I’ve posted a quick lecture on my father’s paintings, “Structure + Optics: The Development of Kazys Varnelis’ Painting, 1967-1977” here. Next up (in the relatively long term), a book on his work, as well as a book on my work with the Network Architecture Lab.
In today's entry of Philip Johnson's fascist writings, we have his first piece as "foreign correspondent" for Todayʼs Challenge, written in summer of 1939 in London and Paris and published in the August-September issue. This completes my upload of the three pieces Johnson writes for the magazine. Worse is to come.
This piece puts down the French and English as weak and ineffectual, drawing the implicit conclusion that it will be the Americans who will have to bail them out if their foreign policy leads to war. Nothing too bad, you say? Alright, well here is the conclusion, which hints at what we are going to see in his writing for Social Justice.
"Another serious split in French opinion is that caused by the Jewish question, a problem much aggravated just at present by the multitude of émigrés in Paris. Even I, as a stranger in the city, could not help noticing how much German was being spoken, especially in the better restaurants. Such an influx naturally makes the French wonder, not only about these incoming Jews, but also about their co-religionists who live and work here and call themselves French. The facts that [former Prime Minister and Popular Front leader Léon] Blum and the men around him are Jews, that there are two Jews in the present cabinet, Messrs. Zay and Mandel and that the Jewish bankers Mannheimer, de Rothschild and Lazard Freres are known to stand behind the present government all complicate the situation.
The position taken by the Daladier government on this question is an interesting commentary on its policies in general. There are two decree laws which concern the press, one against publishing propaganda paid for by a foreign government. Under these laws, the patriotic weeklies Le Defi and La France Enchainee were just recently uppressed, presumably for getting money from Hitler; but LʼHumanité, which no one doubts gives out Russian propaganda, paid for by Russia, has been left alone. What is freedom of the press and for whom is it done, the French ask."
Read it here.
Today's entry from amongst Philip Johnson's fascist writings is "Inside War-Time Germany," published in the November-December 1939 issue of Today's Challenge. Unlike the previous piece, then, this one is written after the outbreak of war, on which we will hear much more from Johnson later.
The essay begins with a reverse echo of the present day, with Johnson condemning the main stream media: "The American newspapers have done their job of indoctrination well…" The piece is worth reading in its entirety, but I will quote one section to introduce you to the sort of mental gymnastics that Johnson makes:
"none of those opposed to Hitler that I know would prefer the liberalism of the Weimar Republic to National Socialism as a system of government. They remember too well the humiliation of the Versailles treaty, the misery of inflation and the later miseries of mass unemployment. They remember that the Weimar Republic brought civil strife, battles of brother against brother; and such civil war to them was more hateful than the World War. They do not like Hitler, but they feel that if Hitler were not Hitler but some imaginary person that would be nice in their own particular way, then National Socialism or rather national socialism, would be a good idea. Such thoughts are not the stuff of revolutions.
Also, no matter what the objections they have to Hitler, close to 100% of the Germans appear to approve of one particular part of Hitlerʼs work — his foreign policy. … since 1911, Germany has been growing rapidly. Even the bitterest foes of the National Socialist ideology are proud of German greatness. This natural pride in their power and success stultifies foreign criticism of their methods or their morals. Similarly, we Americans would not have brooked any criticism of our doctrine of ʻmanifest destinyʼ in the 19th century when we were busy conquering our empire in the west. So today the Germans are impervious to the moral admonishment that they ought not to conquer their neighbors. Conquest is good or bad, depending on who does it, you yourself or somebody you donʼt like."
Where the Jews are in all this is rather unclear (actually it is perfectly clear… they are suppressed or deemed unfit to testify) although at one point Johnson uses well-known code language, referring to the common "anti-international banker" stance between the Nazis and the Soviets.
Read for yourself here.
Given the current political climate, it seems appropriate to go back to my dissertation and look at Philip Johnson's fascist writings from the 1930s. I will be posting these regularly here, one document at a time as a way of helping us understand the genesis of the contemporary "America First" movement in the fascistic "America First" movement of the 1930s. The order of these articles is a bit random, having more to do with what is on top of the pile than anything else.
Before we start, a word on my use of the term "fascistic." These writings will make abundently clear that neither Johnson nor the America First movement was merely Right wing, but rather that each actively sought to create "fake news," especially regarding the plight of the Jews in Europe and the Nazi Blitzkreig. Moreover, this was done with the active support of the Nazi goverment in hopes of keeping the United States out of the war with Germany.
The first article, "Philip Johnson, “Are We a Dying People?,” was published in Todayʼs Challenge June-July 1939. In this piece Johnson rehearses arguments being made by proponents of the eugenics movement (Johnson invokes eugenics directly in this article). Like Johnson, they saw race suicide in indications that Nordic and Anglo-Saxon Americans bred at a lower rate than African Americans and immigrants from Ireland, as well as Southern and Eastern Europe. Like Johnson, the eugenicists predicted “race suicide,” and “national deterioration” as the consequence of these trends. The final section titled "The Will to Live" makes Johnson's positions on race quite clear.
"I have heard many educated men talk in this way: 'Well if we are not the fittest to survive, nature will wipe us out. The Japanese may be more fit to survive. Remember Darwin.'
The course of nature is not pre-destined. Human will is a part of the biological process. Our will, for example, interferes, constantly in the world of the lower animals. When English sparrows threaten to drive out our songbirds, we shoot the sparrows, rather than letting nature and Darwin take their course. Thus the songbirds, thanks to our will, become the 'fittest' and survive."
Today's Challenge, I should add, is the "official organ" of the American Fellowship Forum, an organization first conceived in Berlin by Lawrence Dennis and Freidrich Auhagen. The former was a former employee of the foreign service who had become the intellectual father of an American fascism, the latter a Nazi agent who would eventually would be convicted of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the same act that Paul Manafort is now accused of violating.
Find the article here.