The most extremist example of monocultural ideology is that of National Socialism in Germany. A pertinent reminder of this is Psychologist Erich Rudolph Jaensch, president of the German Psychological Association in Nazi Germany, who developed an influential body of policies outlining Nazism as a biological movement. As well as outlining ideas of racial purity, Jaensch also describes the German and anti-German ways of looking. The ‘antitype’ to the German has inclinations towards the aesthetical, intellectual and the playful; whereas the German would possess rigid, unambiguous, stimulus-response relationships, with no space for interpretation. Thus, we see how Nazi pseudoscience saw identity in relation to perception – their ethnocentric monoculturalism also as a mode of seeing – leaving little space for individual human subjectivity. The cases of the Entartete Kunst and Grosse Deutsche Kunst exhibitions are well known as propaganda tools for how the Nazis used art to demonstrate an ethnocentric and monocultural conception of culture. It is a stark reminder that artistic impoverishment can reflect a wider societal impoverishment.

Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil)

Blut und Boden was a key slogan of Nazi ideology. This included the organisation of agriculture, referring to the nationalistic ideal of an intrinsic bond between the racially pure national body (blut) and settlement land (boden). The nationalist ideology was based on the imaginary idea of traditionally sedentary German peasantry in opposition to rootless Jewish nomadism. The programme was famous for its wide ideological and propaganda support. The government encouraged the return of youth in cities back to villages, because cities were primarily seen as places of decadent modernity and overall 'un-German' life. With the help of the Blut und Boden policy, German society was meant to be restructured into a farming society. It also provided ideological justification for the German military expansion into Central and Eastern European territory.

Nazi propaganda exhibitions

One of the most striking historical examples of ideological monoculture in the cultural field was of ‘entartete kunst’ (‘degenerate art’) in Nazi Germany. Holding up the modernist avant-garde, or in fact anything that didn’t fit the narrow ethno-centric definition of German art and culture, was considered as an aberration. 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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