Decline & Fall

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Cut with the Kitchen Knife DaDa through the Beer Belly of the Weimar Republic 1919-Hannah Hoch
It’s all starting to feel a bit Weimar. The recent economic crisis, the unscrupulous charismatic populist demagogues that exploit the disconnect between the political elites and the populace that have caused a surge towards  the various strands of extremism. Most disturbing of all is the resurgence of that particularly insidious form of reactionary nationalism that believes the future lies in a return to a mythical golden age, before the appearance of the loathed ‘other’ ruined the mother/fatherland. As with the Weimar Republic there is a feeling that the old order is soon to come crumbling down; to be replaced by who knows exactly what. All we need now to complete the comparison is a bit more decadence, a lot of street-fighting, a spot of hyper-inflation and some cabaret.

The art of the Weimar Republic is exceptional in its savagery. Berlin Dada was the most aggressively politicised of them all (see my “Everyman His Own Football”). Above is a particularly brutal satire of the contemporary society of the Weimar Republic by Hannah Hoch, whose ground-breaking photo-montages were deemed ‘degenerate art’ by the Nazis when they began their purge of modern art in the late 1930’s.

(This was originally posted back in June 2016).

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51 thoughts on “Decline & Fall

  1. Unmistakable parallels. Nationalism, the fracturing of nations into smaller autonomous regions. Charismatic leaders who are clearly insane, yet succeed by preying on the fears of the populace…. How are you faring amidst the mess?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was over in England during brexit… I am no fan of Brussels but the whole thing is unpleasant. I question the motives and if your man Trump gets in I fear for the body politic. I don’t usually do politics but I am not confident.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The interesting/frustrating thing is how many seemed to vote for “leave” simply as a “protest vote” not expecting or even fully understanding the consequences. In the case of the US – some will vote for trump just because they hate Hilary. Her choice of running mate may be a critical decision. Nevertheless anyone that thinks his zany ideas could possibly be put into practice is positively deluded

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      2. There is a disconnect between most politicians and the public, and that is where your media savvy Trumps/Johnsons step in who are as much part of the elite themselves as the others but present themselves as champions of the unheard by directing their anger against a visible and vulnerable minority

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think it is that easy, people can be perverse and don’t like being told how to think. Germany in the 30’s was one of the most educated nations in the world and yet it succumbed to the Nazi madness. Western Europe on the whole is highly educated and yet the right is rising.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True that. But I’m an educator and champion the cause. It’s slow and difficult, but it’s about opening minds for critical thinking more than filling them. What it means to be educated must reach beyond facts and formulas to humaneness and questioning absolutes.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. After the economic crisis you could see the centre parties committed to neo-liberalism and become increasingly divorced from the electorate, leading to a drift to either the extreme right or left in Europe, I thought all we need now is a populist who will exploit the disaffection. And they have come on both sides of the Atlantic

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Cake, interesting photo-montage. I love the sepia tones, which calm down the excitable images. This piece by Hoch, has a very frenzied and out of control element to it, at least this is how my eyes see it. ~ Miss Cranes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Weimar Republic was frenzied and out of control, undoubtedly it was rotten and had to be dismantled, yet look what happened. The line by Hegel and completed by his discipline Marx repeats ominously in my head: history repeats itself. First as a tragedy and then as a farce. Maybe I am seeing connections were they are none, but how come I keep on getting my predictions right?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You know all day long I have been saying that I hate that I told you so to people, my family says I am the harbinger of the apocalypse. Expect a westward push by Russia in the future. Hopefully I am wrong. The genius of the new populist movement is there are enough hooks to create unease. After the recession in 2008 I thought surely it can’t be business as usual, yet it was played off as if it was. I can see trouble ahead. The ramifications are too vast to think about at the moment. Let’s hope the best case scenario prevails.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, well then you could stop saying I told you so… Just kidding. What I said before about the future being a fog – nothing has changed. The most unpredictable person ever elected – who knows how this will all play out. I will try to be optimistic but it won’t be easy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My auntie is running for county councillor she has told me to stay away in results day. As to good results well I suppose it depends on your view point. I think that French elections will be very interesting, I expect a very strong showing for the Front Nationale, and if they win the E.U is doomed. I think we can safely say that the old order is crumbling and we are entering a time of change and uncertainty. But things might settle down and it will be funny business as usual.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I heard the term Frexit for the first time recently. (And you’ll have to forgive my ignorance, you have to dig deep for news of the world in this country…) I believe you are correct, about the crumbling – its a house built on sand instead of bedrock.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Well your news is huge enough without worrying what’s happening in France…the crises of 2008 was bad and the way the bankers walked away from it without being banged up was disgraceful and then a couple of years later they are demanding bonuses? The multinationals tax evasion schemes are reprehensible, this world were money is king and people just don’t account for anything had to face a reckoning. I was praying it wasn’t going to be this nationalist populism but it is. Funny how it is all the old imperial powers (America has always imperialist in everything but name) are clamouring to be great again. That should send alarm bells ringing around the world.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. And yet, Americans elected a ‘populist’ who is a tax evading billionaire ‘one-percenter’ – someone who engages in exactly the kind of shenanigans that the people want to see change. And because he really doesn’t know a fucking thing about governing, he will surround himself with old guard republicans like Newt Gingrich, that will feed him the ideas for shaping his policy going forward. Welcome to Machine.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I think that Hannah Hoch’s photomontages are great examples of the art form, the piece Cut with the Kitchen Knife DaDa through the Beer Belly of the Weimar Republic is able to show us so much. It has mockery of German society, the introduction of DaDa and feminist notions about it that were lacking everywhere else.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is a brilliant piece and prophetic. I wrote this piece and the two follow up about Dada in Weimar Republic five months ago as the similarities between the political situation then and now became more and more obvious. Weimar was corrupt and hopelessly elitist but socially progressive. Both the left and the right knew it was doomed, it was just a question of what would follow.

      Liked by 3 people

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