Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everyone. And welcome to the a hundredth and fifth episode of the Atlas society ask. My name is Lauren Olivo. I'm the associate editor here at the Atlas society, the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of iron Rand through creative ways, like our Atlas university seminars, graphic novels, and creative social media content. Today, we are joined by the ATLA society, senior scholar and philosopher, Dr. Steven Hicks and the ATLA society, senior fellow and objectives writer. Robert Tru Zinsky today they'll be discussing art and didacticism in art education along with providing an objective perspective on the Buffalo shooter manifesto, as always please feel free. We encourage you to post your questions in the comment section, and we'll be sure to cover as many as we can, but to start things off, Rob, talk to us about art.
Speaker 1 00:01:02 Okay, great. So what I wanna talk about, uh, in, in the sort of tie into current events is what I see as the prevailing school of art right now, the sort of the high school of art, which is that art has a didactic role that it's political, that it has to have the right political message. And that's the most important thing. And you see that all around. Most recent ones I saw where, you know, you have the sports illustrated swimsuit edition, and that's not art, but it's similar to that where you have this idealized view of the, of the female body. And they, you know, they put a plus size model and may mosque who's 72 and a woman with a, uh, the C-section scar. It's this whole political message there about accepting different body types. And that the political message takes precedence over the idea that, you know, back in my day, sports illustrator was about young men wanting to see, uh, pictures of attractive as can PLA women, uh, or the, uh, as an oped in the New York times recently defending the idea that artists, that, that actors could portray roles that were other than exactly what they, what they were in other words, actors should be able to actually act.
Speaker 1 00:02:10 Uh, but instead there's a viewpoint that no, if you're acting, uh, you have to, if you're, if you're, if the character you're playing is gay, you have to be gay. If the character you're playing is a certain racial, ethnic background, you have to be that exact shade of racial or ethnic background. Um, and it's this idea that everything has to judged by the standard of politics, which seems are really artificial and limiting. And like I said, a very didactic approach to take to art. Now that raises a lot of questions though, about what is art? What is it, what does it do for us? What is it we're looking for in art and where does a political message or political overtones, or a larger message, where does that fit into what we're looking for from art? So, and I think that's especially true for, you know, for objectives, for Africans of Iran's ideas that, you know, she popularized it a way, popularized her and including her political philosophy by dramatizing it in works of fiction.
Speaker 1 00:03:04 So, you know, there were definitely political themes in iron Rand's novels, but what's the difference between that and didacticism art. So I wanted to go, you know, we're talking about art, we gotta have images, so I'm gonna do a quick, uh, screen share here. And, uh, I'm gonna take you through some examples here now in explaining the role of art and what art does for us. I wanted to start with, uh, the Renaissance, uh, a theme that emerged out of the Renaissance in Florence. Now, every culture needs some sort of image of what human life is like, what mankind himself is like, what man himself is capable of some image to sum up what's possible to them in life. And for the, in Florence, in the 14 hundreds, the Dawn of the Renaissance, one of the images that they used frequently was David from the story of David and Goliath, you know, this, uh, small scrappy shepherd boy who takes on this giant, uh, and defeats him using his, uh, using a sling.
Speaker 1 00:04:03 And it's just, you know, the same way we use David and Goliath today, the idea of the scrappy underdog taking on more powerful rivals, overcoming the odds and succeeding, and that's how the quarantines viewed the viewed themselves. So they, they identified with David in the story of David and Goliath. And so they did a whole series of, uh, sculptures on the theme of the, the character of, of David from the story. So the first one I wanna show you is from Donatello, circa 14, about, around about 1450. And you, so you notice this, you have the sec Elvises of the story of David at the bottom of the, uh, by the, by David's feet. There is this giant head, the head of, uh, uh, of Goliath after he's been defeated. And he's carrying this, this giant sword that he's just used to chop off Goliath's head, but notice how big the sword is, how clunky sort of how oversized it is for him.
Speaker 1 00:04:58 And notice that David here, he's got this sort of hat. That's supposed to show him as a shepherd boy, you know, in at least the Renaissance vision of, of what the kind of hat a shepherd would wear. And the, the, the, he has this very confident pose his hand cocked on his hips, but the musculature is very under undeveloped. He has basically the, the physique of about a nine or 10 year old boy. He looks relatively small and that's emphasizing the smallness of David relative to Golia. Well, about 25 years later, circa 1475, you get this version from Verio and you'll see, David's undergone a little development here. He's got a more defined musculature, similar pose, the hand on the hip, the, the, and the head at the feet, but he has a more defined musculature. Uh, you know, you could see his having his abdominals.
Speaker 1 00:05:49 You could see, uh, the defined muscles in the arms. If you were to guess, you know how old he was, you'd probably say more, not nine or 10, but more like 12 or 14. And then about 25 years later in the first couple of years of the 15 hundreds, like 1501 to 1505, somewhere in there, Michelangelo creates the most famous version of the David, which is this one. Now, if you were to guess, how old is David in this one, you'd have to say, well, he is like 18. He's, you know, he's fully grown, he's strongly built. Uh, he's not as fleshed out and burly as he might be, you know, for an older character, but he, so he is still a youth, but he is a very strongly developed, uh, full grown youth. So he's, you know, you guess about 18, the strength of the limbs is very evident here, but you have the same sort of self-confident pose that you've had in the previous ones, but the self-confidence is backed up by more backed up by a greater degree of physical strength and capability.
Speaker 1 00:06:46 And so you can see in these development of these three different Davids that David keeps getting bigger and stronger. He has that era of cocky self-confidence, but more than that, he has more of the strength to back up that self-confidence. So you sort of see the flaine view of themselves and of their capabilities as growing in power and stature. Now you're gonna skip ahead to one more David, to help sort of round this out. This one is, uh, from Rome for about six in the 1620s. So you're flipping forward a little bit, but this is Bernini David. Now, if you know, we've seen, we've got a whole other level up with this one. If you were to say, how old is this, David, do you probably guess he's about 25? He looks like an Olympic athlete. He's, you know, this big burly guy with a strong jaw winding up, uh, what you don't see in this image is that this, the amazing thing about this particular sculpture is it's very interesting from all different sides.
Speaker 1 00:07:41 You go all the different sides, you see different aspects of it, cuz he has this incredible twisting motion that he's doing, but you see him winding up to, to let go with that, uh, with that, um, with the sling that he has in his hands. Uh, but you see it here that it he's no longer really the underdog, you know, David has become the Goliath. He's a big strapping lad. And when he's winding up with that sling, you know that he's gonna put a hurt on somebody with that. All right. So, um, I'm gonna put all four images side by side. So I think this is a really interesting way to look at it. So you see that this is over a period of about 150 years. Uh, well maybe a little more, just a little more than 150 years. You see this development from, you know, David as this, uh, young boy, uh, with a fairly undeveloped musculature and David getting bigger and stronger and more capable and becoming, you know, really about becoming himself the Goliath at the end.
Speaker 1 00:08:38 And I think this is a great way to talk about the role of art, because what you see reflected in here, uh, reflected, and to some extent anticipated in these works of art is the, the changing view of human potential among the Renaissance humanists that they're coming with. You know, at first David Small and weak, and you could see in this one on the far left, the one from Donatello, you could see that in the original story, the idea is it's only with the power of God that he could possibly have defeated this giant, uh, Goliath, but by the end, you're like, well, Goliath doesn't stand a chance, right? Uh, uh, he doesn't need God, he's powerful on his own. So you see this sort of growing sense of the power and efficacy of man. And that goes along of course, with the Renaissance basic, you know, that this revival of knowledge, survival of learning their building, the biggest domes and the biggest cathedrals and that, you know, that they are, uh, um, reconstructing and then surpassing the achievements they've rediscovered from the classical world.
Speaker 1 00:09:41 So you see how this is reflecting their sense of self confidence and the sense of the power of the human mind. So this, this is really Renaissance humanism, the belief and the power of human beings to to think, and to create and to achieve being reflected in their artwork. Now, iron Rand, when she defines art, she talks about how art is a selective recreation of reality, based on our art's metaphysical value judgment. Somebody break that into the two parts here. You can see how there's a selective recreation of reality that the artist has a choice in how he portrays David, what stance is he in? How big is he, how defined are his muscles? How old is he? How, you know, what, what pose is he in? He has all these choices that you see being reflected in these different versions of David. Uh, but also then those choices reflect the metaphysical value judgment.
Speaker 1 00:10:31 Now metaphysical value judgment basically means your view of the basic nature of reality and of man's place in reality. And you can see how the choices made by these artists are reflecting this greater sense of the power and confidence and efficacy of man, uh, that reflects the, the Renaissance culture, uh, that is producing these works. Now personally, by the way, I like the, uh, Michelangelo, David, the best. I find the Bernini version, like many things with Bernini to be a little over the top. He's sort of the, uh, he's sort of the Michael bay action film of sculptures. You know, <laugh> lots of special effects, very bombastic, but a little over the top, but you can see how it reflects the cultural trends going on at the time. All right. So the problem though, how do we get to this idea? You can see there's a, there's a political aspect to this.
Speaker 1 00:11:20 And especially with Florence, Florence identified itself with David Florence viewed itself as the Goliath, and actually tended to view Rome as, oh, sorry. It viewed itself as the David and it, it tended to view Rome as the Goliath. So they were in this sort of political and cultural rivalry with Rome, which a much larger city, uh, more powerful. And they viewed themselves as the scrappy underdog. So you see that David, um, what, what David meant for them, this idea they're growing in power and their, and their ability, uh, to take on the, uh, the, the big bully. Um, so there's a political aspect to it, but there's something way more than politics. That's evolved here. Belief, the politics, there's a whole view of what is the nature of man, what are human beings capable of that? You know, we can appreciate 500 years later without knowing, having to know, know where care about the politics of Florence in, in 1500.
Speaker 1 00:12:14 All right. So, but how do we get to the point of having didactic art today? Well, first thing that happens is after these great achievements of Renaissance, art, art tends to disappear. You have modernism comes in. And so Emanuel con the, the philosopher that we object to like to blame for everything who actually is responsible for a lot of bad things happening, he comes up with a theory, uh, that says, well, the essence of art is it doesn't really matter what you're portraying. You know, that your recreation of reality. So I'm wanna talk about this being a selective recreation of reality, art imitates life. He says, no, no, that's not important. What it is you're portraying us is important. All that's important to art in art is the arrangement of lines and colors. And if we just, you know, that's the real essence of art and everything else is, is secondary and unboard.
Speaker 1 00:13:02 And that idea starts to get put, he comes up with that in the late 17 hundreds, early 18 hundreds. That idea starts to get put into practice by the end of the 19th century. And I wanna show you example of that, of how we get to modernism and art. So this, oh, wait, I, I had one more. I might return to that, but I, I don't wanna get, say, uh, this is from, I think around 1909 from P Montreal Dutch painter. And he's starting to see, he's starting to break down is the portrait painting of a tree. And it's recognizable as a, this sort of withered gnarled tree, but you see, he's starting to break it down into blocks of lion and color. And he continues to do that in a whole series of paintings for over a couple of decades. So here's the next version.
Speaker 1 00:13:46 You see that the it's still recognizable as a tree, but it's being broken down more into constituent parts of line lines and blocks of, of lighter or darker gray. This that's around 1911, around 1912. He does this one. You see, it's taking the next stage. It's just lines and blocks of color. And then this is around, I think, 1913 that he does this one, maybe 19 or 13 or 1918. He does this middle of the 1910s. He does this one where you see he's gone completely. There's no recognizable tree at all. You've gotten rid of the thing that you're painting the, the, the thing in reality that you're trying to recreate. And you've just got the lines and the colors. And then of course that brings us to, this is by 1930, you get this, which is what Han's famous for. Ace's gone all the way to saying no, we just have these big thick, black rectal in your lines and then blocks of bright primary colors in between them.
Speaker 1 00:14:43 And you can see the whole development. I found this great image online where somebody laid out the whole development. So this is all, you know, the, one of the left is the upper left is 1909. The one on the lower left is sometime in the late 1920s. So you can see how over a period of about two decades, he starts with, here's a tree, here's a more, you know, a tree broken down into lines and blocks and broken down even more, and then broken down to society for recognizable. And then it's all just lines of blocks of color.
Speaker 1 00:15:12 And that's this process that you get. Oh, uh, and this is basically in, in encapsulating, the whole process of representational arch being abandoned in favor of honor. Now this is called abstract arch. This, you know, this version you get in the lower right is called abstract art because you're abstracting away from anything that you're actually, um, uh, any, any reference to facts of reality, any reference to something in real life that you're representing, but it's abstract art in a weird kind of way. So I wanna talk about what it mean by abstraction here. So to do that, I wanna use other painting. This is the school of Athens by Rafael 16 hundreds. Uh, and in this, he represents all the great philosophers and scientists of ancient Greece all together in one place. And in the center, you have Plato and Aris song and I'm pulling out Plato and Aristotle here, cause it shows us two different versions of abstraction.
Speaker 1 00:16:09 One of which is at the basis of Michel angel is David. And one of the, which is at the basis of this modernist painting that we get from Adrian. So Aristotle you see famously on, on the right here, he's gesturing outward to this world. And the idea that you gain abstractions by observing the facts of this world, by observing concrete things in this world, and then the abstractions are there to capture the essence of, to, uh, to help you understand the facts of this world. And that's the version of abstraction that you see in something like Michelangelos David, he has an abstract message about the nature of man that he's conveying to you, but he's conveying to, to you in the form of, by means of representing a concrete thing in the real world. Whereas Plato on the left here is pointing upwards to the realm of pure forms, to the realm of pure abstractions.
Speaker 1 00:16:58 And when Plato's philosophy, he said, the way you form abstractions is by ignoring by, by not being distracted by observation of concrete things in this world, by going into a realm of pure abstraction. And that's how we get to something like ion where it's abstract, but in the sense of having no reference to anything in the world, the problem with that is it ends up kind of being boring and meaningless and art, you know, despite alls talking about being abstract, this art has really nothing to say. So you end up with things like, you know, this painting by VA. Denki one of the great modernist painters. Well, what's the message of this. What does this have to say about the nature of the world? What would this do for you in terms of understanding human potential? Well, it doesn't really convey anything or this one from Jackson, Pollock circle 1950, I think, uh, is, you know, do call Jack the dripper.
Speaker 1 00:17:49 Uh, he's got, uh, it is just drips of paint on a canvas. It's make, give you a vague mood from the colors, but you know, it actually kinda looks like a, maybe the, the graining in a, in a slab of marble, it doesn't have any particular message about the nature of man, the nature of the world. And you get, you know, the, this is famously lampooned by Norman Rockwell that you, you have the, the conno, this one's actually painting. It's called the connoisseur. You have the art enthusiast up there, standing, looking at this thing, trying to get something out of it, but there's really nothing to begotten out of it. So this, I think sets the stage for the, the new thing I see emerging is that sort of this abstract modernism is sort of fading in the art world and what's, they needed they've realized they needed something that was more meaningful.
Speaker 1 00:18:36 Something that had a, a message that can actually engage people. So they said, well, let's go, let's, let's, let's rely on politics. Let's go to politics as giving our meaning. And so you get something like this. So this is the, uh, uh, made us stir a few years back. It was actually a marketing boy for a hedge fund, but this was the fearless girl, this, uh, this girl with her hands on her hips facing down the charging bull, uh, that's supposed to represent wall street. And the interesting thing about this one is, uh, this was actually just a garden sculpture, the sculpture who, uh, who created this did not create for this environment should not create it to be put in this place. It was, it was just a sort of a frankly sort of mid-level garden sculpture that didn't have any particular meaning. The only meaning given to this, I, uh, to the, the only meaning that was given to this, uh, sculpture was its placement in reference to another sculpture that made it into a political statement.
Speaker 1 00:19:33 And so this is arguably one of the most famous works of sculpture that people would recognize in the last, you know, 10, 20 years, but people only recognize it. People only see it as having meaning because it has a political statement attached to it. And another version of this. So I wanna show this is a, a, another painter who's, who's become famous. Now, this painting is from, uh, late 19th century, oh, sorry. Late 18th century, uh, early 19th century painter, Jacque Lu David, uh, uh, French painter neoclassical in his style and did this famous painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps on his horse, you know, gesturing for his troops to go forward, uh, a bit propagandistic for the Napoleon regime, but this great heroics, uh, uh, portrayal of, of Napoleon as the hero leading his troops on to cross the Alps. And more recently, there's a, a painter called Kendo Wiley who has become famous for doing a style that takes these old paintings and redoes them with a political gloss to it.
Speaker 1 00:20:35 So here's his version and you see that this is, uh, it's the Poon crossing, the Alps, it's the exact same painting reproduced, but with a, you know, contemporary African American man wearing contemporary Gar. But if you could see zoom closely in, on that, uh, you'll notice he's wearing, uh, Timberland, uh, boots and, you know, a camouflage jacket and he's got, uh, sort of a sweat bands around his wrists. So it's the idea of you, uh, contemporary, uh, an African American man and contemporary casual garb put into the place of the old masters. So you get this sense that again, the meaning of the piece, you know, in terms of, of this piece, having its own separate meaning it's entirely derivative on the original piece by David, it doesn't really have its own message. It's only message is one of a political, uh, uh, uh, message, the idea of, oh, we're going to, uh, replace the old masters with this with, with a, with, uh, with new contemporary, uh, uh, people in order to create a, a, a political message about re about how the old masters are stogy.
Speaker 1 00:21:46 And we need to, uh, and, and, uh, you know, the old palette of, of characters they gave us is too limiting, and we need to have a new racial politics dimension to this. Um, all right. So that's what I see as happening in the, the didacticism of art is that the political message of the art, having the right political message is seen as more important than what it has to say on a deeper level about the nature of man. So the thing is that as I put it out with the, with the quarantine sculptures of David, there was a political overtone to it about this rivalry between Florence and Rome, but that political overtone was on top of something much more fundamental about the nature of man himself that gave you a, a, a deeper message that caused these things to last for 500 years outside of the initial political context in which they were developed.
Speaker 1 00:22:43 And I think that, uh, is the key issue when it comes to the, you know, the arch having a political theme or political message, uh, that it has, it can have a political theme or political message, but it can't have only a political theme or a political message. It cannot be only about the politics of its own time. It also has to have a deeper message about, you know, what is, uh, the potential for human beings in this world? What, what kind of things, what kind of people are we in? What kind of world do we live? And what's possible to us, that has to be the fundamental on which everything else is built. So, Steven, I don't know if you wanna have things you wanna add on that question.
Speaker 2 00:23:24 Okay, good. No, that was a fascinating tour. I, uh, I'm intrigued by this topic over for many years of, uh, didactic art, uh, but I've never sat down and written anything about it, just because I really dislike didactic art. And so I can't make myself do the homework necessary to, uh, to study enough of it, to, uh, to come up with a, a rich theory. But what I did wanna just add, and this is going to be echoing, some of your points is my hypothesis about what didactic art is and why it doesn't doesn't work, except perhaps in the, in the short term for, uh, for ideological reasons, possibly possibly political political reasons as well. And I think the wrong way to think about it is to say that didactic art concerns itself with politics. And, uh, so the way to escape the dangers of didacticism is just by not including politics in your work, I don't think that's the right way to do it.
Speaker 2 00:24:22 So I think your, your approach is, is better. It can, you know, art is a value-laden enterprise and it can be about any value, human nature, romantic, uh, you know, religious, political, uh, metaphysical and, and so on. So I don't think we want at all to say, there are some subjects that if you treat them that makes you a didactic artist or, or a lesser artist that you only have to restrict yourself to certain themes, I think any important value theme, political, religious, romantic, uh, metaphysical, cognitive, and so on, can be the, can be the subject of, of art, but then there's a difference between people who can integrate the politics into their art, uh, well, and those who, uh, end up being second Raiders, or they're not really interested in the art of it, whatever that is. And that's where the that's where the failing is.
Speaker 2 00:25:11 So, uh, and this also then ties in with what you were talking about with the, uh, the, the Renaissance, uh, artists, uh, uh, which of course was, was, was a great era. And I agree with you. I like the, uh, the Michael Angello version, the best, he's like the greatest sculptor of all time in, in my book. But, uh, I think art exists on a, on a spectrum. There's both a cognitive spectrum and an emotional spectrum about how it engages with us human being since we are extraordinarily complicated psychological beings, and, you know, art has physiological components as well, but primarily it's driven by psychological values. So the spectrum, I think of it as, uh, you know, in philosophy, we are dealing with very abstract, very general principles, and I can write a thesis on some very general points philosophically about the nature of human beings and values in ontology and so on.
Speaker 2 00:26:07 And I might, if I'm a good philosopher, give lots of examples to illustrate those general points, but the point is that philosophy occupies a very general abstract part of the spectrum and, and it pushes our cognitive buttons, uh, at that high abstract level, very hard journalism is at the other end of the, the spa same spectrum. We engage with journalism, cognitively. We can engage with journalism emotionally. We get worked out by news stories, but what's going on in journalism is not about the general, but about the part, the particular, not about the abstract, but about the concrete. So it's this particular event happened with these particular people at this particular time, and there's not, uh, in the journalism as journalism and emphasis on what is the broader meaning of this. That's where the analysts and, and, uh, and, and, uh, historians and philosophers will start to start to generalize it.
Speaker 2 00:27:04 So what we then have is two very valuable things to us, philosophy and journalism, but they're maxing out opposite ends of the, the abstractness to particularity, uh, uh, generality to, uh, to concreteness spectrum. And I think the way art works is by, uh, in one sense, occupying a middle sense. There it is occupied with the general abstract principles, the same ones that the philosophers are occupying themselves with, but they're also, uh, dealing with concretes. And so they make particular characters and they have those particular characters with particular values and particular relationships engaging in, in, uh, in, uh, uh, uh, uh, particular context. I think that's largely why art has the power that it does, you know, so when we read journalism at the same time, we also are, as, as human beings want to know, what's the broader significance of this, and that points us in a more general direction at the same time, when we are reading philosophy, we're interested in the general abstract principles, but we're also finding ourselves saying, well, what does this mean in particular, what does this mean in action?
Speaker 2 00:28:15 And art is a, a, a uniquely powerful vehicle for integrating, integrating those two. So to come back to didacticism, just to say a couple of things, I think where didacticism goes wrong. It's not about being about politics, but being about politics too crudely, or also of course, didactic art can be religious. It can be philosophical, you know, there there's lots of bad, you know, say the libertarian objectiveist, uh, uh, uh, you know, literature or music just as there's lots of bad religious literature or music. And so on just as there's lots of bad political literature, music, and, and so on. What's going on with di uh, with, uh, with, uh, didacticism, is that it really is philosophy pretending to be art, the didactic writer or the didactic, uh, visual artist has a very general political message, religious message, sometimes even a philosophical message. And that's what the person really cares about.
Speaker 2 00:29:13 As, as an artist. Now, they are enough of an artist to recognize that art has some power. And so what they then will do is they will take their very general points, political points or whatever it is that they want, and just kind of put window dressing around them. And so it's a kind of fake seduction that they are, they are getting into. And this is the thing that, uh, is, is the big turnoff. We, we get the sense that the artist isn't really interested in the characters, isn't really interested in the plot. They just want to, uh, to, uh, uh, to, to hammer home a particular ideological point that they have. So the analogy I, I, I always think of here is, uh, kind of to dating and romance and, and sex. This is the one, at least that works for me. So you go with the, uh, the stereotypical guy who, when he's approaching a woman, he really just wants one thing.
Speaker 2 00:30:03 And so he wants to have sex. Now, that's his value agenda. That's a perfectly fine value agenda to have, but if that's the only thing you're interested in with respect to the woman, then when a woman realizes that she's going to be turned off for the most part, by, by the context, she will recognize, oh, he is going through all of these window dressing things. You know, he's calling me up, sending flowers, you know, saying nice things, right and so on, but that's all so to speak window dressing for this real agenda, he's not interested in me as a whole person, as a real human being, uh, as a, as a full P or human being. And I think that's gets to what Rob was, uh, was suggesting as well when we are doing art. It can't just be that you have a particular value point abstractly that you want to hammer home. You actually have to be interested in the whole character, the whole plot, the whole theme has to be the, the whole package. So didacticism is a, a failing in, uh, in that way now, um, do I have one more by the Lawrence or you wanna cut me off?
Speaker 0 00:31:07 Uh, I was gonna say, Rob, you wanna do a quick, uh, touchpoint on that? You're good. We're moving into the second half, but there also is one question that I'd like to get yourselves on. So Ron, go ahead. And
Speaker 2 00:31:16 So I'll pause on that and save
Speaker 1 00:31:18 Very quick thing to add on that, which is, um, so a great example I like to use is, uh, just happy Verity, the great opera composer, a major theme in his works was the REO, the reunification of Italy in the middle of the 19th century, big cause that he was very dedicated to, but of course we watch Verity operas now. And, you know, most of us have no knowledge and we don't care about theor goo it's, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's old news it's way in the rear view mirror, because there was so much else that was in the, in his operas that is, is worth, is worthwhile. And so I also like to think that, you know, iron Rand's novel, the fountain head is on the one hand. It's all, it's kind of about America during the red decade of the 1930s and the, the Vogue for socialism. That's where ELs algebra Tuy comes from. But, you know, a hundred years from now 200 years now, people will read it for the character of Howard RO. They'll read it for the characters and for what's embodied in those characters that has a, that has to do with way more than just what's the context of the red decade in, in the 1930s. And I think that's, that's the difference. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:32:20 Great. Um, there is a question that I'm gonna have, you'll ask, and then we'll go to the second topic. This is from our founder, Dr. David Kelly. Um, he asks in the comment here. It seems to me that postmodernism in art had two core themes or goal one turning to political correctness as content Rob's main point. And, but two, the destructive trashing of standards represented by the recent revision of David Napoleon. Thoughts.
Speaker 1 00:32:51 Well, look, actually, so I wanna say it's actually the, I, I reviewed the, the Canda Wiley's work is interesting because it's kind of the opposite of that is that he actually went out and acquired all these skills of representational painting. He can actually incredibly imitate the old masters in terms of technique. And so what I'm part of what I'm seeing is that this turn to adapt art is partly a way that technique and representational representational technique is creeping back in and being accepted again. But it's being accepted again only so long as it subordinated to, well, you have the right political message, uh, that just representational technique so that you can make beautiful paintings of, of, of, of people or landscapes that's not respectable yet anymore. Uh, at least not yet what's respectable is it's okay to have this, this highly developed technique so long as you're using it for a, a correct political message.
Speaker 2 00:33:47 Hmm. Now I think David's observation is, is right. Um, yeah, postmodernism first is an emptying out of, uh, of anything positive, but I do think, uh, a lot of the postmoderns, uh, both philosophically and in the art world, they weren't even necessarily political people at all. They were, they were, uh, nihilists or tending toward nihilists. And so it was a much deeper than, or a much deeper emptying, uh, kind of everything is avoid rather than just politics, right. Being avoid. So, uh, I do think then that there were a second generation of people who once everything was hollowed out, you know, and partly that just became boring. Uh, but also then, uh, you have people who are attracted to art and, uh, they still want to say something, but, uh, all positive, genuine, great values have been hollowed out in their education and, and in their training. So all they're left with are whatever the Vogue values are of the day. And if that happens to be politically corrective values, then they're going to get some more, some more traction,
Speaker 1 00:34:52 Right. Nature of horrors and vacuum. Yeah. And when you hollow, when you empty everything out and hollow it out of meaning, then people will go searching around for something to put in there.
Speaker 2 00:35:01 I did wanna say one more, uh, kind of optimistic point that there is a great resurgence of representational art. Uh, I, I mean, there is all of the grotesqueness where, you know, quasi, postmodernists say we have to use representational techniques cuz we need to have some content, but we'll use it toward negative ends, but at the same time, completely independent of that. There's a huge grassroots all over the world, uh, uh, set of movements and there's a lot of great stuff that's being done.
Speaker 0 00:35:29 Okay. So with that, we're putting into other times. So like I said, Steven, uh, you're free to start on the
Speaker 2 00:35:36 Topic of the Buffalo shooters manifesto. Yeah. Okay. So let's enter into some, some dark territory here. Unfortunately. Uh, obviously we have in this country, a pathology of shooters who go out and kill lots of lots of people. So I knew nothing about this individual, you know, a week ago. Uh, but then obviously he's all over the news and I found myself dipping into it. And it's the standard question, you know, what is going on with this, with this fellow here? So apparently, uh, I learned, he wrote a 180 page manifesto. Uh, just pause on that for a moment, 180 pages of, of writing. And he published it, uh, prior to the, the shooting, uh, on Google docs and made it publicly available. Uh, much of it has been taken down, but there are various places online and I found about 10% of it and I got some screen captures now I don't know exactly how, uh, authentic right.
Speaker 2 00:36:38 All of this is, but, uh, my, my sense is that it is, but I did first want to just put up this image of the 10 people he killed, uh, you know, actual individual human beings, living their life. And, uh, you know, and now they're gone and it's just, it's just awful. You know, there are three other people who were shot, uh, and, and injured, but these are the, the 10 people who were, who were killed. So, uh, where is the, where's this guy coming from? You know, it's the standard question? What, what explains this individual? So what I wanna do is just go through a few things that I have excerpted from the manifesto. This is the very first thing in the manifesto, the, uh, the preamble, and then I've, uh, with my excellent underlining skills highlighted, uh, a, uh, a few things here.
Speaker 2 00:37:23 So what are his, uh, his occupations and preoccupations and right off the bat, he says, it's the white birth rate and replacement fertility value. So he's focused on racial slash ethnic demographic trends. And he's worried that there's not going to be enough white people, however, defines that in the world and that people in other, uh, racial slash ethnic groups are reproducing at a, at a higher rate. So that's right off the bat singled as the number one thing that he says coming up, he says some things about himself birthdate and so on. Uh, he's 18 years old, so legally adult, but I found this interesting that he says, I am the sole perpetrator. So a point about responsibility, he's not going to shirk what he is doing. He's not going to say that other people made him do it. And so on, I am doing this and I am the only one who is, who is, uh, who's doing this.
Speaker 2 00:38:18 Uh, I found at the bottom, this, uh, he's a high school graduate. And he graduated with a Regents diploma. This is in New York state with advanced designation. I didn't know quite what that meant. So I looked it up where you can graduate from high school in New York state. And in many cases, obviously, depending on the school, that doesn't mean very much, but Regent's diploma is a special, uh, extra amount of work. A student can do. Only the best students will attempt it. Uh, and it evolves, as it says here, you have to take a certain number of additional courses. Uh, you have to take them at a higher level and you have to pass what are called seven Regents exams. And so this young man did all of that. And not only he did all of that, but he got the advanced designation, which is to say he scored high in, in all of that.
Speaker 2 00:39:09 Now that strikes me as significant because one of the issues always is about the intelligence and sanity and informedness of the people who are engaged in, uh, in these kinds of acts. Uh, a second, sorry, another, uh, screen point here. This is now on, uh, the, uh, about the second page of the manifestation manifesto. And I need to move something here just so I can see it a little, oops, a little better. Sorry about this. Found this striking my truth. The truth is my personal life and experiences are of no value. I am simply a white man seeking to protect and serve my community, my people, my culture, and my race. Now what's interesting about that is who he is in his self description. Here is not as a personal individual. You say those, those things don't have any value whatsoever. And all of the others are group designations, right?
Speaker 2 00:40:06 What we might elevate to kinds of collectivism, right? I am here to serve my community, serve my people, to serve my culture, to serve my race. I am simply a vehicle through which those values are pursued, and it's not just that I have lesser value, right? He does say no value for me as an individual. Uh, then a long list. He, uh, chooses rhetorically to, uh, you know, pretend that he is engaging in Q and a or question and answer with himself. So all of the usual things, are you a Christian? He says, no, I don't think there's an afterlife, but he does say he accepts, uh, practices, certain Christian values. Are you a fascist? Yes. Uh, are you a white supremacist? Yes. Are you a racist? Yes. Are you intolerant? Well, sure. A little bit more hesitation here. Um, but then interestingly, are you an anti-Semite?
Speaker 2 00:41:01 And then for the first time we get capital letters, right. And we get exclamation point. Yes, I am an anti-Semite and then very strong love, uh, language against, uh, uh, Jews and, and wishing an effect to go back to hell and very demonic language. Now, in part that's interesting because of the ments right. Of his self description as an anti-Semite, but it also is interesting that doesn't pair with his, uh, description of himself as not being a Christian. One of the things we know is there's usually a strong correlation between antisemitism and strong religion of some way shape or form. Okay. So there's an interesting list carrying on, are you a neo-Nazi? Well, yes, I support Neo Nazi-ism, but not with respect to any particular group. Are you a conservative, no rejects that label conservatism is on his view CISM. He doesn't really say anything to my knowledge about what exactly he means by CISM, but from some of the later things, I think we can make some, some, some guesses.
Speaker 2 00:42:04 Um, he seems fine with, uh, lesbians, gays and buys the way he puts it here. As long as they keep to themselves and stay in their own groups, he does single out transgender people and say that he thinks that's a psychological problem or a mental illness. Now, some more political questions are you right wing? Well, we have to define our terms. So he sensitive to enough to know that right wing, left wing all over the map. What do anybody mean by that? Nor, but there's a way you could describe B as the right wing. If you define your terms a certain way, and the same thing holds for left wing, it depends on what the definition, same thing for our UA socialist. And then again, it depends on the definition. So he is open to those designations, but smart enough to recognize we need to, uh, uh, define the terms.
Speaker 2 00:42:52 This one, I found interesting. This one, uh, many pages into you, uh, how did it affected you become the person that you are, are you so to speak socially conditioned by, by media, video games, music, literature, right? And so on. And he explicitly says, no, right. Uh, only the truth caused me to seek violence. So what he's indicating here is that he's thinking he's reading, he's evaluating. He's just not, you know, absorbing whatever happens to be in media, social media, video games, and so on, and becoming an avatar for whatever is, uh, is presented there. Uh, did you always hold these views? And this was interesting when I was 12, I was deep into communist ideology. Okay. Now this is a very striking 12 year old, uh, at least in my, in my experience, I was not deep into any ideology when I was 12 years old, but he was, uh, talked to anyone from my old high school.
Speaker 2 00:43:49 You will hear that. So already reading, reading deeply, uh, and he knows what these terms mean, but then he says ages 15 to 18, essentially high school years, he moved and he moved farther to the right now, how much farther to the right did he go? Well, then he says, now on the political compass, I fall into the mild, moderate authoritarian left category. So if however, we're constructing the spectrum, we've got far left into communism is there. And then whatever far right is he has moved to the right, but he still sees himself as somewhere, I would guess in around here, still on the left and still on the authoritarian left, but mildly to moderately. And then he says he prefers the label, populist, whatever that's going to mean, uh, why don't you care? So Europe assumption then just blah, blah, blah. Uh, so this is not, uh, uh, um, uh, uh, purely ideological in, in, uh, in one sense, but it's cultural, it's, uh, ethnic and he's identifying as a kind of European and says America is in effect a European offshoot.
Speaker 2 00:44:59 Uh, so, but then he goes through culture, language, political beliefs, philosophical beliefs, identity, all of those things are European, but then also interestingly, most importantly, right, my blood is European. So it's a more biological, uh, phenomenon. The more ideological, philosophical is important, but of lesser important. So this is a more biological driven, uh, ideology at work here. What are your views? And then he says, well, that's before I would prefer to call myself a populist, but, and then we have some long hyphenated hybrid things. You can call me an ethnonationalist. He's fine with that. You can call me an eco fascist national socialist, if you want. Right. I wouldn't disagree with you. So he is going to accept all of those labels. Uh, what about immigrants and capitalists to say, why do you, uh, blame immigrants and not capitalists? So he clearly does think I, immigration is a problem, uh, immigrants, uh, from his perspective, if they're not coming from Europe, anywhere else in the world, uh, against all of that.
Speaker 2 00:46:12 So both are the problem. What's interesting here is that he's adding the capitalist as a problem. So he is anticapitalist as well. Both of them are a problem. So we have to get rid of the immigrants. We have to get rid of the capitalists as well. And then he is, uh, uh, just making a scarce resources point at the end, both have to be addressed. I'm simply attacking one at a time. And he apparently he's going to be focusing on, uh, uh, immigrants and people who are in the wrong racial groups. So those are my extracts from the things that were available to me online. And what I've got here is a summary list. Uh, youthfully. He was a communist, he was a national socialist, fascist racist anti-Semite anti-immigration anti-capitalism and anti individualism. Now in ideological terms, uh, if we take this straight, I think this makes him a straight up fascist or national socialist, uh, of the 1920s or 1930s.
Speaker 2 00:47:11 And so, uh, if we take this document seriously, then he strikes me as being exactly like intelligent young people back in the 1920s in Italy and Germany who were true believers in certain kinds of collectivism, uh, the fascist one, the national socialist one. He accepts that label. Interestingly, he does say that he was, and as his youth, he was a communist. And so in that sense, he's retracing the same steps that mu for example, retraced, who was a communist as a young man and well into his adulthood, but then shifted to the so-called right and became a, a fascist or someone like Joseph bels, who was also deeply into communist literature, but ended up as we know, being a national socialist. So there is, of course the question, this is a manifesto, uh, manifesto sometimes are meaningless. Sometimes they are meaningful. So the question would be, how seriously should we take this, this particular manifesto?
Speaker 2 00:48:05 These are the four questions I ask myself with respect. Obviously people can be sane and might manifest those, or they can be the crazy ravings of, of someone who has lost touch from reality. Uh, it can be an intelligent work, or it can be an unintelligent work. It can be, uh, genuine. It can be sincere, or it can just be a, uh, a rationalization for something that's held on other grounds. And of course it can be something that the person came up with on his own, and that it is his product. Or of course it can be that he's just channeling or mirroring whatever he is picking up in the zeitgeist and trying to, to fit into a certain crowd. And I think, uh, uh, this is an open question, my sense from what I have read, uh, so far, and this is very tentative, very partial. I don't know this guy at all, and this is just one week, but my reading is, this guy is saying, uh, he's obviously extremely intelligent. I think he means it. And I think, uh, I think he's in, in control. He's, uh, he's generating it on hisself. This is his grasp of, of the issues, but, uh, I'm open to, uh, to more data and I'm gonna be following up on this.
Speaker 1 00:49:19 Yeah. I, I, the same, I find what interesting that about that is I find this guy's a beef steak Nazi. This is a term that the Nazis used to use in 1930s for, uh, they had a lot of converts who came into Nazi and from communism. So they called them beef steak, Nazis. The idea is they're right on the inside and brown on the outside. <laugh>, uh, Yeah, that they, they were still dedicated communist, but then they, you know, they, they adopted the national socialist thing. And I think one of the big messages here is how, you know, we, we usually grow up at the state how Nazis and communists complete opposites, but, you know, in the 1930s, it was so common that they had a name for it, that people would move back and forth from one to the other and how non different, not different those two ideologies are.
Speaker 2 00:50:00 Yeah, I know. Absolutely. That's that's that's right. Um, yes. So, and the way we always phrase it is they are all forms of collectivism. They are anti individualistic, anticapitalistic all to their core. And so it's just a debate over which collective you are going to subs your identity into.
Speaker 1 00:50:18 Yeah. And that's what I find. It's interesting. He says, I'm a, so I'd be okay with workers with workers own the, of production, but it depends on who currently owns the state. So it's really, I mean, this is, this is classic Nazim that it's not about, they weren't really against nationalization. They weren't against totalitarian state control. They just wanted to make sure that the right ethnic group, the right racial and ethnic group controls the state. And as long as the right racial ethnic group controls it, that's okay to do all the things the communis are doing. Yeah. Um, but I, I wanna address your question about, you know, how seriously do you take these manifestos? Cause I, I think it is absolutely true that oftentimes you have a certain psychology involved here that these are people who are disaffected, he's bright or considers themselves to be intelligent, but then consider himself not to be, you know, rewarded or embraced by the world, uh, and to be alienated from the world.
Speaker 1 00:51:07 And he's lashing out. I mean, the person clearly to some extent is psychologically unhinged and disturbed or else he wouldn't go out and shoot people. But the, I think it's an interesting question. So, you know, you, we saw this with the uni bomber, he had a manifesto and, you know, it was also clearly somebody who had deep mental problems going back, uh, decades. So I think it's kind of in one extent, to what extent I think that you could sort of, you can ask that question of, to what extent does this person asking on a disturbed psychology and just looking for rationalizations, but then the questions would be, why is it that he found rationalizations here? That's right. Why is it that this ideology is what gave him, you know, if he was looking for an excuse to kill people, why is it that this ideology gave him the rationalizations to do it?
Speaker 1 00:51:52 Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think that's interesting because, you know, think you're not going to, uh, necessarily, you know, classical liberalism is not going to give you this license to go shoot people in the middle of, in the middle of a, a, a supermarket or something like that. Um, so the fact that you have this anti individualist ideology and he says, my personal life is no of no value. Only the race you that Hitler saying, dubbi Nick, ivvo Kaza. You know, you are nothing that your people, your race is everything. And that racial collectivism and the idea of the individuals of no value. That is a crucial thing that we know historically time and time again, has been the idea that gives people a license to kill. You know, if there, if there, if you have an angry, disturbed, you know, rejected artists from Vienna, who, who is, who is itching to kill people to get revenge for not being recognized in life, uh, which is basically Adolf Hitler, it's this RA the collectivist ideology that says the individual's worthless and only the race is only the collective is everything. It gives him that license to kill that he's looking for. So in a seven extent, I think we can say, you know, on the head, yes, he's psychologically disturbed, but there's also this ideology that helps encourage that and foster that and give him the excuse to do the things he wants to do.
Speaker 2 00:53:10 Yeah, that's, that's, that's interesting. I think there might be a third factor, which is perhaps a slightly more accidental factor, because suppose we take that line of development, you start off with someone who is basically disturbed, alienated self-loathing enough and just wants to kill. And so is looking for an excuse to kill. Uh, then we say, well, there's actually lots of ideologies out there that would give you an excuse to kill. So there's a long history of people, you know, communism, uh, they latch onto communism and communism gives them an excuse to go out and kill a large number of people. Uh, you know, 15 to 20 years ago with, uh, the war on terrorism and politicized Islam, Islamism coming along large number of disaffected people, actually, I don't know how large the number was, but a significant number, disaffected people from the west converting to Islam.
Speaker 2 00:53:59 And it seems like precisely that they are looking for an excuse to go out and kill certain sorts of people. And then we have the, uh, the, the racist nationalist Nazi version of this as well. So it could then be that there are all of these ideologies out there. If we kind of imagine a supermarket of ideologies, all of which would, you know, if you pick this one off the shelf, rationalize your desire to kill, and that's what you then take home, uh, and you, uh, you become that particular person. And that then would be, uh, partly a matter of accident that kind of person given what's being most prevalent in their culture, in the chat rooms, in the parts of the internet that they are hanging out or whatever that they're most likely to lash onto. And that it's just going to be kind of a marketing game for those kinds of, uh, those kinds of ideologies.
Speaker 2 00:54:48 Now, I think in this case, from what I've seen here, this fellow is not in that category because he's aware of communism and he's rejected, pure communism. He's aware of Christian ideology and presumably some of the competitor religions and he has rejected those ones. So I think the additional element has to be that he has looked at them and he's assessed them. And in some kind of processing, he has come to the view that this particular ideology is the best one or the truest one, cuz he does mention the word proof quite a few, uh, quite a few times. So, uh, I'll leave it at that.
Speaker 1 00:55:27 Yeah, yeah, no, I did. I think there's something to the idea of the supermarket of ideologies and you're picking the one that matches you. And it does depend to some extent on the, the Vogue of the age, you know, that, uh, 50 years ago, you know, young college kid who, uh, is angry at angry at the world was much, was probably more likely to become, you know, joined the weather underground to become, uh, you know, motivated by communism. It depends, I think partly on what is considered to be the sort of up and coming validated,
Speaker 2 00:55:57 Right. Or whatever's sexy in your generation.
Speaker 1 00:56:00 Yeah. <laugh> yeah. Or, or what seems plausible to your generation, what a lot of people think sounds plausible to them. I think communism sort of is passed a cell by date. Environmentalism seems to be a definite strain. Uh, a lot of these guys who considered right wing also have this eco fascist element to them because environmental people has this very strong and it has such a strong anti-human aspect to it. Human beings is the problem that I think it also has this enduring appeals to that, to someone with that kind of psychology.
Speaker 2 00:56:27 Right. Okay. See Lawrence there. Does that mean, uh, question time?
Speaker 0 00:56:32 Well, I it's been a great conversation. I don't want to interrupt, but there is something that was brought up by a couple different questions that I kind of wanted to raise to the, both of you to get your thoughts on because it's, uh, rather interesting, um, Ogan Garvey on YouTube as a good bit of the manifesto, according to what he's read, uh, appears to be copied and pasted from another manifesto by Brenton Tarrant. And I'm not familiar the proof, but I guess this comes up with Okay, serious
Speaker 2 00:57:01 They're 19.
Speaker 0 00:57:03 Right. I think it goes a bigger thing of, um, copycats or social media or people just seeing things. And it's that question of what is it? What is there more to it? Is there more to it? Is it simply just throw on beliefs or is it, they see this stuff happening and there's some sort of impetus for them to follow suit with these sort of copycat shooters, so to speak that we see.
Speaker 2 00:57:26 Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:57:27 Well, you know, beyond all in each of these, uh, mass shooting events, uh, there is even ones that don't have a cause there, there causes, they want this tension to themselves. They wanna be seen as significant. They want, they want media coverage, they want attention to themselves. And so that's how you get the copycat element. They see, oh, well somebody else did this and got lots of attention. So I will go do the same thing. And sometimes in this case, I I'd heard that, that, that some of it was copied. So in this case seems like a copy and paste parts of the other guys manifesto, um, and, and use that. And I, I think there is this element. So the interesting thing about this is that the I, the connection between psychology and the ideology that on the one hand, I think if you adopt this ideology, it will consist in an anti individual ideology.
Speaker 1 00:58:11 It will consistently take you in a murderous direction, cuz that is its actual implication. It is by, by virtue being anti individualist. It is in favor of the idea that individual life is worthless and should be sacrificed for the cause, whatever that cause happens, whatever version happens to be. So on the one hand, if you adopt the ideology, it will lead you to become a killer. On the other hand, those ideologies tend to attract people who have that murderous, psychology, that sort of personal rage against the world, uh, psychologically to begin with. So it's this sort of, uh, is this, it's a chicken in the egg question or maybe it's just a vicious cycle would be the best way to put it is right. It gets started either from the ideological or psychological end and it, they, those, the psychological and ideological aspects, you know, feed off of each
Speaker 2 00:58:56 Other. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, no, in my, my personal life, when I was young, I've known any number of young people at my age who were, you know, normal, well adjusted, you know, Canadian kids, but they did become radicalized from what they read. And so they're psychology changed, uh, consequence to what they were reading in university and, and beyond. Uh, I do know another, just kind of an open question at this point. Uh, I, I think 11 of the 13 people who were shot were black and two were white. Uh, so he did intentionally go into a black neighborhood in, in uh, um, in Buffalo. And so it is interesting, uh, of all of the things that he is against he's in against immigrants of all sorts, he's against capitalists, he's against, you know, semis, uh, and, and so on why this particular group first, uh, none of them were immigrants.
Speaker 2 00:59:49 You know, for example, these were, you know, people who were Americans, uh, you know, born and raised. So for all of the anti-immigrant, uh, were that doesn't seem to be his highest priority. And, uh, despite the fact that every time he talks about the Jews it's capital letters and he really seems to hate, hate the Jews. He didn't go into, you know, an Orthodox neighborhood in, uh, in New York city and start shooting, shooting Jews, or, you know, take a submachine gun into Silicon valley and start wiping out capitalists or wall street or, or whatever. So, uh, again, this is just a hypothesis. It might be that there's a kind of racism and that really is his first priority and he's going after them. Uh, but that's an open question.
Speaker 1 01:00:30 Well, and I think this psychology versus the ideology that it may be the psychological motive was I hate black people and the, you know, and that the ideology is built on top of that to rationalize it. But that was the
Speaker 2 01:00:43 Motive. Yeah. Yeah. Other things that we don't know
Speaker 0 01:00:46 Well with that, it was a very interesting conversation, some a, a dark topic, but it's good to have these conversations to go into it. So with that, thank you so much, Rob and Steven for doing this current event discussion and thank all of you who watched and submitted questions. I'm sorry. We couldn't get to all of them. We just ran out of time. But if you do have other questions you'd like to ask either of our two panelists today or any of our other scholars at the Atlas society, I encourage you to check out our website, check out our events page. Uh, Steven will be doing his next lecture on education, villains and heroes in two weeks. And then Rob will be doing a, ask me anything on clubhouse next Tuesday. So I encourage you to look into those, check those out. And if you like what we're doing here at the ATLA society, please consider a tax deductible donation and be sure to also tune in next week here on the Atlas society, ask when we'll be having Spencer, Jacob, a wall street, uh, economist who will be talking about game stop. Ah, yeah. Situation that happened last year.
Speaker 2 01:01:57 Yeah. All right. That enjoy. Enjoy your remarked, Rob. Thanks for those. Appreciate the organization, Lawrence bye for now.
Speaker 0 01:02:04 Take care, everyone.