What might we mean by monoculture? What is the impetus for ‘identitarian’ or nationalistic monoculture movements who do not see, or wish, their society to be pluralistic, not just in the context of Europe but globally? Might we locate positive or even emancipatory aspirations of monoculture? Might a culturally homogeneous society also be inclusive and transformational? What lies at the fringes of monoculture, and what does it not tolerate? What may be the position of the arts within the context of monocultural ideology? Or alternatively, how might the arts look under monocultural ideology when taken to its logical conclusion?


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South Africa was already experiencing racial segregation during British colonial rule. 'Apartheid' refers to the government policy of segregation and white supremacy that was inflicted on the country during the second half of the 20th century. In many languages, 'apartheid' – a loanwordf rom Afrikaans – has become synonymous with all forms of racial segregation. After the 1948 elections, all South Africans were divided into three categories: 'white', 'coloured', and ‘Bantu’ (all Black Africans). The aim of the system was to allow the white minority to rule over the other groups. The main instrument for achieving apartheid was the 'Group Areas Act', which classified people according to 'race' in different residential areas, also introducing a legally established system of separate schools, universities, hospitals, buses and beaches. In the 1990s, after decades of violence and bloody repression, the apartheid regime gave way under international pressure. In 1994, with the first free general elections, the system officially collapsed and Nelson Mandela, figurehead of black liberation movement ANC (African National Congress), came to power.



On April 18-24, 1955, leaders from twenty-nine Asian and African countries, most of which were newly independent, gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, for the first large-scale Asian-African Conference, also known as the Bandung Conference. The key organisers of the meeting included Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The participants of the conference aimed to promote Afro-Asian solidarity against any form of colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as to foster economic and cultural cooperation in the regions. The book by African-American writer Richard Wright (1908-1960) is a first-hand account of the conference.

Text on back of the press photo reads: “Bandung, Indonesia: Who’s going to get whose goat first is one of the questions in the air as delegates assemble for Asian-African Conference at Bandung, Indonesia. The problem doesn’t seem to concern this Billy goat nonchalantly nibbling the posies in front of the flag-arrayed committee conference building, where the Communist and pro-Western delegates get down to talks April 18th”. 



The American Russian Institute for Cultural Relations with the Soviet Union, previously known as the American Society for Cultural Relations with the Soviet Union was established in 1926 and was identified as a 'subversive' organisation by the US government in 1947. The main author of the brochure, Osip Beskin, was a Soviet art critic and a notorious opponent of “formalist” experiments in art. However, unlike his writings in Russian, this propaganda piece is idealistic in its tone rather than belligerent. Describing the art system in the USSR, he refers to the central idea of Soviet art – “Art belongs to the people. It must be understood and loved by them. It must be rooted in and grow with their feelings, thoughts, and desires. It must arouse and develop the artists in them” (Lenin). Thus, the dominant factor determining the quality of art is its integration with society.

VOKS Bulletin was an English-language cultural magazine published in Moscow by the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, an international organisation with parallel national branches around the world. This issue of the magazine includes an article by the magazine’s chief editor, Soviet art critic and prominent party member Vladimir Kemenev. The article titled “Aspects of Two Cultures” is primarily a typical example of art criticism in the USSR. Underlining the close ties between anti-humanism and anti-realism, Kemenev sets the art of Socialist Realism against decadent Western art.


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In 1950, a group of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley – a philosopher/sociologist and three psychologists: Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt Sanford – published The Authoritarian Personality. They sought an answer to the question of how the destructive ideologies responsible for the atrocities of the Second World War had managed to attract such a huge mass of followers. In her article ‘Personality theory and Perception’ Else Frenkel-Brunswik further elaborates the concept of 'ambiguity intolerance’. With this complex and versatile theory, she examines the connection between the ability to deal with an ambiguous visual language and tolerance for ambiguity in the world, the other and oneself. In Environmental Controls and the Impoverishment of Thought, Frenkel-Brunswik takes a closer look at anti-intellectual tendencies and the attitude towards science in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.



The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was an organisation, founded in 1950 at a conference that gathered a group of anti-communist intellectuals in West Berlin. Organised in response to the formation of The World Peace Council by the Soviet Union, the CCF aimed to withstand post-war sympathies towards the USSR. Covertly funded by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it was established to oppose global Communism, counter Cold War neutralism, and to promote Western cultural and liberal values. The organisation was active in thirty-five countries, organising cultural events and conferences, publishing books and numerous periodicals. Another important vector of the campaign was aimed to alter the perception of the U.S. in Europe through the promotion of American modernist art. The covert enterprise dissolved in 1967, after the disclosure of the CIA’s active involvement.


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Das Wunder des Lebens was a propaganda exhibition organised to promote the racial ideology of the Nazis. It was shown in Berlin at the Kaiserdamm and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, in 1935, and later travelled to other locations. Organised by Bruno Gebhard (1901-1985), a professional physician who was known as a curator of several renowned propaganda exhibitions, including Die Frau in Familie, Haus und Beruf (1933) and Deutsches Volk-Deutsche Arbeit (1934), the exhibition Das Wunder des Lebens introduced new representations on the theme of ‘Der Mensch' (‘The Human’). The major aspects of this extensive show were 'Die Lehre vom Leben' (‘The Teachings of Life’) with its highlight being the transparent sculpture of man, 'Der Träger des Lebens' (‘The Bearer of Life’) featuring the German family, and 'Die Erhaltung des Lebens' (The Preservation of Life), dedicated to the health system in Germany. Pictorial material presented in the exhibition included healthy 'Aryan' types, different images of Jewish people, images of physically or mentally disabled people, and representations of other 'undesirable' categories who, according to Nazi ideology, were considered to be a threat to German public health. The elaborate avant-garde design of the catalogue of the exhibition was created by renowned designer Herbert Bayer (1900-1985). Neither Gebhard nor Bayer, despite being involved in the organisation of the most significant and popular Nazi propaganda exhibitions, belonged to the Nazi party themselves and had to flee to the US in the following years.



Esperanto is the mostly widely used artificial language in the world. In 1887, Ludwik Zamenhof (1859-1917), the inventor of Esperanto, published a small book in Russian entitled Международный язык / Lingvo Internacia (commonly referred to as Unua Libro). Declining the principle of authorship, he modestly signed the book as Dr. Esperanto, meaning “one who hopes”. The hope was to create a language that would promote a peaceful coexistence between people of different cultures. Esperanto gained popularity with many Esperantist groups popping up around the world. Despite repression throughout the 20th century by authoritarian regimes, the development of the Esperantist community has continued into the present day. Jarlibro is the oldest continuous publication of the Universal Esperanto Association. La Nova Epoko (The New Epoch) was an international literary and social magazine of general left-wing orientation, founded in 1922 by four Soviet Esperantists. The initiator of Esperanto, Ludwik Zamenhof was the first to translate the entire Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh or Old Testament) into Esperanto. The New Testament was translated later by a team of Esperanto speaking British clergy and scholars from the British and Foreign Bible Society, and completed in 1912. The translations of both Testaments were then harmonised and printed in 1926 as La Sankta Biblio (The Holy Bible) often called La Londona Biblio (London Bible).

MONOCULTURE – EUGENETICA (Verenigd Koninkrijk)

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Sir Francis Galton introduced the very term eugenics and laid the foundations for a movement that would develop in the following decades. Inspired by the theory of evolution by natural selection introduced by his half-cousin, Charles Darwin, he dedicated his studies to the improvement of the human race. Galton was convinced that eugenics studies could replace Darwinian ‘natural selection’ with more effective processes. G.K. Chesterton’s book is a significant, but rare example of anti-eugenic essays circulating at that time in Britain. He predicted the abuse of eugenics and believed that it would be used as means of suppression of the poor. Even though Chesterton was accused of irrationality because of his ideas, the book had a considerable influence on British parliament. Despite the fact that the movement of eugenics was founded in Britain, the eugenics legislation as it was introduced in the United States and later in Germany was never passed in Britain.



Madison Grant was an American writer and zoologist known primarily for his work as a eugenicist. The subtitle of the book refers to the key theory promoted by Grant – the superiority of Nordic race and its responsibility for human development. Theodore Lothrop Stoddard was an American historian, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and author of several books which advocated eugenics and scientific racism. His strategy to frighten readers with the spectre of a race war, by presenting the enemies of the 'white race' as being strong enough to pose an existential threat, but weak enough to defeat, is still being practiced, some hundred years later, by white supremacists. James Woodsworth’s book served as a blueprint for Canada’s 'Immigration Act' enacted soon after the publication of the book. In this book, Woodsworth provides a hierarchy of races and ethnicities based on their ability to assimilate into Canadian society. Those belonging to 'prohibited classes' were deported and denied entry to Canada.


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In 1930, after 1885 and 1894, Antwerp organised a world exhibition. It would be the third and last time. For Antwerp, the International Exhibition: Colonial, Maritime and Flemish Art was very important. In addition to city marketing, urban expansion – a fully new city section was created between Berchem and the Scheldt, today called the Tentoonstellingswijk (Exhibition District) – as well as major infrastructure works (including the construction of the Waasland Tunnel), the exhibition looked to turn Antwerp into a metropolis for the future. The city itself built two bridges over the Kielsevest and two exhibition buildings, which were subsequently converted into the Christ the King Church on the one hand, and a school (in the Pestalozzi Street) on the other. In these buildings a retrospective of old Flemish art took place – probably the largest ever held. Unlike in 1885 and 1894, the 1930 exhibition did not feature a Congolese village. However, there was another attraction: visitors were able to view a commercially operated 'negro village'. The colonial government wanted to focus on Belgian achievements in mining and agriculture in Congo; on an extensive collection of sculptures, masks and utensils; and on Catholic missions. The monumental 'Congo Palace', especially built for this purpose, acquired an oriental, 'Eastern' character, because the designers believed that black Africa had no architecture of its own.


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Leo Frobenius (1873-1938) was a German ethnologist, archaeologist, and proponent of a culture-historical approach to ethnology. He is also considered to be one of the key figures that influenced the Négritude movement. In the introduction to An Anthology published on the occasion of Frobenius’ hundred years anniversary, Léopold Senghor claimed that the latter had not only “revealed Africa for the rest of the world”, but also “Africans to themselves”. Indeed, in his Kulturgeschichte Afrikas, the German ethnologist not only points out that the “barbarian negro was a European invention”, but also elaborates on such concepts as emotion, intuition, art, myth, and Eurafrica, which would become crucial for Senghor’s understanding of black subjectivity. Paideuma. Umrisse einer Kultur- und Seelenlehre (Paideuma. Outlines of a Soul and Culture Theory) is considered Frobenius’ most significant contribution to ethnography. Paideuma can be described as a unique faculty or manifestation of an attitude to life formed by a specific environment and upbringing. Therefore, man is understood as a product of culture, not the contrary.



With The End of History and the Last Man Francis Fukuyama proclaims the victory of Western democracy over communism and all other ideologies. Since the 1990s, Fukuyama’s triumphalist image has often been adopted by politicians from centrist parties in the West. Fukuyama looks back at the history of the past centuries and sees a continuous clash of ideologies, driven by the logic of modern science on the one hand and the struggle for human recognition on the other. According to Fukuyama, human history is universal, progressive, and going in one direction. He sees an evolution that started under the impulse of the European Enlightenment, and that evolves towards a global monoculture of liberal capitalism. In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argues that the end of Cold War ideological bipolarity will lead to inevitable instability, but on the cultural axis. He describes civilisations as the highest rank of cultural identity. According to the author, the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of China would challenge Western dominance. Instead of the false universalism of Western culture, he suggests a strategy that, whilst abandoning the idea of universalism, would reaffirm Western identity in order to “renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies.” An example of extreme cultural determinism, which omits any interdependency of cultures, the book has been criticised by various academic writers and is often regarded as a theoretical legitimisation of the aggressive side of US foreign policy.



American philosopher Judith Butler wrote Gender Trouble, her first book, in 1990 out of a critical commitment to feminism, and in recognition of the struggles of people that fall outside of prevailing gender norms. Butler introduces the notion of ‘performativity’, borrowed from linguistics to explain how our view of the world is guided by the way we speak about it. She applies this to the construction of gender, proposing that gender comes into being through repeated speaking and acting as a woman or a man. In ‘performing’ a gender, we constantly reshape the norms of that gender that are passed down. For Butler, working in language presents an opportunity to deviate from current standards and, in doing so, to gradually shift meanings and realise social change. Camille Paglia is an American cultural critic known for her polemical ideas on feminism and sexuality. A controversial figure – identifying herself as transgender – but rejecting contemporary gender studies, she is often described as an “antifeminist-feminist”. Her most famous and lengthy publication Sexual Personae seeks to demonstrate “the unity and continuity of Western culture” through the study of sexual personae from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. Paglia’s comparisons of select examples of art and literature from high and low cultures, and controversial enthusiasm for pornography and male paedophilia are, as argued by some critics, merely gimmicks, which mask her glorification of male dominance and the unquestionable conservative trajectory of Western culture.



American author and daughter of Theodora Kroeber Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) is best known for her science fiction books from the late 1960s onwards, in which she questions the conventions of the genre, by creating characters and societies that challenge our understanding of gender, race and political organisation. The Left Hand of Darkness from 1969 is the starting point of a thought process that runs through Le Guin's oeuvre: rethinking and redefining gender and sex. At the novel's centre, we find an androgynous group of people who are both female and male, and who can simultaneously be biological mother and father. Although the book has been described as feminist science fiction and has often been discussed in gender studies, it has also been criticised for the use of the pronoun 'he' to refer to its androgynous characters.

In response to this criticism, Le Guin wrote the essay 'Is Gender Necessary?' in 1976, in which she reflects on her experiment with portraying gender in the book, and examines her own evolving thinking on this subject.

“If we were socially ambisexual, if men and women were completely and genuinely equal in their social roles, equal legally and economically, equal in freedom, in responsibility, and in self-esteem, then society would be a very different thing. What our problems might be, God knows; I only know we would have them. But it seems likely that our central problem would not be the one it is now: the problem of exploitation – exploitation of the woman, of the weak, of the earth.” 

The Lathe of Heaven, whose title is a quote from the Chinese poet and Taoist philosopher Zhuang Zi (4th century BC), is about a character whose dreams change the past and the present. This anti-utopia is Le Guin's critique of behaviourism, utilitarianism and eugenics. In addition to being an escape from bitter, inhuman democracies and fascist regimes, the book The Dispossessed, An Ambiguous Utopia is an investigation into the dilemmas of an anarcho-socialist utopia. Finally, in The Word for World is Forest, Le Guin links an anti-colonial and anti-militaristic message to environmental issues and the question of the relationship between language and culture.


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The Corn Campaign was the mass introduction of corn into the agriculture of the USSR in the 1950s and 1960s as a solution to the problem of feeding livestock. The idea of introducing the foreign crop came to Nikita Khrushchev, then the head of the USSR, in 1955 when he met the American farmer Roswell Garst, who told him about the role of corn in US agriculture and its advantages. Shortly after Khrushchev’s trip to the United States, American seed corn was imported to the USSR. The Ministry of Agriculture established a corn research institute in the Ukraine, issued a new scientific journal dedicated to the crop, and launched one of the largest propaganda campaigns in the history of the USSR. Endless slogans in newspapers praised “the queen of the fields”, and through poems, songs, posters, souvenirs, and even a full length animated film titled Чудесница (Chudesnitsa), the government sought every opportunity to popularise the fodder crop. Mass propagation of corn did not take into account the climate of the country, nor the agricultural traditions. In the early 1960s, a quarter of arable land was occupied by corn, which led to a shortage of wheat by autumn 1962. The inevitable failure of monocultural corn farming led to agricultural crisis and the subsequent failure of Khrushchev’s political career.


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Facilitated by the two emerging scientific disciplines of ethnology and anthropology, ‘ethnological exhibitions’, also referred to as human zoos, emerged in the late 19th century, operating as the most significant events for propagating imperialism. Introduced in Europe by Carl Hagenbeck, a German merchant of wild animals, they were a spectacle of ‘exotic’ indigenous peoples from the distant territories of Africa, the Arctic, India, Ceylon and Southeast Asia, typically housed within the constructed setting of a native village. Hagenbeck’s exhibitions in the Tierpark, Hamburg-Stellingen, were chosen as the reference for subsequent human zoos within the framework of colonial exhibitions. Organised to boost trade, they also displayed a range of ethnographical material accompanied by individuals originating from colonies. Perhaps the most visited and notable colonial exhibitions were those held in Paris in the tropical garden of the Bois de Vincennes and the Jardin d'Acclimatation. Despite enormous interest from the general public and the millions of visitors attending the exhibitions, there was a certain rise in social consciousness – thus, there was a call to boycott the 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition supported by famous Surrealist artists and members of the French communist party.

Human zoos were also part of the colonial sections of Belgian International Exhibitions from the end of the 19th until the mid-20th centuries. One of the most remarkable events was the 1897 Tervuren Exhibition, which displayed the products and people of the Congo Independent State, which was in the personal possession of King Leopold II until 1908. A lavishly illustrated guide book in the style of Art Nouveau provided an insight into the grandeur of the exposition that took place in the newly built Palais des Colonies and its gardens, where scenes of everyday African life attracted thousands of visitors. Besides being major propaganda for the economic potential of Belgian presence in the Congo, it also emphasised the ‘civilising’ work of Belgian missions. Colonial exhibitions contributed the most to the creation of the image of the inferior savage Other, and the legitimatisation of colonialism.



At the time of the publication of A Seventh Man: Migrant Workers in Europe in 1975, one manual worker in seven in the UK and Germany was of migrant background. John Berger and Jean Mohr examine the material conditions and inner experiences of migrant workers, revealing how they do not live in the margins of modern society but actually right in the middle of it. The novel Le Camp des Saints by Jean Raspail describes the emigration of a million people on cargo ships from India to France, where they hope for a better life. Due to the blindness of government and population, this ‘invasion’, in itself peaceful, leads to the end of the French nation and ultimately of European civilisation. Le Camp des Saints is about the fear of losing the racial and cultural purity of the ‘West’. According to Raspail, the danger mainly comes from within because artists, intellectuals and the media impose their tolerant attitude towards migration upon the population. Although the book wasn’t an overwhelming success when it was published in 1973, thanks to the controversy surrounding it due to the changing political climate and media landscape, it has become a cult book in nationalist, identitarian and suprematist circles in Europe and the United States. In Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Bat Ye’or introduces the concept of ‘Eurabia’, referring to a Europe that is Islamised and that eventually will be completely absorbed by the Arab world. The starting point of Bat Ye’or’s conspiracy theory is a number of agreements that took place between leaders of European and Arab countries in the 1970s and the creation of the Euro-Arab Dialogue. Bat Ye’or claims that during the Copenhagen European Summit of December 1973, the Arab contingent agreed to ensure the supply of oil to Europe in exchange for allowing migration, in order to Islamise Europe. In Europe, Bat Ye’or’s concept of Eurabia is mainly adopted by politicians from extreme right-wing parties, who use them in their Islamophobic anti-immigration discourse.


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Modernism in architecture became an international movement by 1928 with the establishment of the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) or International Congresses of Modern Architecture. CIAM’s objectives went beyond the questions of style and formalism of architectural principles, approaching modern architecture and urban planning as a reformatory socio-political tool. The Athens Charter is considered the manifesto of CIAM. Edited by Le Corbusier, the charter has 95 points on the planning and construction of cities. Two principal approaches towards modern architecture of the 1950s can be distinguished. The first can be described as a regionalist approach that focused on the climate and geography of a region, but paid little attention to cultural analysis or existing vernacular tradition. This can be illustrated by the various ‘African experiments’— regionalist modernist projects of the leading British architects Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew. In the 1950s the couple joined Le Corbusier to work on the creation of Chandigarh, the new capital of the divided Punjab in India. The modernist architecture of Chandigarh is widely regarded as one of the prominent experiments in urban planning and a symbolic statement of the radical break from tradition and colonial past of the newly independent India. Although the purity of the modernism was initially supposed to be protected “from whims of individuals” by the Edict of Chandigarh (as prescribed by Le Corbusier), the universal functionalism of modernist residential architecture has been challenged by various forms of ad hoc urbanism, inspired by local traditions of urban life.


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In October 1967, British zoologist and behavioural scientist Desmond Morris (1928) published his infamous book The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal, a study of human behaviour, in which he approached man as one of the 193 monkey species. According to Morris, human behaviour and its evolution can best be understood as animal behaviour. Man does have some specific peculiarities. He does not only have the biggest brain and the largest penis, but is also the only monkey species whose body isn't covered with hair. This evolution toward a 'naked monkey' helped couples live monogamously, so that male specimens could hunt with confidence, while the females waited faithfully for them at home. In his theory, only the hunting men are the driving force behind the evolution of human intelligence. Ever since the publication of the book, Morris has received strong criticism from feminists and (especially female) scientists. In the sequel The Human Zoo, Morris examines urban societies. He compares life in a city with life in a zoo: both provide the inhabitants with all the necessities of life, but with withdrawal from a natural environment. Isolation, boredom and life in a restricted space make the development of healthy social relationships difficult, which can lead to all kinds of violence.


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In his book, which was a major inspiration for Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, Wolfgang Willrich gives a negative overview of modern art in Germany, viciously attacking such prominent modernist artists as Barlach, Dix, Grosz, Heckel, Nolde, Schmidt-Rottluff and others whose work fell victim to subsequent confiscation and elimination. Published in 1938, a year after the opening of the Entartete Kunst exhibition, the book of Adolf Dresler is a typical example of Nazi criticism of modernist art, with expressionist and abstract works being juxtaposed with politically favourable German ('Deutsche') works. The artworks condemned by the author were selected from the list of 'degenerate artworks' presented at the infamous exhibition. Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung (The Great German Art Exhibition) took place eight times from 1937 to 1944 at the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich. The exhibition was propagated as the most important cultural event in Nazi Germany and the main representative of art under National Socialism. Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) was the largest pre-war anti-Semitic exhibition, which was intended to represent a supposed Jewish attempt at bolshevising Nazi Germany.


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One of the most ambiguous and influential figures of modern thought, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is invoked in different and often ambivalent ways. The early association of his writing was with Nazism, promoted by his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche who posthumously edited his unpublished works to fit her nationalistic ideas, and contradicted Nietzsche’s own stance against nationalism and antisemitism. His early work Die Geburt der Tragödie (The Birth of Tragedy) (1872) is a study of the origin and development of Greek tragedy that considers the prevailing idealistic perception of Greek culture as a reflection of order and optimism, by introducing an intellectual dichotomy between what he termed the Apollonian and Dionysian elements. The former element is associated with individualisation, restraint, harmony and order, while the latter, as its opposite, operates as a chaotic force and an ecstatic dissolution of individuality. Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) (1886) is a powerful critique of religion, ethics, philosophical thought, science and politics. Providing a genealogical account of the development of modern moral systems, Nietzsche bases his argument on the idea of a fundamental shift in the history of morality, from thinking in terms of "good and bad" toward "good and evil".


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The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formally established during the meeting held on the Brijuni islands, Yugoslavia in 1956 by the signing of the Declaration of Brijuni by five world leaders including Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. The first Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries was held in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The aims of the movement were derived from the ideas expressed during the Afro-Asian conference in Bandung (1955). Having appeared in the bipolar political climate of the Cold War, the NAM represented the “third way” in international relations. Based on the principles of peaceful co-existence and mutual support, the movement advocated for respect of sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs. The NAM, Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) and The Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) all collaborated, however, the members of the latter were distinguished by a more radical and less conciliatory attitude towards Western imperialism. The NAM is currently formed by 120 world states.


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Négritude was conceived as an emancipatory cultural movement, initiated in the Interwar period by francophone intellectuals of the African diaspora who sought to reclaim the value of African culture. Léon-Gontran Damas was a French poet, politician, and one of the founders of the Négritude movement together with Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor. This anthology contains poems by French-speaking authors from six regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, The Antilles (Guadeloupe and Martinique), Guyana, Indochina, Madagascar and Réunion island. The anthology of African and West Indian poets, edited by Léopold Senghor received much recognition for its introductory essay ‘Orphée Noir’ (Black Orpheus) written by Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre characterises Négritude as an "anti-racist racism". The article by Gabriel d'Arboussier, a French-Senegalese politician, denounces Négritude as a reactionary movement for its “particularism”. The arguments of d'Arbousier created the basis of all the following criticism of the movement.  This book is the first volume of the series of books titled Liberté (Freedom). As it states in the introduction, the title expresses the general theme of the texts as the “conquest of freedom as affirmation and illustration of the collective personality of black peoples: of Négritude”.


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1er Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres (The First World Festival of Negro Arts) was held in Dakar, Senegal, 1–24 April 1966, initiated by Léopold Senghor under the auspices of UNESCO. Visitors from around the world, as well as Dakar residents, were able to attend a vast programme of events, including exhibitions presenting tribal and modern art, conferences and street performances. According to Senghor, the festival was supposed to be an illustration of Négritude, a major showcase uniting the work of African and African diasporia artists. A colloquium that took place two day before the opening, which was considered the intellectual fulcrum of the event, gathered artists and intellectuals to reflect on the role of art in the emerging post-imperial world as well as the meaning of Négritude. The first side of this record consists of texts, music and slave songs, and the second side presents two different aspects of black music – short instrumental improvisations inspired by Senegalese traditional music and 'the Songs of New Nations' – Ghana, Nigeria, Congo – performed by a choir with native drums and percussion.


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Ayn Rand, originally Alisa Rosenbaum (1905-1982), was a Russian-American writer. Famous primarily for her novels that gained worldwide and enduring success, she is also renowned for her philosophical framework called Objectivism, which maintains a lasting influence on popular thought. Her ideas were partially predetermined by her own biography –  her father’s business was seized by Bolsheviks in 1917, which dramatically changed her family’s way of life. She left communist Russia for the United States in early 1926. Rand was driven by the idea of men’s need for rational morality, a morality code which would oppose any collective, religious, mystical or emotion based moral concepts. A person’s life was understood by Rand as a standard of value, with reason as the only guide to action, and thus the highest moral purpose was the achievement of one’s own happiness. The fundamentals of Rand’s philosophy: reality as “an objective absolute”, primacy of reason, the ethics of selfishness and the moral defence of 'laisséz-faire' capitalism, were developed through her public lectures, books and newsletters.


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Austrian-British philosopher of science and politics, Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies is a head-on attack on historicism – the idea that history develops towards an end point according to fixed laws – in the thinking of philosophers Plato, Hegel and Marx. According to Popper, what he sees as their belief in a static society – the future of which can be predicted, which must be guided by a central political system, and in which the state is more important than the individual – makes them the defenders of the closed society and the spiritual fathers of communism, fascism and other ‘isms’ with an absolute truth claim. Although the text only appeared in book form in 1957, The Poverty of Historicism is actually Karl Popper's original attack on historicism. The three-volume essay with the same title already appeared in 1944 and 1945, in the international journal Economica. Popper criticises the 'historicist doctrine' of the social sciences, which states that we can only understand a social group by knowing the internal principles that determine the development of the group. He links this to holism, the belief that the individual is mainly determined by the group to which she/he belongs. Popper contrasts this with an individualism that considers social groups as the sum of their members, and social developments as a result of actions by individuals, usually unplanned and therefore also unpredictable.



Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) was a Hollywood actor and an American politician who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. His political stance is characterised by the devotion to the ideals of modern conservatism in its neo-liberal form, in particular, a strong favour for capitalist economics. The economic policies promoted by Reagan in the 1980s went down in history as 'Reaganomics'. Rendezvous with Destiny is the key passage of the famous A Time for Choosing speech that was presented by Reagan during the 1964 U.S. presidential election campaign on behalf of Republican party candidate Barry Goldwater. The speech earned him prominence as a leading conservative spokesman. A Record from Ronald Reagan To All Californians is similar in rhetoric, but much shorter and fairly light on ideological content, this record was part of Reagan’s campaign for governor in the 1966 election. Appealing to reduce government regulation, he calls out for Californians to vote for him if they “believe in their destiny” and their own decisions. Another distinctive feature of Reagan’s speeches is the emphasis on his non-political, unprofessional background. Speaking in the persona of a colonist from Boston, in Freedom's Finest Hour Reagan tells the story of the American War of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution with his famous eloquence. All is intended to create a feeling of pride for America and the Constitution. Young America's Foundation (YAF) is a conservative youth organisation established in 1960. In his speech, addressed to YAF in 1975, Ronald Reagan expressed his support to the organisation and its activity. Reagan's endorsement of the YAF was considered a having greatly helped his presidential campaign.



Following the abolition of slavery by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the United States experienced a century of legally regulated racial segregation. In the Southern States, the Jim Crow laws (named after a racist caricature from a popular song) pursued a strict separation between the white and black populations at local and state level: from separate schools, hospitals, and restaurants to separate trains, public toilets, parks and cemeteries. The Supreme Court approved these segregation laws, basing its decision on the concept of 'separate but equal'. Since the individual states were themselves responsible for ensuring that the infrastructure was equal for all, this concept was of course never reality. In this way, a racist policy was pursued in the South that closely resembled the apartheid that came later in South Africa. Only in 1964, and under the pressure of civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, and organisations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Civil Rights Act prohibited all segregation by law. Although “equality before the law” has existed since then, discrimination remains a reality in many areas of the United States until today.



Socialist Realism was an artistic phenomenon and 'creative method' of the Soviet Union. Introduced as a doctrine of the single creative method in 1934 during the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, it was applied to all spheres of artistic endeavour. Often characterised simply as a style, it hardly fits into such category due to the obvious lack of a clearly articulated artistic language, or rather, the consistent erasure of any formal stylistic features. The relation of Soviet Realism to previous realistic traditions in art and to reality itself is also complicated. Aimed to present an analysis of “reality in its revolutionary development” and establish “a culture of the masses that had yet to be created”, it was primarily oriented not toward the Soviet reality of the time, but the bright Socialist future. This utopian aspiration and the belief in the transformative potential of art and strong collective spirit, makes Socialist Realism a total and totalitarian aesthetical-political project, or, as put by theorist Boris Groys – Stalin’s gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art). Deeply rooted in communist ideology, Socialist Realism was not simply its product, but the very means of production. This makes it an example of a unique propagandist strategy.


2020 monoculture photo m hka cc 5 image: (c) M HKA

The Novosti Press Agency was founded in 1961. The Agency operated as an impressive propaganda machine with numerous branches all around the world and a total annual publication circulation of 20 million copies. Their range of books covered such topics as the Soviet contribution to the economic development of 'Third World’ countries, the Soviet policy of support for National Liberation Movements, criticism of “contemporary colonialism” and the imperialist policy of the West. First Time in Moscow tells the story of a fictional African child called Dudu, who was given a free trip to Moscow as the winner of a contest. The patronising and romanticised tone of the book makes it a striking example of propaganda material created in the USSR under the “International Friendship” policy. The Peoples’ Friendship University was founded in 1960 and later renamed after Patrice Lumumba following the assassination of the Congolese independence leader in 1961. The University was praised for its educational accomplishments and was considered as an epitome of solidarity and internationalism by its proponents, and denounced as a communist institution for spy recruitment by its opponents. The very concept of a university established especially to provide education for students from 'Third World' countries was also questioned by the very governments of the countries it was aimed at.

This advertising postcard features a scene from the popular Soviet melodramatic musical film Цирк (Circus) released in 1936. The film tells the story of an American circus actress who flees from racism in the US after giving birth to a black child. Embraced by the friendliness of multi-ethnic Soviet society, she and her son eventually find their happiness in the USSR.



The first documenta was held between 15 July and 18 September 1955 in Kassel, Germany. Although close to the Latin word – documentum meaning: a lesson or warning, the title of the exhibition is an invented word that was supposed to embody the intention to be a documentation of modern art. This catalogue of an extensive exhibition of modern art, co-curated by Laszlo Glozer and Kasper König in Kölnermessehallen, Cologne (30 May – 16 August 1981). Intentionally provocative, the title Westkunst is a pun on the word ‘Weltkunst’ (World Art). It was intended to refer to the hegemonic Western ideology as well as the existing political and ideological division of Europe into West and East. The exhibition "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, was led by William Rubin and Kirk Varnedoe at MoMA in 1984. Having juxtaposed tribal and Modernist artworks according to their formal resemblances, it was extensively criticised for its valorisation of Western art practice at the expense of the so-called “primitive” one. Often regarded as a direct response to MoMA’s controversial exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre was organised by French curator Jean-Hubert Martin five years later. Though praised by some for its attempt to depart from Eurocentric perspectives, the exhibition was also condemned by others for its formalist approach, de-contextualisation and de-politicisation of artworks, particularly of those from outside of the West. The Other Story, curated by the artist and theorist Rasheed Araeen at the Hayward Gallery, was the first major survey of the works of artists of Asian, African and Caribbean origin in Britain made in the post-war decades. Having taken place during the era of Margret Thatcher’s Conservative government, the exhibition is considered a significant attempt at the ‘de-imperialisation’ of the ‘master narrative‘ of modern art history.


2020 monoculture photo m hka cc 28 image: (c) M HKA

These two exhibitions, which took place in New York three years apart, are often regarded together, as both were heavily orientated towards the tendency described as ‘identity politics’. Organised in the midst of the so-called ‘cultural wars’, The Decade Show and the 1993 Whitney Biennial in particular, are considered as the first major art exhibitions in the US to give visibility to artists from marginalised groups, whilst also presenting to the wider public such issues as the AIDS crisis, race, class, gender, imperialism and poverty, among others. In the case of The Decade Show, its representational strategy based on the contrasting of artworks of each minoritised group with that of mainstream (Anglo-Saxon/Western) artists promoted the tendency for the exaltation of differences as a mode of practice, since well-established in the US. The exhibitions received a maelstrom of criticism. Some critics felt there was a reductionist approach by the curators of the Whitney Biennial, with the complexity of some artworks reduced to the representation of marginality in essentialist terms. Perceived by some as vehemently political, the displays were described as overly-didactic, and the organisers were accused of pandering to political correctness and sacrificing artistic quality in favour of multiculturalism and identity politics. Although controversial, these exhibitions – and the Whitney Biennial to the greater extent – have had considerable influence on the politics of representation within the artistic sphere.



In the 1960s, Ayn Rand turned to writing non-fiction and elaborated on the ideas set forth in her novels, united under the concept of Objectivism. From 1962 until 1976, she wrote for three successive periodicals. An extremely prolific writer, Rand commented on significant cultural events and outlined some negative trends from her Objectivist perspective. Considering the philosophy as an indispensable guide to the world, she addressed all kinds of topics. These also included a number of book reviews, a Q&A section, occasional editorial reports on the spread of Objectivism, a calendar of upcoming events such as lectures, and TV and radio programmes that featured Rand and her associates. Rand also compiled a list of books, which she considered to be of special interest to the adherents of Objectivism. The periodicals were supposed to help her readers “acquire relevant knowledge”.