Benjamin’s communist idea: Aestheticized politics, technology, and the rehearsal of revolution

Jon Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent interest in communism as an idea prompts reconsideration ofWalter Benjamin’s conception of a “communist” aesthetic politics. In spite of Benjamin’s categorical condemnation of aestheticized politics, his “artwork essay” is better read as both explicit condemnation of a particular (regressive fascist) type of aestheticized politics and implicit commendation of another (progressive communist) type. Under the modern conditions of the technological reproducibility of art, and mass politics, the character of and relationship between the cultural value spheres of politics and aesthetics also changes. Benjamin analyzes dialectically the actuality of the fascist response to modern mass arts and politics in which technology and society are misaligned, and the potentiality of a communist response that would bring about a collective interplay of humanity and technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-60
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aesthetics
  • Benjamin
  • Communism
  • Fascism
  • Film
  • Media
  • Politics
  • Technology
  • War

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