Over the last 120 years, the culture wars have evolved dramatically, encompassing various arts and political movements that have challenged traditional norms and values. The early 20th century witnessed the birth of Surrealism, an artistic expression of the subconscious, which rebelled against rationalism and societal constraints. As the century progressed, artistic movements like Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art emerged, reﬂecting the anxieties of post-war society and the rise of consumerism. The latter half of the 20th century saw the rise of the feminist, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ movements, which signiﬁcantly impacted the art world, ushering in a new era of inclusivity and diverse representation. In the 21st century, the culture wars continue to evolve, with digital technology and social media becoming powerful tools for amplifying underrepresented voices and challenging conventional artistic hierarchies.
The inﬂuence of Surrealism is still evident in present-day art and culture. Contemporary artists continue to explore the subconscious and challenge conventional norms, often blending reality with fantasy in their work. Surrealism has also left its mark on various aspects of popular culture, from cinema and literature to fashion and advertising, inspiring a lasting fascination with the strange and the uncanny. Moreover, Surrealist ideas have contributed to the ongoing debate surrounding the importance of art as a means of social and political expression, and as a way to challenge established norms and values.
Innovation in technology and media has played a signiﬁcant role in the evolution and dissemination of art movements like Surrealism. The rapid advancements in these ﬁelds have facilitated the creation, consumption, and distribution of art, allowing artists to reach wider audiences and challenge traditional boundaries.
Photography and ﬁlm, for instance, were embraced by Surrealists as new mediums to explore the subconscious and blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Artists like Man Ray and Salvador Dalí utilized these technologies to create groundbreaking works that continue to inspire contemporary artists.
The advent of television, followed by the internet, social media, and digital art, has further revolutionized the way art is produced and consumed. These platforms have democratized access to art, allowing for the ampliﬁcation of underrepresented voices and fostering a more inclusive and diverse art world. They have also enabled artists to engage with global audiences, creating opportunities for cultural exchange and inﬂuencing new artistic styles and movements.
Furthermore, digital technology has given rise to new forms of artistic expression, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and AI-generated art, which continue to challenge traditional notions of art and authorship. These innovations have expanded the realm of possibilities for artists, allowing them to explore new themes and ideas that resonate with the culture wars and the ongoing struggle for social and political change.
While Surrealism as an art movement was not inherently aimed at promoting disinformation, its techniques and characteristics can be co-opted for such purposes.
Unlike the emphasis on individualism and the exploration of ideas in Surrealism,
Authoritarian propaganda often promotes conformity and adherence to a particular set of values or beliefs dictated by the ruling authority.
Surrealism, with its focus on the subconscious, irrational, and dream-like imagery, has at times been employed as a tool of disinformation by propagandists and authoritarians. Its inherent ambiguity and ability to distort reality can be manipulated to create confusion, generate alternative narratives, and destabilize the perception of truth.
It is important to recognize the potential
misuse of any artistic style in the hands of authoritarians, and to remain critical in
evaluating the information and narratives we encounter.
distortion of reality Surrealist techniques, such as photomontage and collage, can be used to create images that blend truth and ﬁction, making it difﬁcult for viewers to discern what is real. By juxtaposing unrelated elements, propagandists can construct misleading narratives that support their agenda and sow doubt.
manipulation of emotions Surrealist art often elicits strong emotional responses due to its unconventional and sometimes disturbing content. Authoritarians can exploit these emotional reactions to manipulate public sentiment, fostering fear, anxiety, or anger that can then be directed towards speciﬁc targets or used to justify certain actions.
undermining trust in institutions
By employing surreal imagery and narratives to question the credibility of established institutions, propagandists can erode public trust in these entities. This distrust can pave the way for alternative sources of information and authority that align with the propagandist’s objectives.
subversion of dissent Surrealism’s inherent unpredictability can be used to discredit opposing voices by associating them with irrationality or chaos. By portraying dissenters as proponents of absurd or chaotic ideas, authoritarians can delegitimize their arguments and consolidate control.
In some ways, Surrealism can be seen as a precursor to Absurdism, as it paved the way for a more radical rejection of rationality and order. Many absurdists were inﬂuenced by surrealism, and some even considered themselves surrealist writers or artists.
Authoritarian regimes may use absurdism as a tool to create confusion and chaos in the public discourse. By promoting absurd or contradictory information, the regime can undermine trust in traditional sources of truth and information. This disorientation makes it easier for the regime to control the narrative and manipulate the public.
They can normalize the irrational or illogical aspects of their rule. This may include promoting bizarre conspiracy theories, exaggerating or fabricating threats, or offering irrational justiﬁcations for their actions. Over time, this can desensitize the public to the irrationality of the regime’s actions and make them more accepting of the status quo.
The absurdity of the regime’s propaganda can also be used to undermine the credibility of opposition groups or activists. By portraying them as delusional or misguided, the regime can weaken their inﬂuence and make it more difﬁcult for them to organize resistance.
It can serve as a distraction from more pressing issues or the regime’s failings. By focusing public attention on absurd or nonsensical topics, the regime can divert attention away from its own shortcomings and maintain control over the narrative, as well as inoculation against criticism, effectively silencing dissent and maintaining their grip on power.
A constant tactic in the authoritarian playbook, Projection, confuses the population by means of Political Appropriation. The Soviet Union promoted Social Realism as the only acceptable form of art, but it also used Surrealist and other avant-garde styles of art for propaganda purposes.
In Nazi Germany, Surrealism was banned as Degenerate Art, but the regime also appropriated Surrealist imagery for its own purposes. The Nazis used Surrealist techniques, such as photomontage, to create propaganda, posters and other content.
The escalation of the chaotic and irrational messaging of current, anti-democratic movements, along with its potential for manipulation, highlights the need for critical evaluation of the information and narratives we encounter. As the world continues to evolve and new political movements emerge, it is crucial to remain vigilant in recognizing the misuse of artistic styles for propaganda and disinformation.
We never know what our last chance to protect our freedoms will be.
this shit is real.
fight the fog