Futurist Manifesto 16

High Kick from Human Motions by Peter Jansen

The Futurist Manifesto, written in Milan by the poet Filippo Marinetti in 1909, vehemently rejected the past in favour of humanity’s technical triumph over nature. It celebrated industrialisation, machinery and speed, especially motor cars and aeroplanes.

Chasing Clouds by Tullio Crali

Some of the declarations in the Manifesto make for strange reading – promoting aggression and violent change, and worshipping youth. ‘The oldest of us is thirty… When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts—we want it to happen!’

Nostalgia for the Futures by Tullio Crali

They dismissed galleries and museums as nothing more than cemeteries for art. They wanted art to be more than a frozen moment. Possibly influenced by cinematography, they claimed: Objects are not separate from each other or their surroundings… A tram is as much its passengers as the urban landscape it moves against.

An idea clearly illustrated in Umberto Boccioni’s Girl Running on a Balcony – which gives a series of images as movement through time.

Girl running on a balcony

A year later saw the publication of the Cubist Manifesto in Paris – which proposed moving around an object as a way of seeing the whole. What can seem at first glance incoherent portrait is in fact multi-layers meant to portray simultaneous views from different perspectives.

Portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso


In 1913 a manifesto for future music was published. The Art of Noise claimed modern man accustomed to industrial noise is no longer moved nor inspired by music. Future composers, it said, will need to find a new sonic palette and new methods to stir emotion. Its influenced can be traced through experiments in the spliced taped recordings (montages of acoustic and electronic sound) of Musique Concrete, via the rise of the synthesiser and sampler into industrial techno, jungle and house.

Each of these revolutionary movements may have faded but for of World War I – which destroyed a generation and with it a whole way of life. The disillusioned survivors hungered for the new to replace the failures of the old. The result was the Jazz Age – a shock of the new in everything: art music, clothing, behaviour and attitude. Life lived at speed; seizing the day without thought for tomorrow. Youth and beauty was everything; as it still is. It was the start of our world.

Futurism lost its rightful place in history due to being associated with Fascism. Marinetti helped author the Fascist Manifesto in 1919 – the year after the war ended. After the bitter lessons of World War 2, Cold War and the Iron Curtain dividing Europe, it is hard to see Fascism and Communism for the great hopes they were considered to be.

The Futurist Manifesto pre-dated the Russian Revolution of 1917, which was seen as a call to arms for the international brotherhood of oppressed workers. Both Fascism and Communism were socialist collective ideologies based on rule by the many and equal sharing the fruits of labour. The main difference between them was fascism was a nationalist whereas communism was international.

Both wanted a new type of government where the state totally cared for its citizens who in turn gave themselves body and soul to the state. They argued only a single party state, under a strong benign leader, could hope to drive progress forward – offering better working conditions: reduced working hours, healthcare, education and a social safety net. A society where classes were no longer divided; where workers were represented, and every man and WOMAN could vote.

Fine words and noble ideals that were doomed to failure, as history demonstrated over the coming decades with the horrors of Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s purges.

What they didn’t know was the very conception of Communism and Fascism were flawed from the outset by worship of the new Darwinian view of Survival of the Fittest. As the strong climb to the top, the weak go under. The good never reach the top, only the ruthless. Have you never heard the expression shit floats?

Democracy (rule by the people) is soon subverted to oligarchy (rule by the few) as the new elites acquire same power as the people they replaced. Oligarchy settles back into Plutocracy (rule by the super-rich) as the great and good of the party help themselves to bigger slices of the cake at the expense of the poor they claim to champion, and acquire the wealth and privilege of the aristocracy they replaced. Think of Russia in the 20th Century, from the Tsar to the idealist revolutionaries of Lenin and Trotsky back to the Red Tsar: Stalin. Then came the second revolution of Perestroika under Gorbachov and now there is Putin.

New brooms may sweep clean, but the same old muck soon settles right back down.

16 thoughts on “Futurist Manifesto

  1. Reply Shehanne Moore Jul 21,2017 11:37 pm

    Paul, I think you have many brilliant comments here, Robbie’s and Sally’s especially re the ideas of men, I am just gonnae shut it and no add any more to what is an excellent post.

  2. Reply Mary Smith Jul 21,2017 1:33 pm

    Interesting post. I think greed (for money, for power)is one of the main drivers and once people get their hands on money and power they do anything to hang on them and increase what we’ve they’ve got. Who said ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’?
    I, of course, would be a benign dictator!

    • Reply Paul Jul 21,2017 5:38 pm

      That is so right Mary… absolute power corrupts absolutely. And I agree you would make a Great Dictator (but not like the Charlie Chaplin film!) Paul X

  3. Reply Kevin Jul 21,2017 7:27 am

    I find it odd that Fascism is (as you say) influenced by Futurism. However, it is, on the other hand an admirer of the past (albeit a perverted understanding of history).
    Mussolini used the symbolism of ancient Rome and saw himself as a Caesar for modern times, while the Nazis perverted view of Germany saw a past in which only those of “pure” blood ruled while those of “inferior” stock where enslaved or killed.
    A healthy scepticism about what some call “progress” is a healthy mindset to adopt. By this I don’t mean the rejection of women’s rights or reintroducing racial segregation. Equality before the law is (and should remain) a given in a civilised society. However the blind worship of “progress” and the desire to smash all that is established simply because it is, established is both stupid and dangerous.
    There is no perfect system of government. However democracy is, as Churchill once said, “the worst of all systems, apart from the alternatives”!
    My view of our obsession with technological progress is summed up in this poem of mine, https://newauthoronline.com/2017/02/13/mans-destiny/, which touches on the theme of Transhumanism. Thanks for your interesting post. Kevin

    • Reply Paul Jul 21,2017 5:36 pm

      It is funny Kevin that futurism, as you say, inspired movements that harked back to an idealised past. Probably because the future being unknown is so scary to those who draw comfort for the certainty absolutism offers… without ever actually delivering. Communism as postulated by Marx and Engels was never meant to be applied in somewhere so industrially backward as Russia. They saw it as the natural development for highly industrialised countries like Britain where Marx developed his ideas for the Communist Manifesto (in the British Library). I agree what we see as progress is often no more than the mad embrace of the new- change for changes sake… which makes the Churchill quote very wise. And the poem… absolutely brilliant by the way, great style and learned references. thoroughly enjoyed it. Best Paul

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Reblog – Futurist Manifesto by Paul Andruss | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  5. Reply sally cronin Jul 17,2017 6:02 pm

    Brilliant as always Paul. Each generation seems to want to tear up the rule book and show that their ideas are the ones the future should based on. The forget the inconvenient truth of history and the lessons it offers. Most of those you mention came to a sticky end.. the great pity is in some cases they took millions with them. They say words cannot hurt you but they can certainly incite people to harm. As always a though provoking piece.. will reblog on Friday… thank you.

    • Reply Paul Jul 18,2017 6:01 pm

      You know Sally you are absolutely right. Why do we keep falling for the same old spiel all the time? We just seem to keep gong round in circles slavishly following anyone who says they have the solution…. If people did indeed have the answer we would already be living the dream!

  6. Reply D. Wallace Peach Jul 16,2017 4:32 pm

    Fascinating, Paul. What struck me is the human desire for rules and a definable and rigid structure, an organizing thought for the “chaos” that comes with life. What’s so sad is the inability to learn from the past. Things can change very rapidly as we’re seeing in the US. Perhaps someday we’ll learn and come up with the Kindness and Compassion Manifesto. 😀

    • Reply Paul Jul 16,2017 11:57 pm

      Lovely thought Diana but somehow I doubt it. One of my favourite quotes is from George Santayana to liberally misquote… He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it….You are right. We never learn!

  7. Reply Stephen Perkins Jul 16,2017 2:38 pm

    Ideologies have merely served as multi-colored cloaks for the same monolithic tyranny that has always existed.

  8. Reply Robbie Cheadle Jul 16,2017 9:37 am

    This post is very truthful and really tells it as it is, Paul. It is a very sad truth that idealistic political agenda’s such as communism and even democracy can never work due to the very flawed nature of man.

    • Reply Paul Jul 17,2017 12:02 am

      You know you are so right Robbie… what is it that we come up with these brilliant ideas religion communism democracy and somehow we still manage to undermine it and pervert it. I think that was the thought that always strikes me from Hamlet’s soliloquy I used the other week: What a piece of work is man… we have so much potential…so much. Must admit though (old closet fascist that I am) I do like the art!

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