Dada Culture: Critical Texts on the Avant-Garde

By Dafydd Jones | Go to book overview

Introduction

Perhaps the falsest of all false paths was the narrow thoroughfare Spiegelgasse.

Lenin made his distinction clear, on more than one occasion, between “freedom” as symptomatic of bourgeois-anarchist individualism, and the real freedom he believed would be actualised through revolutionary thought breaking out of bourgeois slavery and merging with “the movement of the really advanced and thoroughly revolutionary class” (1967). His distinction drew on Dietzgen's hostility to the materialist theory of knowledge embodied in “free-thinkers” who, together, constituted a reactionary mass in relation to social democracy.1 For Lenin, what opposed “free thinkers” were “integral people … who do not separate theory from practice” (1962: 340-41), whose system is inscribed in their practice, even, indeed and perhaps surprisingly argued when such a system is an opiate religious one. To believe that we are free in our liberal democratic society is our delusion; it demonstrates our failure to see our structural accommodation and containment, and our failure to admit the painful truth, as Lenin understood it, that there can be “no real and effective 'freedom' in a society based on the power of money” (1967). The admission, if conceded, is at least productive; to recognise Lenin's comparison of a living movement with a mechanism is to make the structure visible – and if nothing else this much subsequently redeems the structuralist's position. Once the structure is visible, we can begin to think our relation to it; if we cease to think that relation, the structure again recedes into invisibility and resumes its unchallenged and effectively uninterrupted repressive exercise.

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