File Name: critical realism and socialism realism by georg lukacs .zip
Georg Lukacs. Introduction: Lukacs Marxist critics as an orthodox socialist, who was against formal 2 The rational capitalist organization of legally free labour.
Ram Roy Bhaskar [a] — was an English philosopher of science best known as the initiator of the philosophical movement of critical realism CR. Bhaskar argued that the task of science is "the production of the knowledge of those enduring and continually active mechanisms of nature that produce the phenomena of the world"  rather than the discovery of quantitative laws, and that experimental science only makes sense if such mechanisms exist and operate outside the lab as well as inside it. He went on to apply this realism about mechanisms and causal powers to the philosophy of social science, and also elaborated a series of arguments to support the critical role of philosophy and the human sciences.
Two puzzles dominate recent discussions of Soviet literature and Marxist aesthetics in the s. The first is how the official Soviet system tolerated and even at times celebrated such an idiosyncratic writer as Andrei Platonov, who in the last twenty-five years has emerged as the central literary artist of the time.
The second puzzle is how socialist realism, a literature wholly focused on the future, came to model itself on nineteenth-century realism, with the result that the bulk of socialist realist novels and works in other literary genres and artistic mediums read like tedious exercises in nostalgia, while artists who really anticipate the future, like Platonov, became marginalized.
In line with the new Stakhanovite movement, which showcased particularly productive individual workers in each major industry, on July 30, Stalin gathered the most illustrious railway workers for an awards ceremony at the Kremlin.
By August 17, working at a Stakhanovite pace, the publishing arm of the rail industry prepared and published a commemorative volume, Liudi velikoi chesti People of Great Honor , which featured brief biographies of the sixty-seven award-winning railway workers.
Sometime that autumn a decision was made to commission literary works about them. Platonov — was a natural choice for the project. Born in the family of a railway engineer, he had frequently set his stories in and around rail yards.
He explained his railway obsession in a text later published by his widow Mariia:. Before the revolution I was a boy, but after it happened there was no time to be young, no time to grow; I immediately had to put on a frown and start fighting [i. For me the saying that the revolution was the locomotive of history turned into a strange and good feeling: recalling it, I worked assiduously on the locomotive … Later the words about the revolution as a locomotive turned the locomotive for me into a sense [ oshchushchenie ] of the revolution.
A revolutionary fact gives rise to a feeling and organizes labor, but then returns to a metaphor that rapidly accelerates out of control. The enemies of revolution prophesied crashes for our locomotive, trying to frighten us with the difficulty of its path, its steep inclines and hard hills. But we have managed to lead the locomotive of history through all inclines and hills, through all turns and bends, because we have had great train engineers, capable of driving the locomotive of history.
We have conquered because our locomotive has been steered by the dual brigade of the great Lenin and Stalin. Tropes unexpectedly spawn real imperatives. In Soviet conditions a work that is false in its ideas cannot be genuinely talented. Platonov fulfilled his commission with admirable conscientiousness, completing his two stories by the deadline of February 10, Another logistics specialist, Zakharchenko, spends most of his time at his pottery wheel producing wares that he sells at great personal profit.
Protected only by his loyal but limited cook Galya, Levin sacrifices sleep and nourishment to keep a watchful eye over the entire operation. In his story Platonov observes a delicate oscillation between documentary source and fictional invention.
So what, for Platonov, was realism? Threatening administrative penalties or worse for offending artists and critics, the campaign against modernist excess was quickly extended to all mediums of art and instilled a deep and lasting chill on Soviet culture.
It suggested an end to the notion of socialist realism as an autonomous method that could engender a variety of styles and modes for socialism, and its transformation into an obligatory and uniform style based on the replication of safe artistic conventions encoded in a restricted canon of authoritative exempla.
In the Hegelian tradition articulation Gliederung in German, raschlenenie in Russian does not merely establish proportions and arrange into hierarchical order, but also elevates chance to the status of necessity. True to its etymology in Latin and German artus and Glied , meaning a joint, limb, or member , articulation reveals details to be the limbs or members of an organism. Dedicated to the philosophy of nature, this section traces how simple organisms—plants and animals—express their inner idea or subjectivity by articulating themselves into complex forms.
To articulate means to be articulated as a Party member Mitgleid. In spurious objectivism i. The subjectivist i. The case of James Joyce shows how extreme subjectivism ends up coinciding with extreme objectivism, producing a raw documentary record of merely subjective experience, leaving us with unanalyzed and unshaped surface data.
Soviet literature also presents a record of failure. We must know and experience in a human way from where it is to come and how it is to undergo its growth. Negative traits in and of themselves are incapable of vivifying a literary image.
It is typical that both here and in other similar cases [ sluchai ], in his low assessment of his own personality Levin constantly upbraids himself for what is actually his best quality—for his passionate immersion in work.
This is a broad problem of the contemporary transitional period, a reflection of the social division of labor at the contemporary stage of the development of socialism—true, given in subjectivist distortion, but at the same time necessary [ neobkhodimoe ] in this very form. But Levin knew very well that every little chance misfortune was, in essence, a big catastrophe—only it happened to have died in infancy.
If you cripple yourself at Red Peregon I will seek compensation as if you had ruined a thousand locomotives. Within these conditions he struggles also to manifest himself as a new subjectivity, free of the consequences of the division of labor, which are still so patently visible in his coworkers. His passion for technology and organization has never, not even for a second, given rise to the dry one-sidedness that is typical of managers of capitalist enterprises.
For Levin the person and the machine, the person and technology, are inseparably linked to each other. The former controls the latter, and out of their fruitful interaction arises the socialist organization of the economy—and is born the new person.
The distant, thick and kind voice fell silent for a time. Levin stood silent; he had long loved his Moscow interlocutor, but had never been able to express his feeling to him in any direct way: all means were tactless and indelicate …. And yet the story constantly returns to the elusiveness of feeling in a world pervaded by concern for technology and other inhuman things:.
But in the darkness of his mind, which was abundantly irrigated by blood, there glowed a single trembling point; it gleamed through the gloom of his eyes, half-closed by his eyelids, as if a lantern was burning at a distant guard post, on the entrance signal of the main route from reality, and this meek flame could turn at any instant into the broad glow of his entire consciousness and turn on his heart at full strength. The pilot light of consciousness flickers at the ready, protected from the chill winds of an obdurate world, watching for opportunities to articulate labor as history, as immortality.
Shklovsky is best known for his youthful work on literary theory, but he remained prominent throughout the Soviet period as writer and screenwriter, literary and film critic, and theorist of socialist realism.
After the dawn of socialist realism Shklovsky was closely involved in many of the most prominent documentary projects, beginning with the collectively researched and written volume The White Sea—Baltic Sea Canal in —34 and Metro in What would it mean for a writer to be a Stakhanovite?
Now that laborers are becoming heroes, Shklovsky argues, writers need to work out new ways of appropriating that labor without imposing their own names or, most importantly, their own voices, as Shklovsky explained in a speech at a gathering of Moscow writers in March People have learned to speak.
People think well. The transcripts of their speeches … improve from year to year. It is not that the stenographers have learned to take better notes: it is that the people have changed. The voice of people has changed. Krivonos was the most illustrious of railway Stakhanovites and the main debunker of limitism in railway science, just as Shklovsky was in literary science. Writing in his trademark telegraphic style, Shklovsky draws a consistent analogy between railway labor and literacy.
Krivonos was raised in a poor family. His father Fyodor managed to build himself a house only through extreme parsimony. Having worked all his life, Fyodor knew the letters but never mastered the skill of combining them into words, leaving him in a world of acronyms:. People at the station—those who were a bit more important [ pokrupnee ]—were also called not by names and syllables, but by letters. The locomotive on which these letters shone was the most cozy; even a small child could climb onto it.
His father bought no toys, making them himself for his children, but only rarely. One time he made something like a model of a locomotive part. It was interesting to watch the wheel spin on a wooden shaft. Petr begins the art of combining language and the world when he begins to learn how to put trains together. Both skills are based on elementary montage, exercised on a scale model but transferable to full-scale mechanisms and processes.
Finishing college, the pupil understands a locomotive just as one must understand a phrase in grammatical analysis. This here is a noun, with a certain gender, number, and case. These words open up a conscious relation to the machine. With his mastery of grammatical and mechanical montage, Petr can begin to put together machine-based labor in hitherto unseen ways. Instead of shaping his material as narrative, Shklovsky constructs the biographical narrative out of contingent, almost random fragments, including biographical details, local color, personal memories, instructions on the proper upkeep of locomotives, statistics, news of the day, and comments on the weather.
All of this is arranged in an order that also seems random:. It landed safely, having reached an altitude of 16, meters and having performed 50 tests on cosmic rays. The Donbass railway was among those over-fulfilling the plan. There was a competition for best conductor. The glider pilot Kartashov took off, using a storm front. The storm cloud stretched for several hundred kilometers.
Using a powerful thermal stream, the glider pilot rose to 2, meters and, together with the storm cloud, flew in the direction of Serpukhov. Man can do much more than he has up till now.
Actions are stereotypical, but life is unrepeatable. But Platonov misses the point. It gestures toward communism as a state not of history, but of language. The signals engineer has no joy in life. It might have worked out that the carriage that he was guilty of releasing had not been stopped, and then instead of an award he would have received a punishment. He let the carriage go and stopped it himself.
This is an accident [ sluchai ] that could have ended in two ways … There is no hero, no feat, there is just a accident [ sluchai ] that allowed him to look with one eye into this other life, and then he again returned back; and the place he has returned to is a quite meaningless life.
Every narrative [ rasskaz ] has accident. The accident of Anna Karenina meeting Vronsky in the train. There as many such accidents in life and in an artwork as you like. But there is a pernicious kind of accident. Throughout the story Fyodorov is depicted as saddened by the profound alienation persisting between human and animal, human and machine, human and media.
He desires renown, but achieves it only by causing an accident that maims his right arm. Again we are brought back to Anna Karenina , this time its finale, where the heroine also has a brutal encounter with a train. Tolstoy has made the coupling of this episode with the central life-drama as tight as possible.
In everything, almost everything that I have written, I have been governed by the need to gather together thoughts coupled with each other, for expressing the self; but each thought expressed in words separately loses its meaning, is terribly denigrated, when it is removed from the coupling in which it is located.
The coupling itself is composed not by thought I think , but by something else, and it is impossible to express the basis of this coupling directly through words; you can do so only in mediation, by describing images, actions and situations in words. What is realist in the realist novel, then, is not its style or even its genre, but its operations of articulation and coupling, just like working on the railway.
Two puzzles dominate recent discussions of Soviet literature and Marxist aesthetics in the s. The first is how the official Soviet system tolerated and even at times celebrated such an idiosyncratic writer as Andrei Platonov, who in the last twenty-five years has emerged as the central literary artist of the time. The second puzzle is how socialist realism, a literature wholly focused on the future, came to model itself on nineteenth-century realism, with the result that the bulk of socialist realist novels and works in other literary genres and artistic mediums read like tedious exercises in nostalgia, while artists who really anticipate the future, like Platonov, became marginalized. In line with the new Stakhanovite movement, which showcased particularly productive individual workers in each major industry, on July 30, Stalin gathered the most illustrious railway workers for an awards ceremony at the Kremlin. By August 17, working at a Stakhanovite pace, the publishing arm of the rail industry prepared and published a commemorative volume, Liudi velikoi chesti People of Great Honor , which featured brief biographies of the sixty-seven award-winning railway workers. Sometime that autumn a decision was made to commission literary works about them. Platonov — was a natural choice for the project.
Juliane Rebentisch. Juliane Rebentisch takes up the discussion of changing and redistributed forms of realism in current arts. This leads to another plea for a post-mimetic realism. Primarily instigated by the 6 th Berlin Biennale in , the German discussion over the possibilities of an aesthetic realism has come to new life; arguments have been exchanged in academia as well as in the broader public sphere. For the normative sense of contemporary art is that it should make its historic present present to us. These two criteria decide whether an art is worthy of its present, whether it can do justice to it. That also means that there may be current artistic productions that fail to meet this double requirement, because they are anachronistic, regressive, or obsolete in one or both of the dimensions I have mentioned.
Access options available:. Have we truly reached the point where critics and historians agree with White that "our interpretations of history and society can claim no more authority than our interpretations of literature can claim" see his essay in Diacritics, March , p. A pluralist presents himself as tolerant and holistic, and would surely chastize a critic like Girard, who is so adamant about the centrality of his own theory. But in assembling "many views," pluralism serves, I think, to keep its material in separate compartments, and to prevent the appearance of any method that regards our social practice as something other and more demanding than "one more interpretation. But its status as a verbal fiction does not mean that its power is diminished: authority may still be a source ofpower, command allegiance, and exclude forms of opposition, whatever our insistence on its linguistic character. White's argument might be turned around: if the dominant authority is not factual, not a given, then we are free to disobey and work to change it. William E.