Degenerate Art revisited – new beginnings of fascism?

Recently posted on Facebook by a young (white) sympathiser /supporter of the burning of art and vandalism of historical monuments by #Rhodesmustfall protagonists at the University of Cape Town (and subsequently at other institutions of learning in South Africa) –

If you’re white and you’re complaining about paintings being burned, please do us all a favour and get to some self – reflexive thought processes…

Here’s my knee-jerk reaction to this hasty and short-sighted fulmination –

In March, 1939, the Berlin Fire Brigade burned some 4000 paintings, drawings and prints which apparently had little value on the international market. This was an act of unprecedented vandalism, although the Nazis were then already well used to book burnings on a large scale.   A large amount of “degenerate art” by PicassoDalí, Ernst, Klee, Léger and Miró was destroyed in a bonfire on the night of July 27, 1942, in the gardens of the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris.  By Nazi/Fascist protagonists.

More recently we have seen destruction of world heritage sites in Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Iraq and Libya –

The Islamic State (IS) has destroyed much of the cultural heritage in the areas it controls in Iraq. At least 28 religious buildings were looted and destroyed, including Shiite mosques, tombs, shrines and churches. In addition, numerous ancient and medieval sites and artifacts, including the ancient cities of Nimrud and Hatra, parts of the wall of Nineveh, the ruins of Bash Tapia Castle and Dair Mar Elia, and artifacts from the Mosul Museum were also destroyed.  The Islamic State also destroyed the Lion of Al-lāt, the temples of Bel and Baalshamin, the Arch of Triumph and other sites in Palmyra. The group also destroyed the Monastery of St. Elian, the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church, and several ancient sculptures in the city of Ar-Raqqah.


Inasmuch, I agree with Oxford historian RW Johnson that what this campaign is trying to do here is no different from what ISIS /ISIL and Al-Qaeda have been doing to art and cultural history elsewhere.  To quote, “#Rhodesmustfall campaign is not merely fatuous but ugly, vandalistic and dangerous.”

The #Rhodesmustfall campaign is simply a bunch of myopic, spoilt, ungrateful fascists using racial politics and cheap guilt-tripping to ruin the life and fabric of respected institutions of ‘learning’ in their attempts to destroy history.  Watch them start wearing uniforms scheming new forms of militant intimidation; South Africa’s very own Kata’ib Taswiyya – fundamentalists, looting and plundering,  grabbing the world’s attention through the destruction of art and heritage, particularly given the extensive media coverage that comes afterwards, defining an ugly spot of their own degenerate history.





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