Our Conception of Art
This article was originally published in Hierophant on 25th October 2020.
Here at Hierophant we believe the future belongs to those who define it for themselves. The reason conservatives are dragged irresistibly towards surrender after surrender to the left, is because – well, because they are conservatives. If your political ideology is based entirely on conserving (usually the establishment or the ruling class) then you hand over the responsibility for innovation to your opponents. With the zeitgeist of progress on their side, bit by bit they will dismantle your precious status quo, until, paradoxically, you end up having failed to conserve anything at all. Change is inevitable – you can take charge of it, or get swept along by it; but you cannot stop it. In some way, in some direction, things will change.
It behoves us on the right, then, to look not only backwards, but ahead, so that we may steer the winds of time in a positive direction. We must define our own progress utterly divorced from the leftist plan of eternal decay. We need an ascendant, virile metapolitical movement – not only political, but cultural and even spiritual; a holistic radical alternative for the West and the wider world. Only then may we be able to challenge the so-called “New” Left which has wielded unparalleled cultural hegemony over our nations for the past sixty years. Hierophant's mission is to inculcate such a counterculture in whatever small way we can.
Art, therefore, is naturally of great significance to us as a means of cultural expression. As I put it in a previous article, “The need for a right-wing avant-garde”,
“We are the rebels and outcasts now! And we will never achieve any sort of influence if we focus solely on politics or the academy. Art is the heart of the nation as the academy is its mind, and it is an ancient rule of rhetoric, supported by everyone from David Hume to Jonathan Haidt, that only by convincing the former (pathos) may we thereafter convince the latter (logos).”
That article focussed mainly on tactics; here I would like to say a few brief words on what, exactly, art would look like in tune with Hierophant's right-wing, virile, archaeofuturist philosophy. Our magazine is presently in its infancy. Therefore this, I hope, will help to broadly define our artistic aims and direction early on (while leaving plenty of room for experimentation, of course).
As I see it, 20th century art had two problems. Firstly, it neglected beauty. Beauty as a value fell out of favour in the last century, with grave, long-lasting effects for our mental and spiritual health. Secondly, it sought to rebel against – rather than learn from – the craftsmanship of previous generations and make everything from scratch, leading to a poor, childlike quality overall (no matter what your leftist art teacher tries to tell you, Rothko pales in comparison to even the most paltry Pre-Raphaelite).
Conservatives and reactionaries, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. They seek to perfectly preserve and pastiche the craftworks of their ancestors, without ever contributing to that tradition by coming up with anything new. The dusty marble busts and cathedrals they venerate were new and modern once, built by the forward-thinkers of their time. Ultimately, this reflects a deeper issue. While leftists represent destruction, conservatives represent stagnation. They are, in fact, two sides of the same coin – equal partners in the decay of the West. One rot, the other rigor mortis.
That said, ironically Hierophant‘s artistic ethos could best be summarised by the words of a conservative – albeit, a philosophical conservative (philosophical conservatism is an entirely different beast to its political counterpart. Even a revolutionary like myself can believe in the perennial “philosophical conservative” principles of property, organic society and caution in change. This does not mean that conservatism as a political ideology is any less useless – indeed, political conservatism will inevitably surrender any philosophical roots it purports to have). I speak of Sir Roger Scruton, who said, “Without tradition, originality cannot exist: for it is only against a tradition that it becomes perceivable. Tradition and originality are two components of a single process, whereby the individual makes himself known through his membership of the historical group”. Art must build on what came before it. That is true innovation and progress. Smashing everything up and starting again, or simply stagnating, are not.
Therefore, Hierophant will seek to promote new, even experimental, works of art which reflect beauty, the skill of centuries, good morals and right-wing civilising principles. We will also seek to promote art which harnesses modern technology. Our ancestors could only build so high, out of stone or wood. Yet they crafted palaces and cathedrals which remain unmatched. We can build skyscrapers out of other materials, like glass, which are almost as tall as the sky itself. So why do we allow them to be so plain, like The Gherkin in London? Why don’t we put any effort into making them attractive? We could create a glass skyscraper in a neo-Gothic style if we wanted to; intricately decorated while glistening like a crystal shard. With modern resources we have the power to surpass anything our ancestors made. While Hierophant will not be erecting skyscrapers anytime soon, hopefully we may be able to inspire and encourage some pioneering young architects of the future.
Our task is a difficult one. We do not expect to find the next Michelangelo overnight. The aforementioned skill of centuries still exists, but it is spread few and far between. After the savagery of the Dark Ages, it took a while for Europe to regain its former glory – but eventually it did, and in my opinion Mediaeval architecture outshines anything built in Antiquity. Just so, it will take time to heal the damage of our own Dark Age – the West will be reborn again, and old lessons will have to be relearned. This fact, combined with a healthy creative freedom and a shoestring budget, will mean that Hierophant's artistic output won’t always be jawdropping. We’ll probably never be considered high art. And that’s fine. The important thing is that we’ll try – we’ll express ourselves and our faith in a better future passionately and articulately, and with luck inspire others to do likewise. We shall plant seeds that will flower into oaks. Art is the heart of the nation as the academy is its mind, and our hearts are full of hope and vigour.