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The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air. Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie. In depicting the most general phases of the development of the proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat. (...) The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; (...) The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.

Yes, I think so......
Strong, vigorous verbiage to be sure. But where does Marx spell out the mechanisms--torture, mass murder, gulags, induced famine--to achieve his goals? At least Voltaire (if accurately quoted) wanted to see the last general strangled with the intestines of the last priest ( or was it vice versa?)
 

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Strong, vigorous verbiage to be sure. But where does Marx spell out the mechanisms--torture, mass murder, gulags, induced famine--to achieve his goals?
I think he qualifies for "incitement to violence" through this. If not, then being charitable to the fat beardy git for a second, shall we say he's "quite easy to misinterpret". Besides, I don't recall Hitler ever spelling out the nitty-gritty of how Auschwitz was meant to function. I am sure we aren't going to make excuses for him, are we?
 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto
he already had the experience of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror to be able to judge where such a revolution of proletariat could lead
No cigar yet. And we recall that, following all the turmoil and the horrors of the French Revolution (miniscule compared with the Bolshevik Revolution and the aftermath civil war), we ended up with France today. I'll end my part in this discussion now, as I am justly rebuked by Woodduck.
 

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At this point I want to remind everyone to please refrain from purely political posts, and from making needless personal comments about other members and their personal political views, where this does not concern the stated thread topics.

Personal comments about other members and off-topic comments on others' political views are particularly disruptive to the thread. By all means argue with, debate and criticise their opinions on the article, Adorno and Wagner but do not make negative posts about other forum members.

Further off-topic or personal comments may be removed at the Moderators' discretion.

Here is the thread premise and its proposed topics:

composer jess said:
In sharing this article I am curious to know a few things....

I am not well aware of what the public perception of Wagner is these days so I don't know exactly how much of what is mentioned in the article is part of common discourse. Amongst many other people I know who are both self-described communists and fans of classical music, there's still varying opinion regarding how much of his stuff is proto-fascist, but the majority seem to hold the view that there are far more relevant concerns to have in terms of reclaiming his work for the left, inclusivity, and such things.

Also, what do people here think of Adorno and what he has to say about Wagner? And by extension, what do people here think other philosophers of the Frankfurt School regarding music and the culture industry as a whole?
 
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It has been decades since I read Marx, but I don't recall Marx talking about what should happen so much as what would happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 · (Edited)
I know this is quite long, but it's also a fascinating talk that provides an example of how left-wing thinkers have built upon Wagner's work. Say what you will about Žižek (and I am certainly not the biggest fan of his) but even for anyone who is pre-occupied with the fascist appropriation of culture in the 30s and 40s, he illustrates some interesting performance history at the start.


I do wish to bring up Žižek as well because he is not only a Wagner fan but he brings up (in various places) about how Wagner transcends the period his works were first written and performed in, but survives different eras and can be made relevant and rejuvenated for audiences of different times and political and social situations (he cites Walter Benjamin as an earlier philosopher who brought this up too, on art in general, but I can't recall which interview I remember that from).

EDIT: I do wish to have this following discussion btw... Walter Benjamin was a Frankfurt School philosopher who said interesting things about art, and I mentioned the Frankfurt School at the start of the thread, also asking about Adorno. I'm curious to learn more about the perspectives on Wagner that Adorno had, as well as what ideas from the Frankfurt School can quite meaningfully be applied to interpreting Wagner's life and works and staging his works in the 20th and 21st centuries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
I think the OP himself planted the seeds for the disruption of the thread when he stated that he was communist. So what were the attitudes of Wagner to the ideas of Marx (if he has known them)?
She certainly self-described as one.

But this is more to align myself with at least some kind of philosophical and political heritage that is fundamentally at odds with the most famous appropriators of Wagner's works in the 20th century and then to open a discussion of where ideas from the left can find a place in Wagner's works, perhaps even more appropriately than what fascism managed to do with Wagner.
 

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She certainly self-described as one.

But this is more to align myself with at least some kind of philosophical and political heritage that is fundamentally at odds with the most famous appropriators of Wagner's works in the 20th century and then to open a discussion of where ideas from the left can find a place in Wagner's works, perhaps even more appropriately than what fascism managed to do with Wagner.
Neither the left nor the right should try to appropriate Wagner (or any other artist). The only interesting question is what were the political convictions of Wagner himself and how are they reflected in his works?
 

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Neither the left nor the right should try to appropriate Wagner (or any other artist). The only interesting question is what were the political convictions of Wagner himself and how are they reflected in his works?
To be honest, I don't find even that very interesting... I'd rather just enjoy his music. Music and politics, yuck.
 

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I know this is quite long, but it's also a fascinating talk that provides an example of how left-wing thinkers have built upon Wagner's work. Say what you will about Žižek (and I am certainly not the biggest fan of his) but even for anyone who is pre-occupied with the fascist appropriation of culture in the 30s and 40s, he illustrates some interesting performance history at the start.


I do wish to bring up Žižek as well because he is not only a Wagner fan but he brings up (in various places) about how Wagner transcends the period his works were first written and performed in, but survives different eras and can be made relevant and rejuvenated for audiences of different times and political and social situations (he cites Walter Benjamin as an earlier philosopher who brought this up too, on art in general, but I can't recall which interview I remember that from).

EDIT: I do wish to have this following discussion btw... Walter Benjamin was a Frankfurt School philosopher who said interesting things about art, and I mentioned the Frankfurt School at the start of the thread, also asking about Adorno. I'm curious to learn more about the perspectives on Wagner that Adorno had, as well as what ideas from the Frankfurt School can quite meaningfully be applied to interpreting Wagner's life and works and staging his works in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This was rather interesting. I don't know Zizek, and I found his effort to speak English very difficult to listen to. I thought the talk started out promisingly but was a bit of a ramble that could have been made in half the time. I'm not sure that his summation helped, and when he went off on how great love will be under communism he lost me (I'm not a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a capitalist, or any other -ist, and this struck me as some sort of adolescent Marxist fantasy).

That said, Zizek does make a case that Wagner's works can't be identified with the sort of proto-fascism that current PC thought attributes to them. I appreciate the point that if there are any representations of supposed Jewish stereotypes in Wagner's characters (a very big IF, despite attempts to find them there), they can be found in the "good" characters as well as the bad ones, and that the villains might actually be read more easily as caricatures of Wagner himself. I enjoyed his discussion of the updating of Wagner's Tristan story by director Ponnelle, who had Tristan die alone with only a hallucination of Isolde, thus intensifying the tragic illusoriness of romantic love. It's correct to say that Wagner in successive works wrestles with the idea of love and what it should be, with each opera proffering a different solution, but I think Zizek quite fails to come to terms with the complexity and ambiguity of Parsifal, mostly in failing to see that in it Wagner takes symbolism to a level surpassing even the Ring. That final creation, of all Wagner's visionary worlds, is a dream in which things are not always what they seem to be.

What I don't get out of Zizek's talk is any clear picture of how he relates Wagner's works to communism. Since, I gather, he was addressing some sort of communist organization, his audience might have seen some political implications I did not. I don't think Wagner's works are political in any specific way, not even the most politically suggestive of them, the Ring. In fact, I'd describe the Ring's message as anti-political or, in its final outlook, post-political. Perhaps this is consistent with the Marxist doctrine of the ultimate withering away of the state once a communist paradise is achieved. But I don't believe in paradise, and neither did Wagner once he was exiled and had time to get over his early revolutionary fervor. Zizek does expain nicely the way the evolution of Wagner's thinking resulted in successive endings for Gotterdammerung; what the final ending leaves us with is no explicit moral or program, but only the emptying out of heaven and man's inheritance of an earth he must make the best of, as the orchestra sings out a hymn to Brunnhilde, who alone could end the gods' rule of law because she was able to follow love unto death. This is not something any would-be dictator, of the right or the left, could be expected to understand.
 

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My comp teacher was also a Wagnerian scholar. He was a guest musical lecturer on the subject of the Ring Cycle and traveled to other universities and Wagner Festivals to speak. After over 40 years of studying the maestro's music he had a funny little take on all of this. He said, "I've never heard a political resolution to an augmented sixth chord. Let me know when you write one.":D
 
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