Stalin On Art and Culture
From REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRACY – India
In 1946 Stalin met with Soviet intellectuals to discuss and analyze the trends developing in Soviet art, music, literature and theatre - after the Second World War. Here we give a shortened version of his replies to questions posed by the intellectuals. [:]
Recently, a dangerous tendency seems to be seen in some of the literary works emanating under the pernicious influence of the West and brought about by the subversive activities of the foreign intelligence. Frequently in the pages of Soviet literary journals works are found where Soviet people, builders of communism are shown in pathetic and ludicrous forms. The positive Soviet hero is derided and inferior before all things foreign and cosmopolitism that we all fought against from the time of Lenin, characteristic of the political leftovers, is many times applauded. In the theater it seems that Soviet plays are pushed aside by plays from foreign bourgeois authors. The same thing is staring to happen in Soviet films.
We should ask ourselves a question as to how dangerous are the "avantgarde" tendencies in music and the abstract school of art and sculpture that is being imported from the West?
Today, under the guise of innovation, formalism, we see it being induced into Soviet music and abstraction in painting. Once in a while a question can be heard "Is it necessary for such great people as Bolsheviks and Leninists to be engaged in such petty things and spend their time criticizing abstract painting and formalism? Let the psychiatrists deal with it!"
In these types of questions you can sense the misunderstanding of the role of ideological sabotage against our country and especially against our youth, which is discernable. It is with their help that attempts are being made against socialist realism in art and literature. This is being done openly. In these so-called abstract paintings there is no real face of those people, whom people would like to imitate in the fight for their peoples’ happiness, for communism and for the path on which they want progress. This portrayal is substituted by the abstract mysticism clouding the issue of socialist struggle against capitalism. During the Great Patriotic War, how many people in Moscow came down to the monument of Minin and Pozharsky in the Red Square in order to instill in themselves the feeling of victory? To what can a bust of twisted iron sculpture, representing "innovation" as an art inspire us? To what can an abstract painting inspire?
This is the reason why modern American financial magnates are propagating modernism, paying for this type of work huge royalties, which the great masters of realism may not ever see.
There is an underlying idea of class struggle in the so-called Western popular music, in the so-called formalist tendencies. This music is created from the sect of "shakers" – dance that induces people to ecstasy, trance and makes them into like some kind of wild animal ready for any action. This type of music is created with the help of psychiatrists so as to influence the brain and psychology of the people. This is one type of musical narcotics under whose influence a person cannot think of fresh ideas and is turned into a herd. It is useless to invite such people to the revolution. As you see, music can also fight. ...
In 1944 I had the opportunity to read instructions written by an officer of British intelligence, with the title: "How to use formalist music for corrupting the enemy army."
While talking about the future development of Soviet art, literature and music, it must be taken into consideration that it is developing in a condition of unprecedented secret war, a war that has been unleashed upon us and our art, literature and music by the worlds imperialist circles. The job of our own foreign agents in our country is to penetrate Soviet organizations dealing with culture, to capture the editorships of major newspapers and journals, to influence decisively the repertoire of theatres and movies and in the publication stop or hamper by any means possible the publication of revolutionary works that awaken patriotism and lead the Soviet people towards creating communism. They support and publish works where some failures of socialist ideals and communism are preached. They are ecstatic in their of fiction and poetry. Their aim is to support and propagate the capitalist method of capitalist production and the bourgeois life style.
At the same time these agents are asked to popularize in art and literature the feelings of pessimism, decadence and demoralization.
One popular US Senator said:" If we were able to show Bolshevik Russia our horror films, it would probably be able to destroy communist construction." Not for nothing Lev Tolstoi said that art and literature is a strong form of indoctrination.
We must seriously ponder over who and what is inspiring us today, with the help of literature and art, so that we can put an end to this ideological Western subversion. We must understand and accept that Culture is one of the integral parts of social ideology, of class, and it is used in safeguarding the interests of the ruling class. For us it is to safeguard the interests of the working class, of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
There is no art for art’s sake. There are no, and cannot be "free" artists, writers, poets, dramatists, directors or journalists, standing above the society. Nobody needs them.
For those who do not want to serve the Soviet people as the result of old traditions or the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, or are antagonistic towards the power of the working class that is dedicated to serve the Soviet people, we give them permission to leave the country and stay abroad. Let them be convinced of the meaning of "free creativity" in the notorious bourgeois society, where everything can be bought and sold, and the creative intelligentsia is without doubt completely dependent on the monetary support of the financial magnates for all their creative endeavors.
In conclusion I must say that the Soviet people showed their heroism and the world was saved by the simple’ honest Soviet people, who without fuss and under the most difficult of conditions achieved industrialization and collectivization. They fortified the defense system at the cost of their own lives, under the leadership of the highly dedicated Communists, they destroyed the enemy. Only in the first six months of the Great Patriotic War, more than 500,000 Communists died on the front lines leading the fight against Nazism, and overall more than 3,000,000 Communists died as the leading cadres in the war. They were the best of all of us – noble, pure, dedicated and selfless fighters for socialism, for the happiness of Soviet people. We miss them. If they were alive now, a lot of our problems would have been eliminated. The task of the Soviet creative people must reflect this, to show the future generations the best traits of a Soviet person. This must be the general line and aspiration for the development of literature, theatre, movies, music and art.