World War I was billed as the war to end all wars, a war that would be over quickly. In the first bloody month, more than one million soldiers were killed. Many people began to lose faith in the system, feeling misled and that everything was meaningless. Born from that was the Dada movement.
Dada or Dadaism was a form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics. Dada was not so much a style of art like Cubism or Fauvism, but a protest movement with an anti-establishment manifesto. The movement began notably in 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, Switzerland, spreading to Berlin and across Europe shortly thereafter.
The name "Dada" was chosen deliberately because it had different meanings in different countries --- rocking horse, shampoo, wet nurse, yes, tail of a sacred cow --- effectively making it meaningless. The first major piece of art from the movement that gained international attention was Fountain, a 1917 work produced by Marcel Duchamp. Fountain was a urinal turned upside down.
"They took ordinary objects, and they said, 'That's art.' It was the destruction of art. It was the destruction of everything. It wasn't the beginning of art. It was the end. And it was an informal international movement that spread from Europe, all across North America," Glenn said Monday on The Glenn Beck Program.
The artist, writers and intellectuals of Dadaism believed that reason and logic were a part of the bourgeoisie capitalist society that led people into war.
"I want to read a quote. See if this sounds familiar," Glenn said.
We have lost confidence in our culture. Everything has to be demolished. We will begin again after the tabula rasa -- which means clean slate. At the cabaret Voltaire, which was in Switzerland, we began by shocking common sense, political opinion, education, institutions, museum, good taste. In short order, the entire prevailing order.
"They believed that they had to destroy society and wipe the slate clean and then things could begin again. And then things would make sense. But everything had to be destroyed. The "tabula rasa," which is clean slate. They had to clean everything up.
The culture became nihilistic, where everything had to be destroyed, discredited. In Germany, that chaos led to the Nazis and the Weimar Republic to restore order.
"If you go and look at the Dadaist movement, you're going to be taken to all the art. But it is the philosophy behind the art that is the important part. When you understand the philosophy was to degrade and destroy and make everything disgusting, then you'll be able to understand it," Glenn said.
You'll also see how it directly mirrors much of what is happening in society today. One of the communist plans for America was to destroy art, make it obscene and ugly.
"It's one of the 46 or 48 goals," Co-host Pat Gray said.
"Yeah, of the Communist Party in America. It is from the Dada movement," Glenn said. "And the savior of traditions in Germany against the Dada movement came from --- Adolf Hitler."
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Featured Image: A gallery assistant views 'Fountain Marcel Duchamp' at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art on December 14, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)