It is deeply distressing to hear somebody who is highly regarded as a writer in whatever field using language imprecisely. I caught the beginning of Private Passions on Radio 3 today and they were repeating a programme from some years ago in which Andrew Graham-Dixon, the highly regarded art historian and critic (as well as public intellectual) was to choose his favourite pieces of music. (Yes, it probably is a supposedly more intellectual version of Desert Island Disks. I rarely listen to either.)
He started with a Wagner piece and burbled about it (there really is no other way of describing it) saying very brightly though ever so slightly sheepishly that this is a revolutionary piece of music and, of course, Wagner was a revolutionary, which is important to remember as he is presented as a kind of neo-Nazi, which he was not really.
Wagner was not a Nazi of any kind though some of his ideas were lifted and greatly simplified by the Nazis. Would he have liked that? Who can tell? The sheer vulgarity of Nazism might have appalled him. Or not. I have no views on that subject. BUT he could not have been a neo-Nazi. That, Mr Graham-Dixon is completely wrong. Neo, as you ought to know, being an art historian of some repute, mean new or young or, perhaps, renewed. At most, Wagner could have been a proto-Nazi (which he was not).
Furthermore, the idea that a revolutionary is something wonderfully good and as the Nazis were bad the two are mutually incompatible is tosh. The Nazis were revolutionaries. Their early history is as revolutionary as that of any other socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-constitutional group. They were great believers in street violence and acquiring power through that, an idea that was taken up by many others in the twentieth century, not least by Mao and the various urban guerrillas.
A highly regarded art historian and critic ought to be aware of all this and not misuse words in this ridiculous fashion.