July 21, 2024

When a banana duct-taped to a wall is juxtaposed against a Monet, the absurdity of this cultural revolution is starkly apparent.

In the intellectual and cultural arenas of the Western world, a counter-revolution to the burgeoning woke ideology is underway. Yet, the bastions of academic arts have entrenched themselves deep within the doctrines of intersectionality, pushing their agendas with a zeal that borders on the religious. This persistence is partially reshaping the cultural landscape, transforming the zeitgeist into a mere tool for career advancement rather than a beacon of diverse thought. Today’s cultural dialogue is one that is commodified, delivered by way of push notifications on smartphones that signal not groundbreaking ideas but adherence to the latest politically correct trends.

This new norm has cultivated a generation of global philistines—individuals who, though draped in the prestige of academic achievement, are contributing to the degradation of our culture. Since the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, a progressive agenda has been simmering beneath the surface of mainstream acceptance, boldly emerging in times of societal upheaval. At the turn of the century, socialism was thought to be dead, but the financial crisis of 2008, the subsequent Occupy movements, and the continued growth of right-wing politics have only accelerated the resurgence of an intense form of socialism. Despite the general populace’s preference for smaller government and traditional values, these fringe ideologies are now back at the forefront, perverting the essence of public and private life.

The woke assault on cultural institutions 

These shifts have particularly marked effects on national and regional identities, leaving societies grappling with the task of navigating a revolution that seeks to remake the very fabric of culture under the pretense of promoting equality and progressive liberalism. Within the halls of Western academia, there is now a significant discord concerning the purpose of museums—a discord that mirrors a broader societal schism. Woke ideology has not just seeped into these institutions; it has seized them, leading to a definitive estrangement from hundreds of years of art history scholarship.

This ideological stranglehold demands a reevaluation and dismantling of historical narratives. What is promoted as an effort to foster a more inclusive and equitable understanding of art history is clearly discrimination against European artists. The tenets of aesthetic appreciation and scholarship have been sidelined, replaced by an agenda that promotes a sanitised, revisionist version of history. The activists behind these movements, under the cover of equity and inclusion, are curiously intolerant of being judged by the rigorous standards of merit that they decry as relics of an oppressive past. They aim not just to supplement but to replace the traditional narratives with those that align with their politically motivated agendas.

When a banana duct-taped to a wall is juxtaposed against a Monet, the underlying absurdity of this cultural revolution becomes starkly apparent. Proponents argue that the presence of art by white artists fails to foster sufficient dialogue. They overlook the fact that museums dedicated to contemporary, indigenous, and ‘LGBT’ art already exist. They disregard the nuanced interplay of historical and contemporary narratives that these institutions typically curate. Cultural relativism has morphed into a tool of hostility and violence, and the old guard is now expected to be admonished as we descend into the regressive Left’s hellscape of ideas. This isn’t inclusivity; it is an ideological purge masquerading as progress, aiming to dismantle the foundations of our most revered cultural institutions and the very essence of humanity. 

The public’s negative reaction to these changes has been well noted, but the voices of discontent are drowned out by the louder, more persistent calls of a vocal minority. The elites in charge do not care about feedback; they only care about virtue signalling. Observers like Michael Deacon of The Telegraph have pointed out that today’s modern art exhibitions often come laden with moral lecturing that bears little relevance to the art on display. This highlights the shift in cultural institutions from celebrating art to serving as platforms for political activism. 

The Western world needs better culture critics

The “Campaign against Renoir,” which began in 2015, is symptomatic of a broader narrative that seeks to dismantle the respect traditionally afforded to European male artists. This campaign, driven both by a narrative of disenfranchisement and by a narcissistic manifestation of hipster uprising, has been mistakenly elevated to legitimate discourse, illustrating the sway that professionally disgruntled activists now hold over cultural discussions.

Furthermore, lost in the thicket is the obvious case that ‘queer histories’ are often entirely fabricated. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that Britain’s Queen Anne was romantically involved with her close friend Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Yet, modern narratives frequently portray their relationship as such. This reinterpretation may supercharge a Hollywood storyline, but it overlooks the historically common practice of monarchs having ’favourites’—relationships that, while occasionally romantic, were predominantly platonic and based on political alliance. In Queen Anne’s era, it was typical for rulers to have politically influential favourites like Sarah Churchill, making such relationships far from extraordinary.

These depictions are a form of revisionist history catering to a minority disconnected from broader societal norms. While it is valid to assert one’s right to identify as gay, altering historical narratives to retrofit modern sexual identities where they may not historically belong distorts the past and can be viewed as a tactic of queer subculture propaganda.

Critical gender theory and queer theory argue that the distinctions between male and female, masculine and feminine, as well as heterosexual and homosexual, are social constructs designed to uphold the dominance of traditional gender roles and heteronormativity. This perspective raises profoundly stupefying questions: in representing the human form in art, should we now reinterpret classical sculptures of the female body to include transgender individuals? Should we reinterpret classical sculptures of the male body so as not to upset those with smaller or larger anatomy? Should we revise ancient nude depictions to reflect the fleeting modern ideals of beauty, such as the Hollywood-inspired attributes of the 1990s with bleached blond hair and exaggerated breast implants, or the fluctuating body types popularised by online pornography?

Clearly, allowing pop culture and in-vogue politics to dictate the interpretation of multi-generational aesthetics is ludicrous. No rational approach to art history would endorse redefining historical and cultural works to align with transient contemporary ideologies. Yet, this is occurring within our museums and cultural institutions, affecting the legacies of the greatest artists in history.

These actions not only challenge the integrity of art historical interpretation but also risk undermining the educational role of museums as custodians of cultural heritage. By imposing modern values and political correctness on historical figures and artworks, we risk losing a true understanding of our past and, with it, the lessons that history can teach us about the complexities of human relationships and societal norms.

The ideological encroachment into our cultural institutions represents a profound threat to the integrity of our artistic heritage—a threat arguably greater than many historical challenges faced by Western societies. Facilitated by a vocal minority within the arts and academia, this movement undermines the very purpose of cultural preservation, replacing it with a narrative that prioritises political correctness over artistic merit. The fundamental question remains: will we allow the ideological manipulation of art to redefine our cultural legacy, or will we preserve the integrity and richness of art history against those who seek to politicise and diminish it for their own ends?

The battle for art history is not merely academic; it is a fight for the soul of our cultural identity, demanding that we defend the depth and diversity of artistic expression against those who would flatten it into a monochrome palette of political ideology. This war is about more than preserving past masterpieces—it is about ensuring that future generations can appreciate and understand the true breadth and complexity of human cultural achievement without the temporary concern of contemporary bias.

As we continue to navigate the chaos, it is imperative that those who value the richness of our artistic heritage stand firm and advocate for art that transcends political and ideological boundaries. Exhibitions can clearly exhibit different styles of art, but to tear down masterpieces and uproot permanent collections to appease the protesting, unwashed masses risks destroying the very essence of human life. In this war against art history, it is not just the legacy of the past that we are fighting for but the very future of our cultural identity.

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