Promotion of proletarian culture

The battle for culture is a vital front in the class war. Promoting proletarian art is part of building a revolutionary consciousness among workers in Britain.

Collective Farm Harvest Festival by Sergei Gerasimov, 1937

The following motion was passed unanimously by the party’s eighth congress in September.

This congress recognises that our society is in a state of moral decay and that bourgeois art offers up for working people a diet of the most corrupting and banal material. Bourgeois painting, television, cinema, drama, dance and music spread the same toxic influence of bourgeois individualism.

Sadly, nowhere is there to be observed a real movement of proletarian art. Bourgeois art continues to glorify the disgusting excesses, unbridled consumerism and moral depravity of modern bourgeois society, offering as role models and central characters corrupting anti-heroes – gangsters, drug dealers, murderers, mercenaries, the police and imperialist soldiers – or endless streams of instantly forgettable cabaret acts, and for children (and adults that have regressed to the level of children) increasingly vacuous big-screen ‘superheroes’.

The ongoing decay of bourgeois society has advanced to the point where demented mystical drivel, pornography and extreme violence and cruelty are routine, monthly offerings from Hollywood, the BBC, the production companies and publishing houses of the imperialist countries. Fantastic and mystical ideas dull the imaginations of workers and detach them from the great struggle of mankind against capital. Violence and cruelty normalise abominable behaviour and prepare us to accept the unleashing of fire and fury upon the oppressed people.

It is no surprise that such a cruel and unjust society as ours in the imperialist countries should produce art that is just as wicked and sick as the society that has nourished it.

There is now an endless production of films that elevate the characters of the sick and psychologically demented. Grown adults are encouraged to associate themselves with sadists and killers, vampires, zombies and ghouls, and to cover the walls of their houses and even their bodies in scenes depicting hellish trauma, such are the ideas which these ‘artistic’ offerings arouse. Directors of film franchises like Hostel are living out on-screen their most depraved fantasies involving sexual violence, torture and murder whilst Hollywood and the presstitutes hypocritically moralise over Harvey Weinstein.

Worse still, the incessant praise of capitalism from every corner of the arts, love of its methods and cruelties are lauded by ignorant workers. What dignity is left to British workers who roundly applaud another firing by Alan Sugar, a ten-minute begging session in front of the ‘Dragons’ or another indecent, humiliating performance for Simon Cowell? Workers taken in by this ‘entertainment’ are utterly castrated before their exploiters and turned into wretched voyeurs of their own humiliation.

Congress recognises that only our party, a Marxist-Leninist party, can offer any salvation to the tortures of our era, and that proletarian art is a powerful tool for our social emancipation. The limitations through size and finance that are placed on our output in video and literature are well known. However, we recognise the enormous impact our political educational videos have had and are having upon workers through YouTube, we applaud the distribution of a number of copies of Ostrovsky’s book How the Steel Was Tempered in 2015, and praise the articles in Proletarian that have critiqued anti-Soviet propaganda films or brought to readers a Marxist appraisal of Shakespeare.

Furthermore, we applaud our socialist cartoonists who illustrate our journals and leaflets with such vibrancy and humour. In our own small way, our party has continued in the great tradition of socialist realism in artistic criticism and artistic production. Our party is the only light in the darkness that surrounds us: our artistic output, our propaganda, our penetrating analysis, will lead British workers to a dignified life if we are able to link our party with the masses.

To this end, and recognising the above, congress instructs the central committee to:

1. Delve into the wealth of Soviet literature and bring to life through re-publication some Soviet titles at intervals that can be sold to party members and the public. The titles chosen should have the broadest popular appeal that will give the unacquainted reader a glimpse of the heroism of Soviet citizens in their struggle against the bourgeoisie and in the struggle for socialism.

The books chosen should be suitable to hand to new party supporters and candidates unfamiliar with Soviet history and literature. They should be the most inspirational stories that convey the proletarian ethics and morality of the world’s first socialist state.

These stories, some of which might be Stalin Prize winners, are lost to time. Their distribution in the 21st century can be a powerful antidote to the sickness and depravity of the bourgeois arts, and can counter the nihilism that penetrates the ranks of even the most sincere and well-meaning comrades.

2. Give more attention to the artistic output of modern Russia and China, particularly their historical dramas and documentaries. Not only have these countries advanced technically in the production of good historical dramas and documentaries that deal with their revolutionary history, but a renaissance is to be observed in the way in which historical personalities are now being reappraised by the young generation of these countries.

These films, while not perfect, can play an important role in the development of our own party members and supporters, but need promotion in our party press to bring them to the attention of a British audience.