Javier Sethness, Alexander Reid Ross, Maria Castro
Saturday, 10 to 11:15 a.m.
In this presentation, we will explore the philosophical and political affinities between the composer Richard Wagner and the militant philosopher Mikhail Bakunin, beginning with their joint action on the barricades of revolutionary Dresden in 1849. We consider Wagner’s Ring cycle as depicting the Proudhonian idea of theft and the figures of Siegfried and Brünnhilde as Bakuninist-Feuerbachian heroes. By examining Wagner and Bakunin’s common anti-Semitism, feminism and anti-feminism, and revolutionism, we discuss how anarchism and anti-theism influenced the creation of The Ring as an epic opera that depicts the rise and fall of capitalism. Nevertheless, in light of the anti-Semitism that drives The Ring, we cannot overlook the undeniable Aryanist, national-anarchist, and proto-fascist aspects of Wagner’s approach, which represent disturbing lines that connect typically left-wing notions of anti-statist and anti-capitalist upheaval with ultranationalist myth.
To delve into these matters, we will consider how the fascist creep applies to Wagner and Bakunin and compare the “dangerous minds” of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger to those of the pair in question.
Javier Sethness is the author of Imperiled Life: Revolution Against Climate Catastrophe, Eros and Revolution: The Critical Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse, and For a Free Nature: Critical Theory, Social Ecology, and Post-Developmentalism, and editor/translator of I Am Action: Literary And Combat Articles, Thoughts, and Revolutionary Chronicles.
María Castro is professor in the French and Spanish Department at Occidental College in Los Ángeles. Her publications in specialized literary journals include work on themes related to the intersection of art and literature in the Spanish-speaking world.
Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in Geography at Portland State University. His book Against the Fascist Creep was listed one of the best books of 2017 by the Willamette Week.