Richard Wagner’s Political Thought: Critique of Modernity and National Art
Author/s: Ateş Uslu
OnlineFirst published on August 20, 2017
Year: 2017 Vol: 37 Number: 1
Richard Wagner wrote systematic accounts of his ideas on opera and on the relationships among art, politics, and society in the articles and books he published from the 1840s onward. He analyzed a variety of topics in his studies on politics and art, including cultural nationalism and critiques of modernity. He put emphasis on the specificity and superiority of the German nation over other nations, and on the need to recover rural life, national history, and legends in order to create a national art. He was influenced by contemporary thinkers, including Feuerbach and Proudhon, and developed a romantic critique of modernity in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Although he changed some of his ideas under the influence of Schopenhauer, whom he discovered in the mid-1850s, he continued to make critiques of modernity. However, in his later writings, Wagner was far from adopting a utopian viewpoint or optimistic attitude towards the future. In this same period, he also developed more racialist aspects into his cultural nationalism.