[Marxism] Fwd: How John Berger taught us to see | Prospect Magazine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 15 06:55:17 MDT 2016

The most important thing to say about Berger in intellectual terms is 
that he is a Marxist. His understanding is rooted in Karl Marx’s 
analysis of exploitation. Some of his best essays have just been 
reissued in a collection, Landscapes, and time and again they start with 
a brilliant sketching of the economic conditions around the ideas or art 
being examined. But Berger is so important a Marxist because he is 
perhaps the one who has most thoroughly rid himself of belief in 
historical progress, a belief that Marx took ready-made from the 
victorious bourgeoisie who had replaced feudalism with capitalism.

His great novel, G, which when I read it at 23 affected me more than any 
other fiction I had read, meditates continuously on the relation between 
history and fiction. It is a brilliant portrait of Europe at the turn of 
the 20th century as the most civilised of continents prepared to commit 
suicide in the western trenches. No notion of progress can survive the 
death of G, the eponymous hero, in 1915 as Italy enters the war. What 
does remain, however, is desire and this story of a modern Don Giovanni 
sketches the most complete anatomy of heterosexual masculine desire that 
I know. (G won the 1973 Booker Prize. At the award ceremony Berger 
announced that he was giving half the prize money to the Black Panthers, 
saying that it was “the black movement, with the socialist and 
revolutionary perspective, that I find myself most in agreement with in 
this country.”)


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