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This article appears in the November 29, 2019 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.


Beauty and Classical Art as Mankind’s Vocation:
The Cultural Silk Road

The Necessity of a Classical Renaissance for Our Youth

[Print version of this article]

Johanna Clerc
Diane Sare

Ms. Sare is the Director of the Manhattan Chorus Project. We present here her edited remarks as prepared for presentation on Nov. 17, 2019 at the Schiller Institute Conference, “The Future of Humanity as a Creative Species in the Universe,” in Bad Soden, Germany. Subheads have been added.

I’d like to thank Helga for giving me an opportunity to speak about something which is very dear to me—the necessity for a renaissance of Classical culture. This is urgent for all generations, and particularly now, because we are in a moment of epochal change, as Helga has said before, and my greatest fear is that we could fail to realize the full potential of this moment because we lack poets, or we suppress our inner poet, in the name of “being practical.” We need artists and dreamers who can envision the full potential for mankind, without having experienced it first—like Alexander Hamilton, doing accounting for a sugar plantation in the Caribbean, seeing hideous suffering under slavery, but having a vision for a form of government which upheld the principles of the divine nature of humankind.

We also need to rediscover our sense of irony and our sense of humor. The so-called news media—and it is “fake news”—and it’s actually worse than that, because it’s now run, quite openly, by rogue intelligence agents, like the former CIA Director, the torture-loving John Brennan (whose brother threatened to beat up my husband in New York City by the way) who now is a major commentator at CNN. And Josh Campbell, associate of James Comey, at the FBI, who’s now at MSNBC—and I’m sure there are many, many more.

So, is it any wonder that when President Trump announces that he wants to get our troops out of Syria, and Afghanistan, the press goes berserk? They come up with arguments about why we should occupy Syria forever, and partition it into pieces, and declare war on Turkey, which happens to have a bunch of our nuclear weapons. They accuse Trump of causing war, but he was not the one who gloated over the torturous murder of Qaddafi, and said, “What difference does it make?” of the Americans who died in Benghazi.

Many people may think that President Trump does not look or speak like a poet—although, I find that there is a poetical quality to some of the things he says and does—good biting irony and humor. I’m not certain that a less abrasive personality could have survived the onslaught of the hyenas in the news media and been able to rally tens of thousands of despairing Americans to start acting like citizens again.

Imagine the fun that Shakespeare would have had with a character like President Trump, who together with Putin, Xi and Modi (leaders who are also loved by the fake news) could become the architects for a noble new paradigm for mankind, and for a world without war.

The Bestialization of People over Decades

To have a renaissance, I think we first have to be close to dead—otherwise, how could we have a rebirth? Do we meet that criterion here in the West? Last week, I read a horrible story about two young men, ages 17 and 19, who chased a 79-year-old man down the street and filmed themselves beating him until his ribs and leg were broken, and he was sent to the hospital in critical condition. A couple months ago, a high school student in Long Island was beaten to death on the sidewalk in front of his school, while 50 other students looked on, filming the incident.

What is wrong with us? Our children have become cold-blooded murderers! Is this horrible cruelty and violence caused by guns? You might argue that individuals who would participate in crimes like these shouldn’t have guns, but you cannot argue that guns are the cause, and arguing about guns or no guns will have no effect on this.

I would like to remind you of an article that Lyndon LaRouche wrote in 1999 after the Columbine High School massacre. It was called, “Star Wars and Littleton.” In it he asserts that children are being turned into terrorists, and identifies two factors that are crucial, if you want to produce a killer.

He wrote:

While you might be watching any small portion of the Star Wars series, the most crucial epistemological issue stands out clearly at first glance. At that moment, you have merely to ask yourself: ‘Do these creatures look human to you?’ How could anyone excuse himself from overlooking the significance of that question?

How does one corrupt innocent children into becoming psychotic-like killers? The quick answer to that question, is: dehumanize the image of man. The details of the way this leads to the production of youthful “Nintendo” terrorists, are a more complicated matter. Nonetheless, it is no oversimplification to say, that once that first step, dehumanizing the image of man, is accomplished, the axiomatic basis has been established, to make war, and killing, merely a childish game played according to a childish mind’s perception of the importance of obeying the rules . . .

To dehumanize people, you create confusion about the difference between man and beast, and then you impose on society an arbitrary set of rules of conduct, which have no ability to take into account the most fundamental principle of the universe—the principle of change, and above that the ability for human beings uniquely to change their species characteristic and even their own personal identity.

We ran into this problem around the “Homeowners and Bank Protection Act,” which Lyndon LaRouche designed in 2007 to stop a bank collapse and keep millions of Americans from being foreclosed on, and thrown out into the streets. The biggest argument we got against this was, “Why should we protect them? They signed the mortgage, didn’t they?” Assertion of arbitrary law—the fact that the banks had committed willful fraud to rip off unsuspecting elderly or poor people, was not considered an adequate reason to nullify the contractual agreement.

EIRNS/Stuart Lewis
On the street in the capital of the United States, December 2010.

I am convinced that the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, which began in the 1970s in the United States, was done to try and make us look at the poor as less than human. “Crazy”—and many of them were. Think about how you react to the word “homeless person.” Is that not synonymous with “crazy person?” And somehow, that is supposed to justify that we leave them on the streets to die of cold or disease, or commit violent crimes against other people.

The prisons in the United States are filled with people who are mentally ill, and many of them go untreated. So again, the rights of prisoners can be ignored, because they are “bad people” or “crazy people.” You don’t have to worry about the fact that people can be held in prison in the United States for years before they even have a trial because they are too poor to afford to post bail. Last winter in Brooklyn, during the so-called “arctic blast” when temperatures were minus 5 and 10 degrees Celsius [23° and 14°F], the prison had no heat for a week!

From there, it is not hard to map the same degradation onto refugees, or the poor, or handicapped, and so it goes.

The Nature of Creativity

But what is the true nature of man? This is the area of LaRouche’s breakthrough in the relationship between human creativity and physical economy. And there is a paradox here—Einstein wrote a delightful short paper about it—because a crucial discovery occurs in the mind of a single individual; it is not a collective act. But the individual would never be able to arrive at that breakthrough without the benefits of being part of a human society. Also, that discovery is only of value so long as the society is able to assimilate it. This was the breakthrough of the American Revolution and our Declaration of Independence asserting the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The government exists to protect the possibility of individual creativity, which can, in turn be assimilated by the society as a whole.

Can we “demand” that people be creative? Let’s listen to LaRouche on this question. This is from a speech he delivered in May 1994, shortly after getting out of prison at the founding conference of a proposed “National Conservatory of Music Movement.” (That conference was the feature item in EIR, Vol. 21, No. 25, June 17, 1994.)

Mr. LaRouche said:

We now have in this country, and throughout the world, oppression. But the worst oppression is the oppression of the soul. Worse than mediocrity, the destruction of the sense of personality, the destruction of the ability to concentrate, the destruction of the recognition that one’s own self is in the image of God. The inability to recognize one’s own creativity. The inability to relive the experience of discovery of a great discoverer of the past, even simply the Pythagorean Theorem or something of that sort, where, by knowing that the child has himself or herself replicated the experience of discovery of a great discoverer, the child knows: “I, too, have that power of creativity.” And when the child does that with a number of cases, the child says, “I have this creative power which I associate with God the Creator! I am in the image of God! It is true. Moses is right. I’m in the image of God—and so is he, and so is she.”

And then the child wants to celebrate it. And what better celebration than a poem? And what better poem than one that is sung properly?

And we require music. It’s a part of our mind. It’s proximate to our powers of creativity.

Imperial Opposition

There is a mythology—too widely accepted today—that creativity is unintelligible, subject to whim, and cannot be conjured up on demand. Bach, Haydn, Einstein, Kepler and all other true geniuses, including Lyndon LaRouche, would, of course, all vehemently object to this notion—as they demonstrated with their incredibly productive lives—but it’s popularly accepted opinion that we have to wait until we are inspired at some arbitrary time, or take a micro-dose of some very powerful psychotropic drug—so what then is creativity? Is it “innovation”? How does one measure it? How does one measure whether something is good for mankind? This is the area of LaRouche’s discoveries, in the relationship between creativity and physical economy—that you can increase the potential relative population density—that more people can live longer, happier lives per given area of land, and that this growth continues from generation to generation.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong in the Apollo 11 lunar module, resting on the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969.

Take the Apollo Mission of President Kennedy. It wasn’t just a competition, although Sputnik may have been the initial shock. What was required of the American people to successfully land on the Moon, and return safely to Earth, was a full-scale mobilization of thousands, and the deployment of the best minds on the mission. As Americans saw themselves rising to the challenge, the effect was infectious—optimism always is. Accomplishing goals for the advancement of mankind which appeared impossible only decades earlier inspires a thirst for more and greater accomplishments.

It is not a coincidence that at the time we were engaged in this bold endeavor that the Civil Rights Movement gathered strength, that African nations decided that they could secure their sovereignty and independence, and the Peace Corps was founded—we believed that poverty could be eliminated. Love of mankind, as demonstrated by Martin Luther King, Jr., as a student of Mahatma Gandhi and Christ, was not considered something born of a naive Pollyanna, but rather as a force of natural law.

President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Spiro Agnew watch the launch of the Apollo 11 Moon Shot at the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.

This inspired view of mankind was too much for Zeus—otherwise known as the British Empire, and a massive onslaught was deployed to transform the culture of the United States from one of optimism to despair.

This too was no small effort—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassinations, the King and Malcom X assassinations, the Vietnam War, MK-Ultra pushing drugs on the college campuses, the introduction of the environmentalist Earth Day, the funding of the Beatles. By 1972, the last time a man walked on the Moon, a year after Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold, we were a colorful mess of overgrown flower children and organization men, prepared to do everything necessary to satisfy ourselves—seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. People were prepared to cannibalize their own parents and children just to get ahead.

The Chorus: Social Creativity

Happily, since it is the nature of human beings to love the good and the beautiful, in spite of the ugliness and destruction, Lyndon LaRouche was able to build and recruit to a small but very powerful organization, which you see in part at this gathering, and you see growing once again in the United States. President Trump is an optimist, because he is a fighter, and that also inspires a certain quality of fight in the American people, but there’s more. Listen to LaRouche from his 75th birthday:

We are at the point where people want to know what to do. But it is very hard to explain what to do in the form of linear instructions—of course you know that Lyndon and Helga Zepp-LaRouche have written programs for every corner of the globe and all the way up to the first colony on Mars. But unless people can think creatively, none of this will work. We are not automatons.

Music is crucial for this. When he recruited his second youth movement early in this millennium, LaRouche advocated the formation of choruses, and in discussion with John Sigerson developed a pedagogy around the Bach motet, Jesu, meine Freude.

Both of my co-panelists made critical contributions to this process, which I think they will tell you about when they speak—Antonella Banaudi brought her knowledge of Italian bel canto to the Boston music group working on the Bach, in particular, to great effect, and Elvira Green, with our beloved late Sylvia Olden Lee, brought the knowledge and history of the Negro Spiritual (and much more), but the Negro Spiritual is so very important in uplifting anyone who has suffered oppression.

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Schiller Institute
Sare conducts the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus in a 9/11 memorial concert at the Creative Cultural Center, St. Veronica, New York, New York, on September 8, 2019.

Finally, as part of Mr. LaRouche’s 2014 initiative to return to Manhattan as the center of the United States, in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution, we created a chorus, which has become crucial to the organizing of the whole area. It has chapters in New Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, and when we get together, we are between 80 and 140 singers—more than that if our choruses from Virginia and Boston join in.

LaRouche proposed that we need to reach the level of 1,500 people, which we are still trying to figure out. I think anyone who knew Lyn has found themselves to be challenged at least on occasion by his vision!

What he explained is that the purpose of this chorus is not simply the effect on the so-called audience—and it has happened that much of our audience is now people who have sung in the chorus at some time, so it really is like an extended chorus of a few hundred—but he spoke often of the question of “placement of the voice,” which he meant both literally and metaphorically. Of course, we always sing and perform at the Verdi tuning of A = about 430 Hz, and we strive and struggle to achieve the Italian bel canto placement of our voices, to be able to sing beautifully and naturally. But placement is more importantly an idea of the mind—it is an idea through which we each can participate in truth and beauty.

And Lyn knew this. He spoke about the way that the chorus would work, with the proficient, skilled singers leading the way, and the new singers developing confidence as they sang in a section with the stronger ones. The amazement expressed by our amateur singers after a concert, who often would be completely overwhelmed by their internal knowledge that they had participated in something of universal beauty, which they couldn’t have produced alone, but in which their seemingly small role, or small—but well-placed—voice was indispensable.

I would like to close with a very short video of a sample of our progress, from our first public performance, a “sing-along” of Handel’s Messiah in a local church, after a grand jury failed to indict the police officer who strangled a black man to death for selling cigarettes. We opened the concert with the canon Dona nobis pacem (give us peace). Sadly, two policemen were shot and killed the day of our concert. The video concludes with our memorial in almost Siberian weather for the members of the Russian Alexandrov Ensemble who died on Christmas Day 2016 in a plane crash in the Black Sea, to our recent concerts in 2018 and this year.

You see we have come a long way, but we still need about 1,000 more singers.

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