Page 16 - Studio International - December 1970
P. 16

Art and politics                           world,  the working-up of  inorganic nature,  is   It  is  perhaps  worth  stressing  that  Marx's
                                                                                          materialism  is  quite  different  from  a  crude
                                                the expression  of  man as  a  conscious  species
     in'the Russian                             being ... through it nature appears as his work   economic  determinism  which  would  dismiss
                                                                                          all 'forms  of  thought' as mere passive  reflec­
                                                               The crucial difference lies in
                                                and his reality.'
     revolution-2                               Marx's  ideas  of  class  and  class  rule  as  a   tions  of  economic  reality.  The  Marxist
                                                                                          philosopher, Plekhanov, was particularly con­
                                                fundamental reality. For him only the ruling
                                                                                          cerned  with  this  difference  in  his  Materialist
                                                class in any society are able to express them­
     Andrew Higgens                             selves in this creative process, even though the   Conception  of  History.  He  emphasizes  that,
                                                                                          according  to  the  materialist  conception  of
                                                whole society  may  participate in it.  For this
                                                reason 'what  the  working  man  sees  in  the   history, the ·determining element in history is
                                                world that he has created is a gigantic fetter   ultimately the production and reproduction of
                                                upon him'.  Although in theory the process of   real life: 'More than this neither Marx nor I
                                                transforming  nature  can  absorb  the  creative   have ever asserted. ' 52  In other words ideas and
                                                faculties  of  all  men  (since  for  Marx  as  for   social  systems  are  not  passive  but  interact
                                                Malevich, man is essentially an artistic being   with  reality  to  change  it,  just  as  it  modifies
                                                who  'knows  how  to  apply  everywhere  the   them. As  Plekhanov says, ' ... once the forms
                                                inherent standard  of  the object',  47  and who   of  his  consciousness  have  sprung  from  the
      PART  1  DESCRIBED  THE  PHILOSOPHY  UNDER­  'forms things in accordance with laws of bea­  soil  of  social  being,  they  become  a  part  of
      LYING  THE  FUTURIST  TRADITION  BEFORE,   uty' 8), in  practice, 'In the labour  process ...   history', 53  i.e. dynamic in themselves. It is this
      DURING AND AFTER THE REVOLUTION, AND WAS   productive activity is experienced not as one's   interaction which the dialectic method 'recog­
      PARTICULARLY  CONCERNED  WITH  THE  IN­   own  but  as  activity  for  another,  and  as   nizes. Dialectic 'includes in its comprehension
      FLUENCE  ON  THIS  TRADITION  OF  HEGELIAN   activity  of  another,  life as sacrifice  of  living,   and  affirmative  recognition  of  the  existing
      IDEALISM.  PART  2  OUTLINES  THE  PHILOSOPHIC  production of  the object as  loss of  the  object   state  of  things,  at  the  same  time  also,  the
      MATERIALISM OF LENIN AND TROTSKY,  AND THE   to an alien power, an alien man.' 49  Malevich   recognition of the negation of that state, of its
      WAYS  IN  WHICH  THIS  INFLUENCED  THEIR  ATTI­  can  see  this  when  he  describes  workers  as   inevitable  breaking  up;  because  it  regards
      TUDE  TO  CONTEMPORARY  ARTISTS  AND  THEffi   'machines',  but the concept of  manipulating   every historically developed social form as in
      THEORIES  ABOUT  ART  AND  POLITICAL  ACTION.   material  conditions to change  their  situation   fluid  movement,  and  therefore  takes  into
                                                is foreign to his philosophy.             account  its  transient  nature  not  less  than  its
      In  one  important  way  Marx's  theory  of   These  linked  ideas  in  Marx's  thought,  his   momentary existence; because it lets nothing
      human behaviour does reflect the influence of   materialism and his doctrine of classes, are the   impose upon it and is in its essence critical and
      Hegel, particularly when Hegel talks of man's   central  ones  in  any  consideration  of  the   revolutionary.' 54   In  this  there  is  no  crude
      productive,  as  opposed  to  theoretical,  self­  artist's  relationship  with  society,  and  par­  rejection  of  the  importance  of  ideology:
      realization.  In  Marx's  ideas  all  productive   ticularly a society in revolution. His materia­  merely the discovery of an ultimate material
      activity is creative,  Even  ideas  become 'pro­  lism,  by stating,  for example,  that ' ... man's   cause for change, in contrast to Hegel's World
      ducts'. 'Material production is the basic form,   consciousness  changes  with  every  change  in   Spirit.  Dialectics  also  resolves  the  duality  of
      but  man  is  a  producer  too  in,  all  the  non­  the conditions of his material existence',  rules   mind  and  matter,  which  makes  the  word
      material forms of life.' 1 Marx mentions reli­  out  any hypothesis that  the  Russian  avant   'reality'  such  a  problem  for  the  idealis,t
      gion, the family, the state, law, art and science   garde  anticipated  the  Revolution.  At  the   tradition, by rejecting the search for absolutes
      as so many 'modes of production'.' (Man) . . . is   same time, as I hope to show, his class theories,   behind  the  changing  face  of  the  world  (a
      endowed with a multitude of creative capaci­  inseparable from his philosophic materialism,   search which invariably leads to the mind as
      ties,  faculties  and  drives  that  seek  outlet  in   cast  into  doubt  the  revolutionary  status  of   the only reality)  and discovering empirically
      productive  activity.' 42   History  becomes  the   Constructivism, which in other ways appears   the laws of  those changes;  laws which them­
      conflict between these drives and the natural   to echo his view that it is material production   selves  change  with  reality,  so  that  no  single
      world,  both  of  which  are fully 'real'-a con­  in general, as opposed simply to the fine arts,   pattern is retained,  and laws which are used
      flict  in  which ' . . .  the  history  of  production   that  is  man's  creative  activity.  Concerning   to  change  the  world,  not  simply  contem­
      is . . .  a  history  of  man's  own  self-externaliza­  idealism,  he  says  of  Hegel,  'My  dialectic   plated.  Dialectics  'lets  nothing  impose  upon
      tion.' 3 Man produces himself  in this process:   method is not only different from the Hegelian,   it'. Hegel's dialectics are also concerned with
      ' ... the so-called world-history is nothing other   but is its direct opposite.  To Hegel,  the life­  'becoming' as reality, but it is a becoming in
      than, the production of man through human   process of  the human  brain,  i.e.  the  process   the  mind;  Marxist dialectical materialism is
      labour,  nothing  other  than  the  becoming  of   of  thinking,  which  under  the  name  of  "the   concerned with becoming in the real world, in
      nature for  man.' 44  Malevich certainly echoes   Idea", he even transforms into an independent   which man plays an active part.
      this  idea  when  he  says  that  the  products  of   subject,  is  the  demiurgos  of  the  real  world,   It is in this context that we have to place the
     'utilitarian reason'  are higher  than the paint­  and  the  real  world  is  only  the  external,   clash  between  the  Russian  avant-garde
      ings  that  imitate  them,  but  he  still  refers   phenomenal form of  "the Idea". With me, on   artists and the Marxist politicians, Lenin and
      utilitarian reason back to the Hegelian world   the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the   Trotsky. We know that Lenin either ignored
      movement  as its first  cause,  while for  Marx,   material world reflected by the human mind,   or  disliked  Russian  avant-garde  art.  As
     'The  practical  production  of. an  objective   and translated into forms of thought.' 1   Lunacharsky  says,  'the  new  artistic  and

      Contributors                              ANDREW HIGGENS teaches art history and complement­  WILLIAM  TUCKER,  the  sculptor,  has  recently  been
                                                                                          Gregory Fellow at Leeds University. He teaches at St
                                                ary studies at St Martin's  and  Maidstone  Colleges  of
      to this issue                             Art and at Willesden Polytechnic.         Martin's School of Art. Three of his articles on modern
                                                                                          sculptors  were published in Studio International earlier
                                                JONATHAN  BENTHALL  is  lecture  programme  organizer   this year.
                                                at the ICA, London.
                                                RICHARD woLLHEIM is Grote Professor of Philosophy of
                                                Mind  and  Logic  at  the  University  of  London  and   PATRICK HERON'S most recent exhibitions have been of
                                                teaches at University College. He has written a book on   prints at Leslie Waddington, London, and of paintings
                                                aesthetics titled Art and Its Objects, published in 1968.   at the Caballa Gallery, Harrogate.
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