Any Conservative feels instinctively that "Pop" art has no place in Western Civilization, and is an enemy which must be opposed. Few, however, know that it's origins are directly Marxist, and that in reality it plays a clever political role by undermining our culture in preparation for a Communist take-over. Professor Bradshaw, head of the School of Fine Arts, University of Grahamstown, South Africa, traces the origins of modern art to the Communist revolution in Russia, and shows how it was brought to the Western world by Trotskyist emigres.
Everywhere quantitative values have replaced, or are rapidly replacing, those of quality.
The world, economically divided into the influential spheres of two politico-social camps, is partitioned in neo-colonial form but joined by international variations on a theme of Materialism.
One of the resulting phenomena is what is popularly called, a 'progressive attitude'. In education such an attitude describes a system which is intended to fit the student to a future place in modern society; a place where he can best serve the interests of the new community.
Cutting off the past and forming entirely new patterns of life reflecting what is called the philosophy of modern life is now general practice. We have, of course, to live in accordance with the times. But the sense of contemporaneity does not distinguish us from previous man.
In describing the communist infiltration of Western culture I would like to preface my opinion with some general points of view:-
I am concerned only with those branches of modern art which show themselves to be expressions of Marxist-materialist ideology. These include both abstract and representative forms. I do not group all abstract painting in this category, any more than I would group all represensational. In any case, this term 'abstract' is ambiguous. All art is abstract to some degree, and no art is merely a physical likeness.
I believe in European civilization.
Who would have thought ten years ago, said De Gaulle, that the only colonial powers left in the world today would be (the anti-colonialist) Russia and America!
I believe that when nations realise this fact (and there are signs that they are beginning to do so), and when they remember with pride their own particular heritage, then I believe the world problem will be half-solved.
The threat today is of a world-wide culture and control with man absorbed into an amorphous collective society.
What is new, is burning the bridges which extend to past experience so as to be unencumbered and isolated in the strictly dogmatic path we have chosen.
Outside and inside the home, in public and political life, the resignation of the Elders in favour of youth and inexperience has strange results; such as the parson who plays his guitar at the church service in order 'to get with it", as the new saying goes. This sort of behavior helps gain a type of audience but does not gain the confidence or respect of youth.
Schemes which readily offer some kind of solution to the world problem are Left-intellectualism or, for the more urgent minded, Marxist-Socialism.
For the Left-intellectual life is relatively simple. The rights of man having displaced those of God, he is a law unto himself and can indulge generously in humanism. This does not mean that he is tolerant of all men.
On the contrary, he is quite intolerant of those who oppose his ideology. He is particularly intolerant of men who retain and cherish their link with the past. He scorns the Tribal Man or the Traditional Man; for the Traditional Man has to do with nature and with tradition rather than progression, and he believes in God rather than man.
In a world bent on unity through totality, it is necessary for the New Man to tempt or force Traditional Man to loosen his roots. For like a tree, a man divested of his roots falls the easier, or having lost support, will grab at whatever is offered in the way of alternatives.
By means of persuasion, propaganda and education, total unity is sought. There are also ways of force and violence.
Methods used in Communist countries, such as mass liquidations of 'bourgeois reptiles', are known, but not well known or well catalogued.
In the West the Maquis systematically murdered an estimated 105,000 of their political opponents in France after the Liberation. This Revolution of 1944-46 accounted for 80,000 more victims than did the Reign of Terror in the First French Revolution, and the massacres were no less savage and were certainly more numerous and on a wider scale than those of St. Bartholomew, and the Commune.
Peacetime parallels are less spectacular but just as convincing. The constant rewriting of even recent history, purging the past of its heroes and confining them to the enlightened present (in suitable anti-heroic garb), is common to both sides of the Iron-Curtain.
The Bolshevik Revolution concerned itself with the removal of personal values and individual man so that a materially conditioned collective man could be firmly established. All inheritance from the past, all anti-materialist thought was obliterated. The new role of education required a complete overhaul of the Universities. There was a re-shuffle of history.
Many of the cultural forms of this Revolution, or 'the social and democratic struggle against autocracy' as it is termed by a Western intellectual, found their influential way through Europe before being cut off from their base by the progressive programming of Russian Communism. Some of the migrant forms handled by emigrant Bolsheviks came to roost in Western Europe and America. Others were given fresh and varied lives by contacting allied styles which had come to light in the West.
Thirty years later and still continuing over forty years later, these long defunct expressions of the early proletariat, sometimes camouflaged, sometimes extended, appear again to be used by the avant-garde, crest-of-the-wave 'innovators' of Modern Times as new forms of expression.
Apart from the stale quality of this supposedly new form, the most interesting fact is the direction from which it now comes. For this early Bolshevik style is refashioned by the anti-communist West as an expression of its own socio-political ideals.
This interesting phenomenon needs looking into, and the artistic products of the new West should be examined. But before this it is necessary to look at the home of their birth -- America.
Although America is now world leader of anti-communism, most of her foreign policy in this direction is hard to understand and appreciate. On the homefront also, many of her anti-communist activities take on a strange character. For instance, Life Magazine seems to echo authoritative sentiment when it 'deplores the recent activities of ultra-conservative anti-communists' and 'super patriotic crackpots' who 'fortunately enjoy little support among respected leaders of government".
On the popular cultural level various close similarities exist between the American and Russian ways of life:-
The Marxist method of remaking history to suit contemporary economic and political forms of life is clearly evident in the Hollywood-Biblical-Spectacles.
Mass displays of political symbol and sentiment and the prestige-antics of Rocket-Culture show little difference in attitude between these two 'opposing' powers. The slick photo-imagery of Saturday Evening Post illustrations, Time Magazine portraits and much of American representational art is almost indistinguishable from favorite communist styles.
In the field of elite culture, emigrant Bolshevik painters or their works found a new home in America, the latter being incorporated in the Museum of Non-Objective Painting from which vantage point they were described as 'acts of faith' by democratic critics and helped to form a new American School of Thought.
Gamekeepers and Poachers
It is interesting to look closer at the new American School of Abstraction. It is freely acknowledged that many of its painters were once Marxists. But, of course, this fact need not prejudice progressive attitude, or for that matter dispassionate observation. It might even be said that reformed poachers make the best gamekeepers. An examination of the aims and practices of these democratic gamekeepers should therefore prove rewarding.
They, together with the Headkeeper-critics, have described their attitude and work as follows:-
"Nothing can prevail against the organic evolution which has produced through the vast evolutionary strides of the last 40 years a multiform style of abstract art based on the change of values of great men -- as they stand at the highest point of evolution."
On this peak the modern artist, guided by the prophets Kandinsky, Malevitch and Mondrian, indulges in technical experiment and philosophical speculation expressing his deep admiration of new science and its methods -- thus:-
'Art will develop entirely on a scientific basis -- towards the abstract universal by a collective style which transcends persons and nations'.
The chief interest in the works is that they are predominately international.
'The new movement is a conversion'.
The new artists do 'not think they know'; their action provokes 'revolutionary results -- significant to the epoch' identifying 'the expanding caste which conducts the revolution'.
Further investigation of this International Academy based in New York reveals that it is 'Anti-Art', that is against the bourgeois activity formerly known as art because it gave meaning to an autocratic world. An historical barrier is established after which art is possible because of a new state of mind. The difference in attitude between the old mind and the new mind is as follows:-
The Old Mind directs artistic media towards the completion of a symbolic image. The New Mind is led or driven by the active partner of media to no end beyond the act of liaison and the suggestive results thereof.
Everything that interferes with the act of painting, including the auxiliaries and 'aids' such as composition, has to go because the new art has to do with the revelation of the act itself. It is primarily a physical expression set in motion with spontaneous gesture allied to the mood of dancing. It might be called a jazz or jive session with paint.
The Rosenberg label of American Painting was instituted to describe one of the styles resulting from the New Mind. In this kind of painting the tension between painter and canvas is increased by dripping, flinging or squirting the paint rather than calmly brushing it on. It is a highly excitable act which is supposed to pull out the unconscious and throw it into effective vision. Aside from these 'inner Necessities' the movement was greatly helped by discovering the Freudian methods of investigation used by Dr. Poetzel and his 'tashisto-scope'.
The New Mind also expresses itself in music.
Composer Stockhausen's new music is accordingly 'uncomposed' with strung together fragments which are to be played in random order. There is no beginning and no end. There is no focus, no purpose, no direction'. Another non-purpose composer, John Cage, uses Chinese dice to give numbers to his musical scale. His electronic version of 'Atlas Elipticalis with Winter Music is conducted by a machine.
The expanding caste of American New Minds and Anti-Artists is of international status and membership.
In France Mathieu, for instance, declares that his new painting 'is an overthrow of Aristole. There is no direction. Only existence. No purpose'.
In England Alan Davie, who graduated from jazz playing to painting, says that painting should be 'aimless', like a child playing with mud-castles', without 'absurd aim'.
All New Mind Art is not of the same style but it all conforms to the same ideology.
The Hard Edge School of painting applies paint as mechanically as possible so that the collective machine appears to replace the individual hand as the artistic agency.
Pop Art uses the same technique of painting but adds anti-artistic imagery like juke-box designs, magazine pin-ups and other banal characteristics of American Advertising and coke-culture, as subject-matter to shift sensibilities from the old idea of Fine Art.
New Minds are by no means confined to youth. Throughout the past decade many of the Elders have scrambled to get into what they imagine is the attitude of the lower age group. From this vantage point they fancy that their dwindling positions might be strengthened. Like Trafalgar Square the field of art has its doubtful doyens.
In England Victor Pasmore is such a person. After changing horses in midstream he threw away a minor reputation to collect a major reputation not only as a painter but as an educationalist.
Pasmore has now moved beyond painting because even when mechanistically imitated, paint still shows evidence of handwork. He now prefers collage. But even an object stuck on has a hint of the person who fixed it there, so a photograph of the collage is better than the collage, and a photostat of the photograph is better than the photograph, and so on until man is eliminated and forgotten and we are left in the 'pure' world of the machine.
The comfort of absorption in a mechanical and material world where individual responsibility of thought and action is both unnecessary and undesirable is also expressed in the New Figurative paintings of Francis Bacon.
Bacon's Freudian productions in perverse paint show the anguish and desolation of tortured figures who as yet are incapable of coming to terms with the New World. His work is mostly based on photographs usually taken, as one might expect, having a foretaste of the New Mind's references, from the American Time/Life Magazines and the early Bolshevik film favorite 'Battleship Potemkie'.
Further examples of the New Mind and its intellectual expressions should not be necessary. A pattern of thought is seen to exist.
As this pattern represents the intellectual front of the Western World one would expect it to be opposite to the intellectual front of the Marxist world. A comparison with the actions and objectives of the Bolsheviks fighting to create a Marxist-materialist World should especially show the difference in outlook.
On the contrary, a brief survey of Bolshevik Culture in its violent beginnings might just as well be used to describe the nature of the avant-garde culture of the West. The Bolshevik pattern was as follows:
They set about the destruction of all values.
They swept away all past and traditional impediments ('everything traditional must be smashed', said Pissarev) in order to isolate and engage solely with the reality of the present.
They were materially conscious and conditioned, rejecting as guides the spiritual and the Absolute. They armed spiritual negation with scientific method. They were concerned with the mechanical act as an end in itself. The end became the means; the Marxist means was the substitute, the same as the end.
They sought to rid art of the object.
Absence of the Object
They were initiated by Malevitch into 'the awareness of the absence of the object' when Malevitch was a Commissar directing 'manifestations of evolution' from the International Bureau of Arts.
They were anti-art and anti-individual.
They termed art 'a physiological mechanical process'.
They made use of geometry and collage and machine tools to express 'manifestations of a collective community' for, as Trotsky said, only those materials which were the foundation of scientific and industrial organisation should provide the material for culture.
They introduced mechanics into music and removed the conductor from the orchestra because he was a director and an individual.
They gave a new meaning to art and identified themselves as a revolutionary expanding caste.
Strange that this culture pattern also describes West-intellectual 'progression'.
The variety of phenoma which has thus presented itself points to two conclusions:-
1. That there is a new breed and international caste of West-intellectual which, far from being involved in anti-communism as claimed, is engaged to the full in Marxist-socialist ideology and practise which differs from modern Russian Communism (or Chinese) only by being a 'purer' and non-nationalistic version.
2. That the work and thought of this intellectual caste, while claiming to lead, is in fact the result of consent, not rebellion.
A World-wide Culture
The threat today is therefore of a world-wide culture in which man is absorbed into a collective materialist state.
The unified thought of this collective caste is a uniform dialectic which, though denying the Absolute, is itself absolutist, declaring to be untrue or non-existent all which is not of itself.
Its ideologies merge with economic circumstances.
Its political passwords become principles.
It aims at complete domination, using as its means the uprooted new man or proletariat.
It has destroyed the old scale of values and has instigated a new set which describes a state of general unrest as peaceful coexistence.
A state of Marxist-materialist philosophy as Christianity.
A state of collective vulgarity as civilized culture.
A state of aggression and anarchy as peaceful protest.
A system of group indoctrination as education.
The system in which man is being steadily absorbed is a totalitarian organization of the world, from which the accumulated experience of past civilization and cultures has been expelled.
The product of this system is an incomplete man who is a danger to humanity. Free thought can only be shaped by man who has not been degraded by a system.
The truth is not reassuring. It is demanding!
The disease which prevails has saturated the world body. It can no longer be localised. The cure therefore cannot consist of surgery. In any case too much has been cut away already. Man must rather be rebuilt to his original strength and total form so that he may have the knowledge and power to resist artificial academic and totalitarian systems.