Comment: Kitsch vs. Changing The Subject ...

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Kitsch vs. Changing The Subject ...

... From The Grand March.

"Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch. And no one knows this better than politicians. Kitsch is the aestethic ideal of all politicians and all political parties and movements. Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch."

***

"A year or two after emigrating, she happened to be in Paris on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of her country. A protest march had been scheduled, and she felt driven to take part. Fists raised high, the young Frenchmen shouted out slogans condemning Soviet imperialism. She liked the slogans, but to her surprise she found herself unable to shout along with them. She lasted only a few minutes in the parade.

When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. “You mean you don't want to fight the occupation of your country?” She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject."

***

"The fantasy of the Grand March … is the political kitsch joining leftists of all times and tendencies. The Grand March is the splendid march on the road to brotherhood, equality, justice, happiness; it goes on and on, obstacles not withstanding, for obstacles there must be if the march is to be the Grand March. What makes a leftist a leftist is not this or that theory but his ability to integrate any theory into the kitsch called the Grand March."

***

"One of them even lifted his fist in the air because he knew Europeans liked to raise their fists in times of collective euphoria."

***

"The Grand March goes on, the world’s indifference notwithstanding, but it is growing nervous and hectic: yesterday against the American occupation of Vietnam, today against the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia; yesterday for Israel, today for the Palestinians; yesterday for Cuba, tomorrow against Cuba — and always against America; at times against massacres and at times in support of massacres; Europe marches on, and to keep up with events, to leave none of them out, its pace grows faster and faster, until finally the Grand March is a procession of rushing, galloping people and the platform is shrinking and shrinking until one day it will be reduced to a mere dimensionless dot."

***

"The criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise. They defended the road so valiantly that they were forced to execute many people. Late it became clear that there was no paradise, that the enthusiasts were therefore murderers."

-- Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being"