To rise to and consolidate power 20th century fascism invoked crude race and national origin myths. This is part of what led Breton to pose the problem of counter-mythology, a different set of stories; stories that would animate resistance – that would bring the weight of the past crashing down on the enemies of socialism and the working-class. As Walter Benjamin wrote, the hatred and sacrifice needed for revolution is nourished “on the picture of enslaved forebears.” For Breton this was bound together with Surrealism and its intersections of chance and plan, individual and collective psychology, dream and consciousness, individual and collective action. As our contemporary far-right movements have gained ground they have brought back the “belligerent gods.” And among the neo-fascist “alt-right” there is a return of esoteric occult fascism in the “Cult of Kek” and its Pepe the Frog fascinations. So, just as before, we need our own animating counter-mythologies – our own stories for living and fighting in this world – for ridding it of the “myths of Odin."Read More
“After one has enjoyed the first taste of Marxist criticism, one will never again be able to stand ideological hogwash.” – Ernst Bloch, Spirit of Utopia, 1918
The relationship between art and society has always been a central question for artists, thinkers and activists on the Left. In the twentieth century, it was commonplace to believe that art has the power to change the world. It was this conviction that motivated Georg Lukács to defend the literary realism of writers like Thomas Mann over the stylistic innovations of a James Joyce. For Lukács (1977: 33), literature was “a particular form by means of which objective reality is reflected,” and as such it was “of crucial importance for it to grasp that reality as it truly is.” By displaying social reality in all its contradictory complexity, Lukács believed, art could serve the interests of class struggle and social emancipation.Read More
The comic “La Trompestad” by Michelle Sayles is the perfect illustration of what it feels like to live in the first week of Donald Trump's America. Although we may feel defeated, we must remain vigorous in our fight against Trump and his administrations' spectacle of “alternative facts”. Michelle Sayles is an artist and community organizer living in Burlington, Vermont. You can find more of her work on her blog. – Craig E. RossRead More
Here we are. Inauguration Day for Donald Trump. We are through the dystopian looking glass. And now “resistance” isn’t just something that would be nice if it happened. It is a necessity. From working people, from students, from community members, and yes, from artists. By any means necessary.
Trump took the White House for two reasons. 1) The failure of the Democratic Party. And 2) The mobilization of bigotry. America’s “political center,” in the form of the Democratic Party, was unable and unwilling to explain the crises of neoliberal austerity, to mobilize people on the basis of social class and solidarity. This political failure is also a cultural one – of avant-garde and popular culture alike.Read More
John Berger is dead. There are very few people who, when they pass on, leave you at such a loss for words. Mostly because there are so few as versatile and prodigious as he was. Art critic, painter, poet, novelist, socialist. And he was consistently brilliant in every one of these roles. Often, he was more than one simultaneously. His first novel A Painter of Our Time was available for a month in 1958 before the publisher withdrew it under pressure from the anti-communist Congress for Cultural Freedom. When he won the Booker Prize in 1972, he donated half the prize money to the Black Panthers. Landscapes, a recently published collection of his works, nestles musings on Cubism next to moving tributes to Rosa Luxemburg.Read More