22 Jul 2014

From WALTER BENJAMIN - Art at the age of Mechanical Reproduction - 1935

On Fascism, Art and War
The growing proletarianization (from Proletariat = Working class) of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate.
Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its 'Fuhrer' cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis (the making of a god or a leader) of war does not employ such arguments.

Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war:

For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as antiaesthetic ... Accordingly we state: ... War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dream—of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease- fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others ... Poets and artists of Futurism! ... remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art... may be illumined by them!

Fiat ars—pereat mundus (Let art be, though the world perishes) says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology.

The above text reminded me of a text I wrote Earlier in my pre-master stage, for the History of Civilization Class (Which was lectured to us By my Favorite History Prof. Dr. Nabil Mostafa), In the lectures he told us that -basically- "At times of Peace, Art flourishes, and At time of War Art diminishes"

For me this wasn't 100% right, and there was my assignment, to Prove that During the Worst War of All (the World War II) - Not before and not After- There has been a Great and Immense deal of ART and Technology in this War, It was as Immense as the Lives lost in it! It was almost as if Global and Opposing Powers were on a Pageant of Tech. and Art.

Did I by that Promoted War... Definitely No! But I just could not deny the Fact that without Bletchley park, Alan Turing, Enigma, Nazi and Propaganda Art, Soviet Art etc. We (i.e the world) Could have reached Things like Internet, Programming, Cybernetics, the concept of Vernacular art, etc.

And as I studied that, and as I study that text now, The world still lives in the mentality of the WWII, and A country is not graded by anything but by Its Possession of Knowledge and Information (be that in the form of Art, Technology, Science, or Even the Public Paradigm of Craving for Development and Invention), And this is What We Need Now, as A country! BUT, We should be aware of what Marinetti (Above) mentioned, These stuff were made my People, Monopolized by War Lords (AKA Leaders or Fuhrers), and that IS NOT What I'm Suggesting here... If War is What motivates for such a Global turn, then it's Revolution that Makes a Local one, Revolution not only in Regimes, but in Systems, bearing in Mind -Really well- that not all what's past or Old, is to be Left behind, or disposed of. If we as Public, Revolutionized Now - in our non war time-  this will cost us LOTS of Effort at times of War (Which is only a matter of time before we get involved in) and will save us being Foolishly Monopolized perhaps into a direction that might lead to our doom. We should be Our Victory.

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