64 Comments

My experience is that good right-wing artists are usually not "conservative", but rather, either degenerate libertarians or completely insane far-right lunatics. In both literature and music, if you're looking for good art reflecting a right-wing worldview, this is who you'll find it from.

Expand full comment

Suppose I will say that an exception to this for a long time was country music. Country until the 21st century was extremely formulaic, but it had achieved a genuinely excellent formula, thus giving conservative personalities like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George Strait, Loretta Lynn etc. a path to create beautiful music by doing what conservatives do best: following the rules. There were always plenty of liberal country singers (Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson etc.), but they used to be in the minority and certainly didn't have a monopoly on the good stuff.

When the formula collapsed after 9/11 and country music started to sound like garbage, the good stuff moved underground, where it is now disproportionately the domain of liberals and leftists. This is the source of the oft-remarked on confusing situation where conservatives make & listen to shitty modern-sounding country while progressives listen to traditionalist stuff: the traditionalist stuff is inherently rule-breaking right now, meaning it naturally takes a higher openness to experience to seek it out, ergo, leftists. If traditionalism gets popular enough again, this may change.

Expand full comment

Isn't Heavy Metal quite conservative too?

Expand full comment

It's often right-wing, but I'm not sure about conservative. Not as much of an expert on that (though black metal, which I am a fan of, is obviously outright fascist).

Expand full comment

And also almost universally horrific and enjoyed almost entirely by teenaged boys with zero aesthetic sensibilities, so not a counterargument.

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

1. I love the part about incorperating your animus/anima. I think this is exactly the reason men have been flailing lately. Women have been encouraged by feminism to incorperate their animus because becoming more masculine is considered empowering and liberating. On the contrary for a man to incorperate his anima is "gay" and "effeminate" (but not "soy"! the soyboy archetype is insufficiently masculine, not too feminine - the distinction is essential). This means that women have much more to offer men emotionally than vice versa. The red pill strategy to counteract this is to just become MORE masculine in a way I don't think is achievable and counterproductive anyway.

2. I think another reason the right can't art is the lack of striving in their life (being "faustian" is you call it elsewhere). Narrative art especially is about conflict. How are you going to portray conflict if neither you nor anyone in your community experiences any? This is probably also the reason there is very little good Dutch art (speaking as a Dutch person). Dutch people have are very open but have never seen struggle in their lives. Academic culture is dominated by "zesjescultuur" (="grade D culture") and when I first learned about "quiet quitting" it basically described standard work culture around here. The results is that Dutch films are limb shit like "Tuscan wedding" (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2949626/). The main plot of which is a middle class white women having a wedding (the only conflict is boring soap-opera tier relationship drama).

Something similar happens to the Suburban-American. Most of them can just live their life on autopilot and they will probably stake out a career at a car dealership or as a truck driver. The liberal coalition consist mostly of minorities who struggled with being cultural outsiders, and urbanites who struggle more because they live in a more competitive environment. In NYC your potential outcome distribution is way thicker at the tails . You have a much higher change of becoming homeless *and* becoming a billionaire. If think of good conservative art (made by an actual conservative) I land on Dostoevsky. A person who - no suprise - had plenty of struggle in his lifetime.

Expand full comment
author

>The red pill strategy to counteract this is to just become MORE masculine in a way I don't think is achievable and counterproductive anyway.

It depends on the guy I think. It's a great strat for guys who are already very in touch with their feelings or who are more artsy / emotional. I'm someone who has always had a ton of both kinds of energy from a very young age, but for a long while I was just too much of an autistic nerd to properly mobilize my masculinity. That was very limiting early on, but also meant that getting rich and doing a test cycle was basically all I needed to go from bottom 5% to top 5%.

But then I think of an old friend of mine from The Shire... the guy is much better looking than me and makes decent money in a very cool job, but he has like 10% the success with women because his feminine energy is literally nonexistent. He isn't a bad conversationalist when you get him drunk or worked up, but his default resting state is incredibly reserved, like talking to a wooden plank. And his speech is always pure stoic monotone. I'm certain he brings that energy to dates and that's why he never gets laid. But his heuristic for doing better with women is simply to keep getting more muscular and make more money--it's just extremely linear.

But that very heuristic was exactly what a guy like me needed. And I suspect "redpill" was in fact developed mostly by guys in my situation instead of the far more common situation of my friend.

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

> But that very heuristic was exactly what a guy like me needed. And I suspect "redpill" was in fact developed mostly by guys in my situation instead of the far more common situation of my friend.

Possibly, but I think guys like your friend are way more common, and while some of the founders of (contemporary) red pill are like yourself, most of its audience is not.

Expand full comment
author

True. Most of the advice is perfect for wordcel theater kid types and bad for everyone else.

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

I imagine there are a lot of old money conservative elites funding my urbanite artist life through their donations to the symphony/opera/ballet.

There’s probably a piece to be written about how a liberal disposition sends people down the path of being an artist, but the path to being a “Great Artist” takes people to Nietzschean master morality and disillusionment with the left’s slave morality. I’m a little too controversy-averse to write it though, so the idea is up for grabs.

Expand full comment

One of the great efforts this century will be to end "Conservatism" as a political concept. An attitude towards life of clinging-on to unchange without any inputs of creative energy or risk is as viable as expecting your garden to remain the same despite the weeds and the seasons having their say.

Samuel Francis' used phrase "Beautiful Losers" to describe how Conservatives were trained to be satisfied and even crave losing in supposedly "principled" ways - an excuse to not engage with life or politics for risk to themselves. It's easier and safer to grumble quietly and say how everything would be different if you were in charge, but vanishingly few of such people ever lift a finger to actually try to change anything. A perfect loser-heel ideology to contain and define the opposition to the Leftist advance - the Left and the Right are two sides of the same shekel. As someone once said, Conservatism is the Liberalism of ten years ago. The Conservative conserves nothing, fails at everything, and is convinced to be content with quiet complaints and moral confusion.

We like to point out that the vast majority of people who call themselves Conservatives do so only for lack of any other label to call themselves. The real label most are looking for, if they would know it and feel they had permission to utter it, would be a Nationalist. These nascent-Nationalists crave strength and conviction and victory, all of which are denied to them by the Conservative shepherding. But when they encounter Nationalist ideals in a form that they haven't been taught to immediately blanch at, they find it intoxicating. "Common sense", as they might put it. Nationalism just makes sense to them, as it should - it's what they were supposed to be.

Disgust should inspire mitigation, not retreat or tolerance. A man see's dogshit on his doorstep. He is disgusted, as he should be - dogshit is objectively disgusting. To retreat from the dogshit back into the home is a bad response, for that dogshit will remain on the porch, festering, inevitably to be stepped on and dragged into the home itself. To tolerate the dogshit is likewise bad, as tolerance ("holding up") is to accept the dogshit into your hands and let it smear over your environment, befouling even more. Rather a healthy reaction is to mitigate it - you see the dogshit, you get the pooper-scooper. You remove the dogshit from your environment in some cases, use it to shame those who let it be created in others, and still more creative uses to use it to ward away an even worse offender befouling your environment. It is to listen to your disgust reaction and marry it to reason to strategically guide your actions and achieve a cleansed, ultimately less-disgusting state of affairs.

Life is not a state of unchange, but a balancing of change at equal rates. The Progressive seeks change for its own sake, unbridled growth like a cancer that will one day kill its whole host. The Conservative seeks to ossify life itself, not realizing that erosion is inevitable against all unliving things. The Nationalist seeks to build the very coral of civilization, to marry the living generations to the traditions and works of their ancestry, the living building on the life works of the dead in ever more elaborate and beautiful structures generation by generation. Put that way in a method people understand, virtually every American I suspect would find they were wanting the same all along in their own ways.

Expand full comment
author

That dogshit metaphor was beautiful

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

Art with an agenda in mind is never really art, it’s propaganda. What most of my conservative friends don’t seem to grasp is that you cannot create valuable art with its profitability in mind. If it is good then it is profitable in the end but that cannot be the goal from the start.

Very well written, Brother Walt. Are you also starting a monastery as part of this project?;)

Expand full comment

*Looks at the literary output of Twain, Heinlein, Poe, Looney Tunes, Kubrick, Dick, Dickens, Herbert, Chandler, Hammet, and Shakespeare*

Sorry, but most great art, at least in music and the narrative arts, is done explicitly for profit and with profit in mind. Sic semper est.

The problems come when profit is the *sole* motive rather than furnishing the occasion and constraints for the artist to play, or especially when the investors try to control the creatives too tightly out of fear of not making a profit.

Expand full comment

Which of those were made with profitability in mind exactly? Because as far as I know all of them started with an artistic vision, many of them were not even commercially that successful. I don’t think you have contradicted my point here.

Expand full comment

Heinlein, Twain, Dickens, Chandler, and Shakespeare at least all got into it primarily for the money. In the case of Heinlein and Chandler, at least, financial.desparation was the thing that drove them to writing. It's not that none ever had artistic tastes or talents, but their "vision" was formulated in response to the market opportunity and developed in dialogue with commercial considerations.

The others on the list,.whether they met considerable success or paltry in their lifetimes, all were in similar boats.to one degree or another.

Expand full comment
founding

Thanks for the shout-out. It's ironic that the greatest conservative intellectual of the last century, Sir Roger Scruton, was also an art-obsessed aesthetician who wrote operas, novels, and short stories and played the organ. I recall Noah Carl responding to Hanania's article "Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV" with an article referencing Sir Roger to which Hanania replied something like, "I didn't say all conservatives are stupid, just American ones." The US right has been disproportionately bent to the liking of chudservatives who resent the erudite and encourage high IQ teens not to attend college and instead move Mittleamerica, do handy work for the rest of their lives, and pump out as many offspring as possible to follow in their footsteps.

Not sure that the right will ever be able to have similar output of quality art as the left given the different distribution of characteristics that you noted. It seems to be the case even outside Hollywood for left-coded messaging to dominate; think how every K-drama or film is socialist class commentary or Miyazaki's pacifist messaging. Nevertheless, it's amusing to see ideology everything come full circle in "Squid Game" (spoiler alert) when the rich Americans watching the games are portrayed as homoerotic degens to criticize capitalism.

Expand full comment
author

Great comment.

And fully agree leftists will always dominate culture, but the split is currently just ridiculously exaggerated and I suspect we could get more of a 75/25 distribution if cons adopted these strategies.

Expand full comment

In my undergrad years, I worked in a library, and often shuddered at the ...Christian/Prairie/Amish romance novels that were ridiculously popular, along with Danielle Steele and other emotional porn types of work that were popular to the small-town community I lived in for women readers. It wasn't art and it was escapist, but it was also a comfort because it was a familiar feel-good narrative that sanitized the brutality of life on the pioneer/western way of life these books explored, and people wanted something simple to escape to from the brutality of poverty in a low-class rural area. To be fair. If people live in the mundane or the struggle for survival, they often want something that just makes them feel all the good feels without reminding them of their existence.

Conservatives genuinely struggle with art--though some of this can also be attributed to an increase in the watering down of art into whatever you define it to be without true mastery of the artform for composition, skill, arrangement of figures, etc., and even by liberals of today, much of it also feels and codes as propaganda or their version of religious lecturing for their passion projects.

Both sides could definitely learn from one another, but the heavy-handedness of coding a message to either side to garner attention is probably more a survival of the fittest mentality in an age of diminishing attention-spans to try and capture a slice of whatever algorithm and ego-boost they're striving for, per the particular platform. Conservative-based artists, perhaps like religious artists, try to stay focused on a specific track that works or follows a certain set of values. But real life is not necessarily reflective of that, as you point out. It's deeply messy. Flannery O'Connor comes to mind as someone who explored religious themes that were important to her faith, but still unflinchingly skewered the failings of humans and their respective conditions. You need people of both sides and in the middle to balance one another out--they have traits beneficial to both sides, but we can't take a pendulum-like extreme of only all-good or all shock and scintillation. Life involves the mundane and mediocre, and the banality of multiple shades in-between. Many writers and artists have forgotten that, I think, because they stay sequestered in their own little bubbles and enclaves, and lack the ability to develop empathy for those different from themselves, even with similar or differing political views.

Anyway, that's just what comes to mind from what you wrote, from one of those rare creative conservatives who finds the cons too prudish and the libs too vulgar to feel comfortable anywhere.

Expand full comment
Apr 25·edited Apr 25Liked by Walt Bismarck

This is the deeper reason why dissidents need to stop identifying with conservatives, and preferably stop cooming over politics and culture wars altogether. The practical benefits are imaginary, but the cultural sterility and artistic cringe are very real.

If anything the problem is even worse in the 'low church' conservative cults, like libertarianism and white nationalism. At best these people can value art and culture as 'metapolitics', a mental concept that can only repulse the Muses, in much the same way that the term '3D woman' can only send eligible young ladies running for the hills. The fact that the early Alt-Right showed some crude artistic promise suggests that it arose from a truly dissident mindset, one that ought to have broken with conservatism, but which was co-opted by it through the weaknesses and susceptibilities of those involved.

Expand full comment

*stands up cheering*

I recently wrote about how conservatism is the enemy of art from the opposite angle--looking at how politically liberal artists lose their edge because they give into their innate conservatism, and the ways in which this works as a perfect epitome of how civilizations fall.

A pleasure to read, all around, especially in the more provocative parts.

https://jdanielsawyer.substack.com/p/when-the-stars-lose-their-sparkle

Expand full comment

I'm not sure I agree that "conservatives" suck at art. I think that if we define conservatives narrowly as low IQ low openness lower class white people--"chuds"--okay, sure. Those people probably suck at art. I don't know if the same applies to everyone who is right wing in general though. Likewise it is certainly true that many liberals are "good at art," but if I stereotyped libs narrowly as all being a fat blue-haired feminist caricature, I could probably argue that that type of person sucks at art too.

Anyways, even if we accept the premise that liberals are better at art, they seem to be squandering this advantage in recent years. The age of high quality consumer media with a broad audience feels like it might be behind us, at least for the time being, as wokeshit lefties have imposed DEI standards on the entertainment industry and shittified most of its products accordingly, resulting in such amazing "art" as The American Society of Magical Negroes. What was the last high-quality "left-coded" TV show or movie that lots of people watched? The most popular thing for the last 10 years was superhero movies, and those have now been run into the ground with forced diversity nonsense just like everything else.

The big story in the entertainment world in the recent past has not been conservatives being bad at art--as you point out, barely any openly conservative entertainment is out there to begin with (although I might direct you to Yellowstone, which apparently was a massive success, although I've never seen it). The big story has been woke libs ruining one big IP after another--Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, that hilariously bad Amazon Lord of the Rings show, the list goes on. The libs get their hands on it and shit on it, one after another. I think that's been a lot more impactful in the culture recently than conservatives doing anything one way or another.

Expand full comment

You asked: "What was the last high-quality "left-coded" TV show or movie that lots of people watched?" My response is, does it matter if it's technically "high quality" if many people watched it and liked it? The recent Wednesday show with Jenna Ortega is not the type of thing a certain class of critic enjoys, but it is loved by millions of Zoomers and along with Stranger Things are the most popular ongoing Netflix shows. It's also left-coded because Wednesday directly attacks the patriarchy, and even mentions colonialism in an episode where she blows up a statue of a lomg-dead oppressor. The ultimate villain of that show is a fundamentalist Quaker who wants to destroy everyone who is "weird and kooky." In the realm of movies, I can easily point to Barbie and Oppenheimer as two very popular leftist movies.

Expand full comment

Barbie is a good example, though I think in that case we can dispute the label "high quality." I think it matters because the most effective propaganda is propaganda that people don't even realize is propaganda. Transparent, shallow propaganda falls into the category of "God's Not Dead" and just serves to jerk off people who already agree with it, not to win any new converts. I believe most left-wing "art" these days has increasingly trended in this direction--the "Wednesday" show you reference would be another example, as going by your description, it's not exactly subtle about its message.

Expand full comment

Most definitely... Luckily it almost always loses money, but it sucks if you're a lifetime fan of one of those franchises. TV and film used to have a slight liberal lean... say the 10 points over the median. Now they're aggressively oversampling the progressive activist demographic, which even a Soros funded think tank says is only the furthest left 6-8% of the population.

Expand full comment

It's a microcosm of our culture more broadly. The lefties won, but instead of being good stewards now that they're in charge, they spend their capital just pissing all over everything. They don't show much interest in building anything new, they just want to destroy everything that came before. Good model of leftism as a fundamentally destructive and parasitic value system.

Expand full comment

Fantastic article.

I will say that some 'conservative' movies are good to watch with fellow right-wingers drunk.

Case in point, the transatlantic co-operation of 'My Son Hunter', with British right-wing commentator Laurence Fox in the lead role: as Hunter Biden. This trailer is literally the whole movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCvb6TfBXFk&t=80s

What's hilarious is that some of the advertising around this film repeated the line 'politics is downstream from culture', and clearly completely missing the point.

Expand full comment

The conceit of that movie seems like it could either be the best movie or God's Not Dead tier ... and the trailer doesn't inspire confidence.

Expand full comment

It's 'So Bad It's Good'.

However, it would probably be funnier if the Hunter Biden Laptop story was just a deranged conspiracy. The fact that, since the Twitter Files, I've realised that the whole movie is basically true, makes it less funny to laugh at.

Expand full comment

> I've realised that the whole movie is basically true

Funny how that keeps happening to "deranged conspiracy theories".

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

This is the most intelligent and insightful writing on Substack.

Expand full comment
author

I am honored--thank you.

Expand full comment

Got a little heated here, and rambly, and hating on the normies is a minor vice you indulge in overmuch and should struggle harder to control, since too much of it doesn’t help your cause.

But the core message here is correct and important.

People on the right are, all too often, incapable of understanding, or recognizing art, let alone creating it.

I know plenty of people on the right about whom this is not true. People who love and understand art, literature, music. I also know devout Christians who loved the Mel Gibson Passion of the Christ. But generally you are correct.

And the assertion that people on the right, since they don’t even know what art is, fund and produce lifeless, heavy-handed propaganda, is also true. They genuinely don’t know better. They are tone deaf people trying to make music.

I’m working on a novel. Lighting a candle, rather than cursing the darkness. If I manage to finish it, and if anyone ever sees it, I will face the problem you raise here. While not expressly political, my views and values are far to the right, as well as Catholic. This will come through and lefties who are sensitive to nuances will get it, and ignore it, or attack it if it gets any traction and seems to require a response. And righties who generally share my values will hate it because it shows people and life as undogmatically complicated and compromised, and they will ignore it, or consider me a traitor if it comes to their attention. Nonetheless, I feel driven to write it, so I’m going to keep going and finish it.

I’m not sure what steps could be concretely taken to get more people who have right – oriented, political, and cultural views, to get more engaged in the creation of art, in all of the various media.

Incidentally, I have creative adult children, some with actual talent, and I have always encouraged them, and none of them are following any ordinary path. Their political views are not mine, but they are smart and observant and will adapt and change. Their unorthodox paths means they’ve been slow to get launched, and every parent wants their children to be financially secure, but that type of risk aversion is an old person’s mindset, and it is poison to youth and hope and energy and creative power, which are finite and precious assets. So that’s good advice from you.

Expand full comment

There is a lot of good insight in this article, and I'm inclined to agree with many points you made. I think where I would push back is that Conservatives traditionally created great art even in the last few decades. Passion of the Christ, all of the old Westerns, Braveheart, the Patriot, almost every single great War Film (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Hamburger Hill, etc) The Ten Commandments, the list goes on. There are plenty of iconic masterpieces that were either made by Conservatives or are Conservative Art in Essence. I think a big problem with "so called" Conservative Art nowadays is the fact that Liberals from the 60s 70s and 80s started calling themselves Conservative and have tried to redefine what Conservative Art is, so it just winds up being cringe and cheesy depictions of Ronald Reagan Riding a Dinosaur shooting uzis with big tiddy blondes wearing American flag bikinis in the background. Conservative Art does well when it depicts historical events, Religious Messaging of Hope, or Cultural Values telling a Story. While I can agree we should be gentler with Non Conformists I don't know that we shouldn't Gatekeep unrepentant degeneracy, there is something to be said about Right Wing holding the Moral High Ground but we can't maintain the Moral High Ground of we adopt the Morality of the Left

Expand full comment

Word of advise: calling the people you want to raise money from stupid, and telling them they're wrong for not wanting to consume art that was actively designed to be unpleasant to them is not a good way to raise money.

Expand full comment
author

it worked for Hanania

Expand full comment

I don't think the idea here is to call the audience stupid. Rather the author is speaking to an audience who he considers smarter and more erudite than the people that he insults in the piece. I doubt that he expects to raise money or gain viewership from old white churchgoers or blockheaded gymbros.

Walt responds to you with "it worked for Hanania," which is true, but only in the sense described above. Hanania loves to insult what he views as the stupid part of the right wing, usually focusing on religion for extra special levels of bile. This endears him to fellow "rationalist" types who are broadly anti-left but also really hate religion and aren't big fans of traditional moral norms. Walt is doing more or less the same thing.

Expand full comment

Except Walt also insults the rationalists in the same breath.

Also, Hanania wasn't bragging about dating degens with nose rings.

Expand full comment
Apr 13·edited Apr 13Liked by Walt Bismarck

The people directly insulted in the piece are those who are too stupid to count as "rationalist." It didn't come across to me as insulting rationalists, but I suppose it could be taken that way.

Hanania might not brag about having a triple digit body count with BPD Jewish whores, but I don't think it would bother him if someone did that either. The signal being sent is "I don't care about religious/traditional sexual norms," which again, serves the purpose of building rapport with an audience who shares a similar disdain for those values. It may alienate traditional conservatives but such people are unlikely to support this blog in the first place.

Mind you, I'm not saying I agree with or support that viewpoint. I think extreme sexual promiscuity is almost always a bad thing and I'd advise anyone not to go around casually sticking their dick in women with drug problems and mental disorders. I fall more on the traditional side of things myself. I'm just trying to convey my understanding of Walt's perspective and attitude.

Expand full comment
author

yeah a lot of the invective is just my own way of poasting coal--in that sense I'm not so dif from the God's Not Dead ppl

getting your enemies to loudly sneer at you is one of the best ways of making new friends among people who respect willingness to publicly draw ire

Expand full comment

> which again, serves the purpose of building rapport with an audience who shares a similar disdain for those values.

What audience would that be. Looks to me almost like Walt is trying to get back into the left's good graces. Or at least appeal to the IDW crowd.

Expand full comment

Like I mentioned above, it would be the "rationalist"/IDW crowd (as you term them). There is clearly an audience of people who, if they aren't explicitly right-wing, are at least disdainful of the left, and yet also reject the traditional moral/sexual norms of the religious right. This type of person is probably over-represented on platforms like Substack (see Hanania's "Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV" article).

Expand full comment

FWIW, I'm fairly IDW leaning and I don't need to pull out the fainting couch over stuff like this

Expand full comment

> see Hanania's "Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV" article

Then why is Walt proposing TV shows?

Expand full comment
Apr 10Liked by Walt Bismarck

I read it more as a call to produce art that will attract others outside pig shit thick conservatism as Gibson does in cinema and as the author does himself in the article.

Expand full comment

It is an unfortunate reality that certain types audiences only respond positively to being treated with contempt.

Expand full comment

Yes, that's why woke Disney is now losing money hand over fist.

Expand full comment

Overplaying a particular hand doesn't automatically mean a strategy doesn't work. Just have to find a better way to play it better moving forward.

Expand full comment

Great essay!

I'm curious how you would place Sam Hyde into your analysis...?

Expand full comment