Fjordman: Music and the Rise and Decline of Western Civilization

Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at the Brussels Journal. Some excerpts are below:

This text overlaps with a few of my earlier essays like Why Muslims Like Hitler, but Not Mozart. I have had some interesting discussions with Ohmyrus, the essayist who runs the Democracy Reform blog. He is a Chinese man who appreciates aspects of Western civilization that many Westerners have forgotten or rejected. He is not unique in this regard. One of the best books about European culture is Defending the West by the former Muslim Ibn Warraq, who was born in the Indian subcontinent. As a native European it is strange to notice how some (non-Muslim) Asians apparently appreciate my civilization more than intellectuals in my own country do. The Iranian-born ex-Muslim Ali Sina denounces Western Multiculturalism in his book Understanding Muhammad, which I have reviewed online:

“If any culture needs to be preserved, it is the Western, Helleno-Christian culture. It is this culture that is facing extinction….We owe our freedom and modern civilization to Western culture. It is this culture that is now under attack and needs protection.”

Ohmyrus believes, like myself, that the West is in decline, not just in relative terms as a percentage of the global economy or population but in real terms.


I am increasingly supporting the conclusion that the political and economic elites throughout the Western world are cooperating on dismantling their nation states in favor of a new, global world order. Swamping their countries with immigration is one step in this planned “creative destruction.” Author Bat Ye’or in her well-researched book Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis from 2005 documents how the European Union is actively collaborating with the Arabic-Islamic world on promoting Muslim immigration and culture in Europe. I myself wrote a book entitled Defeating Eurabia while going through her claims, and found them to be sound. A flaw frequently pointed out in the democratic system is that the “common man” is on average not smart enough to run a country, but when it comes to promoting Multiculturalism and mass immigration of alien and often hostile peoples it is in every single Western country the political, economic and academic elites who are pushing for this. Resistance to these suicidal policies comes from the common man. Another problem is that in the post-Enlightenment ideological environment, especially after Marxism, there is a tendency among some educated elites to view the common man as a guinea pig for their social experiments.

The West is a non-traditionalist civilization. We have unquestionably made great advances that no other civilization has done before us, but maybe the price we pay for this is that we also make mistakes that nobody has done before us. Organized science is a modern Western invention. Organized national suicide, too, is a modern Western invention. Our university system once represented a great comparative advantage for Europe vis-à-vis other civilizations. Today that same system is undermining the very civilization that gave birth to it.

– – – – – – – –


According to Spengler, “China has embraced the least Chinese, and the most explicitly Western, of all art forms. Even the best Chinese musicians still depend on Western mentors. [Pianist] Lang Lang may be a star, but in some respects he remains an apprentice in the pantheon of Western musicians. The Chinese, in some ways the most arrogant of peoples, can elicit a deadly kind of humility in matters of learning. Their eclecticism befits an empire that is determined to succeed, as opposed to a mere nation that needs to console itself by sticking to its supposed cultural roots. Great empires transcend national culture and naturalize the culture they require.” Albert Einstein received a thorough philosophical education by studying Kant, Schopenhauer, Hume and Spinoza in addition to mathematics and the physical theories of Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and James Maxwell. This taught him how to think abstractly about space and time. He was also an enthusiastic amateur musician and would play his violin as a way of thinking through a difficult physics problem. His mother was an accomplished pianist and pushed for him to take violin lessons. At first he chafed at the mechanical discipline of the instruction, but after being exposed to Bach and to Mozart’s sonatas, music became magical to him. Author Walter Isaacson writes in his biography Einstein: His Life and Universe:

“‘Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe itself,’ he later told a friend. ‘Of course,’ he added in a remark that reflected his view of math and physics as well as of Mozart, ‘like all great beauty, his music was pure simplicity.’ Music was no mere diversion. On the contrary, it helped him think. ‘Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or faced a difficult challenge in his work,’ said his son Hans Albert, ‘he would take refuge in music and that would solve all his difficulties.’ The violin thus proved useful during the years he lived alone in Berlin, wrestling with general relativity. ‘He would often play his violin in his kitchen late at night, improvising melodies while he pondered complicated problems,’ a friend recalled. ‘Then, suddenly, in the middle of playing, he would announce excitedly, ‘I’ve got it!’ As if by inspiration, the answer to the problem would have come to him in the midst of music.’ His appreciation for music, and especially for Mozart, may have reflected his feel for the harmony of the universe.”

Einstein was not as fond of Ludwig van Beethoven as he was of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert. According to Walter Isaacson, “What Einstein appreciated in Mozart and Bach was the clear architectural structure that made their music seem ‘deterministic’ and, like his own favorite scientific theories, plucked from the universe rather than composed. ‘Beethoven created his music,’ Einstein once said, but ‘Mozart’s music is so pure it seems to have been ever-present in the universe.’ He contrasted Beethoven with Bach: ‘I feel uncomfortable listening to Beethoven. I think he is too personal, almost naked. Give me Bach, rather, and then more Bach.’ He also admired Schubert for his ‘superlative ability to express emotion.’ But in a questionnaire he once filled out, he was critical about other composers in ways that reflect some of his scientific sentiments: Handel had ‘a certain shallowness’; Mendelssohn displayed ‘considerable talent but an indefinable lack of depth that often leads to banality’; Wagner had a ‘lack of architectural structure I see as decadence’; and Strauss was ‘gifted but without inner truth.’“

Read the rest at the Brussels Journal.

13 thoughts on “Fjordman: Music and the Rise and Decline of Western Civilization

  1. With what passes for music today, one can observe the lunatics having taken over the asylum. The phenomenon exactly parallels what has happened in politics.

    Bach’s music is absolute objectivity, the Pythagorean music of the spheres. Like Einstein’s physics, it is more discovered than invented, with genius serving as midwife.

    Beethoven was a genius too, but a titan rebelling against Olympus. Fjordman rightly remarks that in the hands of lesser talents, the same impulse is destructive of civilization.

    It sounds as though we had all better learn how to speak Mandarin.

  2. Baron, My apology for diverging from point: give us a thread to stick pins in the bamster! Chicago goes down! The bamster’s on his can and exposed! Yeah Yeah Yeah!!!

  3. “… the political and economic elites throughout the Western world are cooperating on dismantling their nation states in favor of a new, global world order. Swamping their countries with immigration is one step in this planned ‘creative destruction.’ “

    Apropos of this, note Bill Clinton’s comment on “Meet the Press” Sunday:

    MR. GREGORY: Your wife famously talked about the vast right wing conspiracy targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?

    PRES. CLINTON: Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It’s not as strong as it was, because America’s changed demographically, but it’s as virulent as it was.

    Of course, instead of “because America’s changed demographically,” he should have said, “because we’ve changed America demographically.”

  4. At this time in the U.K. the division between the global society elite and the common man is becoming noticeable, this has prompted the elite of both left and right to squabble over the (re)brand label – progressive.

    An observer may think he is witnessing the modern classic left – right battle but it will become apparent in time that this will be a conflict far removed from the those ideologies.

    In the U.K. the reality is that anyone below professional class is in fact now underclass, it is this group that will shape the political future.

  5. “With what passes for music today, one can observe the lunatics having taken over the asylum”

    This was not accidental. It was one of the steps outlined in a communist plan for taking over the West that was read into the Congressional Record as far back as 1963.

    22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”

    23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

    24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

    25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

    Communist Goals (1963) Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963

    Music is of course not as easily controllable in service of an ideology without full totalitarianism. I would say what’s happened with music is that it has blossomed into thousands of genres, some ugly weeds, some still pleasant to the ear. The problem is that the ugly stuff (e.g. rap) dominates the public areas and one has to go searching for the good stuff amid the dross.

    Modern classical music to me suffers from the same problem as modern “art”. A premium is put on doing something different, that has never been done before. Artists in the past have certainly tried to shock and disgust instead of entrance the public to gain attention for their work, but they were a minority and there was always a stream of beauty for the eye, ear and soul produced alongside. Now this has shriveled to almost nothing, and what is called “originality” is sought to the exclusion of any other criteria.

    It seems as though artists go through a checklist of taboos and break them (similar to Obama’s pedestrian notion of just automatically doing the opposite of Bush). “Gee, no one’s smeared excrement on a religious icon before! No one’s put a crucifix in urine before! No one’s presented semen stained sheets as art before! No one’s made a dress out of raw meat before!”

    This juvenile contrarianism, doing the opposite of good taste is not art. It is simple anarchism.

    Personally, I don’t consider something art if a 5 year old or myself with no training can do it. Three stripes or an all white canvas don’t do it for me.

    Our galleries, dance and concert halls are full of emperors with no clothes with a professional critic class of degenerates flogging the plebes into “seeing” the invisible i.e. talent, in some kind of mass hysteria.

  6. “there is a tendency among some educated elites to view the common man as a guinea pig for their social experiments”

    Oh, so true. I’m sure most of those social engineers who promote high immigration rates and multi-culturalism don’t live in the inner suburbs of our cities,on the front line of the social crisis.

  7. Laine: modern “classical” music, alas, is often cacophonic and random (i.e., atonalism) or hypntoic (i.e., minimalism), the latter an imitation of the drones of Hindu chants, I suppose. Surprisingly enough, however, a few attempts at restoration exist. When my son went to college, I visited him during his Freshman year’s “parents’ weekend,” at, of all campi, Brown University. The event included a concert by the Music Department, which itself included an original piece composed by the department’s orchestral conductor. It was modern, but, to my surprise, quite interesting, a kind of theme and variations, one of which had a distinctly formal movement in the style of a Bach chorale. Afterward, the conductor/composer in his explanation asserted a need to attend to structures and that these were well regarded by an appreciation of Bach.

    So, although the times are bleak, perhaps a few sparks of light still flash now and then, even at some of elitist of the universities.

  8. Re my comment on atonal music: perhaps “random” is not the correct description. Some of the atonal composers devise a tone-row, a kind of “seed plot,” like those that generate Mandelbrot forms; but things then seem to take off with no companions other than the baldest of mathematics–full steam ahead and let sense and sentimentality be damned!

  9. Bach is, indeed, transcendent. I have a sneaking suspicion about this: what would we see if we could do functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of the brain while the music is playing?
    Much of the “modern” stuff is little more than a hypnotic, mind numbing primitive beat with a little melody around it. If you can call the ultra-violent obscenity laced nihilistic lyrics of rap a melody:

    “Hey, mo’ F***er
    Gonna shoot you suckah
    I got my ‘gauge’ {shotgun}
    I got my ooozee {Uzi}
    When the $#!+ goes down
    You can’t be choosy…
    Pop a cap on yo’ ass
    Gonna kill yo’ ass
    Yo’ ass gonna be grass
    Then I F*** mah ho’s ass….


    I suspect that it is our primitive reptilian hindbrain that is being stimulated.

    Bach also has a “good beat” (a superlative one, in fact) but with a complex, mathematically pure melody which I suspect strongly stimulates the cerebral cortex. It appeals to that part of our minds that is human rather than animal.

    * Actually, I “composed” that myself. Do you think I will be rich and famous soon? But then, in order to become a true “gangsta rappa” I would have to deal drugs and murder rivals. *Sigh….* I guess I’ll just have to go to work Monday as usual….

  10. My son (16) plays rock guitar. He found his own way to classical music noting the similarity between the two genres.

  11. There are some rock genres inspired by classical music. Progressive rock is one example. When Mike Oldfield made his first album Tubular Bells, he wanted to make it like classical music but from the perspective of folk-rock. There is also the heavy metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen who has stated that his greatest inspiration is classical music, especially Bach! Another example is Procul Harum’s classic A Whiter Shade Of Pale. That is also Bach! So not all music created in the last 50 years is mindless and dumb as is the hip-hop/rap who is nothing but robotic. So no surprise ther that young muslim thugs get all wet in their pants by it.

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