Yesterday’s British ‘The Independent’ published an article confirming that looting, on the part of US troops and even some journalists, of precious works of art has indeed been taking place in Iraq.

Goya was 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.

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 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 East Berlin population during the year 1989-1990. This period saw a total upheaval in 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.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!

Upcoming Events

No events found