Europe 1914

Chapter 7: Both Hitler and Stalin hated "modern art" and persecuted the

artists who made it. What was there about the "new aesthetic" which revolted

and frightened these dictators?

Since prehistoric times, when men communicated through crude drawings on

cave walls, art has been used to elicit an emotional response. Everyone has had

the experience of viewing a piece of art that "touched" them in some way.

Whether that feeling was happiness, sorrow, anger, or lust, and whether the art

form was a painting, or weaving, or sculpture, is immaterial. It still evoked a

response on some level of your psyche. In my personal experience, I have

sometimes had a feeling from a painting I had seen stay with me for days. Art,

therefore, is often used to voice an opinion that the author, for one reason or

another, is unable to express verbally.

Prior to World War II, western societies were largely optimistic about

life and about the future of our world. After the horrors of World War I, the

rise of communism in the Soviet Union, and the success of fascism in Germany and

Italy, the future was no longer viewed with optimism. Artists's forms of

expression changed to reflect the disillusionment and anxiety that people felt.

Both Hitler and Stalin wanted the people in their country to believe that

things were still wonderful. That humans were making great progress. That "all

was well with the world." Hitler specifically liked traditional, "sentimental"

forms of art that summoned feelings consistent with traditional values. Modern

art was viewed as decadent and growing out of a free society. A free society,

in turn, indicated freedom of expression. Freedom of expression, by its

nature, is the enemy of totalitarianism because freedom of expression celebrates

the individual.

The antithesis of totalitarianism is freedom of expression. Freedom of

expression would also indicate intellectual freedom. Both Hitler and Stalin

were fiercely "anti-intellectual." They viewed intellectualism as a threat to

traditional rules and values. They didn't want people to think. They wanted

their people to conform and to cherish fundamentalist ideals. Modern art didn't

honor traditional values. An atmosphere of intellectual freedom would be at

odds with a totalitarian/fascist regime.

Chapter 11: What was the difference in vision among Roosevelt, Churchill

and Stalin concerning the world after the defeat of Hitler? Whose vision

prevailed after 1945?

Churchill once was quoted as saying that he "did not become Prime Minister

in order to oversee the dissolution of the British Empire." His vision was that

Great Britain would remain a supreme world power. He genuinely believed that

the sun would never set on the British Empire. By the end of World War II,

however, Great Britain's position as a "world power" had been greatly

diminishedn, and was never again regained. The saying, "The sun never sets on

the British Empire," came from the fact that at one point in history, no matter

what time zone you were in, there was a British colonial holding on which the

sun shone. But, the British Empire is no more. By 1997, of her once vast

colonial holdings, only Hong Kong remained; and now, Hong Kong has been returned

to China.

Stalin's dream was to see the worldwide spread of communism and for the

Soviet Union to take her rightful place as a "world superpower." He was

adamantly opposed to the "free election" of any governments in Eastern Europe.

This vision, too, has ultimately failed to attain success. There are few

communist countries remaining and, of those, most have chosen a

capital/communist way of life. Even the Soviet Union itself has recently

embraced capitalism. Of all the countries that were considered communist

immediately following World War II, only Cuba continues to strive towards

maintaining a true communist government.

Roosevelt's vision was for a democratic world society with the United

States as the dominant world power. His vision for democracy, ultimately, has

prevailed. Democracy is increasingly favored as a form of government. Many

formerly communist countries now have elected officials. Civil wars are being

fought all over the world in favor of individual rights and self-government.