A Thousand Lost Worlds: Notes on Gothic Marxism

This article was posted on the old Red Wedge in early summer/late spring 2014. The original was lost when Red Wedge updated its site. It is being reposted on the "Evicted Art Blog" as it relates to recent articles, particularly about the atemporal bourgeois vs. the constrained proletarian subject. In other words, the individual bourgeois subject has never been more free, while the rest of us remained imprisoned by material limits. The working-class subject, therefore, has a gothic relationship to history. The ruling-class subject approaches history as if it were a buffet to sample (however superficially).


I first heard China Mievelle use the phrase “Gothic Marxism” in a talk on “Marxism and Halloween” at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago. Mieville invoked the concept in relationship to the idea of “solidarity with monsters,” an impulse toward (or need for) solidarity with those that a capitalist society has made monstrous by virtue of their inherent or voluntary opposition to the standardization of everyday life — the outliers in a system of generalized commodity production. Of course I Googled “Gothic Marxism” and asked around. Margaret Cohen’s 1994 book, Profane Illumination, seemed to be the main text to explicitly deal with the idea of Gothic Marxism. Profane Illumination focuses on the inter-war European cultural production and criticism of André Breton and Walter Benjamin. As the word “Gothic” implies, it concerns itself, in part, with the historical abortions and aberrations of a system based on constant innovation and constant destruction. Cohen provides the following rubric of Gothic Marxist concerns:

(1) the valorization of the realm of a culture’s ghosts and phantasms as a significant and rich field of social production rather than a mirage to be dispelled; (2) the valorization of a culture’s detritus and trivia as well as its strange and marginal practices; (3) a notion of critique moving beyond logical argument and the binary opposition of a phantasmagorical staging more closely resembling psychoanalytic therapy, privileging nonrational forms of ‘working through’ and regulated by overdetermination rather than dialectics; (4) a dehierarchization of the epistemological privilege accorded the visual in the direction of that integration of the senses  dreamed of by Marx in The 1844 Manuscripts….and (5) a concomitant valorization of the sensuousness of the visual: the realm of of visual experience is opened to other possibilities that the accomplishment and/or figuration of rational demonstration.

I am not interested here in unpacking each and every one of these points. My primary goal is to use the work of Cohen and others to sketch the existence of a Gothic dialectic inherent in capitalist culture — a goal that Cohen does not necessarily share, implying at various points a rupture between any causal relationship between base and superstructure. Rather than counter posing “overdetermination” to dialectics, it is my assertion that a general Gothic dialectic is born of a series of cultural contradictions that echo the structural contradictions of capitalist relations and production. (There is, of course, nothing inherently undialectical about the scientific concept of overdetermination.) These contradictions find expression in the mediated cultural superstructure, filtered through the “collective dream” sketched by Benjamin and Breton with their fusion of insights from Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. For example, you can observe (see Fredric Jameson, Ben Davis and David Harvey) that post-modernism was the cultural logic or ideology of neoliberal politics and economics, while specific “post-modern” cultural iterations were informed, but not defined, by this generalization.

The material convulsions of capital constantly create new spaces (and the promise of new spaces) for semi-autonomous social and cultural relations — only to tear them asunder. Each of these is a trauma to the social unconscious — which itself stretches from social infancy (the dawn of primitive communism) to the failures and horrors of the 20th and 21st centuries. The human social unconscious is replete with its own repressions, libidinal impulses and manifestations. However mediated this cultural superstructure may be, its tectonics echo the movement and impact of capital as described by Karl Marx in the 19th century. While it is true that Marx was limited by the language and assumptions of that century (and while it is true that would-be Marxists have often misrepresented Marx in a mechanical and deterministic fashion) cultural autonomy is partial, contingent and in constant flux. The post-modern and post-structuralist “rupture” of base and superstructure was a fiction of pre-crisis neoliberal ideology.

The initial impetus for the Gothic in art and literature stemmed from the marginalization of medieval forms by bourgeois relations and industrialization. The Gothic castle and the abbey stood in ruins, projecting both a nostalgia and fear of the past — things that were lost but also alien and threatening to modern life. The dynamics of capital continually recreate this process in contemporary culture, on various scales and in various geographies. This dynamic is the cultural echo of combined and uneven development. The hard fought autonomy of the small businessman is destroyed as capital is consolidated in larger units. “Self-made men” are proletarianized — as (far fewer) proletarians become “self-made men.” In the process thousands of little gothic worlds are created. The reign of the painter is supplanted by the photograph and film, which in turn are supplanted by the digital image. The American industrial worker is expelled from the liberal-consumerist “Eden” of post-WW2 capitalism; and in the neoliberal wilderness becomes of aware of his or her nakedness. As for the class struggle proper, while partial victories are possible (however few and far between at a particular moment), as long as capital reigns the history of bourgeois society is one of emancipatory dead-ends and cul-du-sacs. It will be a history of post-Marxisms and post-feminisms. More Gothic worlds are born — in the shells of factories, in the empty union halls, in the empty mansions of declassed small capitalists, in the photographs of failed revolutions and in the broadsheets of all but forgotten sects.

Profane Illumination

The detritus of civilization — the historical debris of bourgeois society — is the mandala of Gothic Marxism. At the level of summery Cohen asserts that Gothic Marxism “charts the contours of a Marxist genealogy fascinated with the irrational aspects of social processes, a geneology that both investigates how the irrational pervades existing society and dreams of using it to effect social change.” She opposes this to “vulgar Marxism” which, in her view, holds a deterministic and mechanical view of human development rooted in the Enlightenment. While this is a somewhat reductive notion in itself — there were many Enlightenment thinkers who rejected this deterministic notion of progress, most of the early Romantics and, of course, Voltaire — it is true that vulgar Marxism (Stalinism and Social Democracy in particular) failed to connect to the spiritual condition of then-contemporary human beings. That ground was ceded to fascism. The human need for mythology was manipulated to obscure the condition of the exploited and oppressed and to direct spiritual energy into the Witches Sabbath of the Holocaust. As Breton argued during WW2, there was a “vital necessity [for] a myth opposed to that of Odin.” Walter Benjamin argued that “the overcoming of religious illumination” resided in a “profane illumination, a materialist, anthropological inspiration.” This anthropological approach (which Benjamin also applied to Bertholt Brecht’s theater) aimed to free Marxism from its supposed 19th century baggage (and 20th century distortions) by connecting it to the grand arc of human development. This mining of the past, whether it is Breton and the ghosts of Paris, or Benjamin’s Arcades Project, aims to say something about the present that might not otherwise be articulated: “If images from the past spring to legibility in the present, it is because they speak to its concerns.” Benjamin argued:

[W]e believe the charm they exert on us reveals that they still contain materials of vital importance to us—not, of course, for our architecture, the way iron truss-work anticipates our design; but they are vital for our perception, if you will, for the illumination of the situation.

A Collective Subconscious

Both Breton and Benjamin sought a fusion of Freud’s insights with a Marxist framework in order to navigate the mediated nether space between base and superstructure, the gearing of the “psychoanalytic account of the unconscious toward the forces of material determination at issue in Marxism.”

It is well known that Marx nowhere really divulged how the relationship between superstructure and infrastructure should be conceived in individual cases. All that can be said with confidence is that he envisioned a series of mediations, as it were transmissions, interpolated between the material relationships of production and the remoter realms of the superstructure, including art. (Benjamin, cited in Cohen)

As Cohen notes, Benjamin took aim at what he saw as the insufficiency of Marxist criticism, “now swaggering, now scholastic,” by exploring this mediation. While Benjamin, unlike many of his would-be followers, never rejected the basics of Marxism and dialectical materialism, this arena of study led to accusations of “undialectical” thinking — in particular from Adorno — implicitly or explicitly tied to Benjamin’s past Jewish mysticism. Benjamin argued that a wish-image arose from this collective subconscious marked in “traces in thousands of configurations of life” — a constant revision of human subjectivity through a long historical process. Benjamin’s role, the role of the critic, was to “awaken the world from the dream of itself” — a social outcome not dissimilar to the personal outcome of Freudian analysis. This  privileged role, assigned here to the critic, is unfortunate. While this process is useful for understanding and producing art and culture, the “awakening” that Benjamin is searching for is not possible from art, let alone art criticism. That awakening is necessarily the product of large social forces.

The detritus of capital is a marker of the dream: “The arcades and interiors, the exhibition and panoramas.” The ambiguity of the ruin is “dialectics at a standstill” — a vision, for Benjamin, of utopia. The wish images of capital create a kind of nostalgia at war with itself, a “striving for dissociation with the outmoded… These tendencies direct the imagistic imagination, with has been activated by the new, back to the primeval past.” It is here where the libidinal impulse thrives in the collective subconscious. The wish images seek “both to sublate and transfigure the incompleteness of the social product and the deficiencies in the social order of production.” In Breton’s Nadja it is the ghosts of murdered communards. In the Arcades Project it is the 19th century salons, cafes, shops and promenades. In the 21st century there are more ghosts and ruins.

The origins of this mediated consciousness are bound up with the origin of human beings as a unique and distinctive species. Our cultural logic is still marked by social infancy and childhood. It was the Austrian Marxist art critic Ernst Fischer who provided the first materialist accounting for this “magic” in art — springing from a collective subconscious (although Fischer does not call it that). His argument about art’s origins was part of a Quixotic attempt to liberalize Eastern European cultural policies in his 1959 text, The Necessity of Art, Fischer argues that art has a dual social-spiritual function because of its role in human evolution. He bases his account on the classic Frederick Engels essay, “The Role of Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man” arguing, “art is almost as old as man. It is a form of work, and work is activity peculiar to mankind.” Human beings became human beings through the use of tools. The use of tools created an entirely different relationship between homo sapiens and the environment. This process altered the human mind. Our interaction with nature became mediated — and from that mediation came consciousness. This would also be the origin of Breton and Benjamin’s social subconscious.

The almost universal existence of shamanism in pre-class hunter-gatherer societies buttresses Fischer’s explanation of art’s magical origins. The South African archeologists Davis Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowson were the fist major proponents of the idea that much cave painting had a shamanistic origin. Other anthropologists have since embraced this interpretation of prehistoric art—experts like Jean Clottes, the former research director at Chauvet Cave in France.  Lewis-Williams based his research on first hand observations of San rock art in South Africa and Clottes on his studies at Chauvet. The presence of phosphenes in the cave motifs—phosphenes are patterns and lines of light that appear in the eye that are not caused by the external light input—tend to confirm this analysis. As a product of mild hallucinations they are evidence of a key aspect of shamanism—the practice of entering altered states of consciousness, visiting the “spirit world” or “underworld” and then bringing that narrative experience back to the group.

In its prehistoric formation (what would become) art was conceived equal parts magic and science; realism and phantasmagoria; mythology and history. Even before human beings divided into exploiter and exploited, and oppressor and oppressed, art and culture were bound in a cosmic dream.

Gothic Marxism and Epic Theater

While Brecht’s “Epic Theater” does not confront the psychological aspects of a mediated mass subconscious as directly, Brecht does deal with the same historical and anthropological concerns as Benjamin and Breton. In terms of anthropological scale, Brecht looted the entire history of theater as well as history itself. As Stanley Mitchell argued:

Epic theatre is a product of a historical imagination. Brecht’s “plagiarism,” his rewriting of Shakespeare and Marlowe, are experiments in whether a historical event and its literary treatment might be made to turn out differently or at least be viewed differently, if the processes of history are revalued. Brecht’s drama is a deliberate unseating of the supremacy of tragedy and tragic inevitability. Echoing his own “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” [Walter] Benjamin comments: “It can happen this way, but it can also happen quite a different way—that is the fundamental attitude of one who writes for epic theatre.”

There is an obvious relationship between this final concept and Breton’s confrontations with Parisian ghosts and Benjamin’s interrogation of 19th century anachronisms. Brecht’s use of history proper projected a geologic sense of time—not in terms of contradictions frozen in a dream, but in the pathos of proletarian morality.

The pessimism [of Bertolt Brecht, Antonio Gramsci and Walter Benjamin] was strategic, designed to engender hope. Not for foreseeable victories or reversals of fortune, but for the survival of the species as such. This was not yet the nuclear age, but Brecht spoke prophetically: “They’re planning for thirty thousand years ahead.. They’re out to destroy everything. Every living cell contracts under their blows… They cripple the baby in the mother’s womb.” In his friend, Benjamin discovered “a power that sprang from the depths of history no less deep than the power of the fascists” … Brecht and Benjamin thought in millennia, geologically, of new dark and ice ages.

The Romantic Dialectic

The gothic dialectic in capitalist culture is not separate from a material base. Like the Romantic dialectic, outlined by Michael Löwy, it comes from the inherent contradictions of broadly moving social phenomena. The Gothic and Romantic are closely linked. Both Breton and Freud based much of their interest in dreams on the Romantic tradition. The echoes of a pre-capitalist past, in which qualitative value (in morality, aesthetics, philosophy, military skill) trumped quantitative value (mere holding of money) are bound up in the “magic” of the Gothic object and the Romantic cultural impulse. As Löwy argues, Romanticism is often:

…reduced to a nineteenth century literary school, or a traditionalist reaction against the French Revolution—two propositions found in countless works by eminent specialists in literary history and the history of political thought. This is too simple… Romanticism is a form of sensibility nourishing all fields of culture… in opposition to the melancholic mood of despair, to the qualifying mind of the bourgeois universe, to commercial reification, to the platitudes of utilitarianism and above all, to the disenchantment of the world.

As I have written elsewhere:

Romanticism was, according to Löwy, the product of the contradiction between capitalism’s celebration of individual personality on the one hand, and capitalism’s debasement of that personality on the other. The late medieval/early capitalist intelligentsia found itself in material conflict with the utilitarian worldviews of the new ruling-class. As they were trained to see everything in terms of its qualitative value (good art, good philosophy, good ethics, good writing, etc.) the artists, poets, monks and philosophers of early capitalism bristled at how the new system valued everything by exchange. They looked back to an idealized pre-capitalist (sometimes pre-class) past. They counterposed “spiritual” and “humanistic” values against the “rational” world capitalism claimed to be. They wrote against the “Dark Satanic Mills” of industry (Blake) and celebrated the night (Novalis) — because at night industry ceased (or slowed) and the possibility of magic returned to the world.

Because an advanced and complex capitalism requires an intelligentsia that deals in qualitative as opposed to merely quantitative values, but at the same time sees these values as alien and hostile, capitalism continually recreates the conditions that first gave rise to late 18th century Romanticism. Löwy writes:

Capitalism gives rise to independent individuals who can carry out socioeconomic functions; but when these individuals evolve into subjective individualities, exploring and developing their inner worlds and personal feelings, they enter into contradiction with a universe based on standardization and reification. And when they demand their imagination be given free play, they collide with the extreme mercantile platitude of the world produced by capitalist relations. In this respect, Romanticism represents the revolt of repressed, channeled, and deformed subjectivity and affectivity.

Kollontai’s Gothic Bolshevism

Alexandra Kollontai was a prominent leader in the October 1917 Revolution in Russia. She was a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee and later helped lead the Workers’ Opposition to the degeneration of the revolution. Kollontai, one of the first to support Vladimir Lenin’s “April Thesis” calling for the overthrow of the provisional government, was, before her ultimate capitulation to Stalin, consistently located on the far left of Russian Marxism. After the revolution, Kollontai was elected commissar of social welfare, but left her post after joining the Workers’ Opposition. After the defeat of the Workers’ Opposition she helped spearhead the Zhenotdel, the women’s department of the Russian government, formed in 1920. Kollontai and other Bolsheviks aimed to educate workers about the liberalized divorce laws, etc. and spread projects to collectivize child-care, housework, education and elder-care. While the Zhenotdel was supported (with varying degrees of enthusiasm among some male comrades) in the early days of the Soviet Union, there was little to no funding available to support its projects. Post-revolutionary civil war and economic sanctions had crippled the Russian economy. All efforts had been pushed into defending the cities and major industrial areas. People were starving and manufacturing did not have sufficient inputs to function.

The New Economic Policy (NEP) aimed to reintroduce limited free market relations in order to jump start the Russian economy; giving peasants an incentive to send food to the urban workers who were starving to death at their machines. The NEP was partially successful in these terms, but it also became associated with a new breed of charlatan and opportunist—the “NEP-man.” With the Russian aristocracy and bourgeoisie all but wiped out, a layer of opportunists arose, largely from the old Tsarist bureaucracy, seeking to find their way in the chaos. These layers would produce the cadres of the Stalinist machine that displaced the old revolutionary Bolsheviks in the late 1920s.

Eric Naiman, in his article “When a Communist Writes Gothic,” offers the intriguing theory that Kollontai, also a writer of fiction, produced an essentially feminist allegory of the degeneration of the Russian Revolution in a Gothic novella, Vasilisa Malygina. The novella tells the story “of a committed young Communist in the early 1920s” who “leaves her housing commune to visit her lover, now a factory director, in the provinces.” Vasilisa discovers her lover has fallen prey to corruption and has taken on a mistress with bourgeois tastes. Vasilisa finds herself trapped in her lover’s new mansion in a classic storyline (think of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca). The story begins, Naiman argues, as if it were a Russian propaganda novel, like Nikolai Chernyskevskii’s What is To Be Done? (the title later taken by Lenin for his classic pamphlet) but ends in “established Gothic lines.” As in classic Gothic novels, Vasilisa is stripped of her subjectivity and her modernity as the domestic patriarchal space (the mansion) and its (bourgeois rather than aristocratic) trappings consume her.

Naiman interestingly draws a comparison to the subjective corruption of Vasilisa and the language Kollontai used to describe the degeneration of the Russian Revolution during her role as the spokesperson for the Workers’ Opposition. The bourgeois specialists, the NEP-men, were described as “immigrants from the past.” The opportunists were corrupting Soviet society with “an alien spirit” The “flesh of the flesh” of the working-class was corrupted. “The red blood corpuscles — the working class — are leaving us.”

Vasilisa is (almost) the paragon of communist virtue. She finds herself surrounded by an alien spirit, by “immigrants from the past.” As Lenin himself argued, the NEP was a step backward (essentially re-animating the corpse of capitalism) so that the Bolsheviks could buy time. The NEP corruption, however, threatened the proletarian revolution itself. Vasilisa’s mansion represented all this: “This step backward into time, moreover, [that] might threaten to place the proletariat in the position earlier occupied by the bourgeoisie” — the creation of a Gothic Bolshevism. After Stalin consolidated his power in 1929 all the gains of the October Revolution, of workers and women alike, were rolled back. Abortion and divorce were heavily restricted. The social role of women was curtailed. Kollontai lived out her days in diplomatic exile as ambassador (in Norway, Mexico and Sweden) while her former comrades were killed one by one in Stalin’s dungeons.

Gothic America

In Kerry James Marshall’s Our Town (1995), the artist presents a semi-abstracted and semi-corrupted idyllic image of the Great Society era. The hopes of the Great Society and the “War on Poverty” were dashed early — crashing against the reality of the Vietnam War. What happened to the poor would soon happen to women and the American working-class in the following decade.

Roe v. Wade (1973) turned out, in hindsight, to be a high-point for the women’s liberation movement. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was defeated by a renewed right-wing onslaught. Middle-class feminist organizations progressively dropped demands that fused class and gender. Child-care, abortion funding, elder-care, and similar issues that were at the forefront of the radical phase of second wave feminism fell to the side as a narrow legalistic defense of abortion became central. In the 1990s and 2000s it became the norm for leading feminists to point away from active struggles. Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolf, in the 1990s, decried “victim feminism” and counterposed it to so-called “power feminism” which focused on the psychology of a handful of rich and powerful women. The retreat to psychology mirrored the internal retreat of Kollontai’s heroine. America’s patriarchal mansion was badly damaged but remained intact.

In the 1970s two other battles waged — the battle of the left and the battle of the American industrial worker. The “New Left” that had been produced by the 1960s student and Black liberation struggles was trying to gain a foothold in American society. Tens of thousands of radical activists aimed to build Leninist revolutionary groups (of different taxonomies) among American workers, in organizations like the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers World Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), the Communist Labor Party, and the International Socialists. Within a few decades, of these groups, only the organizations that descended from the International Socialists and one or two other organizations would be of (modest) importance. Most of the rest of the revolutionary left crumbled into largely irrelevant sects.

This process was related to the decline of the industrial working-class. The 1970s were a decade-long battle between the far left and the right for the soul of American workers. Jefferson Cowie, in his book, Stayin’ Alive, cites Gil Scott-Heron: “America doesn’t know if it wants to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan.” A truck driver, in 1968, put it more bluntly, remarking that he would either vote for the racist candidate George Wallace or the Communist Party. As the liberal post-war consensus collapsed in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, and under the pressures of the 1970s economic crisis, Cowie argued that the American working-class was pulled in a thousand political directions. The 1970s were the decade of wildcat strikes in coalfields, and in auto and steel plants, in the post-office and in trucking. The ultimate failure of the left, and success of the right, in capturing the imagination of white male industrial workers eased the U.S. neoliberal shift, ultimately deindustrializing and liquidating the bulk of the industrial workforce.

A universe of cultural signs and artifacts was left behind as the Great Society, Women’s Liberation, Black Liberation, the New Left and the New Deal working-class were dismantled. It took a few hundred years but the United States finally became as Gothic as its Old World, living in the defeats of liberation struggles and within the limits of tyrannical "realisms."

A Thousand Lost Worlds

The point of understanding this dynamic is that the “average” left-wing cultural producer can use it — to understand that mere didactic propaganda, while needed, is insufficient within the Janus-faced culture of contemporary capitalism. There are limits to what can be explained. There are limits to what can be communicated without the invocation of the Gothic artifact. That artifact evokes worlds that can no longer exist—worlds that wither in the digital light. Its mythological quality is part and parcel of its weight — whether it is the mythology of a chivalrous medieval world or the mythologies of the bygone heyday of the industrial worker. It is not merely a false consciousness embodied in these myths and projections of meaning — it is genuine mourningfor universes and people lost to ruthless novelty. It is an imagining of what was and what could have been, in a time and place when what one did might still have mattered. It is also, however, a frightening artifact — reminiscent of past tyrannies and the demise of then-contemporary worlds. It is the monster in the child’s closet — seductive and horrible all at once.

There is much more exposition and unpacking to do on this question of a Gothic dialectic in capitalist culture. Of primary importance for us, in the United States, is the post-industrial ruin, the shells of the 1970s, when hopes for feminist, Leninist, Black Nationalist and working-class radicalism all crashed on the shoals of the neoliberal future. To let history wash over you is to be consumed by a past of horror and nostalgia, a history of autonomy gained and lost, repeatedly, and on various levels. Cultures (within capitalism) die everyday, sublimated into new cultures, which in turn will die. Capital imagines the world after its own negation — but only in its dreams. Writ large, capital can only reproduce.


Casper David Friedrich’s Abbey in the Woods

Ruin porn

Adam Turl, Cahokia (2013)

Adam Turl, The Flooding of Cairo, Illinois/Dead Paintings Nine (2013)

Adam Turl, Dead Paintings Ten, detail (2013-2014)

The United Autoworkers before the fall

 Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) pamphlet (1971), Russian Revolution (February, 1917)

Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) pamphlet (1971), Russian Revolution (February, 1917)

Walter Benjamin

André Breton

Ernst Fischer wants the commissars to read Kafka

Chauvet Cave

Adam Turl, 13 Baristas Art Collective (Installation Version II)  (2015)

Brecht

Novalis

The intelligentsia on strike (SIU, 2011)

Kollontai

Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1950)

NEP

Alexandr Rodchenko, Construction of the White Sea Canal, 1933

Kerry James Marshall’s Our Town (1995)

Adam Turl, Black Panthers (13 Baristas) (2015)

Adam Turl, After You Leave (13 Baristas) (2015)

Adam Turl, Magpie (13 Baristas) (2015)

Adam Turl, 13 Baristas (Salon Version) (2015)

Selected Bibliography

  • Benjamin, Walter, Illuminations, New York: Random House, 2007
  • Benjamin, Walter and Stanley Mitchell, Understanding Brecht, London: Verso, 1977
  • Bobroff, Anne, “Alexandra Kollontai: Feminism, Workers’ Democracy and Internationalism,” Radical America, Vol. 13,  No. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 1979)
  • Breton, Andre, Nadja, New York: Grove Press, 1994
  • Cohen, Margret, Profane Illuminations, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995
  • Cowie, Jefferson, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working-Class, New York and London: The New Press, 2010
  • Fischer, Ernst, The Necessity of Art, London and New York: Verso, 2010
  • Hodgson, Derek, “Shamanism, Phosphenes and Early Art: An Alternative Synthesis,” Current Anthropology, Vol. 1, No 5 (December, 2000)
  • Lewis-Williams, J.D., “Rock Art: Myth and Ritual, Theories and Facts,” The South African Archeological Bulletin, Vol. 61, No 183 (June 2006)
  • Lowy, Michael, Morning Star: Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009
  • Lowy, Michael and Robert Sayre, Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity, Durham: Duke University Press, 2001
  • Naiman, Eric, “When a Communist Writes Gothic: Aleksandra Kollontai and the Politics of Disgust,” Signs, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Autumn, 1996)
  • O’Brian, Jim, “American Leninism in the 1970s,” Radical America Vol. 12 No. 1 (Nov. 1977-February 1978)
  • Turl, Adam, “Against the Idolatry of Shadows: Some Notes on the Materiality of Shamanism in Cave Painting and Rock Art,” 2014
  • Turl, Adam, “Ernst Fischer, Marxism and the Origins of Art,” Red Wedge Magazine, (July 17, 2013), online, based on a presentation given at Socialism 2013, Chicago
  • Turl, Adam, “On New History Painting,” Evicted Art Blog (February 16, 2014), online, originally written for Strike magazine
  • Whitley, David S., Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit, Prometheus: Ahmerst, NY (2009)

Adam Turl is an artist, writer and socialist currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. He is an editor at Red Wedge and is presently pre-occupied with exploring past and present Marxist strategies in studio art. Turl is an MFA candidate at the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis. He writes the "Evicted Art Blog" at Red Wedge and is also a member of the November Network of Anti-Capitalist Artists.