apostate Moderns such as yourself. Your stance is based on your own personal interpretation, and not the voice of the Fathers.
        The word for ‘interpretation’ in the Greek is ‘epilusis: a release, an interpretation’ – and has the visual of someone untying knots, to ‘get to the bottom of things.’ Moreover, the word ‘idios’ that modifies the word, ‘epilusis’ is defined in Strong’s concordance as, ” what is one’s own as opposed to belonging to another.”

        SRSLY, What is your stance, but this very thing!? How can you pontificate, without authority? If you claim authority, who gave it to you? If it was given, then who gave THAT person THEIR authority?
        Etc., ad infinitum. And denying my calling out your presumption, doesn’t absolve you of your sin in this arena!

        The Bible is clear. There is an Authority Structure, called the CHURCH, that no Protestant belongs to, because every single protestant denomination was created, not by God, but by sinful MEN, who took on an authority to themselves that they did not have! Luther, Wesley, Jos. Smith, Ellen G. White, Mary Baker Eddy- all of them TOOK ON AN AUTHORITY THEY DID NOT POSSESS.

        Jesus even said the Church was the final arbiter for ANY discussion such as I would wish to have, but you aren’t going to hear me (I know this from personal experience, over forty years with Prots)- yet this Word of God you claim to follow, confirms my stance. [Matt. 18:17]

        “When people study the word of the lord themselves, they are self inpowering.”

        I believe you mean ‘self-empowering.’ But this stance (so typical) is actually nothing more than Satan’s words to Eve, in the Garden in Gen. 3:15. Sorry, but no.

        Without the Church’s understanding of how Scripture is to be interpreted, heresy is the only outcome. And denying the Tradition of that stance, is also denying Scripture. “…hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” II Thess. 2:15 ORAL and WRITTEN tradition- it’s right there, in your KJV Bible (if you are intelligent enough to even read 16th-Century prose).

        Besides which, Brad has said he doesn’t want this sort of specious ‘witnessing’ on the blog, anyway.

        • Sir. Thank you for your council and instruction to any i have.offended i am sorry , i did not mean too. I will not post anything, anymore.

    • “This was a Victorian squire who feared that birth control would lead to promiscuity.”

      Looks like he was 100% correct about that.

  5. “Art fr Art’s Sake” sounds like the title of a biography of a thoroughgoing soul-lost bastard whose forename is Arthur.

  6. It can use modernity, but there needs to be some sort of reactionary visual and musical culture too.

  7. I picked up the “Outline of History” as a kid from a used book sale. It’s a very feeble history, I didn’t suspect the man was ignorant of history though until he dismissed Charles V’s mother Juana la Loca as

    “the son of a mentally defective mother who had been married for reasons of state”

    This is exactly what you would expect from the rabid Fabian Anglo dilettante. Stark ignorance, dressed up in fashionable language of eugenics and execration of Catholics.

    • And yet, Menotti’s Opera, written for Beverly Sills, on her life, called ‘ Juana La Loca’ points out this very salient fact. That’s not a disparagement of the biblical science of Eugenics, but it IS a tacit factoid that should be used (among many others, including Jorge Bergoglio) for the dismantling of the Heresy of Catholi-schism.

  8. Question for Hunter: Why did Modernism appear and find fertile soil only at the end of the 19th century? Why didn’t it take off in the 1600s or the 1500s or the Middle Ages? What change enabled it?

  9. The vast majority of the people have no idea whose those people were, or what they stood for. Their knowledge of modernism , pertains more too the modern thought and actions of such men as henry ford, t.edison and a.g. bell men who really changed and improved society. The cultural moderns self justified their own behaviors. As their spiritual heirs do today. Thee early moderns at least stayed within their own confines, this current generation of reprobates demands acceptance and endorsement of their licentiousnes.

    • . . . and don’t forget to charge into a restaurant shouting obscenities, stealing food off of people’s tables and threatening patrons with your colored friends, too.

      • I would have never thought i would see where rhis would go on in our land, good point 12ax7, security guards at restaurants and cafe’s? Something needs to be done, this terrorising of our people on our city streets must stop!!

  10. “Darwinism landed a major blow against Christianity”

    Darwin’s theories weren’t really anti-Christian nor did they “strike a blow” against Christianity.

    “Fundamentalist Christianity” is itself completely modern. Isaac Newton, a brilliant, autistic genius, imagined a notion of God that was tied to his observations of physics. Before that, people – both educated and not – had a quite “spiritual” view of God and religion that was not necessarily directly connected to the physics of the real world.

    American fundamentalist Christianity, the kind mocked by Mencken, was an invention of the oil industry, specifically, the Stewart brothers of California in the early 20th century. They wanted to use religion to break strikes and suppress labor organizing. They funded the publication of “The Fundamentals of the Faith” which re-interpreted the Bible to be “literal” – even though historically the Christian Church never interpreted much of the Bible as “literal.”

    During the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trials, William Jennings Bryan didn’t even argue that evolution was false – he simply claimed that schoolchildren should be taught the Bible and Creation because it was good for morality.

    Few, at least few of moderate intelligence or education, took Biblical stories like Adam and Eve as “literal” and in fact it was always assumed that as someone grew older in knowledge and wisdom, he would begin to interpret these stories as analogies and metaphors. (1 Cor. 13:11) There was a rich literature of Biblical metaphorical interpretation. At some point, very high level leaders in the Congregational and Presbyterian seminaries began to openly reject literal interpretations of the Virgin Mother and Adam and Eve, emphasizing their moral truth, not “literal” truth.

    But it was the fundamentalists, not the “liberals” who were peddling new, superstitious versions of Christianity. And the fundamentalists were pushing these theories because they were being paid to do so by oligarchs to keep workers uneducated and unorganized.

    Within four years of the Stewart brothers and their publication of “Fundamentals of the Faith” in 1905, Cyrus Scofield’s “Zionist” Bible was published – which also taught the modern heresies of “fundamentalism” and “literalism” – this time adding the political agenda of Theodor Herzl and his Rothschild patrons.

    Moody Bible Institute of Chicago then began to peddle both fundamentalism and Zionism, outside of actual churches. MBI was founded by … who else? Capitalist oligarchs, and promoted Zionism, Capitalism, and fundamentalism, using the same sales techniques that had been developed to sell soap powder to housewives and almost immediately used the new technology of radio to peddle their books and papers.

    No one should be surprised when the Southern Baptist Convention and other “conservative” “Christian” groups preach their nonsense – they have always done so.

    • @Banned Hipster…

      Though I do not share your entirely jaundiced eye toward American Protestantism, in spite of being Orthodox, I do agree with you that American Protestantism has shown itself to be dangerously susceptible to infiltration by elements of the very culture it broadly declares that it eschews.

      If anything the last decade’s motion towards race-mixing, multiculturalism, and now homosexuality, has demonstrated this unfortunate proclivity.

      However, it must be said that nothing in this world, not even religion, lives in a vacuum.

      That is why I think it far healthier for a nation to overtly tie it’s national interests to it’s particular religion, if for no other reason than it loses the hypocritical veneer of proclaiming it’s government as something separate from that.

      Let’s be clear – after having attended hundreds of Southern Baptist services throughout my life, I am perfectly aware of how tribal it is, and how influenced it is by the period of history the tribe is in.

      • @Ivan Turgenev

        There is a huge difference between “American Protestantism” and 20th Century Fundamentalism. 20th Century Fundamentalists have always been a minority of American Protestants and in fact have consistently distanced themselves from the Protestantism of the European Reformation and even mainstream strands of Protestantism in America.

        Fundamentalism is a 20th century phenomenon, extremely cynical since its founding. It was a business since the beginning and almost immediately broke away from the actual Church to found “Christian businesses” – like the Moody Bible Institute – which were, in fact, commercial enterprises, not the Church.

        Also not at all surprising that Fundamentalism spread the most virulently via the mass electronic media technology.

        Don’t blame Protestants for Fundamentalism.

        Also, the Southern Baptists became anti-white – and Zionist – as they became Fundamentalist. The SBC was a real Protestant denomination before the rise of the Fundamentalists – many of whom in the later years were actually on the payroll of Zionists, in fact. By 2005, SBC was publishing overt Israeli political propaganda on their website.

        Fundamentalism is a modernist heresy of the 20th Century.

  11. Modernism very definitely can endure, just as a fiery burning hell can.

    That’s what is so very threatening about it – it just goes from bad to worse.

    God gives us this realm to do with what we want of it, and He will NOT interfere with our desire to make it a godless hell, if that is what we truly want.

    My Fellow Christians need to stop kidding themselves that God is going to bail us out of this, for WE ARE THE ONES He created to do the bailing.

    In the end, we are the ones who are responsible for our own salvation, the starting points for that being Jesus Chryst and respecting the limits of our own traditions.

    • Without Christ, we have sealed our own damnation. Not only in Christian terms, either. Without the foundation of belief in and guidance from a higher power, we resort to worship of fallible, grasping and egomaniacal people. People that are most willing to sacrifice many others in their quest for power, glory and money.

      • @Boommer…

        “Without Christ, we have sealed our own damnation.”

        I agree. Unfortunately, the judiciary began forcing us away from Chryst as early as 1963, when it ruled against allowing children to do Christian readings during reading periods.

        Now 57 years later and we are reaping the whirlwind.

        Really, I think God likes this country, for it seems to me that He has been loathe to deal with us, though, I have gotten the sneaking suspicion in this century that He has quietly withdrawn from us, in response to our having withdrawn from Him.

        At this point, I cannot think of a single mooring that undergirds this country which is in good shape.

        My Lord – even John Brennan seems worried about the state of the nation!


  12. I value freedom. Freedom is sacred. The problem with some nationalists is they become pro-fascist because they think freedom = degeneracy. Freedom does not equal cultural Marxism. However some nationalists think it does.

    Having a shared culture and values is not the same thing as being a weak man who wants to be lorded over by another man.

    We’re living in the post-modern world. Contemporary theories like post-structuralism, where everything can be deconstructed, leads a lot to where we are today. Structuralism is boy and girl. Post-structuralism is boy, girl, tranny, and 37 other genders.

    The post-modern world is a blessing and a curse. We have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of expression. We are not living under a free speech republic, rather, we are living in a world of fascism. It’s fascism of the protected classes. If you are not a protected class, you basically have little rights.

    But some nationalists will say, ‘oh but we want fascism that supports our values”. What is to stop that fascist system to stop supporting your values? Then you are left with a system you can’t get rid of.

    • @Gryphon…

      Excellent remark, one which marks you as a Confederate, if for no other reason than your wariness of the ultimate ability of strong central government to inflict much more harm than good.

      The country was founded on this notion, which was why locals were left to govern locals.

      It’s not a perfect arrangement, not by a long shot. but, it’s far better than Federalism of any sort.

      Unfortunately, the situation is incredibly deteriorated because The South lost the decentralizing argument in the 20th century to the powerful new coalition of New Englanders and Globalist One World Order Jews.

      That said, it remains to be seen what transpires in the 21st century, if for not other reason than those in control have lost their monopoly on media and, thus, the narrative – something which they owned throughout the 20th century.

    • It’s an old problem. “If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize.” — Voltaire

      But allowing individuals complete freedom at the expense of the entire society hasn’t worked out too well. There should be societal norms (enforced through law and custom) that are followed, or you will inevitably get the amoral mess we now have.

    • Regarding freedom, I remember the late British Labour Party leader Michael
      Foot said something profound (I may not be quoting him exactly): “I am socialist because socialism is the system that provides the maximum of freedom for the largest number.” Where there is no common property, no public health or education systems, nothing at all that doesn’t come with a price tag, there is only freedom for the elites, while the commons have none at all.

    • If “freedom” means you allow people to choose degeneracy and embrace cultural marxism then “freedom” = Permanent Revolution.

      People should not be free to choose to feed from the manger the Jewish controlled media and education system sets before them. Besides, they are already getting rid of OUR freedom, since they’ve come so close to their goals. Freedom, as understood by libertarians, is a moot point.

  13. “Nietzsche argued that the masses were herd animals and slaves who held back the self-realization of higher men with their slave morality.”

    He argued that “modern men” were herd animals. Nietzsche further argued that their slave morality derived from Christianity, then transferred to what he called “modern ideas,” i.e. liberalism and feminism. Nietzsche’s ideal society is Homer’s Iliad grafted onto modern technology and its neo-pagan scientific racism, which is to say Nazism. This is hardly anything the people you call “moderns” would ascribe to, with the possible exception of Ezra Pound.

    And equating Nietzsche with Wilde is a gross misunderstanding of both men. Wilde was a self avowed aesthete, “art for art’s sake.” Nietzsche directly associated art with the Will to Power. Art is not concerned with beauty, but with War. This is not aestheticism.

    Please stop misrepresenting the man’s position. Since you are offended by him because of your Christianity, and because of his popularity in the Alt-Right at the expense of Christianity, just come out and say so.

  14. Living a hedonistic lifestyle gets empty pretty fast. You can’t have fun when you are alone. You need fidelity, love and sharing. What do you do with yourself after 30 if you are not raising kids? If a simple walk in the park no longer brings joy, you are in trouble. You will turn to addictions and distortions for bigger kicks.

Comments are closed.