Winter 2008 | Gallery

Art’s Linkage to the Reality of the People: Or Art’s Ties to the Reality of the Revolution

By and

Translated by Hiba Morcos


When art assumes a new understanding in the collective intellectual repository and a form of social consciousness, attaining to it an aspect of struggle, this essentially constitutes a rebellion against and refusal of the given social condition. In other words, it constitutes an unceasing desire for radical change and the beginning of a struggle to improve the social condition. But as long as art production is the embodiment of reality and a radical attachment to it, how can it also be a refusal of reality? And what is this refused reality? Why is there this desire to change it from its roots and to wage a struggle for its improvement? What are the principles to attain it? For whose benefit will it be?

A man’s consciousness about his true dimensions forces him to adopt a novel look upon reality from a perspective whose humanistic depth increases with the increase of human experience. The more universal the perception of these real aspects of human existence of a whole, the more objective is his vision of reality. This objectivity carries him to the heart of truth by disclosing the real aspects of his condition. And the more objective his view of his conditions, the more revolutionary on the international scene he becomes, the greater his desire to change his roots, and struggle for a better social condition.

This unity of goal [between art and vision] asks art to fuse with the revolution. It asks art to believe in its goals and link radically and historically to living battles for the actualization of a proper society, social justice, and the preservation of the dignity of the human being and the individual citizen.

Whoever seeks objectivity has to look objectively, and whoever seeks the reality of our condition has to look truthfully at this condition in order to perceive its essential aspects. Looking to our reality leveling this way reveals its backwardness, its decadence, and its internal divisions. We see it composed of two contradictory societies—urban and rural—in its every aspect, but we clearly realize how humanism is crushed in both. We see the individual in the city arising from an outlook informed by of utilitarian, opportunistic, individualistic, and selfish principles. He demands his rights but he does not know his duties vis-à-vis the state and others. Utterly abusing his freedom, as if the freedom of others contradicts his own, he goes so far as to insist on his individualism and assert it in his life and production. He is not tied or attracted to others except by his personal benefit; he lives for the moment and at any cost, as if he were without roots tying him to the past and without goals tying him to the future. If there is any exception, any link made, it will result only to crushing the rights of others and wasting their humanity and dignity.

Culture came to this [selfish] individual not to increase his universal perception and his sense of his humanity, but rather to increase his insistence on striving for his individualistic interests, as well as his opportunism to actualize his benefits even if it requires the exploitation of others and occurs at the expense of the dignity. His first and last goal is material gain and benefit, despite the fact that true culture came to affirm the necessity to fuse the individual with others for a better life, society, and future. It came to prove that an individual’s freedom ends where the freedom of others begin.

The reality is that the individual–in the urban society–has lost his shadow; he is lost, babbling. He is a critic without credit, without roots, and without a tomorrow. In spite of that, he takes and asks for more, and gives not. Rather, if he gives, he does so only to stress his individualism and selfishness!

Another tragedy lives within urban society: when human being who has authenticity and is attached to his humanity in terms of his clarity and simplicity–i.e., the son of the countryside–comes to the city to work and to participate in its construction. Yet while he gives, he gets but a minute return, one that can only crush his humanity and take away from his purity and simplicity. It is as if he came to the city to pay his authenticity as a price and to become a lost person with no identity, no roots, and no future.

The real tragedy, however, that which constitutes the basis for the backwardness of this condition, is the life of the laboring masses of the people, especially those from the countryside. They, as individuals, enjoy a human credit abundant in clarity, simplicity, heritage, and production. They give without knowledge or assessment of the meaning of giving and without receiving in return something on par with this giving. They come without Culture, without the protection of their interests and their rights in life and in production. For they were granted life in the shadow of corrupt, decrepit regimes that rendered them exploited by another category of people, a category that does not realize its human dimensions; a category who prevented them from accessing Culture and erected barriers between them and their claiming their interests in life and in production. In this context, the individual’s dignity becomes paralyzed and his rights slaughtered at the altars of personal benefit. Nevertheless he remains, by ignorance, all- giving. Yes, he lives but does not live his human dimensions because he remains deprived of his ability to claim his rights as human.

Revolutions arose, asking for the liberation of peoples from the colonizers and the reclamation of the peoples’ and nations’ violated rights. They called for the liberation of Man from slavery and exploitation and the restitution of his stolen rights.

These revolutions looked upon human knowledge from a new dimension, and brought to existence new common sense and theories for every one of these ways of knowing. It looked at art in a special manner and considered it a form of social consciousness that largely contributes to kindling a spirit of liberation in colonized peoples and in the exploited individual to claim his rights. It looked at art in relation to living and stressed its connection to reality of the laboring masses.

The essence of revolution originally is a refusal of a backwards status quo and a building towards a better reality for these peoples. In view of the fact that goal of art is life it has to accompany the revolution in all its stages, from the refusal of a backwards reality to the building of a better life and society.

Briefly, as long as art is tied to reality in a radical way, it is necessarily tied to the reality of the revolution.

About the Author: and