[Marxism] Fwd: These Must-Reads Explore Dada, Futurism, Surrealism, and the Art of Opposition | Village Voice

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jan 11 10:13:06 MST 2017

Well, it's 2017, a century-plus since Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire first 
raised the flag of Dada derision above the senseless carnage of World 
War I. The founding group of Dada expats soon attracted many other 
bohemian rebels seeking freedom from existing social, aesthetic, and 
governmental norms. Of course, as Bruce Sterling's new novella, Pirate 
Utopia, points out, the pro-war, pro-nationalist Italian Futurist 
movement was winning followers at the same time, and their manifestos 
ultimately supported the rise of Italy's Fascist Party.

Dada believed it could subvert authoritarianism with ridicule alone, but 
Dada was wrong. That's why, after only eight years, the international 
Dada underground was rather abruptly supplanted by André Breton's more 
strategically organized Surrealist project. Surrealism prospered — as 
documented in M.E. Warlick's Max Ernst bio, as well as by China 
Miéville's The Last Days of New Paris — and former Dada loyalists 
switched allegiance in droves.

The lesson here is that art and liberation movements that aspire to 
effective forms of dissent need to do their homework and store lots of 
different tools in their activist toolbox. While it may seem unlikely 
that two science fiction novels, plus one comprehensive artist 
biography, could mentally prepare creative communities for drastic 
social change, never underestimate the value of a broad historical 

Miéville, a left-leaning British fantasist with a Ph.D. in international 
relations, is also a celebrated practitioner of "New Weird" fiction. 
Sterling is a science fiction writer from Texas, long famous (along with 
William Gibson) for spearheading the Cyberpunk and Steampunk movements. 
Both typically write genre fiction with a view toward helping readers 
grapple with some of our era's thornier socioeconomic problems.


Support Louis Proyect biography project

More information about the Marxism mailing list