"Like the mighty Romans of old who built their culture around the peoples they conquered, Hightower and his cabal of Frenks did much the same. However, they sought to conquer America's very history, and in doing so, they resurrected bygone aspects of the past to enrich themselves, immersed into the glory of an age with little worry and lots of flair."
-excerpt from Frenkish-published History Textbook titled "The History of the Empire - Modern Interpretations"
Legacyism is a new world, Frenkish-developed cultural term often cited as the backbone of cultural aesthetics in the Empire. By definition, Legacyism is the "blending the aesthetics and traits of past cultural aspects into modern life", and, in the Empire at least, is an extreme "total" style that dominates almost every aspect of cultural life, from behavior to architecture. Legacyism could technically refer to any (strictly cultural; not for reasons of practicality or primitivity) trend influenced from the past, though is typically only applied to extreme circumstances. Sociologists have noted examples of Legacyism all around the world, from Mechanocratic Russia to the USSA, however, the Empire is the only cultural entity to so far embrace a total aspect of the theory. Frenkish Legacyism typically embraces the cultural period of the early-to-mid twentieth century, out of the belief that was a period of refined American cultural greatness. As such, many foreigners have noted that the general atmosphere of the Imperial mainland hearkens back to the 1920s-1940s.
History and Theory
“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
"Legacyism" as it's understood in the modern age, can be traced back as far as 2022, when Dr. Philip Krantz, American historian, philosopher, and sociologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published an essay (allegedly, after a lengthy discussion with a student on the subject) titled "The Coming of Age of Millennials and the Impact of Cultural Legacy". In the essay, Krantz argued that, as the current generation of "millennials" begin to come to power and prestige, culture will begin visually "regressing" towards earlier eras. He gave several theories as to why, putting importance on the millennial "obsession" with nostalgia from times they never witnessed, born via modern technology like the internet. He indicated that the "decaying of the world" would provide a means for those soon to be in power to look more to the past than to the future, where the unique problems of resource shortage, war, and economic unrest that began to plague the modern world were muted. The "perfect coping mechanism". He also stressed the importance between several terms, "Regressivist", "Legacyist" and "Revivalist", stating "Revivalist" is a common, non "total" cultural phenomenon that brings elements of the past to the modern world (that is typically temporary). "Regressivist" is an intentional return to old world in an almost total fashion, and often features reactionary and luddite elements. "Legacyist", however, was a more total style than either, encompassing an aesthetic hegemony rooted in a glorified variant of the past. Technology and social norms typically advance under Legacyism, and possibly at a rapid rate. The argument was made that Western society was quickly following a path pointing more towards Legacyism rather than the other two, and even made a haunting prediction;
"Within the next fifty-some-odd years, a large global event borne out of current issues will likely change socio-cultural norms in the West as we know them. Say, if a hypothetical time-traveler were to stop in the years after said event, I find it very likely said traveler might mistake himself as being in a much older time...until he sees the technological advancement of whatever society he has landed in. Such would be the effect of Legacyism. Cultural regression, then stagnation."
Despite Krantz's rather negative views on the subject and contemporary criticisms from his peers, Krantz's views proved to hold some ground. The 2030s-2050s saw the revival of things like orchestral music, "Golden Hollywood", and the architectural style of "Futurist-Deco" soon dominating the young architecture scene. Many academics recognized the "Krantzian School" as a legitimate sociological stance, it's students recording the regression phenomena and coming to conclusions on just how far it would go. Krantz died in 2054, publishing one final essay on the subject, "Legacyism - Days of Future-Past". Inside was mostly just speculations and modern examples of Legacyism, as well as a refutation of some former hypothesis (as Krantz himself believed Legacyism that would have been seen in his lifetime would look more like the 1960s and 70s, not the 1920s and 30s. "It comes as no surprise," he wrote, "that the Legacyists opt to look at a time so far lost and alien to themselves (towards a time when almost every eyewitness has long been dead), yet aesthetically and culturally interesting enough to hold their attention. The Jazz Age is just that). In it, he had one last eerie prediction...
"Legacyism, while initially a harmless trend, could grow to something more sinister. With the rise of authoritarian regimes, the Legacyist code could be used as a guideline for autocrats. What better way to encourage submissiveness in a populace by encouraging the socio-cultural norms of the past? With no room to evolve and create (which could potentially put the state at risk), people will be trapped in a never ending cycle of conformity."
Despite Krantz's warning and cynical view on the phenomena, leading Legacyist figures (including Hightower) embraced his words, stating that the Krantz's work is an accurate portrayal "of modern sensibility". Hightower even sourced Krantz many times in his ideological manifesto, New Age Technocracy, conveniently leaving out most of Krantz's negativity and warnings. Despite Legacyism's first popular run, it fell out of favor by the mid-2050s, with extreme economic depression, resource scarcity, and war giving little time, energy, or funds for Futurist-Deco building projects and large orchestral music. Architecture had turned much more simple, with Brutalism seeing a revival. Music was mostly an underground and experimental affair. The film industry was repurposed into what basically amounted to a "propaganda factory". For a while, it seemed, a new (if unsophisticated) culture was built around war and environmental collapse, (for the minute) killing Legacyism.
However, during the Great War and the subsequent aftermath, a return to 1920s-40s-style Legacyism is often credited with saving American/Frenkish morale in the tenuous years after the bombings. The New Frenco Empire is credited as subsidizing and encouraging the style, and by the 2080s, the style was back and in much, much greater force than before in New Rome. Legacyism blended well with the carefree, hedonistic lifestyle adopted by the Frenkish, and new technologies took it to new heights. By the late 2090s, it had spread to the rest of the Empire, and by the turn-of-the century, Legacyist elements had come to dominate Imperial culture in every aspect.
One of the first things foreigners note about Frenkish culture is the extreme prevalence of typically "antiquated" musical styles, such as jazz, swing/big band, and traditional vocal pop (crooning, early R&B, etc). "Original" music, while prevalent, is almost always done in these styles, and straying too far from the genre can lead to obscurity. Frenkish musicians typically model themselves after icons of the ages. For instance, the "big three" of the Frenkish music industry are often considered to be Deano Cipriani (specializing in crooning and "lounge" jazz, intentionally modeling himself off of Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and others), Paps Miller (a talented jazz musician and orchestra leader, who "takes his essence" from artists such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong) and singer Margaret Rose (traditional pop artist, often sourcing from Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, etc).
In the 2110s and 20s, classic rock music (ala CCR, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, etc) made a comeback, and was adored particularly by the soldiers of the Canal War. Music like this, while considered a "fad" is still revered, and often has airtime on radio stations dedicated to "classic" music.
Architecture and Design
Frenkish architecture and design cues typically call back to the art deco movement, what with it's luxurious ornamentation, vibrant color, and rich shapes. These designs take form in almost every aspect of life, from cityscapes to vehicles to furniture to modern art. The classic art deco style is typically blended with modernist and futurist elements, creating the signature "Legacyist" or "Futurist-Deco" style recognizable around the world.
Legacyism expands into film, television, and the visual arts. Hollywoodland typically favors filmmaking from the Classical Age of Hollywood, though without the Hays Code and other moral stigmas of the time, and utilization of modern techniques and techologies (such as the three-dimensional holofilming method), giving the films a unique difference from the old and putting them in the Legacyist category.
Legacyism and the Krantzian school, while recognized abroad, hasn't had such a profound effect However, many do argue Legacyism, though often much more inconsistent and incomplete, is a hallmark of Mecharussian culture, only recognized in a limited fashion due to misunderstanding and bias.