[Marxism] Mad Russians and the American left

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 31 07:33:22 MDT 2012


On 8/31/12 9:16 AM, Carl G. Estabrook wrote:

> On Aug 31, 2012, at 7:52 AM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> quoted the following opinion to reject it:
>
>>      "It is an open secret that avant-gardism became popular in the West in 1950-1960s thanks to unprecedented support from the CIA and was used by the United States as a powerful ideological weapon."
>
> It is nevertheless true. See Frances Stonor Saunders, *The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters* (2000).

Actually, Carl, the avant-garde became popular in the West because 
modern art reflected the angst of the 20th century in a way that realism 
could not. In the late 1930s Partisan Review's Trotskyist intellectuals 
took up the cause of modernism in contention with the "socialist 
realism" of the CPUSA. We value Faulkner, Jackson Pollack, Andre Breton 
not because the CIA was out stumping for them but because of their 
intrinsic worth. One of the reasons the USSR failed to inspire young 
intellectuals in the West, including me at the age of 16 or so, was 
because it suppressed the avant-garde. In the 1920s the USSR was a 
hotbed of modernism, from the poetry of Mayakovsky to the films of Dziga 
Vertov.

As Stonor pointed out, the CIA funded magazines that tried to exploit 
the advantages of living in a free society rather than a police state. 
Its ultimate goal was to promote free enterprise above all but taking 
advantage of a trump card like abstract expressionism or bebop was to be 
expected. Dizzy Gillespie was kind of groovy, you dig?

Interestingly enough, we have a subscriber here named Thomas Campbell 
who is a member of a collective in Russia called "Chto Delat" (What is 
to be Done) that embraces the values of the Soviet avant-garde and 
opposes Putin's authoritarianism. I am sure (well, mostly sure--maybe 
not sure at all) that you would find a visit to their website most 
salutatory:


http://www.chtodelat.org/






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