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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 7. June 11, 1947

Socialist Realism

Socialist Realism

During the whole history of class society the predominant cultures have been largely alienated from the people. But in times of revolution, when other classes have called on them as allies, the influence of the people on culture has been most marked. Without the support given the rising bourgeoisie by the mass of English labouring men, there would have been no Shakespeare, no Milton, to star our cultural history. And if, today, Shakespeare and the people are far apart, we may thank Shakespeare's bourgeois students, who have removed his work from its basis in the life of men, and spirited away its revolutionary content.

In wishing to remove the influence of the people from culture, Priestley necessarily removes the basis of culture. Apart from the growing trends towards socialist realism in the bourgeois world, the only country where culture is truly of the people is the Soviet Union—and it is not Soviet musicians who write the dance-tunes to which Mr. Priestley objects.

Nor does the Soviet citizen recognise any fundamental difference between culture, science and politics. Culture is not an art and literature created by specially-gifted individuals, but the inherited experience of mankind in its struggle with nature and the real world, an experience modified and developed in the course of history at a guide to action and a joy in action.