The Great Surrealist Painter Helps Us to Sort Out the Political Forces in American Mid-term Election

The Republican candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients. “Instead of handling out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check.” – He said… Officials at a Los Angeles county jail plan to use prisoners as test subjects for a high-tech ray gun that causes pain… The Progressive, Nov. 2010, p. 5

Max Ernst, “Barbarians Leaving Forest”

On Sept. 15, 2009 I posted a short analysis of Max Ernst’s painting (“The Horde”,) dedicated to the especially belligerent American right wing talk show hosts – “Max Ernst’s ‘The Horde’ (1927) Provides Us With a Metaphoric Space for a Better Understanding of the Invasion of the Bushmerican Adolfics.” But it looks that after November 2 elections, we will be in need of Ernst’s understanding of the intolerant and psychologically violent people much more than before. He knew the Tea Party crowd of 21st century much before they came to existence. In Ernst’s times they were the European right-wing extremists not only in Germany, Italy and Spain but all over Europe.

Max Ernst in his series of paintings “Barbarians” didn’t concentrate on the right-wing ideologies, but on the psychology of their carriers. In fact, the right- or left-wing extremist ideologies (always authoritarian and with excluded intellectual ingredient) can have different programs and often barbarically noisily contradict one another, but fascist psychology is their common denominator including the Soviet communists. We can call fascist psychology, Stalinist.

Look at Ernst’s “Barbarians Leaving Forest” (coming from their psychologically wild everyday life full of animosity towards people who are different from them in their world views). The absent eyes of their leader (their parental figure – elevated to the super-human status of Fuhrerized decision-maker) who sees with the very absence of eyes (seeing in him is not rooted in humanness, it is robotic), the holes in barbarians’ heads (which refer to the absence of the soul) – all tells us that they are creatures with reduced humanity. Their figures are that of the simplest, amoeba-like forms. They are a part of a common totalitarian organism, of a primitive crowd (reminding the noisy and childish tea-baggers rallies). They are creatures of standardization, without any experience of individualism – even their greed for victory is collective, like their belligerent excitement. They are moving parts of the wild forest. They are the burning wild forest itself – marching to American Congress and Senate. They have been burnt by their own rage and militancy with the intention to blast the American democratic process as inefficient, outdated, and not corporate-friendly enough.

These creatures are coming from the wildness of cultural illiteracy of those who never studied philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, semiotics or history of arts. These people don’t know who Samuel Clemens is, not to mention Ingmar Bergman. They take their everyday life of terrorist emotions and anti-democratic passions to the American government to transform it with their fundamentalist intolerance, dogmatism and aggressiveness into an agency that will act and behave as we see depicted in Ernst’s painting.