Personal comments: Marxist Theories

Although the marxist criticism is a phenomenon of the 20th Century, it has a long history because Marx expressed his general opinion about culture and society between 1840-50.
    In the first place, Marx thought that philosophy was only a ethereal contemplation and it was time it became enganged with the real world.
    Secondly, Hegel and his followers made sure that ideas rule the world. People thought that ideas, cultural life, legal systems and religions were products of human and divine reason and, therefore, they were considered as guides of human life. But Marx inverted that  particular way of thinking because he supported the idea that all the mentals systems are products of economic and social existence. Material interests of the dominant social classes determine how people understand their individual and collective existence. Marx affirmed that "culture" is not an independent reality, but instead is inseparable from the historical conditions where human beings develop their material life.
    If we analyse european novels from the 18th Century or philosophy from the 17th Century from a marxist point of view, we find that they spring in the concrete phases of the initial development of capitalist society. The conflict of social classes establishes the foundations of ideological conflicts; but, art and literature, although they belong to the same ideological sphere, have a less direct relationship with it than philosophical, legal and religious systems.
    Marx admits that literature is a specific category and discusses the differences between economic and artistic development. Greek tragedy is considered to be literary evolution at it´s best but it belongs to a social system and an ideology that modern society does not recognize today. Marx´s problem was explain how art and literature that had been produced by a lapsed social organization, can give us aesthetic pleasure and be considered as "a pattern and an unreachable ideal". Therefore, the "greatness" of Greek tragedy is not an universal and invariable fact, but a "value" that must be reproduced generation after generation because the "canons" of the best literature are generated socially.
    However, Trotsky accepted that lietrature had its own rules and principles. He wrote that artistic creationis "a change and transformation of reality in agreement with the laws of art".

©Copyright 1998/1999 Mónica Berdugo Obón

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