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Nationalism, Chauvinism and Racism as Reflected in European Musical Thought and in Compositions from the Interwar Period


Andrzej Tuchowski

This book concerns the ways in which many different types of nationalism, chauvinism and racism penetrated into musical thought in the interwar period, and how the leading artistic personalities of that period reacted to these ideologies. The concept of "nationalism" is understood broadly in this book and covers the entire spectrum of its positive and negative aspects. The topics listed in the book’s title have been discussed on the example of selected four countries, significant with respect to population and territory and representing different social-political systems: Germany (mostly after 1933), Italy, Poland (after 1926) and Great Britain. This selection is also representative of the main ethnic groups in Europe: Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Latin-Romance and Slavic.

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VIII. Postscript: The Decline of Racism and Chauvinism, “Crypto-Nationalism” and the Demythologisation of Nationalist Concepts of Tradition after World War II


To recall Einstein’s metaphor once again, it seems that the apocalypse of World War II and the horrors of the holocaust finally began to cure humanity of its ‘childhood diseases’, though admittedly not the whole of humankind was cured, and not completely. The change was most evident among the inhabitants of Europe, who were probably the first to draw conclusions from these experiences. The memory of Auschwitz and other extermination camps undoubtedly put an end to aggressive biological racism and contributed to compromising other forms of racial doctrine, such as ‘pragmatic’ racism of the colonial type, though struggles with the latter continued after 1945, since segregation based on skin colour was practised even in the United States, that mainstay of democracy and freedom. Antisemitism in its various forms did survive the war, but was more frequently toned down and became more cultural-political than racist. It was a paradox of history that in the last years of his life, Stalin also gave ear to the theory of ‘a global Jewish conspiracy’, as though time had stopped for him in the 1930s. Hannah Arendt ironically commented on this change in the dictator’s views, writing of brazen imitation of the most obvious symbol of Nazism worldwide, and referring to Stalin’s hunt for the Jews as paying his last compliments to his now dead colleague and rival in the struggle for global domination, with whom, to his great frustration, he had been unable to reach a lasting agreement450. There is much truth...

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