549. Splitting apart (XI)
If you glance at any rightist news website then you will see a pared-down operation: Drudge, Newsmax, Revolver, Breitbart, and the Daily Mail all follow the same aesthetic formula. Really, the formula is not aesthetic at all; even the adverts are as functional and broken down as possible—sophistication is absent, bright primary colours predominate. This is not minimalism, the minimalist look is a self-conscious aesthetic that takes considerable effort to realise—rather, the rightist website is functional. By contrast, any leftist website appears rather attractive; even Jacobin appears more like an Apple advert than a propaganda broadside for revolutionary socialism.
Leftist websites appear so attractive because the websites are tarty; leftist websites are cheap and meretricious—they represent the proverbial whore of Babylon. If you examine Jacobin you will find that despite the attractive package there is little substance in the articles. There is plenty of slap, yet underneath the caked on mascara and lipstick the core is rotten. The leftist media is a bon-bon that is delicious to eat, though ultimately empty and almost certainly bad for you.
The right follows the masculine principle as applied by the cheerful tank sergeant who slaps the seat in your vehicle: “The 1400/R bucket seat. Not padded. In service for 50 years. Never had a problem—apart from that one corporal whose 1400/R sheared off and impaled his intestines back in Desert Storm. Otherwise, satisfaction guaranteed. Off you go, lad.” You ease yourself into the sparse seat and think: “That bit about Desert Storm was a joke…I think.” This is the masculine world where a farmer chugs off to his fields on an ancient prototype Ford tractor while his wife begs him to buy a new model. “Nonsense, the old girl’s got at least 500 miles in her.” It is the attitude exemplified by my father when he would eat greengages from the garden that were flecked with mould, just as Pentti Linkola insisted that the mould on jam was the best bit. This is the peasant attitude found on right-wing websites—on the right more generally.
Where does this leave Roger Scruton, a man who said the right is about beauty? Peasant economy might be wise, but there is little beauty in a nut-brown Finnish peasant as he cackles over his mouldy jam. Yet there is a connection: the left is superficially aesthetically pleasing, yet it only produces advertisement and fashion—not beauty. These tend to be universal; for example, everyone likes Soviet poster aesthetics; we are happy to admire posters that say “Soviet mothers! Wash your hands, save lives!” or Picasso’s dove (with “peace” written in forty-three languages around it). Yet these are superficial messages, often meant to mislead—to tell you life in the USSR has never been better, or that world peace is easy.
Beauty requires depth and depth alienates a mass audience; it has sophistication and nuances. Art from Hitler’s Germany is partly unpopular because it is forbidden to like it; however, it is also genuinely not universal. Why? Because Hitlerian art is rooted in its Germanic qualities, and these do not universalise; even non-controversial art, such as Bach, does not universalise. Bach feels German; he is also, particularly in his fugues, multi-layered. This particular beauty—whether connected to an individual, nation, or religion—cannot be tarted up and sold to a mass market.
American rap is globally popular precisely because it is an art form created by a deracinated people, America’s slaves. As such, its concerns are basic and universal: violence and sex—and this is why rap, as with the “basic needs” Soviet posters, finds an audience everywhere. Rooted beauty comes about through a peasant-like canniness: beauty is created through parsimony, not the excess found in Soviet pig-iron production quotas or a rapper’s many bitches. Advertisement, journalism, and left-wing propaganda seek excess—yet beauty is created when you cut away; and this is why nature is so beautiful, since there is no process that cuts more ruthlessly than natural selection.