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WEIR, David. Anarchy & Culture; The Aesthetic Politics of Modernism
Article published on 2 March 2006

by r-c.
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Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, (Critical Perspectives on Modern Culture Ser.). 312 p.

Review:

- Antliff, Mark 1957- "Anarchy & Culture: The Aesthetic Politics of Modernism" - Volume 6, Number 1, January 1999, pp. 167-169

"David Weir’s thesis in Anarchy and Culture is that anarchism’s success in the sphere of cultural avant-gardism was a function of its failure as a political movement; he assumes a separation between art and political activism despite his acknowledgment that anarchism claims to overcome such a barrier. In Weir’s reading any fusion of art and politics always favours the former to the detriment of the latter. In his view art and political activism should properly remain mutually exclusive. Weir claims that for the "ideologue" it might be possible to adapt "aesthetics to politics" but that "from the perspective of the poet" a solution might be to "adapt the politics to the aesthetics": this latter strategy is identified with anarchism, "the one ideology that might have allowed [a poet] to reconcile art and action, since anarchism as a form of individualist politics is perfectly suited to . . . individualist poetics" (2). In Weir’s reading anarchism’s success as a poetics is part and parcel of its failure as a political ideology; moreover, "the contemporary critical strategy of aestheticizing politics" among Marxists such as Fredric Jameson is declared a function of the demise of marxism as a state ideology. "The situation whereby ideology attempts to operate outside of politics has already pointed Marxism toward postmodernist culture, just as anarchism moved into the culture of modernism when it ceased to have political validity" (9).

Anarchism in the last analysis could not reconcile "politics and culture" because "it failed to survive in political form."


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