To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that.Especially in today's environment, something like this is very provocative. Here is one comment on the post I linked:
There are two separate issues here: the creative element, that is, the art itself, and the artist's personal politics. Those artists who are leftists do not seem to realize that their individualism is at odds with actual leftism in practice.
Soviet and Chinese "art" and "literature" (the words require scare quotes in this context) made a mockery of true art, because their mandatory service to leftism destroyed originality and individualism. Only the dissidents made anything lasting.I like the mapping out of a distinction between an artist's activity qua artist and their personal politics, but! The second paragraph, while seeming plausible, goes wildly wrong if you know something about Soviet art, specifically music composition in the Soviet Union. Three names come immediately to mind: Sergei Prokofiev, who left Russia in 1918 but in the 1930s spent more and more time going back and forth between the Soviet Union and France and in 1936 he returned permanently and took up residence in Moscow until his death in 1953, on the same day that Stalin died. Dmitri Shostakovich lived his entire professional life under the Soviet regime, born in 1906 he died in 1975. His music was condemned twice, in 1936 and 1948, but he survived both those attacks and continued to compose without ceasing until his death, though he did keep a number of works, such as the Violin Concerto no. 1, in the drawer until after Stalin's death. Sofia Gubaidulina struggled her entire career in the Soviet Union against official strictures and in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, she took up residence in Hamburg, Germany.
|Two out of the three: Prokofiev, Shostakovich with Aram Khatchaturian on the right.|
If we look at the work of artists in Western countries today we seem to see more ideological conformity than in the Soviet Union! Isn't that a surprise? Most of the composers working in the US, for example, seem to be following the same playbook of identity, gender equity, diversity, environmentalism and so on. Art, for them at least, does not seem very right wing. We might look for evidence at Alex Ross' column on Notable Performances and Recordings of 2018:
At a time when some orchestras are unspooling entire seasons devoid of female and nonwhite composers, the L.A. Phil has commissioned twenty-two women and twenty-seven people of color. In October, at an event in the orchestra’s Green Umbrella new-music series, I was shaken by Tina Tallon’s “. . . for we who keep our lives in our throats . . .,” a response to sexual abuse.Most works mentioned are quite free of political reference though none that I know of are as satirical of the current pieties as Shostakovich's Preface To The Complete Collection Of My Works And Brief Reflections Apropos This Preface, Op.112, or his absurdist opera The Nose.
I guess my point here is that the truth is in the details, not the superficially plausible generalization.
A good envoi here might be Shostakovich's Anti-Formalist Rayok, a work so satirical that it was not premiered in his lifetime:
In January 1989, a much-rumored work by Dmitri Shostakovich titled Anti-Formalist Rayok received its public premiere. Rayok is a single-act satirical opera/cantata for bass soloist and mixed chorus. Each character represents a prominent Soviet political figure: Joseph Stalin, Andrei Zhdanov, and Dmitri Shepilov. The text of the libretto is either taken directly from actual speeches given by these political figures or follows their idiosyncratic style of public speaking.
Of course we are not going to get any of the jokes.