NR Digital

Sahara of the Beaux Arts

by Lauren Weiner

The New Philistines, by Sohrab Ahmari (Biteback, 144 pp., $14.95)

Sohrab Ahmari refers to the “new” Philistines in his book about today’s arts scene, but those of us who have been around for a while know how much today’s scene resembles yesteryear’s. For quite some time, artists and writers in the Western democracies have been cooking up works that “invariably revolve around race, gender and class, power and privilege,” and that try to advance an ideological agenda that is “a heady mix of radical feminism, racial grievance, anti-capitalism, and queer theory,” to use the words of Ahmari, a writer and editor in the Wall Street Journal’s London bureau.

Last year, Ahmari attended screenings, exhibits, workshops, plays, lectures, dance recitals, and gallery openings — in London, mostly, but occasionally in New York — and offers here the depressing results of his tour of “the hard left avant-garde and the identity-politics hucksters.” Their absurdities barely outstrip what a satirist could dream up.

Send a letter to the editor.

Get the NR Magazine App
iPad/iPhone   |   Android