From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Anthony Mario Ludovici, (January 8 1882 – April 3 1971) was an English philosopher, Nietzschean sociologist and social critic. He is best known, perhaps, as a proponent of aristocracy, and in the early 20th century was a leading British conservative author. He wrote on subjects including metaphysics, politics, economics, religion, the differences between the sexes, race and eugenics.
Ludovici began his career as an artist, painting and illustrating books. He became private secretary to sculptor Auguste Rodin. Ultimately, he would turn towards writing, with over 40 books as author, and translating over 60 others.
Ludovici was born in London, England, January 8, 1882 to Albert Ludovici, an artist, and Marie Cals. He married Elsie Finnimore Buckley on March 20, 1920. He was educated privately, in England and abroad. He spent several years in Germany where he studied Nietzsche's writings in the original German. He was fluent in several languages.
He began lecturing on art, politics, religion, and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, about whom he wrote Who is to be Master of the World?: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1909) and Nietzsche: His Life and His Works (1910). According to Steven Aschheim (The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany (1992) p.48, footnote) his 1911 Nietzsche and Art was 'a unique attempt to write a Nietzschean history of art in terms of rising aristocratic and decadent-democratic epochs'. This was the year of the first Parliament Act 1911, cutting back the power of the House of Lords. It also marks a watershed or change in Ludovici's writing, to a more overt political line, which would only sharpen over the next 25 years.
During World War I he served as an artillery officer at Armentières and the Somme, and then in the Intelligence Staff at the War Office. For his service during the war he was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
After the war, he became a student of Dr. Oscar Levy, editor of The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the first translation of Nietzsche's works in English. Ludovici contributed several volumes.
Ludovici's writing was varied, and took controversial stances on social issues. Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Christianity, feminism, multiculturalism, and the modern culture of consumerism and revolt against tradition constituted Ludovici's main areas of attack.
He wrote "I have long been an opponent and critic of Christianity, Democracy and Anarchy in art and literature. I am particularly opposed to 'Abstract Art,' which I trace to Whistler's heretical doctrines of art and chiefly to his denial that the subject matters, his assimilation of the graphic arts and music, and his insistence on the superior importance of the composition and colour-harmony of a picture, over its representational content." He was an early critic of Jacob Epstein, attacking him in The New Age, to which he contributed as an art critic before the Great War.
In his A Defence of Aristocracy (1915), Ludovici defends aristocracy against government in popular control. In The False Assumptions of "Democracy"(1921), he attacked the democratic idea and the liberal attitude in general, as having originated in specious philosophy, wholly opposed to nature. A Defence of Conservatism (1927) defends tradition as not only a policy of preservation, but of discernment in change, writing "Man is instinctively conservative in the sense that probably millions of years of experience have taught him that a stable environment is the best for peace of mind, present and future security, automatism of action…and a ready command of material and artificial circumstances. It is the repeated introduction of new instruments, new weapons, new methods, and needs for fresh adaptations, that makes automatism impossible. And it is the complication of life by novel contributions to life's interests and duties that makes a ready command of circumstances difficult."
For Ludovici, egalitarianism in all its forms constituted a denial of the innate biological differences between individuals, the sexes and race. He criticized what he saw as the sentimental coddling of the mediocre and botched.
Conservatism and tradition
Ludovici's doctrines were nationalist, traditionalist, and centrally concerned with a form of eugenic reasoning. He argued that heredity can yield strong family lines, group values, and national and racial characteristics. Politicians should not only be individuals of intelligence, and knowledge of mankind, but also of the same stock as those they lead.
It is in interest of the nation to maintain unique characteristics by safeguarding a native and particular potentiality of success and opportunities for self-expression and expansion. This includes a concern for the health of one’s people, that ill-health not only leads to maladaptation, but also to the decay of the strength capacity and character of the nation. "To be a good forester, a man must know how to give trees their proper health conditions, and must also know how to chop and prune them."
National prestige means power, power is safety, and safety is security. Since the conservative politician is concerned with the security and extension of his own nation’s power, he cannot tolerate anything that jeopardizes its position. In dealing with a vis major, he acts firmly and quickly; using the full might of his nation against any enemy that threatens it.
The conservative is naturally suspicious of change. He must know enough about his nation's character and potentialities, of mankind in general, and be able to judge whether new tendencies are desirable, in keeping with the eternal nature of men, or fatalistic, when they apply "only to angels, goblins, fairies or other harebrained fictions".
The conservative is concerned with the happiness of his people. When examining unhappiness amongst his people he differentiates between the type of maladaptation that arises from injustice and oppression, and that which is resultant from degeneracy or morbidity. He can meet the demands of the former easily and accomplish improvement, but in taking on the later he will only penalize the nation.
Ludovici summed up his definition: (esoteric) conservatism "is the preservation of the national identity throughout the process of change by a steady concern for the whole of the nation's life." He opposed Jews, foreigners, and 'odd people' — eccentrics, cranks and fanatics — having anything to do with government.
After the Second World War, Ludovici fell rapidly into obscurity. In 1936, he had written enthusiastically about Adolf Hitler. He was openly hostile to Jews, writing an anti-Semitic work under the pseudonym Cobbett, Jews, and the Jews in England (1938).
List of works
- Who is to be Master of the World? An Introduction to the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1909.
- Nietzsche: His Life and Works (Philosophies Ancient and Modern). London: Constable, 1910. New York: Dodge, 1910.
- (tr.) Ecce Homo (Nietzsche's Autobiography). New York: Macmillan, 1911.
- (tr.) The Case of Wagner; Nietzsche Contra Wagner; Selected Aphorisms; We Philologists. Edinburgh and London: T. N. Foulis, 1911.
- Nietzsche and Art. London: Constable, 1911. Boston: J. W. Luce, 1912. New York: Haskell House, 1971.
- A Defence of Aristocracy: A Text-Book for Tories. London: Constable, 1915. Boston: Phillips, 1915. Second edition, London: Constable, 1933.
- Man's Descent from the Gods: Or, The Complete Case Against Prohibition. London: William Heinemann, 1921. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1921.
- The False Assumptions of "Democracy". London: Heath Cranton, 1921.
- Woman: A Vindication. London: Constable, 1923. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1923. Second edition, London: Constable 1929.
- A Defence of Conservatism: A Further Text-Book for Tories. London: Faber and Gwyer, 1927.
- Man: An Indictment. London: Constable, 1927. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1927.
- The Night-Hoers: Or, The Case Against Birth Control and an Alternative. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1928.
- The Choice of a Mate (The International Library of Sexology and Psychology). London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1935.
- Jews, and the Jews in England (written under the pen-name of Cobbett). London: Boswell, 1938.
- The Truth About Childbirth; lay light on maternal morbidity and mortality. London: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1938.
- The Child: An Adult's Problem; First Aid to Parents. London: Carroll and Nicholson, 1948.
- The Quest of Human Quality: How to Rear Leaders. London: Rider, 1952.
- Religion for Infidels. London: Holborn, 1961. Excerpts reprinted as "How I came to have lessons with F. M. Alexander" in The Philosopher's Stone: Diaries of Lessons with F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer. London: Mouritz, 1998, pp. 102–108.
- The Specious Origins of Liberalism: The Genesis of a Delusion. London: Britons, 1967.