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Roger Scruton

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The culture of a civilization is the art and literature through which it rises to consciousness of itself and defines its vision of the world.
--
"What is Culture?" (p. 2)

 
Roger Scruton

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To make the distinction unmistakably clear: Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life; Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori; Civilization is Sartre; culture Cocteau; Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure (sic); Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam; Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair; Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland; Civilization is Jesus turning water into wine; culture is Christ walking on the waves; Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L.A. cop that guns him down; Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement; Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.

 
Edward Abbey
 

The world of their [the bourgeois’] predecessors was a backward, pre-technological world, a world with the good conscience of inequality and toil, in which labor was still a fated misfortune; but a world in which man and nature were not yet organized as things and instrumentalities. With its code of forms and manners. with the style and vocabulary of its literature and philosophy. this past culture expressed the rhythm and content of a universe in which valleys and forests, villages and inns, nobles and villains, salons and courts were a part of the experienced reality. In the verse and prose of this pre-technological culture is the rhythm of those who wander or ride in carriages. who have the time and the pleasure to think, contemplate, feel and narrate. It is an outdated and surpassed culture, and only dreams and childlike regressions can recapture it. But this culture is, in some of its decisive elements. also a post-technological one. Its most advanced images and positions seem to survive their absorption into administered comforts and stimuli; they continue to haunt the consciousness with the possibility of their rebirth in the consummation of technical progress. They are the expression of that free and conscious alienation from the established forms of life with which literature and the arts opposed these forms even where they adorned them. In contrast to the Marxian concept, which denotes man's relation to himself and to his work in capitalist society, the artistic alienation is the conscious transcendence of the alienated existence—a “higher level” or mediated alienation. The conflict with the world of progress, the negation of the order of business, the anti-bourgeois elements in bourgeois literature and art are neither due to the aesthetic lowliness of this order nor to romantic reaction—nostalgic consecration of a disappearing stage of civilization. “Romantic” is a term of condescending defamation which is easily applied to disparaging avant-garde positions, just as the term “decadent” far more often denounces the genuinely progressive traits of a dying culture than the real factors of decay. The traditional images of artistic alienation are indeed romantic in as much as they are in aesthetic incompatibility with the developing society. This incompatibility is the token of their truth. What they recall and preserve in memory pertains to the future: images of a gratification that would dissolve the society which suppresses it

 
Herbert Marcuse
 

They [great works of literature] are invalidated not because of their literary obsolescence. Some of these images pertain to contemporary literature and survive in its most advanced creations. What has been invalidated is their subversive force, their destructive content—their truth. In this transformation, they find their home in everyday living. The alien and alienating oeuvres of intellectual culture become familiar goods and services. Is their massive reproduction and consumption only a change in quantity, namely, growing appreciation and understanding, democratization of culture? The truth of literature and art has always been granted (if it was granted at all) as one of a “higher” order, which should not and indeed did not disturb the order of business. What has changed in the contemporary period is the difference between the two orders and their truths. The absorbent power of society depletes the artistic dimension by assimilating its antagonistic contents. In the realm of culture, the new totalitarianism manifests itself precisely in a harmonizing pluralism, where the most contradictory works and truths peacefully coexist in indifference. Prior to the advent of this cultural reconciliation, literature and art were essentially alienation, sustaining and protecting the contradiction—the unhappy consciousness of the divided world, the defeated possibilities, the hopes unfulfilled, and the promises betrayed. They were a rational, cognitive force, revealing a dimension of man and nature which was repressed and repelled in reality.

 
Herbert Marcuse
 

A real atheist, needless to say, will disregard what the dervishes think it expedient to say about the "New Testament" when they make their pitch to the ignorant. He will read the myths for himself and objectively consider and appraise them as a whole, including the social gospel that is, indeed, the most important and operative part of them. And he will shudder at the Judaic malevolence that inspires them, the vicious hatred of culture and civilization. They were designed to create a foul and squalid world in which every instinctive value of our race is negated and aborted--a world in which the natural ties of family and property have been severed, leaving only rootless and helpless individuals, isolated and lost in the terrible loneliness of crowds--a world without history, without philosophy, without science, without reason--a world without beauty of any kind, without art, without literature, without culture--a world without real love, the love that unites men and women, and without even the Aryan's instinctive feeling for the beauty of women and physical health.

 
Revilo P. Oliver
 

It has been the White Race who has been the world builder, the maker of cities and commerce and continents. It is the White Man who is the sole builder of civilizations. It was he who build the Egyptian civilization, the great unsurpassed Roman civilization, the Greek civilization of beauty and culture, and who, after having been dealt a serious blow by a new Semitic religion, wallowed through the Dark Ages, finally extricated himself, and then build the great European civilization.

 
Ben Klassen
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