Trotsky / Breton / Rivera

John Paramo albatrosrojo2000 at
Wed Mar 5 23:05:43 MST 2003

Now, back to the original question by Ben Halligan. 
Let's take a shot at answering it:

Ben Halligan reproduced quote:

"The process of sublimation, which here comes
into play and which psychoanalysis has analyzed, tries
to restore the broken
equilibrium between the integral "ego" and the outside
elements it rejects.
This restoration works to the advantage of the "ideal
of self," which
marshals against the unbearable present reality all
those powers of the
interior world, of the "self," which are common to all
men and which are
constantly flowering and developing."

Then, Ben Halligan wrote:

'sublimation here = the expression of the effects of
alienation (in
the Marxist sense)?"

Unwitting = as in ignorant, unconscious, vulgar ...
which unwitting means in my book?  Not at all, but as
a process that is internalized as a product of
alienation.  Don't stop reading at the word
"subliminal" but continue to read when it says "to
restore the broken equilibrium between the integral
"ego" and the outside elements it rejects."  

Meaning the restoration of humanity - generally
speajin, creativity in the case of artists - wrestled
from people, in this case artists, by alienation from
the real meaning of humanity itself (creativity).  

Maybe a little humanist for my taste, but not
philosophically in contradiction with the more
"orthodox", and mainly economic, phenomena of

We may accept, as Marxists, a similar explanation of
racism for people of color under certain historical
circumstances or women or l/g/b/t when confronted with


Ben Halligan:

and this, when expressed, posits a kind of modernist
"interior psychological
state" that is intrinsically opposed to "decadent
capitalist society"?

i would recognise such a strategy in dissident art
from the east bloc of the
1960s... but here it doesn't seem to make too much
sense in relation to
trotsky's general ideas


No, it does not. It only expresses the fact that
decadent capitalist society implies the existence of
economic, political and social conditions that impact
the psychology of the oppressed and became a factor in
and by itself.

In fact, your comment that this may be correct "in
dissident art from the East Block" is very insightful
and I gather you wrote that because you add to the
analysis the straight-jacket imposed upon art and
artists by the Stalinist regime, the totalitarian
forms of interference and distortion, sometimes to a
point of destruction of the creative forces of
society, and artists.

But in terms of Marxist theory, you cannot separate,
as distinct forms, the alienation suffered by artists
in the "East Block" from that suffered by artists
under capitalism.  In the historical instance, because
capitalism was still and its is hegemonic in the world
no matter in which side of the divide you lived and,
more importantly, because the form of the artistic
alienation is directly linked to the absolute freedom
of creation, curtailed both in the West and the East
by different forms - money in the west, dictates from
the state in the East.

By the way, I kind of give an explanation why Trotsky
was eager to win over the Surrealists and Breton.  The
other part of the equation is what Breton saw in
Trotsky: the adamant defense that the party has
spheres in which did not have an aesthetic opinion nor
directly intervene to modify it: arts and literature
was one of them.

This stood in stark contrast with the Stalinist
cultural caterpillar that buried artistic creativity
and the model of western monetary success as
regulatory tool of artistic creation.  In fact, Breton
was - as put by a contemporary Trotskyist - in the
road to udnerstand the concepts of "political
revolution" in the URSS as well as the fight to
overthrow the capitalist system ... from the point of
view of an artist.

Of course, the fact that Trotsky was considered one of
the greatest Russian writers of his time - sometimes
by political opponents and artists themselves - had
something to do with it as well.


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