Liberal Fascism

Romanticism

From a reader:

Dear Mr. Goldberg,   Having just finished reading your book, Liberal Fascism, I wanted to congratulate your historical overview provided for all of us to appreciate. You teach well. We purchased two copies, so as to have one to share.   My own research was on Liszt and early Romanticism. As your text referenced Romanticism negatively, please allow me a few words. Inspired by the metaphysical listening experience with Classical symphonies, authors including E.T.A. Hoffmann vaulted instrumental music to the apex of the fine arts, ABOVE text. As a group, the young Romantics (Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Schumann) studied the Classical Epics in order to appreciate the inner strivings of established heros whose accomplishments were already designated and well defined. The inner longings of man’s creative identity with nature provided inspiration for their masterpieces. As a culture, following 1850, the public interests in metaphysics were eventually politically bashed by the unsuccessful 1848 revolutions and rise of empirical thought, transforming the earlier concept of experimental science into the outer limits or “twilight zone” as only materialism bore value to those LATER “Romantics” whom we musicians now refer to as Neo-Classical, having deemed Haydn and Mozart as “Classical”, and the aesthetic thrust after 1850 reverting to formality vs. organicism. This WAR OF THE ROMANTICS destroyed the vision that Franz Liszt never relinquished, though Liszt was the ultimate victorious genius having amalgamated organicism and classical structure (Sonata) and having tonally predicted the direction of 20th Century musical composition. I mention this in defense of Liszt, the Romantic Hero whose motto was Caritas and who espoused that “idea determines form”. Liszt was the true Romantic idealist, devoted Catholic yet imbued by the late French utopian revolutionaries to regard EDUCATING the public, his own responsibilities to be a cultural prophet holding fast to traditions while simultaneously expressing individualism and unity of spirit, in contrast to those whom you might call “Neo-Romantic” and whom musicians call the neo-Classicists: Joachim, Brahms and Hanslick (form is spirit, spirit is form; the beautiful in music). Now we come to Wagner, the brutish user and abuser who composed monumental operas. Liszt was Wagner’s friend, just as Liszt was everyone’s friend. However, Wagner was truly no friend of Liszt’s or anyone but himself. You are very correct in aligning Wagner politically.   There is only one matter that you may want to correct in your outstanding book on page 386:   “Hitler often claimed his vegetarianism was inspired by Richard Wagner, who, in an 1891 essay, argued that meat eating and race mixing were the twin causes of man’s alienation from the natural world.”   Perhaps in 1891, someone was quoting Wagner in an article. However, Richard Wagner died in 1883. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Music, Wagner published his literary works while yet alive, not posthumously.   I have the deepest admiration for your outstanding literary contribution, and look forward to using the information you shared in dialogue with my ardently ultra-liberal oldest brother, and in general life today.   Bravo, and ENCORE!

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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