[Marxism] Art is...the Permanent Revolution

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 2 13:03:32 MST 2012

While many of the DVD’s I received from Hollywood studios in 
conjunction with NYFCO’s 2011 award meeting held last December sit 
collecting dust on a shelf beneath my television, real film 
pleasure in recent months has been delivered in the form of 
documentaries very much in tune with my own unrepentant Marxist 
sensibilities. In some ways, I am their ideal “market” and only 
look forward to the opportunity to spread the word among the 
politically committed readers of my film reviews.

Now joining The Robinson Trilogy  and The Forgotten Space is Art 
is … the Permanent Revolution opening today at the Quad Cinema in 
New York. To get straight to the point, this is the first film to 
really get to the heart of the matter of the connection between 
art and politics, a question that has absorbed me ever since I 
joined the Trotskyist movement in 1967. For those familiar with 
Leon Trotsky’s political career, you will of course recognize that 
this was a question that preoccupied him as well. One of the major 
obstacles to my getting involved with a revolutionary organization 
was what can only be described as a prejudice against what I 
viewed as “propagandistic” art. Paul Marcus, one of the three 
artists profiled in this truly remarkable work, has a wry take on 
this question. He says that some of the greatest art in history 
was propaganda, explaining that most art through the modern era 
was trying to sell Christianity. What’s wrong with selling another 
message, like peace or social justice? It’s certainly much more 
feasible than getting into Heaven. And more necessary.


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