The Weimar Republic was regarded as the apex of German artistic endeavour, the last expression of freedom before barbarism descended. However as soon as the Nazis were defeated in Europe another extreme political movement began to emerge. Communism threatened artistic integrity once more. The East German playwright Bertolt Brecht opined this philosophy in aptly sinister tones,
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it”.
Brecht did not live long enough to witness the horrendous privation that was endured by generations of his country men and women, nor long enough to see the system eventually fail and ultimately collapse.
Nevertheless the Millennial fashion seems to romanticise art that is supposedly strident, iconoclastic and militantly left-wing. In reality this kind of artistic expression is merely dull and lifeless, particularly in the sphere of popular music. Anyone who dares to hold up a mirror to reality faces a “purge” in the manner enacted by Stasi guards in those dark days.
In two days time Morrissey will turn 62, but this event will not be met with celebration. His loyal fans will mark this day, but the media will predictably churn out the usual falsehoods and cast out aspersions.
In the permanently dull, humourless and unimaginative minds of left-wing journalists Morrissey is the epitome of reactionary politics. It is especially galling to them that the world has changed and his musical output has reflected that simple fact. The most entrenched socialists cannot bear to look at how much the world has been altered for better and for worse since the 1980s. In spite of the obvious flaws in their idealised philosophies they maintain stubbornly attached to them.
These ideals have inhibited musical innovation to the extent that pop music is now rendered sterile when it used to be a truly radical art form. After all a broken mirror is a completely redundant object if you follow the analogy logically. However a raw, vulnerable and lone voice in the wilderness is not only powerful but also dangerous.
The East German regime tried to control the population through fear and intimidation. Uniformity and conformity stifled creativity. It is a familiar pattern which is being replicated by the Internet and social media. This has left many people feeling more remote. It is heartening that there is a singular individual prepared to hold a mirror to the often ugly reality of the world.