In the present epoch, the bourgeoisie is no longer capable of advancing human
civilization, but the decay of the capitalist system threatens to poison every
aspect of social life. The most heartbreaking example of the way in which
capitalism is destroying the cultural heritage of mankind is what has just
happened in Iraq.
Goyawas one of the greatest artists of all time. His paintings are a priceless document of the history of the Spanish people. He painted the world in which he lived, and he painted it in terms of uncompromising realism. His entire outlook was shaped by great historical events - the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the ferocious struggle for national independence and the movement for liberal reform that followed it, a movement that was brutally crushed by the forces of darkness, obscurantism and reaction. This article is part of an important new series by Alan Woods called
Art and revolution.
In the second part of his article Alan Woods deals with the profound
changes in Goya's paintings in his later years.The Peninsular War transformed
the whole situation in Spain overnight - and with it, Goya's art. In place of the sunlight there was darkness,
instead of colour, only different shades of black. This impenetrable darkness was
only an expression of the all-pervading blackness he saw all around him. The
reason for this astonishing transformation cannot be found in art. It is a
direct reflection of the processes at work in society.
Alan Woods continues his series on Art and Revolution. This is the first
part of a five part article that looks at how the French Revolution affected
British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of
society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.
In their youth, Wordsworth and Coleridge were profoundly affected by the
revolutionary fervour unleashed by the French Revolution. But as Bonaparte
crushed the most radical elements they became disillusioned and moved back to
the right. This is a phenomenon seen many times in history, where the
intellectuals and artists (with some notable exceptions) swing to the left and
right with the ups and downs of the revolution.
Unlike Wordsworth and Coleridge, Byron remained loyal to his youthful revolutionary fervour. His innermost nature was revolutionary, but his weakness was his Romanticism. This was reflected in his admiration for Napoleon, just as later Romantics were to become admirers of Stalin without understanding what he really stood for.
Unlike Byron, who was adopted by the British establishment after his death,
Shelley (1792-1822) was always an outcast. This is no accident. He was
undoubtedly the most consistently revolutionary of all English writers. From his
earliest years he defended the most advanced revolutionary-democratic views,
including militant atheism and republicanism, but also socialism. It is no
accident that the name of Shelley was kept alive by the working class when it
was out of favour with the "respectable" reading public in England. Indeed, the
latter met the news of his death with complete indifference.
Robert Burns (1759-1796)the poet needs no further introduction. But
Robert Burns the revolutionary democrat is another matter. It is a matter of
great regret that nowadays it seems to have become the fashion among certain
left circles in Scotland to renounce Burns. To some degree this is
understandable. After his death, Burns was hijacked by the Scottish
Establishment, who turned him into a harmless icon.
For once a film that accurately portrays the moods and attitudes of the
Berlin population during the year 1989-1990. This period saw a total
life, from the first demonstrations repressed by the East German state
on October 7, 1989 till German unification a year later, all the main
events are interspersed
with the way these events impacted life.
It is rare, these days, to see the bloodhound like features of John Pilger on television - rare, but welcome. John Pilger made his name as a crusading, left journalist, exposing the truth from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited, especially focussing on the victims of American imperialism such as Vietnam and Cambodia.