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  #1  
Old 01-28-2011, 12:22 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Political Views of HP Lovecraft

Is this an accurate summary of HP Lovecraft's political views: Originally an ultra-conservative (more in the aristocratic sense) but later a socialist/New-Dealer?
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  #2  
Old 01-28-2011, 12:37 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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I don't recall HPL discussing politics in any way, aside from his rampant xenophobia and elitism.
What do you have to support your characterization, based upon your understanding of the definitions and how HPL demonstrated his allegiance with those views?
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  #3  
Old 01-28-2011, 12:44 PM
Prelude to Fascination Prelude to Fascination is offline
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An interesting question, and one I'd never seen either, so take this link with a grain of salt. I found it after googling "hp lovecraft + politics".

http://www.counter-currents.com/2010...afts-politics/

Quote:
Thus he proposed instead full employment and the shortening of the work day through mechanization under the cultural guidance of an aristocratic socialist-fascist regime.

***

This brief sketch is sufficient, I think, to show that H. P. Lovecraft belongs among an illustrious list of 20th century creative geniuses...whose rejection of materialism, egalitarianism, and cultural decadence caused them to search for a vital, hierarchical alternative to both capitalism and communism, a search that led them to entertain and embrace proto-fascist, fascist, or National Socialist ideas.
(Ellipses mine)

It could be crazy talk though....
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  #4  
Old 01-28-2011, 12:45 PM
davekhps davekhps is offline
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Back in September 2009, the Corner, the blog for the American conservative magazine National Review featured a running conversation about Lovecraft's political views, with some interesting observations.

Less cumbersome than linking that discussion here, go to the site and type "Lovecraft" in the search box to the right and you'll get heaps of links.

One of the links in that conversation went to a blog making a well-sourced accusation that Lovecraft was pretty fascist, as in the Hitler sense, not just in the general Euro-American fascist sense.

(As an aside, I won't get into the endless debate about whether fascism, as originally defined, was a political movement more properly associated with the European and American Left than the Right-- the Right in Europe being monarchical in nature, the Right in America in the early part of the 20th century being classically liberal in the small-l sense of the phrase.

What's most important in any discussion of the political views of figures in the early part of the 20th century is to understand how *they* viewed the political spectrum of their time, with unique definitions only tangentally related to the modern, 2011 understanding of what constitutes the Right and the Left.

Either way... Lovecraft didn't just write (awesome) creepy stories, he seems to have subscribed, at least casually, to some creepy politics.

/ off soapbox.

Last edited by davekhps; 01-28-2011 at 12:46 PM..
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  #5  
Old 01-28-2011, 12:54 PM
Larry Borgia Larry Borgia is offline
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From a letter to CL Moore, 1936:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HP Lovecraft
As for the Republicans—--how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’...) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.
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  #6  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:00 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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...and then he went out and wrote The Dream-Cosmos of Herbert Hoover
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  #7  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:03 PM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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And an atheist, and a fairly nasty racist and anti-Semite as well. Cite.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:05 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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More on his racial/social views: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._L...y.2C_and_class

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-28-2011 at 01:06 PM..
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:18 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
And an atheist, and a fairly nasty racist and anti-Semite as well. Cite.

Regards,
Shodan
...with a Jewish wife.

As to the article cited:
Quote:
According to L. Sprague de Camp's biography, Lovecraft began to adjust his views toward the end of his life as he began to travel more and came into contact with people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. As a man who based his life's work around the unknown, as he became more aware of different things, the topics he chose to write about altered as well as a matter of course.
It seems to me that (from the letter cited) that Lovecraft went from being a xenophobe to a modern socialist. There is some material on his evolving views in the introduction to At the Mountains of Madness
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  #10  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:43 PM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Quote:
...with a Jewish wife.
Who he divorced.

A great writer, and a crackpot. Gee, I wonder if that ever happened before?

Regards,
Shodan
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  #11  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:51 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Who he divorced.

A great writer, and a crackpot. Gee, I wonder if that ever happened before?

Regards,
Shodan
I would hesitate to call HPL an great writer. Influential, undoubtedly, but his prose tends towards the overwrought.
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  #12  
Old 01-28-2011, 01:59 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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http://grimreviews.blogspot.com/2008...d-philips.html

Quote:
The Political Transition of Howard Philips Lovecraft
Saturday, October 18, 2008


Eric M. Smith's recent blog post quoting H.P. Lovecraft on American politics gets right to the heart of a subject many readers probably wonder about in the back of their minds this fall. Where did Lovecraft really stand politically? Anyone who has read S.T. Joshi's excellent biography of the writer, H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (or his recently revised mega-biography, I am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft) has some idea of the strange political transition of Lovecraft from arch-conservative to pseudo-socialist. But do most of us really grasp just how dramatic HPL's shifting views and party allegiances really were?

Observe Lovecraft the conservative, who directly embedded his deeply reactionary and rather racist views into his early fiction. Perhaps the best example of this is not a quote lifted from his letters, but his story published in 1920, "The Street." This short tale recounts the history and living spirit of a nameless street in an early American town (presumably Providence), which is bursting with supernaturally patriotic (and conservative) energy. From the proud days of the founders and the early American Republic, signs of trouble appear on the Street in the 19th century in the form of immigrants, which Lovecraft presents as a corrosive and alien force. This "poison" comes to its fruition in HPL's own day, when immigrant families bring the seeds of anarchistic and Marxist radicalism to the Street. The tale ends when the Street's nostalgic consciousness seemingly comes alive and thwarts a radical revolution about to burst out onto the scene.

This is Lovecraft the conservative at his most obvious. The Street, like the United States, like civilization in general, begins as a heroic and proud place that falls into dereliction through the introduction of "lesser" primitive elements. This story was written in the same period when Lovecraft made his political views obvious in letters to correspondents. From 1914 to the late 1920s, he routinely praised the might of Britannia in World War I (and advocated for a US entry into the war on the side of the Allies well before it actually came), only half-jokingly boasted of his support for monarchism and fascism, and occasionally rained scorn on Marxism and other radical ideas becoming popular among certain segments of American society. Like most upper class families of the day in Rhode Island, Lovecraft was presumably a solid Republican. The party held tight control over the small state in every major election of H.P. Lovecraft's era until 1928.

However, like many other intellectual Americans, the onset of the Great Depression impacted Lovecraft's politics immensely. By the mid 1930s, HPL was highly supportive of Roosevelt and considered himself a New Deal Democrat. Moreover, Lovecraft exhibited rather feisty dismissal of the party he formerly aligned himself with, as shown in the letter 1936 letter to C.L. Moore the blogger linked above selected:

As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.

This is a remarkable transition for Lovecraft, especially considering his lifelong antiquarianism and gentlemanly manner. Of course, given the tragic shortening of HPL's life in 1937, there's no way of knowing how his relatively new political liberalism would have played out. For the mere sake of H.P. Lovecraft fanatics, though, we can reasonably speculate. For one thing, Lovecraft's shift to the left appears to have been motivated by economics more than anything else. He maintained highly traditional views on race, civilization, and authority. Although a firm materialist, it's difficult to imagine Lovecraft accepting with open arms the vast pluralistic social changes that occurred in society in religion, race, and genders in the 1960s.

So, how might Lovecraft's politics have evolved if he had enjoyed a prolonged lifespan? Like many American intellectuals who flirted with various strains of Marxism, Lovecraft likely would have dropped it like a hot potato as the Cold War descended and a wider knowledge of Stalin's atrocities were known. H.P. Lovecraft never really eased in his distaste for Soviet communism anyway. At the same time, it's hard to imagine Lovecraft readily joining in with the McCarthyist witch hunts for Reds among us, since he was a very intelligent man. If he maintained his support for Keynesian economics and certain government programs, he may well have remained a lesser Democrat through the '60s, and surely would have supported Kennedy's plan for space exploration. Thus, a longer lived H.P. Lovecraft probably would have rode the same winds many Americans of the same time did--a tenuous balance between Republican and Democratic Congresses and Presidents, influenced most by Cold War fears and domestic troubles.

What actually did happen to HPL's political views ought to be looked at as intensely interesting in of itself. Though the shifting preferences of Lovecraft for one party or another shouldn't be taken seriously in one's own ideological considerations. It's bad enough when activists try to take in extra votes by displaying endorsements from living celebrities. It's worse yet if they try to do the same with dead ones. Any Lovecraft fan should rightly cringe at the thought of the political blogosphere displaying images of Lovecraft alongside current candidates.

-Grim Blogger
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  #13  
Old 01-28-2011, 02:09 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
I would hesitate to call HPL an great writer. Influential, undoubtedly, but his prose tends towards the overwrought.
Regardless of his prose, his ideas were that only a first-rate writer and genius could produce.
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  #14  
Old 01-28-2011, 02:16 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qin Shi Huangdi View Post
Regardless of his prose, his ideas were that only a first-rate writer and genius could produce.
It takes the combination of ideas and execution to make one great. HPL is rightfully admired for the influence he has over more gifted writers, just not for his own work.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2011, 09:45 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
... an aristocratic socialist-fascist regime.
Now an accurate description of that would be something to read!
Seems like 3 distinctly different, even contradictory ideologies -- combining them in one regime would be interesting.
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  #16  
Old 01-28-2011, 09:49 PM
humanafterall humanafterall is offline
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Ia! Ia! Cthulu rl'yeh whanglu ftaghn!!!(Translation: Cthulu for President 2012!!!)

Last edited by humanafterall; 01-28-2011 at 09:51 PM..
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  #17  
Old 01-29-2011, 12:26 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Now an accurate description of that would be something to read!
Seems like 3 distinctly different, even contradictory ideologies -- combining them in one regime would be interesting.
Not really if "aristocratic" means one of talent and intelligence not of birth-ie a technocracy.
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  #18  
Old 01-29-2011, 01:28 PM
Quartz Quartz is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Now an accurate description of that would be something to read!
Try Plato's Republic.
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