Art Cannot Be Above Class in a World Where We Have Classes
The bourgeoisie is lying when they say that art is above class. It denies the social side of art by putting forward the fallacy that “art is for art’s sake”. This is a complete deception, because the bourgeoisie itself knows best that art is not separate from classes, it is the bourgeoisie that uses art the most, their aim is to deceive the people. The bourgeoisie uses art as a means of corrupting the people, instilling its own culture and reinforcing its dominance. But it denies that its own art also has a class character.
There are two classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. And these two classes are historically hostile to each other. One is the oppressor, the other is the oppressed, one is the exploiter and the other is the exploited. Two class ideologies, their lifestyles are different. Therefore, their understanding of art is also different. The economic conditions in which people live determine their culture, tastes and understanding of art. In other words, art also has a class side: it is necessary to distinguish it strictly as bourgeois art or proletarian art, that is, the art of the people.
When Lenin says “In a society based on private property the artist produces goods for the market” he tells us that the rulers always use art for their own class interests. And he goes on:
“The freedom of the bourgeois writer, artist or actress is simply masked (or hypocritically masked) dependence on the money-bag, on corruption, on prostitution.”
Art, which has no other value than being a commodity for the bourgeoisie, is a very important tool for ideological propaganda and organising the masses for the revolutionaries. At the same time, it is a phenomenon that feeds the spirit of the people and develops their thoughts. If we listen to Lenin and FideI:
“Art belongs to the people. It must have its deepest roots in the broad mass of workers. It must be understood and loved by them. It must be rooted in and grow with their feelings, thoughts and desires.”Vladimir Lenin
“And just as we have wanted a better life for the people in the material sphere, so do we also want a better life for the people in all spiritual spheres and a better life in the cultural sphere.”Fidel Castro
We can count Lenin’s “Literature must become part of the common cause of the proletariat” quote as valid for all branches of art. Our art will be the art of the proletariat. It will differ from bourgeois art in content, form, aesthetics, in short: in everything. The art of the new human being will also be new. Those who are developing and will surely win are: the cause of the proletariat. It should be this cause that guides our art.
“It is a fact that throughout history, the most magnificent products in the field of art are the products of the periods when class struggles were at the highest level, the greatest substitutions were experienced, while some classes were decaying and disappearing, new classes were rising and new social structures were being shaped. In this sense, it can be said that the most magnificent works of art are the products of the rising periods of the class struggle. Art outside of struggle is dead art.” (Hayatın Içindeki Teori 2, Haziran YayıncıIık)
The argument that art is above class was put forward by the bourgeoisie in order to underestimate the role of art in the political struggle and to undermine its influence. The purpose here is to condemn revolutionary art and to isolate revolutionary artists by making this understanding prevail in the field of art. However, art is already part of politics. The art of those who claim that they do not make political art is also political. Because there are two classes, and an art that does not serve the cause of the proletariat naturally serves the bourgeoisie.
Let’s give an ear to the artists who place themselves on the side of the people and turn their art into a gun against the bourgeoisie: “They say Mayakovsky, don’t you see, is a poet, so let him sit on his poetic bench. I do not give a hoot about being a poet. I am not a poet, but first of all a man who put his pen at the service-at the service, mind you-of the present moment, of today’s reality and its standard-bearer, the Soviet government and the Party.” Vladimir Mayakovsky
“The people who make art their business are mostly imposters… What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who, if he is a painter, has only eyes, if he’s a musician has only ears, if he’s a poet has a lyre in each chamber of his heart, or even, if he’s a boxer, just muscles? On the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly alert to the heart-rending, stirring or pleasant events of the world, taking his own complexion from them.” Pablo Picasso
Finally; art is not for art’s sake. Art is for the people. To date, all works which have found a place in the people’s memory were produced for the people. History makes the art of the people immortal.
Hallo, these are our black stars They don't sing sweet but they sing while they work While they're making light for you, they sing While they're making newspapers, clothes and water pipes Trains and lamps, stoves and records They sing Hallo, sing us another song, will you, while you're here A little song across the Atlantic Ocean In your voices that everyone understands This isn't the wind in the plane tree, friend This isn't a song to the lonely star It is the wild din of our daily labour We curse it and we hold it dear This wild din is the voice of our cities And it pleases us to sing this song For this is the language we all understand And soon it will be the world's mother-tongue Bertolt Brecht
(Translated from Grup Yorum’s “The Art Front” book)