[Marxism] When Facebook Isn't Fun, or..

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Sat Mar 7 09:42:47 MST 2009

Trotsky's arguments were primarily focused upon literature; I'm not sure how 
well they transpose to other mediums, including music. Certainly his point 
about art produced under oppressive social conditions is valid in a 
sense -Lukács made similar arguments in defence of Balzac and others, as 
against explicitly 'committed' art, and this aspect of Lukács's thought (if 
little else) influenced Adorno's essay 'Committment' (Adorno's diagnosis of 
all of these issues remains the most powerful). But I believe all of these 
figures are speaking of a type of art in which some of its own immanent laws 
of development, and subconscious processes, are allowed to permeate the art 
works in question. The work I'm criticising and describing as archaic does 
little of that, as it is so wholly subsumed to its social function. As a 
mirror of its times without a utopian function, it can be of historical 
interest, but it is not a living art.

It's with these sorts of analyses in mind that I'm very gradually coming 
round to the argument (at least as a possibility) that commercialised music 
stands more of a chance of reflecting critically upon the very social and 
economic conditions from which it emerges than does protected, subsidised 
music, much of which nowadays simply consists of reified archaic materials 
and forms borne out of obsolete romantic or neo-feudal aesthetics. With the 
lack of a real Western avant-garde (such as could be said to have existed 
between 1918 and 1939, or from 1945 until the early 1970s) whose work in one 
way or another in a critical relationship to this unholy legacy, 'classical' 
music is perhaps approaching a true death.


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