A recent event in Portland Oregon highlighted the interest that average people have in the ongoing events in Oaxaca, showcasing the dormant political energy that many are desperately trying to direct into action.

“Art can neither escape the crisis nor partition itself off. Art cannot save itself. It will rot away inevitably — as Grecian art rotted beneath the ruins of a culture founded on slavery — unless present-day society is able to rebuild itself. This task is essentially revolutionary in character. For these reasons the function of art in our epoch is determined by its relation to the revolution.” Leon Trotsky, 1938.

"The Shostakovich centenary year has shown that, despite the sneering of ill-intentioned critics, his music is getting an increasingly wide audience. Shostakovich's music will live for as long as men and women love music, because, like his idol Beethoven, he was a man with something important to say." Here we publish the second and last part of Alan Woods' article on Shostakovich.

This year is the centenary of Dimitri Shostakovich, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, a giant who gave voice to the sufferings and triumphs of the Soviet people in one of the most turbulent and revolutionary periods in history. In this two part article, Alan Woods attempts to show Shostakovich as he really was: a great Soviet artist who used music to express the terrible and inspiring events of the period in which he lived, a man of the people who believed in the possibility of a better world under socialism.

This latest of Ken Loach’s films is well crafted and well thought. It has been thoroughly researched and really gets under the surface of the processes and the events that helped shape the current situation on the island of Ireland.

Like the great French revolutionaries, Beethoven was convinced that he was writing for posterity. When (as frequently happened) musicians complained that they could not play his music because it was too difficult, he used to answer: "Don't worry, this is music for the future."

If any composer deserves the name of revolutionary it is Beethoven. He carried through what was probably the greatest single revolution in modern music and changed the way music was composed and listened to. This is music that does not calm, but shocks and disturbs. Alan Woods describes how the world into which Beethoven was born was a world in turmoil, a world in transition, a world of wars, revolution and counter-revolution: a world like our own world.

Last week, Arthur Miller, the dramatist who wrote plays that dealt with big moral and political questions in America, died. The legendary playwright, who continued his commitment to art and politics until the end of his life, was 89.

Phil Mitchinson reviews a new book Remembering Arthur Miller and interviews one of the contributors, the well known director David Thacker who worked with the American playwright on numerous occasions and was the artistic director of the famous Young Vic theatre in London. Miller's courageous stand against McCarthyism is well known but perhaps less generally recognised is how important an influence politics in general played in his life and writings.

Twenty-five years ago today John Lennon was killed in New York. There was a mass outpouring of grief all over the world. This was because he symbolised something different from the mainstream music industry. He gave expression in the words of some of his songs the genuine feeling of disgust of many workers and youth at what capitalist society stands for.

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Revolution 2018 - a three-day festival of Marxist ideas
Revolution 2018 is a three-day festival of Marxist ideas, hosted by Socialist Appeal, In Defence...
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