Trends of thought (philosophy, politics, and religion) are our subjective approach to ourselves as objects. Abou Rijal says that art becomes more real than reality itself. What he means by this: mankind interprets himself based on his capabilities and advancements prior to generations before. The Chinese triumphantly eliminate extreme poverty previously plaguing all of Chinese history, and planning for the advancement of the socialist cause is undergoing. Socialist Realists arise in the arts and in propaganda campaigns. This is the Chinese interpretation of his society– an outpost for the future. This future is socialism. Fan Wennan, a personal favorite, creates art reflecting the present yearnings of their society today. By the use of the aesthetics of Chinese Communist Futurist Propaganda of today, he inserts Mao-era propaganda in wondrous large-scale flats, cybernetic buildings in space with portraits of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, and a grandiose palace of what seems to be a Communist Party of China Headquarters. He is a socialist realist. He is an artist.
Claude Monet, another personal favorite, painted in accordance with the dialectic. Life is everchanging, even in our present moments of perception which we deem as unchangeable at least for a few moments. However, we fail to account light and color as real elements of our perception that changes in accordance with the progression of human and inhuman movement. Then arose the trend of thought and expression of the impressionists. Capturing reality as it was and is. Their doctrine still influences those who choose not to be indifferent to the historical cause of art before the postmodern.
Idealists influence greatly art as an expression. Utopianists creep out of the caves previously used to hide from oppression and ridicule by the set reality then and the powers to reckon with them. Utopia is expressed as the present yearnings of mankind today as reality in the future. As well as the elimination of present shortcomings and conflicts. However, the realist decries this, saying that struggle is the vital motor engine for mankind to go forward. He realizes new struggles as he progresses and leaves solved or unsolved struggles of his past. The struggles that are unresolved as much as the solved ones affect his present as much as his future. The historical role of art is to express the moment of now. Whether that now is an interpretation of then or an interpretation of after. These realists become idealists themselves since they envision a concrete standard of collective mankind if not concrete individuals. But mankind and the individual are everchanging.
This realism, as does the Platonic philosophy of imperfect society to perfect hidden society, nails mankind to a cross. As it does this, realism realizes itself as an ideal. In accordance with this realization, it changes its rationalization and interpretation of concrete reality. Hence, assuming new forms of politics and art.
Social classes are an absolute truth to contemporary society as it was to society in the past. However, in great epochs, man discovers sophisticated methods of power distribution. The aspiration of the Communists is to realize this power distribution into the hands of the masses by any means necessary in accordance with the material reality of the present. As they depend on the material reality of now, they depend on the aspirations of a better material reality in order to usher in Communism.
Socialist Realism is only one example of the philosophical aspect of art. For postmodern artists, they express the absurd nature of established concrete reality by the Ford-era capitalists which conflicts with the material reality of social skills in the workplace and tolerance of exploitation (in the era of largescale un-unionization). Western Society faces a mentality of “the end of history” made prevalent after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, writes Mark Fisher, and thus Capitalist Realism dominates trends of thoughts in the “Capitalist” West. This realism is idealistic, in that it declares capitalism to be the end of history at our present moment. Indifferent, when declaring such, to the present conflicts of today caused by the past-present unity because of capital’s reluctance for a present-future unity which devalidates and requires a drastic attitude toward capitalism not as a concrete social force but exposing the capitalist reality today as a socialist manifestation.
Penetrating reality is the goal of art. Modifying reality is the goal of art and idealists. Establishing reality is the goal of the realists. However, Socialist Realists take the approach of critical attitudes toward the present where capitalism prevails as a legitimized trend of thought. The Socialist Realists too will praise socialist tendencies within their respective countries. This is different than art in the postmodern, which either exposes the absurdity of social capital infiltrating human experience (thus is the Spectacle) or criticizes relics of the past oppressing the present peoples. Art serves as an instrument of the realist, less of the idealist (however they be two sides of the same coin) to legitimize the present triumphs of mankind compared to generations before. Allowing us to circle back to Abou Rijal’s examination: mankind interprets himself based on his capabilities and advancements prior to generations before.
And as such, he will look toward the future and simultaneously observe the past (moreso study its imperfections and dialectical role toward the present). He will discover new feats, new methods, and new realities. New goals, new social relations, and new communications and methods of interpretation to broadcast the traditions of his society. A society without tradition is a society divorced from its past, hence, there cannot exist a present, and without a present to serve as a past, there cannot exist a future. Then, man will remain stagnant and static. If existing at all.