Call for Submissions for Red Wedge #3
One of the central cultural phenomena of neoliberalism has been to accelerate the atomization and fragmentation of capitalism – larger workplaces are drastically shrunk in size, unions are eliminated, the very idea of collective social politics was deemed a thing of the past. Distance, already minimized by industrial capitalism, seemed to be utterly eclipsed (for some). Everyone was to be connected – via social media, the global economy, etc. – but as individuals pioneering brave new identities. The only threat to this liberal utopia of self-made humans was said to be "Islamic" terrorists and their fidelity to a lost past. This racist narrative, of course, was false.
Nevertheless, the mobile, the rabble, the aggregated unrefined, were supposed to be a thing of the past – from a time before TINA (“there is no alternative” - Thatcher). But the crowd has returned – befuddling the center political establishment across Europe and the United States. Its left manifestations – in Greek anti-austerity protests, in Occupy, in the Arab Spring, in Black Lives Matter, in support for Bernie Sanders in the U.S. Democratic primary and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party – have so far failed to cohere into a viable counter-narrative. This has opened up political and aesthetic space to the right of the neoliberal center – expressed in the electoral college victory of Donald Trump, the emboldened alt-right neo-fascist movement in the U.S., and the electoral progress of far-right and neo-fascist parties across Europe.
All the above has profound implications for art, literature and culture – especially for radical left-wing artists. In this twilight we recall Walter Benjamin:
[Humanity’s] self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.
At the same time the next print edition of Red Wedge comes on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution – the highest expression of class struggle (and its impact on the arts) in history (despite its ultimate failures).
We are looking for essays, papers, reviews, short stories, poetry, visual art, comics, and other submissions that deal with some of these questions.
What does the return of crowds mean for an insular art world and its weak avant-garde? What are the aesthetics of anti-capitalist totalities? What are the aesthetics of today’s neo-fascists? What is the difference between socialist and fascist aesthetic leveling? What lessons for contemporary art and culture can we take from the Russian Revolution – and its artists and writers? What about lessons from other key revolutions – the Mexican Revolution for example? What about the aesthetics of anti-fascist struggles – in Spain, in Italy, in Germany, in occupied France? What are the aesthetic relationships between class and other identities in trying to build militant anti-fascist resistance as well as counter-narratives to neoliberal capitalism? What do the crowds of art history and past literatures – Zola, Courbet, Brecht, Rivera – have to tell us about making socialist art today?
How do we make the bourgeoisie clutch its pearls for the right reasons?
The deadline for submissions is March 30, 2017. Submissions and inquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Feuilleton" is the Red Wedge editors' blog focused on announcements, events and relevant debate.