Chapter Eleven: Desecrating the Arts (UPDATED)

The Epoch Times is serializing an adaptation from the Chinese of a new book, “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World,” by the editorial team of the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.”

Listen to the audiobook:

Table of Contents

1. Art: A Gift From the Divine

2. Art’s Immense Influence on Humanity

3. Communism’s Sabotage and Abuse of Art

a. Art in Communist Countries
b. Communist Elements Behind the Avant-Garde Movement
c. The Inversion of Traditional Aesthetics: The Ugly as Art
d. The Perversion of Literature

4. Reviving True Art

References

1. Art: A Gift From the Divine

Over the many years of human civilization, man has contemplated what constitutes true beauty. People of faith know that all the wonders of the world come from the divine. Profound art is an attempt to emulate and display the beauty of heaven in the human world. Inspiration comes from the divine, and artists can become outstanding figures in their fields if they receive divine blessings and wisdom.

With strong faith in and devotion to the divine, great artists during the Renaissance plumbed their ingenuity to create works in praise of God. Artists in the mid-Renaissance period, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, grasped techniques that far exceeded those of their predecessors and their peers, as if by miracle. Their masterpieces — including paintings, statues, and architecture — became timeless classics of the art world.

For centuries, these works of art set a noble example for humanity. By appreciating this art, not only can the artists of later generations study pure artistic technique, but members of the public can truly feel and see the presence of the divine. When these works, the techniques that created them, and the spirit that infused the artists are all preserved, human society is able to maintain a connection with the divine. Then, even as humanity goes through its periods of decadence and decline, there will be hope for a return to tradition and a path to salvation.

The same principles prevail in the sphere of music. As the saying (reportedly, from a German opera house) goes: “Bach gave us God’s word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words.” For his entire life, Johann Sebastian Bach considered devotion to God and the praise and worship of God to be the highest principles in the creation of his music. On all of his important musical scores, the letters SDG can be seen — an abbreviation of “Soli Deo gloria,” meaning “glory to God alone.”

The highest level an artist can reach is through the materialization of heavenly objects in the human realm through divine revelation. The great paintings and statues, and the most sublime scores in the early, baroque, and classical canon, were all created by religious believers and represent the pinnacle of artistic work attained by man.

The three most important elements in artistic creation are representation, creation, and communication. All artistic creations contain a theme, that is, the message the artist seeks to communicate, regardless of the form the work takes — whether it be a poem, painting, statue, photograph, novel, play, dance, or film. The artist delivers the theme to the hearts of the reader, listener, or viewer. This process is the communication — the transmission of the artist’s mind to the recipient.

To achieve the goal of communication, artists must possess a superb ability to imitate and represent, with the object of imitation being the world of gods or of man, or even the underworld. Artistic creation is a process of refining the deeper or more essential elements of an object of representation. It requires artists to strengthen their own ability to communicate and to touch people’s hearts. If the artist possesses righteous faith in the divine and in morality, the divine will endow him with the inspiration to create. Such works will be divine, pure, and benevolent — beneficial to both the artist and society.

On the other hand, when the artist abandons moral standards, negative elements hijack the creative process, with evil forces exerting influence and using the artist to depict hideous creations and grotesqueries from the underworld. Works of this kind harm their author and the wider society.

The value of the orthodox, traditional arts thus becomes clear. Divine culture and art in the East and the West were connections woven between the divine and human civilization, and were meant to bring them into contact. The ideas and messages transmitted through this art are beauty, benevolence, light, and hope. On the other hand, corrupt works of “art” are created by those under the control of evil elements. They drive a wedge between man and the divine, and drag humans closer to evil.

2. Art’s Immense Influence on Humanity

Great works of art transmit heritage, disseminate knowledge and wisdom, and fortify character. They hold exalted positions in the great civilizations of the West and the East.

The ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras believed that the secret of music was in its imitation of the harmony of the heavenly bodies, which itself reflects the harmony of the universe.

The Chinese held similar views. The Treatises on Music and Harmony discuss music’s correspondence with the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth), and how musical instruments are constructed to represent and emulate the patterns of heaven and earth. Only in this way can “music of the grandest style” be achieved, that which exhibits “the same harmony that prevails between heaven and earth.” [1] This kind of music is able to not only attract divine birds like the crane and phoenix, but also serve as an invitation to deities to grace the occasion with their presence.

Confucius once said: “[The Zhou Dynasty] surveyed the two dynasties that went before; its ways are refined and elegant. I follow Zhou.” [2] He admired how the legendary Chinese rulers governed with ritual and music: “The Sage-Emperor Shun invented a five-stringed musical instrument, which he called qin, sang to its tune about the gentle summer breeze from the south, and lo and behold, his empire ran smoothly [under the influence of his music].” [3] These examples illustrate the edifying effects of pure, upright music.

The “Music of Prince of Qin Breaking Up the Enemy’s Front,” composed by the great Tang Dynasty emperor Li Shimin, won the deep respect of ethnic groups living on the periphery of the Tang realm. The New Book of Tang recorded that on the journey to seek Buddhist scriptures from the West, monk Xuanzang was told by a king in a remote Indian state, “Your emperor must be a saint, for he composed the ‘Music of Prince of Qin Breaking Up the Enemy’s Front.’” [4]

During the reign of Louis XIV, the French royal court displayed great elegance through dance and art. Dance contains not only the techniques of movement, but also social etiquette and norms. Louis XIV inspired Europe through the art and culture of his court and was emulated by other courts and the population at large in Europe.

Not only was Frederick the Great of Prussia an outstanding king, but he was also an accomplished musician, composer, and flautist. He ordered the construction of the Berlin opera house, personally supervised the opera, and opened it to a wider set of social classes. To this day, opera remains an important part of German culture. These few examples make clear the long-lasting influence that orthodox art can exert on society.

Upright art conforms to natural law, imitates divine wisdom, and brings with it special energy and effects. It benefits people by feeding both the senses and the soul. The greatest artists work not only on the physical, technical level, but also, more importantly, on the spiritual level, in their communion with the theme of the work. Such artists sometimes express a sense of experiencing a higher force beyond this physical world. The effect is similar to that of singing an ode to God — a solemn and divine experience that transcends human language. Behind true art lies the accumulated wisdom of a people, their creativity, and their inspiration. There are often profound meanings that go far beyond what is seen on the surface. Some works transmit a special kind of spiritual energy. All of this has an effect on viewers at a deep, spiritual level. The effect is singular and irreplaceable by any other means.

A superb artist can influence the morality of society by instilling values into people’s hearts through poignant stories and images. Even people without deep learning or education can gain insight, inspiration, and moral lessons from traditional art. In traditional Western societies, consider how many learned right from wrong, good from evil, through the medium of folk tales such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Snow White.”

In China, many generations learned from the four great novels (Water Margin, Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber) and from the traditional arts of storytelling and drama. Such works allow people to feel divine greatness and make them yearn to assimilate to heavenly principles.

Degenerate values also exert an invisible influence through art. Screenwriting lecturer Robert McKee wrote in his book Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting: “Every effective story sends a charged idea out to us, in effect compelling the idea into us, so that we must believe. In fact, the persuasive power of a story is so great that we may believe its meaning even if we find it morally repellent.” [5]

Art can have tremendous impacts — both positive and negative — on human morality, thought, and behavior.

“The Mozart effect,” for instance, has attracted worldwide attention, with the scientific community conducting a number of studies on the positive influence of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music on people and animals. In 2016, a more in-depth study of the Mozart effect found that the composer’s music has positive effects on human cognitive function and behavior. Surprisingly, playing Mozart’s music in reverse has the opposite effect. Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg’s modern atonal music has an effect similar to that of playing Mozart backwards, which demonstrates its negative qualities. [6]

Compared with atonal music, rock ‘n’ roll can have an even greater negative effect. One researcher compiled data from two similar cities and found that the city in which a large number of rock songs were broadcast via radio and television saw 50 percent more cases of pregnancy out of wedlock, dropouts, youth deaths, crimes, and so on. [7] Some rock music even glorifies suicide. One commentator, referring to a song by a famous rock star who faced several lawsuits from parents of young listeners, wrote, “Its dark rhythms and depressing lyrics certainly can be taken as an encouragement for suicide, and it is an irrefutable fact that young people have snuffed out their lives while listening to it repeatedly.” [8] It is not uncommon for teens who commit suicide to do as described in rock lyrics, and numerous rock musicians have themselves descended into depression and drug abuse, or taken their own lives.

Another well-known example of art put to negative use is the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. Despite director Leni Riefenstahl’s argument that she had merely created a documentary, the propaganda film exhibits superb artistic mastery. The grand scenes and displays of strength made audiences resonate with the energy and power behind it. Her many innovative shooting techniques and technical prowess influenced film for decades to come. Yet the work also became a crucial piece of propaganda for Hitler and Nazi Germany and is known as one of the most successful works of propaganda in history. An obituary for Riefenstahl published in the British newspaper The Independent in 2003 stated, “Triumph of the Will seduced many wise men and women, persuaded them to admire rather than to despise, and undoubtedly won the Nazis friends and allies all over the world.” [9]

Understanding the great power of art can help us better understand the importance of traditional art and why evil elements want to undermine and sabotage it.

3. Communism’s Sabotage and Abuse of Art

Since art has such a tremendous effect on society, it’s not surprising that communism uses art to achieve its aim of socially engineering humans and leading them toward destruction.

a. Art in Communist Countries

Communist parties know the power of art and they turn all art forms into tools for advancing their brainwashing. Many people have ridiculed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for having singers and actors become military generals. They wonder how civilians who have never been trained in arms or warfare could be qualified to be generals. The CCP believes that these people are just as important as trained military personnel in promoting and upholding the communist cult — or perhaps even more crucial. In this sense, its military ranks conform perfectly with Party principles. As Mao Zedong said, “We must also have a cultural army, which is absolutely indispensable for uniting our own ranks and defeating the enemy.” [10]

Artistic performances in communist countries are designed to have people forget the miseries they suffer under communist rule and to cultivate their loyalty to the communist party through art. This propaganda effect — called “thought work” — cannot be achieved by mere martial power.

One can compare the CCP’s grand opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics, which was put on at enormous cost to the taxpayer, to North Korea’s large-scale song and dance festival Arirang and the former Soviet Union’s ballet troupes. All served the needs of the party.

In September 2011, the CCP’s Ministry of Culture held a so-called Chinese culture festival, China: The Art of a Nation, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. It included the CCP’s signature propaganda piece, the ballet Red Detachment of Women, which promotes class hatred and violent revolution.

If upright art that was close to the divine and promoted traditional values were allowed to exist simultaneously with party-controlled art used for brainwashing the public, then the latter would lose its monopoly and have no effect. This is why all communist countries maintain strict censorship over the arts and the publishing industry.

b. Communist Elements Behind the Avant-Garde Movement

For centuries, classical art has been passed down from generation to generation. This tradition continued until the twentieth century, when it came to an abrupt end. The transmission and inheritance of art were disrupted by a radical avant-garde movement and began to quickly degenerate. As artist Robert Florczak said: “The profound, the inspiring, and the beautiful were replaced by the new, the different, and the ugly. … Standards declined until there were no standards. All that was left was personal expression.” [11] Humanity thus lost its universal sense of the aesthetic.

The source of this battery of new artistic movements is closely connected to ideological trends influenced by communism. Many of these artists were either avowed communists or para-communists of one kind or another, or they were subject to the sway of these ideologies.
Georg Lukács, the Hungarian cultural commissioner of the Communist International and founder of Western Marxism, created the Frankfurt School. One of its tasks was to establish a “new cultural form” by abandoning traditional culture. This new cultural form set about excluding art that sought to represent the divine. As Herbert Marcuse, a German socialist and a representative of the Frankfurt School, wrote: “Art both protests these [existing social] relations, and at the same time transcends them. Thereby art subverts the dominant consciousness, the ordinary experience.” [12] That is, Marxists enlist art in the revolt against the divine and the subversion of morality. Views of this sort dominate the direction of modern art.

Gustave Courbet, the founder of the French realist school, was a participant in the Paris Commune. He was elected as a committee member of the Commune and the chairman of the radical Federation of Artists. Courbet devoted himself to transforming the old system and establishing new artistic directions. He ordered the Federation to demolish the intricate neoclassical Vendôme Column (which was later rebuilt). Courbet denied that human beings were created by God, and he was determined to use art to express the worldview of the proletariat, as well as materialism. He is known for saying, “I have never seen either angels or goddesses, so I am not interested in painting them.” [13]

Courbet believed that reforming the arts was really waging a revolution. In the name of painting what he called “reality,” he replaced beauty with ugliness. His nude paintings, for instance, focused in particular on depicting the female genitalia — a supposed revolutionary act — as a way of rebelling, transgressing against tradition, and somehow further inciting communist activism. The thinking and life of Courbet illustrate the close link between the communist ideology of revolution and modern art.

Under the influence of modernist thought, the revolutionary fervor of artists from the late nineteenth century brought about a series of movements in the art world. Unlike traditional schools of artistic expression, these were avant-garde movements that explicitly sought to rupture tradition. The term “avant-garde” was first used by socialist scholars to describe artistic movements that matched their own political aspirations.

In the late nineteenth century, these influences brought about impressionism. Ever since, modern artists have abandoned the demands of traditional oil painting, including precision, proportion, structure, perspective, and transitions between light and shade. Neoimpressionism (pointillism) and postimpressionism then emerged, centering their works on the exploration of the personal feelings of the artist. Representative figures in this school include Georges-Pierre Seurat and Vincent van Gogh, both of whom were inclined toward socialism. Van Gogh abused alcohol and suffered mental illness later in life, and his paintings appeared to reflect the world that people experience while under the influence of drugs.

Works of art contain the messages their creators wanted to convey. Artists during the peak of the Renaissance conveyed compassion and beauty to their audiences. Compare this to contemporary artists, who exude negative and dark messages. Modern artists abandon their own thoughts and allow themselves to come under the control of low-level and ghostly entities. They themselves are often incoherent and confused, and their works are similar — dark, negative, hazy, gray, depressed, decadent, and disordered.

After impressionism came expressionism and fauvism, followed by Pablo Picasso’s cubism. In 1944, Picasso joined the French Communist Party. In his letter Why I Became a Communist, he wrote: “My joining the Communist Party is a logical step in my life, my work and gives them their meaning. … In my own ways I have always said what I considered most true, most just and best and, therefore, most beautiful. But during the oppression and the insurrection, I felt that that was not enough, that I had to fight not only with painting but with my whole being.” [14]

Picasso encouraged a break with the classical methods of painting. For him, everything was a piece of dough to be picked up and shaped as he pleased. The eerier his works became, the happier he appeared to be. The process of creating monstrous images is the process of destroying an image, to the point where no one can understand it. Even Georges Braque, the modern artist who co-founded cubism with Picasso, on viewing Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, was “horrified by its ugliness and intensity.” Picasso had been “drinking turpentine and spitting fire,” acting more like a carnival performer than an artist, he said. [15]

Marcel Duchamp, an early member of the dada art movement, also sought to subvert and rebel against tradition with his display and use of readymade objects. He repurposed found or factory-made items and turned them into so-called art installations. Duchamp, who was called the father of conceptual art, advocated the idea that anything could be called art. The dadaist movement is itself a communistic project, as evidenced by the manifesto of the Berlin dadaists, who called for an “international revolutionary union of all creative and intellectual men and women on the basis of radical Communism,” as well as “the immediate expropriation of property (socialization) and the communal feeding of all” and “the erection of cities of light, and gardens which will belong to society as a whole and prepare man for a state of freedom.” [16]

Dadaism’s criticism of tradition evolved into surrealism in France, as represented by the communist André Breton, who advocated revolution. He was against the supposed suppression brought by reason, culture, and society — a view typical of the modern artists in Europe at the time.

The artistic movements that extended these principles include abstractism, minimalism, pop art, and postmodernism. Abstractism is about the emotional expression of rebellion, disorder, emptiness, and escapism. The ugly trampling of moral values is evident in these “-isms” in the arts today. At their most outrageous, these artists create works that openly desecrate religious figures like Jesus Christ.

Not all modern artists support leftwing politics, but there is a clear ideological commonality with communist thought — that is, the rejection of the divine, and the aim to replace the divine as the starting point for understanding human life. These “-isms” came to exert increasing influence in the public sphere and ultimately have led to the complete marginalization of classical art.

c. The Inversion of Traditional Aesthetics: The Ugly as Art

The numerous schools of modern art that have appeared and developed share several things in common: They invert conventional aesthetics; they take ugliness as beauty; and they aim to shock, even to the point of being as ghastly as the artist’s imagination allows.

Marcel Duchamp signed his name on a urinal and named it Fountain, to be put on display for the public in New York. Though the object was never put on display, Duchamp’s action was considered a clever joke among his peers in the art world, and later artists and academics have thought it the height of creativity. This is the environment in the art world, whereby classical easel painting has been marginalized and installation art has risen to prominence. In 1958, Yves Klein held his exhibition The Void at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris. The displayed works turned out to be empty, white walls.

A major figure of the postwar German avant-garde, Joseph Beuys, covered his head with honey and gold leaf and murmured nonstop for three hours to a dead hare in his arms in the 1965 work How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare. In Beuys’s view, anyone could be an artist. One anecdote goes that a frustrated questioner once shouted at him, “You talk about everything under the sun, except art!” Beuys reportedly responded, “Everything under the sun is art!” [17]

In 1961, Piero Manzoni, a key figure of the avant-garde, claimed he had put his own feces in ninety cans, called them artwork, and put them up for sale under the name Merda d’artista (“Artist’s Shit”). In 2015, one of the cans was sold in London for a record price of 182,500 pounds, or about US$240,000, hundreds of times the price of the same weight in gold. He also signed his name on the bodies of nude women as part of a series he called Sculture viventi (“Living Sculpture”).

In China, there was a nude “artist” who coated his body with honey and fish oil to attract flies. Desecration of the body seems intended to communicate the idea that life is cheap, ugly, and disgusting. In the BBC documentary Beijing Swings, about “extreme artists” in China, so-called performance art included the performative consumption of a human fetus. Amidst public condemnation that such art was “hideous,” art critic Waldemar Januszczak, the presenter of the documentary, inadvertently revealed its true nature in saying, “It is worth trying to understand why China is producing the most outrageous and darkest art, of anywhere in the world.” [18] In fact, this is a result of the pursuit of the demonic. Some of these modern, so-called works of art are so filthy and shameless that they exceed the mental endurance of normal people. Such behavior of the avant-garde is the Cultural Revolution of the art world.

Those who support modernism have taken to the trend like ducks to water, but painters truly proficient in the technical skill of painting have a tough time. Painters and sculptors who adhere strictly to tradition, who master their craft through painstaking practice, have been squeezed out of the art world. John William Godward, the English Victorian neoclassicist painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, felt that he was discriminated against given that his style of realistic classical painting fell out of favor with the rise of Picasso’s modernist works. In 1922, he committed suicide and was said to have written in his suicide note, “The world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso.” [19]

Similar methods were adopted to ruin music. Authentic music conforms with musical theory and order. Musical tuning and the keys and modes it produces are all derived from harmonious natural patterns. The universe created by the divine is harmonious. Humans are able to appreciate and participate in the harmony of the universe, and thus create beauty, since humans are also created by the divine.

Modern atonal music rejects ideas like tonality, chords, and melody, and lacks order in its structure. Such music is a revolt against divinely imparted classical music. Atonal music violates the harmony in the universe, which is why many audiences find it unpleasant. Modernist musicians argue, based on their warped theories of aesthetics, that audience members must train their ears to get used to such music so that they can enjoy it.

Schoenberg, one of the founders of modern music, introduced his “twelve-tone system,” a fundamentally atonal structure that marked the creation of anti-classical musical technique. Schoenberg’s music was considered the negation of all German musical culture until then — the betrayal of taste, feeling, tradition, and all aesthetic principles. His music was called “cocaine” by Germans at the time: “To perform Schoenberg means the same as to open a cocaine bar for the people. Cocaine is poison. Schoenberg’s music is cocaine.” [20] In later generations, a music critic assessed him thus: “It is a measure of the immensity of the man’s achievement that, fifty years after his death, he can still empty any hall on earth.” [21]

What led to the widespread acceptance of Schoenberg was the musical theories of Theodor W. Adorno, an important figure in the Frankfurt School. In Adorno’s 1949 work Philosophy of Modern Music, he portrayed Schoenberg as the “quintessential exponent of modernism in music” and explained Schoenberg’s twelve-tone compositional method as the culmination of the attempt to grant music “an autonomous status and structural self-sufficiency in response to the omnipresent domination of capitalistic ideology.” Adorno’s philosophical support for Schoenberg set the stage for the widespread acceptance of Schoenberg’s system by later generations of composers and music critics. [22] Since then, numerous musicians have emulated Schoenberg, and his avant-garde style has had a major impact on the postwar music world.

After destroying tradition with modern music, avant-garde art used rock ‘n’ roll to supplant the role of classical music in people’s lives. Sidney Finkelstein, the leading music theorist of the Communist Party USA, openly declared that the boundaries between classical and popular music should be eliminated. At around the same time, strongly rhythmic rock music was gaining an increasing foothold in the United States, as classical and traditional music was squeezed out and marginalized.

The characteristics of rock ‘n’ roll include inharmonious sounds, unstructured melodies, strong rhythmic beats, and emotional conflict — quite similar to the communist idea of struggle. According to the Records of the Grand Historian by China’s foremost ancient historian, Sima Qian, only when sound conforms to morality can it be called music. Typically, the lives and compositions of rock ‘n’ roll musicians are centered around sex, violence, and drugs.

Rock ‘n’ roll, along with other modern sounds such as rap and hip-hop, continued to gain popularity in the United States. Rappers flaunt their rebellion against tradition and society with their casual use of drugs, obscene language, and unruly, violent behavior. As the morality of society as a whole declines, such “art forms,” previously regarded as the product of subcultures, have made their way into the wider society and are even sought-after by mainstream performance venues.

We have so far focused on the current circumstances in the worlds of art and music. In fact, the entire artistic world has been greatly impacted, and the influence of the modern art movement can be seen in the deviation from traditional ideas, methods, and skills in areas like sculpture, architecture, dance, decoration, design, photography, movies, and more.

Many people who are engaged in modern art are strongly influenced by communist ideology. For example, the founder of modern dance, Isadora Duncan, was openly bisexual and an atheist. She objected to ballet, calling it ugly and unnatural. In 1921, she and 150 children with barely any dance training performed her work “Internationale,” set to the communist anthem, in Moscow for Communist Party elites, including Vladimir Lenin. [23]

As for why these deviations exist and become trendy, or even mainstream, it is closely related to communism’s corruption of divinely inspired traditional arts. On the surface, of course, this is not apparent, and the situation seems to be a form of self-deception that has been widely accepted — the notion that if there’s a theory behind it, then it’s art.

If people look closely at the differences between avant-garde and traditional art, they will find that the artists of the Renaissance not only used art to praise God, but also presented beauty in an uplifting manner that engendered feelings of truth and goodness in the human heart. In doing so, their art helped maintain the morality of society.

On the other hand, the various mutated forms of avant-garde try to upend all the achievements of the Renaissance, “to destroy the uplifting — therefore, bourgeois — potential of art, literature, and music, so that man, bereft of his connection to the divine, sees his only creative option to be political revolt.” Ugliness that is “so carefully nurtured by the Frankfurt School [has] corrupted our highest cultural endeavors,” and popular culture in turn, becomes “openly bestial,” wrote one academic. [24] Admiring and idolizing such ugliness brings forth the dark side of people; decadent, depraved, violent, evil, and other negative kinds of thoughts gain ascendancy. The pursuit of such ugliness has led to deconstructing and uglifying scenes of the divine, humanity’s own divine nature, morality and society, and even direct blasphemy against the divine. Not only has this alienated humans from the divine, it has also alienated them from their innate divine nature, society, and traditional values.

d. The Perversion of Literature

Literature is a special art form. It uses language to pass on the wisdom that the divine has bestowed upon humankind, as well as record the formative experiences of humankind. The two great epics of ancient Greece, The Iliad and The Odyssey, both portray the complex series of events surrounding the Trojan War, vividly depicting a historical epic of gods and men. The virtues of courage, generosity, wisdom, justice, and temperance that were praised in the epics became an important source of values for the Greek world and all of Western civilization.
Due to the great influence literature has, evil elements use it to control people, concocting and promoting written works that impart the ideology of communism, slander traditional culture, destroy people’s morality, and spread pessimism and an attitude of passivity and meaninglessness toward life. Literature has become one of the key tools communism uses to control the world.

During the history of the Soviet Union and the CCP, in order to brainwash the general public, the respective communist parties instructed their intellectuals to portray, using traditional techniques, the lives of the proletariat and the concept of class consciousness in order to explain the ideology and policies of the communist party. This gave rise to a large number of propagandistic literary works, including the Soviet novels The Iron Flood and How the Steel Was Tempered, and the CCP works The Song of Youth, The Sun Shines on the Sanggan River, and others, all of which had an enormous impact. Communist parties call this style of work “socialist realism.” Mao generalized its function as “serving the workers, peasants, and soldiers,” serving “the proletariat.” [25] The ability of this type of literature to instill ideology is obvious and well-understood. However, communism’s use of literature to destroy humanity is not limited to this type.

The following summarizes some of the major aims and effects of communist-influenced literature.

Using Literature to Destroy Tradition

A major step in the destruction of humanity has been to slander the traditional civilizations that the divine bestowed on mankind. Whether in China or the West, communist elements use intellectuals with modern thoughts to create and promote works that distort or slander traditional culture.

During China’s New Culture Movement, the author Lu Xun became famous for viciously attacking tradition and denouncing Chinese antiquity. In his first novel, A Madman’s Diary, he had the protagonist declare that all of Chinese history could be summed up in two characters: “man eating.” Lu Xun was praised by Mao as “the greatest and most courageous standard-bearer of this new cultural force” and “the chief commander of China’s Cultural Revolution.” Mao also said, “The road he took was the very road of China’s new national culture.” [26]

In Europe in 1909, Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published the Futurist Manifesto, calling for the total rejection of tradition and the celebration of machinery, technology, speed, violence, and competition. Russian poet and communist Vladimir Mayakovsky published the manifesto A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1913, in which he expressed his resolve to break away from traditional Russian literature.

Defending Hideous Portrayals as ‘Reality’

Today, intellectuals and artists use literature and the arts to portray things or scenes that are ugly, strange, and terrifying, using the excuse that they are merely showing things as they really are.

Traditional art conveys harmony, grace, clarity, restraint, propriety, balance, universality, and ideals, which require selection and choice. In the view of modern artists, such works cannot be considered real. This view, however, comes from a misunderstanding of the origin and function of art. Art originates from everyday life, but it should transcend everyday life so that it may both delight and instruct. Because of this, during the creative process, artists must select, refine, and process what to portray.

Blindly focusing on this understanding of realism artificially restricts the boundaries of life and art. If this type of realism is art, then what everyone sees and hears is all art — in which case, why spend time and money training artists?

Corrupting Moral Values

Pretexts such as “expressing one’s true self” and giving free rein to one’s “stream of consciousness” have led people to abandon traditional moral standards and indulge in the demonic side of human nature.

French communist and poet André Breton defined surrealism as “psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” [27]

The “stream of consciousness” writing and surrealist “automatic writing” are closely related. Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychopathology, some writers in the West started to experiment with stream-of-consciousness writing from the beginning of the twentieth century. Such writings usually have simple storylines and focus on the inner and private thought processes of insignificant characters (anti-heroes) through narratives composed of meandering thoughts.

Human beings simultaneously contain the potential for both kindness and evil. A life should be dedicated to the constant elevation of moral standards and cultivation of virtue through self-restraint. In modern society, many people experience ill thoughts and desires. Putting them on display for public consumption is equivalent to polluting society.

Unleashing Man’s Dark Side as ‘Criticism’ and ‘Protest’

Writers and artists in the Western free world, under the influence of anti-traditionalist sentiment, consider all laws, regulations, and moral codes to be restrictive and suppressive. They see problems with modern society and the weaknesses of human nature, but instead of dealing with them rationally, they promote extreme individualism via criticism and protest, indulging in their personal desires.

They use degenerate means to express so-called resistance, while strengthening the dark side of their nature, indulging in hatred, laziness, desire, lust, aggression, and pursuit of fame. A lack of moral self-restraint won’t solve any social issues; it can only worsen them.

During the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the American poet Allen Ginsberg became the representative of the Beat Generation and is still venerated today by those who wish to rebel against society. His poem “Howl” depicts extreme lifestyles and mental states, including alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, drugs, sodomy, self-mutilation, prostitution, streaking, violent assault, theft, vagabonding, and madness.

As the counterculture movement became institutionalized, “Howl” came to be regarded as a literary classic and was included in numerous literature collections. Ginsberg admitted that he was a communist when he “was a kid” and held no regrets. [28] He idolized Fidel Castro and other communist dictators and widely promoted homosexuality and pedophilia. Ginsberg is a clear representative of the common ground between communism and extreme individualism.

Spreading Pornography

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, explicitly sexual content began to appear in literary works, some of which were filled with such content yet were still praised as classics. Many commentators and scholars abandoned their social responsibilities and praised such pornographic works as real, artistic masterpieces. Much of traditional morality is based on proper relations between the sexes and self-restraint. Breaking such restrictions — with whatever noble-sounding justification — undermines and destroys morality.

Dehumanizing People

In the past several decades, as the culture became more and more confused, a great deal of genre fiction surfaced, including thrillers and works of horror, the supernatural, and fantasy. Through such works, low-level elements can control people’s minds and bodies, resulting in the dehumanization of human beings.

A three-foot block of ice does not result from only one day of coldness, as a saying goes. It takes a long period of time, and the involvement of many fields, for literature to degrade so far that it becomes a tool for evil. Romanticism widened literature’s coverage of people’s private and inner lives, and some ugly and bizarre phenomena — including extreme and insane human mental states — were presented for public consumption. Several British Romantic poets were collectively dubbed “the Satanic School” because of the immoral content of their poems.

Realism uses the excuse of presenting reality to express the degenerate side of human nature. Thus, certain works emphasize warped thoughts and immoral conduct. One critic called realism “romanticism going on all fours.” [29]

The philosophy of naturalism, as promoted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, attributed the decline in human morality to the social environment and family genetics, thus removing the individual’s moral responsibility. Aestheticism calls for “art for art’s sake,” claiming that art is meant to simply provide sensory stimuli and carries no moral imperative.

In fact, all art has subtle, profound, and long-lasting effects on the moral compass. To deny the moral responsibility of art is to open the door for immorality to creep in. Although different schools of literature generated some high-quality works, they also produced awful works. The negative elements are obviously the result of declining moral standards, and they effectively paved the road for communist ideology to destroy mankind via literature.

When a person writes, his or her moral standard and mental state are reflected in his or her work. With the overall decline of human morality, the negative mindset of writers takes a dominant stance. This has created numerous works that, instead of seeking to bring out the goodness in people, pull people down toward hell.

4. Reviving True Art

The power of art is enormous. Good art can rectify the human heart, elevate morality, harmonize yin and yang, and even enable humans to connect with heaven, earth, and divine beings.

In the past century, the specter of communism took advantage of man’s demon nature and malice, prompting the creation of an enormous variety of so-called “art.” People were led to revolt against and blaspheme the divine, oppose tradition, and overturn morality. This had the ultimate effect of turning large parts of society demonic, to a degree that would have been deeply shocking to anyone living in a previous era.

Compared to the beauty of traditional arts, modern works are extremely ugly. Human aesthetic standards have been destroyed. The avant-garde has become mainstream and commands vast sums of money, while traditional, upright arts have been denigrated.

Arts have been manipulated into a vehicle for people to indulge in their desires and vent their demon nature. The boundary between beauty and ugliness, grace and vulgarity, goodness and evil, has been blurred or even erased. Grotesquerie, chaos, and darkness have taken the place of universal values. Human society is filled with demonic messages, and human beings are being steered along a path of decadence and destruction.

Only by elevating morality and returning to faith and tradition will humankind be able to see another renaissance in the arts. Only then will we all see the beauty, nobility, and splendor of what art can be and is meant to be.

Read Next: Chapter Twelve.

Updated May 12, 2020.

Read the series here: How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World

References

1. “Record of Music,” in Classic of Rites, trans. James Legge, Chinese Text Project, accessed May 8, 2020, https://ctext.org/liji/yue-ji?filter=435370&searchmode=showall#result.

2. Confucius 孔子, Lun Yu 論語 [The Analects of Confucius] (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999), 3.14. [In Chinese]

3. Sima Qian, “A Treatise on Music,” in Records of the Grand Historian, trans. Burton Watson, vol. 24, 3rd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

4. Ouyang Xiu 歐陽脩 and Song Qi 宋祁, Xin Tang Shu 新唐書 [New Book of Tang], vol. 237 (1060). [In Chinese]

5. Robert McKee, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting (New York: ReganBooks, 1997), 129–130.

6. Yingshou Xing et al., “Mozart, Mozart Rhythm and Retrograde Mozart Effects: Evidences from Behaviours and Neurobiology Bases,” in Scientific Reports, vol. 6 (January 21, 2016), https://www.nature.com/articles/srep18744.

7. David Noebel, The Marxist Minstrels: A Handbook on Communist Subversion of Music (Tulsa, OK: American Christian College Press, 1974), 58–59.

8. David Cloud, “Rock Music and Suicide,” Way of Life Literature, December 20, 2000, https://www.wayoflife.org/reports/rock_music_and_suicide.html.

9. Val Williams, “Leni Riefenstahl: Film-maker Who Became Notorious as Hitler’s Propagandist,” The Independent, September 10, 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20090830045819/http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/leni-riefenstahl-548728.html.

10. Mao Zedong, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art,” in Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press), Marxists Internet Archive, accessed on April 23, 2020, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-3/mswv3_08.htm.

11. PragerU, “Why Is Modern Art So Bad?”, YouTube, September 1, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNI07egoefc.

12. Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978), ix.

13. Jackson Spielvogel, Western Civilization: Volume C: Since 1789 (United States: Cengage Learning, 2010), 698.

14. Pablo Picasso, “Why I Became a Communist” (1945), as quoted in “Picasso, the FBI, and Why He Became a Communist,” Meyer Schapiro Collection at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, February 24, 2010, accessed July 11, 2018, https://blogs.cul.columbia.edu/schapiro/2010/02/24/picasso-and-communism.

15. Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New: The Hundred-Year History of Modern Art—Its Rise, Its Dazzling Achievement, Its Fall (London: Knopf, 1991), 24.

16. Richard Huelsenbeck and Raoul Hausmann, “What Is Dadaism and What Does It Want in Germany?”, in Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, Art in Theory, 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, 2nd ed. (Malden, Mass, Oxford: Blackwell Pub, 2003).

17. Joseph Beuys, as quoted in “Joseph Beuys: The Revolution Is Us,” Tate.org, February 23, 1993, https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/joseph-beuys-revolution-us.

18. Waldemar Januszczak, as quoted in Ben Cade, “Zhu Yu: China’s Baby-Eating Shock Artist Goes Hyperreal,” Culture Trip, October 5, 2016, https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/zhu-yu-china-s-baby-eating-shock-artist-goes-hyperreal.

19. John Wiiliam Godward, as quoted in Brad Smithfield, “‘The World Is Not Big Enough for Me and a Picasso’: The Life and Artwork of John William Godward,” The Vintage News, January 10, 2017, https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/01/10/world-not-big-enough-picasso-life-artwork-john-william-godward.

20. Walter Frisch, ed., Schoenberg and His World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 94.

21. Norman Lebrecht, “Why We’re Still Afraid of Schoenberg,” The Lebrecht Weekly, July 8, 2001, http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/010708-NL-Schoenberg.html.

22. Golan Gur, “Arnold Schoenberg and the Ideology of Progress in Twentieth-Century Musical Thinking,” Search: Journal for New Music and Culture, 5 (Summer 2009), http://www.searchnewmusic.org/gur.pdf.

23. Julia Mickenberg, American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream (United States: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 216–217.

24. Michael Minnicino, “The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness,’” in Fidelio Magazine 1, no.1 (Winter 1992), accessed April 24, 2020, http://archive.schillerinstitute.org/fid_91-96/921_frankfurt.html.

25. Mao Zedong, “Talks at the Yenan Forum.”

26. Mao Zedong, “On New Democracy,” in Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1942), Marxists Internet Archive, accessed on April 24, 2020, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_26.htm.

27. André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen Lane (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1969), 26.

28. Allen Ginsberg, “America,” Selected Poems 1947–1995 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2001).