The Aesthetics of Haten”Thus wit, like faith, by each man isnappUednTo one small sect, and all are damnednbeside.”n—Alexander PopenPauline Johnson: Marxist Aesthetics:nThe Foundations Within EverydaynLife for an Enlightened Consciousness;nRoutledge and KegannPaul; London.nT. W. Adorno: Aesthetic Theory;nRoutledge and Kegan Paul; Lxjndon.nOf Marx’s numerous ex cathedranpronouncements, none has presentedna greater hermeneutical challengento the faithful than the assertionnthat life is not determined by consciousness,nbut consciousness by life.nIt seemed to follow as a consequencenthat men could not, by acts of theirnwill, create a new world. The classlessnsociety would be realized only as thenfinal outcome of the logic of economic,nand hence social, development. Innone sense, this was heartening newsnbecause it meant that revolutionariesnwould not be disappointed in theirnhopes. But on closer examination,ntheir assurance was seen to have beennpurchased at the price of denying thenhistorical influence of ideas. In then. effort to rid itself of the last vestige ofnidealism, Marxism had entered thencamp of positivism.nOnly when, toward the end of then19th century, positivistic social theoriesnbegan to yield to a fresh interest innthe relationship between consciousnessnand society, did the “automatic”nMarxism that constituted orthodoxynfor the Second International begin tonbe countered by a theory of consciousnpraxis, the full implications of whichndid not become evident until 1923,nwhen Georg Lukacs’s History andnClass Consciousness and Karl Korsch’snMarxism and Philosophy first appeared.nBy then, Lenin had laid thenhistorical groundwork for transformingnLee Congdon is author of The YoungnLukacs (University of North CarolinanPress).nby Lee CongdonnMarx from an economic deterministninto a voluntarist by seizing power innRussia, a country that lacked the structuralnprerequisites that the author ofnThe Communist Manifesto had idenhfiednas necessary for successful proletariannrevolution. As the revolutionarynwave receded during the years followingnthe Bolshevik coup d’etat, Marxistsnclung all the more to their new warrantnfor hope. Revolution might not benimminent, or even inevitable, but thenbarricades could again be erected if thenproletariat achieved a mature consciousnessnof its historical mission.nThe doctrine that ideas could benautonomous was welcome news fornintellectuals, because it meant thatnthey were destined to play a pivotalnrole in the revolutionary movement. Itnwould be their responsibility to exposenfalse consciousness—the bourgeoisie’snblurred vision of reality—and to aid innthe development of the proletariat’snprivileged consciousness. Preciselynhere Marxists began to assign newnsignificance to art and the philosophynof art. No longer vaguely interestingndistractions, these enterprises becamenpotentially useful weapons in the arsenalnof revolution.nUnfortunately, Marx and Engelsnnever proposed a formal system ofnaesthetics, their statements concerningnart being occasional and cursory. Disciplesnsuch as Franz Mehring andnGeorgi Plekhanov had had more to saynon the subject, but they had joinednMarxist perspectives to one or anothernbourgeois philosophy. Only in 1930-n31 did Lukacs and his Russian friendnMikhail Lifshitz, collaborating atnMoscow’s Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute,nset out to work out a specificallynMarxist aesthetics. Concerning thisnimportant chapter in the history ofnMarxist theory, Pauline Johnson tellsnus nothing. Nor does she provide sonmuch as a general introduction tonMarx’s and Engels’s aesthetic views.nInstead, she begins with a superficialnnnand narrowly focused analysis ofnLukacs’s work, one that suffers evennmore from her inability to readnGerman. Barred from direct access tonprimary sources, she has had to relynalmost entirely on Lukacs’s studentsnand friends living in emigrationn—Gyorgy Markus, Ferenc Feher, and,nespecially, Agnes Heller.nLike most contemporary radicals,nJohnson, who lectures on “Feminismnand Aesthetics” at the University ofnSydney, is not much interested in thenproletariat. She is, however, excited bynthe idea that works of art can have ann”emancipatory impact” on consciousnessnin general. A proper Marxist aestheticsnmust, she insists, “establish thenbasis upon which the recipient is ablento recognize that the art work providesna better and a more convincing representationnof reality than the perspectivenhe/she acquired from daily life.”nFor Johnson, of course, it is a priorinthe case that every conception of Westernnreality is false that does not entailnrejection. She is pleased to note thatnMarxist theories of aesthetics are uniformlynhostile to “capitalist” society,nbut she regrets that not all are able tonprovide an account of the foundationsnfor an “enlightened” consciousnessnwithin alienated everyday life. FollowingnHeller, she maintains that onlynLukacs, the late Lukacs of DienEigenart des Aesthetischen, succeedednin doing so. Yet if it is true that LukacsnAPRIL 1985/13n