The Case of Wagner and Bakunin: Nationalist or Anarchist Revolution?

Saturday, October 28, 2017, 4:45pm – 5:30pm
Located in KAOS Network

María Castro and Javier Sethness Castro

Bio: María Castro is professor in the French and Spanish Department at
Occidental College in Los Ángeles. Her publications in specialized literary journals include work on themes related to the intersection of art and literature in the Spanish-speaking world.

Javier Sethness Castro is author of Eros and Revolution: The Critical Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse and of Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe, and translator/editor of I Am Action: Literary And Combat Articles, Thoughts, and Revolutionary Chronicles by Praxedis Guerrero.

Description: In this presentation, we will explore the philosophical and political affinities between Richard Wagner and Mikhail Bakunin, beginning with their joint action on the barricades of revolutionary Dresden in 1849. We consider Wagner’s Ring cycle as depicting the Proudhonian idea of theft and Siegfried and Brünnhilde as Bakuninist-Feuerbachian heroes. By examining Wagner and Bakunin’s common anti-Semitism, feminism and anti-feminism, and revolutionism, we discuss how anarchism and anti-theism influenced the creation of The Ring as an epic opera that depicts the rise and fall of capitalism.

Nevertheless, in light of the anti-Semitism that drives The Ring, we cannot overlook the undeniable Aryanist, national-anarchist, and proto-fascist aspects of Wagner’s pseudo-revolutionism, which represent disturbing lines that connect typically left-wing notions of anti-statist and anti-capitalist upheaval with ultranationalist myth.