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Reasons Why the Futurists Despised the Ideas of the Past

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“Futurism is the embodiment of the apparent paradox that, to embrace the true tradition in our day, one must revolt against every mere ‘tradition’” (Jonasson, 2019). Futurism was mainly an Italian movement that was founded in 1909 in Milan (Lista 2001, p. 29). It was a collective of artists led by Marinetti striving to break the norms of society and they decided to go into politics in order to propel change in Italy and Europe. This essay will explain the reasons why futurists despised the ideas of the past and anything co-relating to it.

One of the reasons why futurists attacked the idea of the past was because Italy was once a prospering nation that led humanity with its technological advances (Andrewes & Neild 2019, p. 3). But as time passed, they lost their dominance and once so called their glory. There has been attempts in order to bring back their power but most of them have been futile. Since futurism was mainly an Italian movement, for them past was their weakness that was chaining them down. They believed in order to strive they needed to break these chains. Futurists hated the idea of the past so much they wanted to get rid of anything that relates to it. “Why do you always want to be faithful slaves of the past? The shabby custodians of the greatest brothel in history, nurses in the saddest hospital in the world, where mortally corrupted souls languish in the sickness of sentimentality?” (Sant’Elia Manifesto ex. 1). It is referring to Venice being the city of tourism that was made to please tourists. It is saying that glorifying the past is not going to get them anywhere instead it makes them seem like weaklings. “The movement was inspired by a hatred of the past and a glorification of the modern and the new, a fascination with the promise of technology, with speed, and with youth, and a belief in the necessity of a permanent revolution against the old” (Andrewes & Neild 2019, p. 3). With the rapid rate of technological developments during the 20th century futurists believed that it will keep on going on its current speed. Futurism was all about technological advances and the ideology of speed, it is a movement of youth that are burning with passion towards the future and its advancements. The movement was started by Marinetti and in order to spread the purpose of the movement he used to give manifestos in front of a large audience and in one of his manifestos he states that “We stand at the end of the centuries! ... Why should we look back? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed” (Marinetti Founding, ex. 1). The idea was to only look forward instead of looking behind in the past. For Italians of this age, they stopped looking at their past as a wisdom instead it was an embarrassment for them instead.

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Futurists glorified the concepts of war and violence which went hand in hand with the patriotic attitude that was common during that time (Martin 2005, p.20). It was a masculine movement that believed in the power of violence. Manifestos that they used to give were commonly given in a loud demanding voice that was used to uproar a crowd of a large number of people. The ideology of futurism itself can be interpreted as masculine because of its fascination with technology and war. But it is one of the first movements in 20th century that included women as members. During this time period women were mostly treated to be below than a man and had little to no rights of their own and were treated as if they were a possession of a man (, 2019). Futurism gets complicated and starts contradicting itself when women come into play. It is an anti-female movement that had female members. It was trying to come up with a new concept of women that was more sexually free, politically engaged, giving them more rights than before. But to futurists women were part of the past, they wanted to go against every traditional/past belief about women. The traditional women will drag them down since in their belief, women are only good for sexual intercourse and reproduction of the human race (Marinetti War, ex. 7). It is stated that “Love hinders the march of a man, preventing him from transcending his humanity, from redoubling himself, from going beyond himself and becoming what we call the multiplied man” (Marinetti War, ex. 7). Futurists ideology of love was that it hinders man from evolving and achieving higher, because love clouds the man’s head with unpleasant and unnecessary thoughts. Since they hated any thoughts that were related to the past, the traditional beliefs were all associated with it one way or another. They state that they will support suffragettes because the more rights a woman receives the more that she will lose the idea of love making them lose interest in passion and lust (Marinetti War, ex. 8). To Futurists women were one of the reasons why they despised the past. Since the orthodox involvement of a woman to society was to get married to a man but to futurists that belief was horrendous. Marriage was like the shackle that was holding them down from their glorious mechanical future. Because once a man gets married their goals change and their youth dies out.

Futurism is considered to be one of the only art movements that diverged into politics. It is uncertain to say whether or not futurists truly wanted to gain political power. They were aiming to revolutionize Italy and change the mindset of the people in order to bring back their former glory. But it had a lot of paradoxes and contradictions in their own beliefs. Marinetti felt that art, in the name of an evolutive impulse and through its own formal revolution, would be able to create an authentic ethics of progress. He believed that art will influence the generation to evolve. To futurists every generation was important, once the new generation of youth were ready, they wanted them to take over and come up with their own new ideas. “When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the rubbish bin like useless manuscripts—we want it to happen!” (Marinetti Founding, ex. 12). Futurists disliked the past so much that they believed that once they become part of the ‘past’ they wanted themselves to be gone. The ideas futurists possessed were on the extreme side of the scale. They urged everyone to forget about anything that resembled the past may it be museums or libraries it didn't matter to them. They were willing to do anything in the name of the ‘future’, the ideals were straight to the point and they stated everything that they wanted to do.

In conclusion, futurism was a movement that aimed to revolutionize Italy. It is clear that futurists emphasize on the idea of evolving and achieving greater heights. Main aim was to only go forward without any binds and chains. They were disposing anything that was slowing them down or corrupting them. Italy’s history and traditional beliefs were the things that futurists disliked the most. The past was their weakness that they wanted to get rid of and traditional beliefs were the walls that were chaining them down from evolving.

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