400 Years Since the Death of Shakespeare: A Revolutionary in Literature—Part One

Shakespeare - Public DomainShakespeare transformed English literature, reaching heights that before were unheard of and which have not been reached subsequently. Like a blazing meteorite he shot across the firmament and cast a glorious light on an entire period in our history. His impact on world literature was arguably greater than any other writer. His works have been translated into every language. For centuries after his death his star has not dimmed but shines as brightly as on the first day.

 

Horror Film—The Decline of Capitalism Through the Lens

TheyLiveIn an article on World War I, Lenin once remarked that, “Capitalist society is and has always been horror without end.” In discussing the early development of capitalism in his classic, Capital, Marx said that upon its arrival in history “capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” In the same book, Marx stated that, “Capital is dead labor, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.” In the very same chapter, Marx compares the capitalists’ drive for surplus labor to a “werewolf’s hunger.”

Armed with a Marxist understanding of society and a knowledge of the enormous potential for a better world, these individuals saw capitalism for what it was—a horror. Their identification of age-old folklore and Victorian era tales of vampires, werewolves, and boogeymen with the crimes, injustices, and enormous waste of capitalism is not surprising—it is a feeling unconsciously shared by millions and reflected in the popularity of the horror genre since the very beginning of cinema.

Marxism, Materialism, and Art

Mona LisaMarxism often defines itself as scientific socialism. That would make it an applied science with a specifically political purpose. For example, when Engels delivered Marx's funeral oration, he said that Marx was above all a revolutionary. But a basic premise of Marx’s outlook was that revolution could only succeed if based on an understanding of the processes at work in society as a whole.

Indeed, the social world of people is just part of a wider material reality which is a vast web of interconnections. That is why Marxism, as the science of revolution, cannot be neatly separated off from science as a whole. One aspect of this holistic approach is that Marxism must take a scientific and practical interest in art, a phenomenon which can sometimes appear to be very separate from politics.

Two Revolutionary Poems

These two revolutionary poems were submitted to us for publication by a sympathizer. The author hopes these lines will serve to inspire others to engage in revolutionary politics and artistic expression.

Pete Seeger (1919–2014)

peteseegerWe've lost a spirited voice of the oppressed and exploited, as Pete Seeger drew his last breath. Having reached the age of 94, Seeger had lived, fought, and sung through several tumultuous periods of ebb and flow of the class struggle over many decades.