Regicide and modern art – final part

Photo by Carmela Gross


Surprising as it may seem to many, among the legatees of the organizational culture of Stalinism is the new entrepreneurial culture of neoliberalism.

What to do?

We must therefore take regicide effectively in the radical and maximum sense as it took place in 1793. That is to say, as a meditated and transparent judgment of suppression of every remnant of divine right in favor of the constitution of a new collective social subject, whose mode of enunciation would be carried out through the new republican devices of manifestation of the “general will”, according to the parameters of that time, or the affirmation of class perspectives to speak in terms born of the historical crisis of 1848.

In the specific case of visual discourses, practices and products must correspond to the concrete requirements for the constitution of a new collective social subject. In other words, overcoming justifications and criteria of anti-historical or transcendent content, as well as overcoming processes and productive means based on craftsmanship, which today, in one way or another, in the arts and elsewhere, tend towards preciosity and the reproduction of values ​​according to monopoly forms of income, that is, without the effective production of radically new values.

Now, in fact, we concretely find in the historical scene after 1918 the production of collective modes of enunciation and perception. Such production consisted of resorting to post-craft production processes and the elaboration of materials potentially susceptible to appropriation by historical and collective experience, ultimately conducive to the constitution of epic forms and genres. It resided mainly in non-pictorial media and supports, collective and accessible to the majority, such as, for example, cinema, posters and newspapers, or in the collective expropriation of older mass symbolic devices, which once worked in aulic molds in absolutism, as unilateral resources and exclusively reproducing privileges: architecture, the theater, the great orchestra, the luxury handicraft of furniture and clothing, etc.



By virtue of such delimitation, but beyond collage as a mode of painting crisis, we will effectively find constructivist cinema, organically linked to the October Revolution and working according to new practices, new materials and a new conception of what the discursive economy is in the face of the real historical process – which overflows and does not bend to the economy of signs, but, rather, inevitably invades it.

Due to historical circumstances and current contingencies, it can be said that the vast restructuring of arts and culture that took place in the years following the October Revolution is still largely unknown. This is due in particular to the systematic devastation of memory and other critical and reflective instances by Stalinism.

Let us concentrate, therefore, on some of the fragments that we have of a still largely submerged whole, and focus primarily on two topics, namely: the so-called “montage theory” as a dialectical discursive regime, founded on conflict, according to Eisenstein (1898-1948); and the notion of “social order” (zotzialny zakaz), a key idea about the genesis and function of the work of language in the revolutionary process, which implies a concrete notion of the work’s recipient: the specific spectator, socially determined in their class, and with concrete desires and needs – opposed to the notion of an indeterminate and abstract public (which assumes the contemplative subject called “autonomous”) and consumer of symbolic goods circulating in the bourgeois cultural market.

Let us begin the new stage of our investigation with the second topic, which has a greater impact on a large scale. The notion of “social order” not only concretely contradicts the device of governmental order or even an economic class power, but also leads, in materialistic terms, to the process of production and circulation of art, that is, it clarifies us about the situation, function, criteria and destination of works of language linked, in this key, to the prevalence of collective social rights. With such qualities combining origin, purpose and function in a unique and radically new synthesis, the construct in question constituted possibly the most concrete and effective collective form – such as a revolutionary assembly – of a regicide device in the arts.


social order

It is in this sense that the Kino Gazeta (12.01.1926) noted about the'The Battleship Potemkin (1925): “Today, the expression sotzialny zakaz, a social order, is in fashion (…) but should we understand by that an order from a governmental body? It would be a big mistake (…). The social order does not arise in a studio director's office, nor in a state commission. Eisenstein got his commission from the proletarian revolution, in the course of which he became an artist. This social demand did not reach him in the form of a resolution or film proposal, but as an organic process of evolution of the Revolution and the evolution of Eisenstein”.

“We are convinced that, even if Eisenstein's next film does not proceed from a request by the VTSIK (central executive committee of the CP, for all Russia) and that his script does not deal with a theme that concerns the Revolution, Eisenstein, however, respond to the social order of the proletariat”.[I]

In other words, “The social order (…) programs the work – it is its content – ​​according to the task of rebuilding the 'way of life' (be) and perception”.[ii] The concept of “way of life” (be) and the perceptive economy linked to it constituted decisive themes in the years that followed the October Revolution.[iii] We'll come back to this.

In this way, the historical environment or the place where the notion of social order was exercised consisted of a process of dialogues and debates on the part of revolutionary constructivism, going beyond the strictly artistic field, to respond directly to questions and historical-social forms. The notion was outlined by the critic and writer Ossip Brik (1888-1945) and formulated by Tretyakov (1892-1937), playwright and direct collaborator of Eisenstein. Its purpose was precisely to organically link the works to the revolutionary process.

It was, in other words, a regulatory notion, opposed to the abstract and illusory notion of “aesthetic autonomy”. However, the “social commission” did not exclude the artists’ autonomy, since “it is(was)”, in Albera’s words, “an autonomous understanding of this commission, which could (might) contradict the real commissions of the representatives of the class”.[iv]


montage versus collage

Analogously to the social order, other constructs of the group of artists that constituted the Frente de Esquerda das Artes-LEF group integrated the same constellation of ideas as a whole: the notion of “strangeness” or “de-automatization of perception” by Chklovski (1893-1984),[v] Tatlin’s “culture of materials” – who conceived form as “the product of the dynamic force that results from their relationships” –,[vi] photomontage, Meyerhold's biomechanics (1874-1940) and Eisenstein's “photogram theory”, as well as Eisenstein's ideas about the effects of time and movement in cinema. This set of solidary and interdependent notions and techniques, of the same historical origin, had as their fundamental principle the political affirmation of the process of workers' organization independent of the single party and the philosophical-materialist valuation of the idea of ​​struggle.

Such elements, together with the montage theory, constituted a system. The decisive distinction between the theory of montage and the practice of collage resided precisely in the theoretical, historical and political dimension concretely synthesized in belonging to such a system. Such a connection, endowed with a systemic content, in fact, attributed to the theory of montage a critical-reflective power much superior to that of collage (the latter, as we have seen, emerged as a critical and negative technique in the face of the metaphysical tradition of painting, and a circumstantial operative expedient; with a realistic effect that was certainly innovative in the historical-pictorial context of origin, but limited – as a detached and punctual technical finding – and, therefore, condemned to assimilation in the process of reproduction of productive and social relations).

In summary, while montage theory combined the use of discursive discontinuity and a totalizing and systematic reflection, collage, in turn, was concretely constrained by the original circumstances. Thus, it would soon be domesticated, inserted as a genre within the scope of discursive procedures in which it took on the sign of artisanal improvisation, even in its migrations to other fields such as sculpture, music, scenography, literature, etc.

An unequivocal sign of the domestication of collage, of its inability to totalize and critically and reflexively dominate a new situation, in order to expand its lexicon and thematic universe, is that, in the period that followed its invention in the midst of Cubism, collage went from being a fulminating pre-war finding to a model for oil paintings that imitated the collage genre, at the same time that they were evidently impotent to cope with the new historical situation. In effect, a generalized civil war of classes was underway and extended to several countries, some of which, like Germany, reached the brink of revolutionary crises. Other operations, born out of the crisis and also of ephemeral critical duration, such as dada practices, and, more lastingly, photomontage, then took the place of collage.

In short, despite consisting of two ways, at first sight related and neighboring (of articulating discontinuous discursive fragments), montage theory concretely distinguished itself from collage not ontologically, but historically, by the political context in which it emerged and by the quality of the systemic relations involved.

In this way, the issue of montage passed through Eisenstein’s reflection and practice – however, not only him, but also those of several other Russian filmmakers, such as Lev Koulechov (1899-1970), Dziga Vertov (1896-1954), Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893-1953), among others – through different modes of elaboration. Here, for the sake of economy and in order to synthetically mark the contrast achieved by the practice of discontinuity through montage with regard to collage, I will focus only on the discussion of montage theory, linked to the notion of “intellectual cinema”, that is, as it was developed in the film October (1927-8).


A new art system

How were the notions of montage theory and “intellectual cinema” engendered? The first point to consider is the close association between Eisenstein’s works and constructivism – an artistic movement that emerged in the first half of 1921 in the course of the civil war and about which Mayakovsky (1893-1930) declared: “For the first time a new term in the domain of art – constructivism – came from Russia and not from France”. [vii]

How to synthesize the first reason for the novelty of constructivism? Practice and theory made up an inseparable whole in such a movement, and this whole was, in turn, inseparable from the revolutionary process. This fundamental quality distinguishes constructivism from the set of artistic practices in capitalism – governed by the division of works and knowledge – as well as from the correlated phantasmagorias: specialization, abstraction, solipsism and authorial fetishism, etc.

Therefore, as a critical practice in the arts and reflectively focused on the whole, considered in historical and materialist terms, constructivism came to constitute the matrix of a new aesthetic system, markedly interdisciplinary. It thus corresponded, as summarized by Nikolay Tarabukin (1889-1956), to the corollary of the critical-reflective development process of the productive forces of modern art.[viii]

Organizing a new conjunction of the arts, constructivism proposed the overthrow and replacement of the pictorial and aesthetic system engendered in the mid-XNUMXth century, in close conjunction with the power of Florentine finance associated with the papacy.[ix] Of a metaphysical nature, this system was constituted through a combination of geometry, rhetoric and elements of Neoplatonic philosophy – and mainly from the distinction between intellectual work and manual work. On the basis of “easel painting” conducive to individual appropriation, such a system translated the model of imagination that, in the so-called Renaissance – the rebirth, above all, of the Roman latifundia taken as a model for the colonial expansion of the Iberian countries –, monetized and refounded the economy of the European mercantile powers from the combination of mercantilism, high finance, colonialism and slavery.



It can thus be said that Eisenstein's emergence was preceded by the destruction of the aesthetic field of contemplation and by the elaboration of the principles of the materialist aesthetic domain. On a biographical level, Eisenstein born in 1898 was the late fruit, perhaps the last, of the wave of artists who prepared and carried out the artistic revolution inseparable from the October Revolution. Eisenstein was twenty years younger than Malevitch (1878-1935), thirteen years younger than Tatlin, eight younger than El Lissitzky (1890-1941), seven younger than Rodchenko (1891-1956), five younger than Mayakovsky (1893-1930). He matured precociously due to the history that preceded and involved him.

The productive dynamics on such a scale, which was not repeated for the author himself in other periods of his busy existence (partly suffocated under Stalinist tyranny), still took place at this intensity under the influence of the October Revolution, arising from a social process that did not oppose criticism and the invention of forms, but rather vigorously claimed them, to carry forward the process – unfortunately brief – of expropriation of properties and privileges.

In the year of completion of the film October, 1928, already facing the bureaucratic counterrevolution, Eisenstein joined with other artists in a group that was also called October and that was composed of architects, photographers and painters, graphic artists and men of letters.[X] The founding manifesto, aimed at the critical radicalization of constructivism and facing the reflux of the revolutionary process, advocated organizing “in the most effective way the conscience and the emotional and volitional sphere of the proletariat and the working masses that follow it”.[xi]

Such words echoed the program of “deautomatization of perception (…) against the routine of life”, proposed by Victor Chklovski (1893-1984), a thinker from the Russian formalist current. The same guideline of “strangeness” or “de-automatization of perception” was also applied by constructivist architecture in the elaboration of projects for workers' clubs, among others.


conflict theory

While I was a member of the October group and preparing a rehearsal for a conference in Germany,[xii] Eisenstein elaborated the notions of “intellectual cinema” and that of montage theory. Both explicitly referred to the work done on the film. October.

The essay affirmed the idea of ​​conflict or struggle as a general principle not only of all artistic methodology, but also of all aesthetic and cognitive experience, put in terms of clashes of fragments, independent of each other. Although he makes no reference here to the internal struggles of the Bolshevik party, it is not possible to disregard the echoes that emerge from the text, mixing the philosophical primacy of the conflict, postulated by the filmmaker, and the affirmation of the dialectic proper not only to philosophical reflection, but above all inherent to the irreducible conflict of social struggles.[xiii]

It appears that later Eisenstein himself, surrendering to the context of terror installed by Stalinism,[xiv] trimmed marks from your text and set aside certain ideas. Thus, for example, the assertion of conflict or struggle as a general principle not only of all artistic methodology, but of all aesthetic and cognitive experience, described as clashes of fragments independent of each other, was replaced by the notion of “organic unity”, present in the unfinished book of 1945-7, called The Non-Indifferent Nature.[xv]

The notions of “intellectual cinema” and montage were therefore inscribed on the boundary between two historical periods, since, although they were contemporary with the rise of Stalinist tyranny, they were part of resistance to it as long as it was possible. In this way, the ideological conflict in the artistic field led the group Outubro to denounce, in the manifesto “Declaration on national culture”, of 1929, nationalism and “Russification”, and to affirm, on the other hand, internationalist positions with a view to renewing the “way of life”.[xvi]

In 1931, the group released another manifesto, “The struggle over class positions in the field of space arts”,[xvii] in which he rejected the nationalization of the “social order” and reaffirmed the lines of the founding manifesto. In this, based on the notion of social ordering, such a request was sent to “collectives of consumers who order works for specific purposes and actively participate in the design of objects”. However, in 1932 the Central Committee of the Communist Party, already completely taken over by Stalinism, established the dissolution of all artistic associations.


Power of the avant-garde, fragmentation and anarchy in the arts

In this tragic historical context, and in order to understand today the historical trajectory of the rise and fall of the political and philosophical notion of conflict as a reflexive radicalization of discontinuity, it is illuminating to establish a parallel between the theory of cinematographic montage – as a clash of fragments – and certain reflections by Trotsky (1879-1940) about the historical process expressed in a letter dated June 17, 1938 from Coyoacán (Mexico), to the magazine Partisan Review (United States) – letter included under the heading of “L'art et la révolution (Lettre à la rédaction de Partisan Review)” in the French edition of Literature et Revolution (1934):

“No progressive idea [Trotsky said in the letter] has emerged from a 'mass base' (…) All great movements began as 'fragments' of previous movements. Christianity was once a 'fragment' of Judaism. Protestantism, a fragment of Catholicism, that is to say, of degenerate Christianity. The Marx-Engels group emerged as a fragment of the Hegelian left. The Communist International was prepared (…) by the fragments of international social democracy. If such initiators were able to create a mass base for themselves, it was only because they did not fear isolation. They knew in advance that the quality of their ideas would translate into quantity. (...) It's the small groups that made the art progress. When the dominant artistic trend exhausted its creative resources, its creative 'fragments' separated and knew how to look at the world with new eyes (…)”.[xviii]

From this perspective, the power of the fragment implied the struggle and confrontation of ideas as permanent strategies. The same position was taken up by Trotsky – now critically revisiting, although not explicitly as such, his positions prior to October 1917 (in particular when he polemicized against the “futurists” and “formalists”, while at the top of the Bolshevik party),[xx] in the famous manifesto “For an independent revolutionary art” “Pour un art révolutionnaire indépendant” (1938) – publicly co-signed by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and André Breton (1896-1966), but written by Trotsky. The manifesto stated that, within the scope of the productive forces, the Revolution should combine “a socialist regime of central planning”, with the establishment and guarantee “of an anarchist regime of intellectual freedom. No authority, no restriction, not the slightest trace of command.”[xx] 

Similarly, Trotsky’s notion of “permanent revolution”, directly opposed to the Stalinist notion of “national socialism”, was based on the assertion of the protagonism and political independence of the working class and reflexively turned to a totalizing perspective on the unequal but combined system of the world economy.[xxx] In short, the concept of permanent revolution affirmed class conflict and the independence of the working class as the central structure and fundamental principle of the revolutionary process.



Let's go back to Eisenstein to observe what specific poetic benefit the filmmaker drew from the principle of clashing fragments or permanent opposition between discontinuous parts. On the philosophical level, his constructive stance included criticism of the Bergsonian vitalist conceptions then in vogue in France, as well as criticism of the apologetics of the formless, typical of German expressionism at the time – both positions being non-dialectically derived from premises that oscillated between vitalism and idealism.

The guidelines of “intellectual cinema” thus diverged from those of the Franco-German avant-garde, which proposed the idea of ​​a purely visual cinema along the lines of “pure art” and the formalist doctrine of “pure visuality”, by Fiedler (1841-95) and others. The guidelines of “intellectual cinema” also clashed within the framework of revolutionary Russia, whether with certain positions of members of the new left which, according to Vertov, opposed the “staged” to the “non-staged”,[xxiii] but they clashed above all with the dominant naturalist doctrine within the apparatus of production.

In summary, it was not by giving in and diminishing or weakening the role of the cinematographic narrative device – but on the contrary by consolidating and promoting it, as well as enlivening the tension of opposites between the cinematographic discourse and the discourse of the interpretation of history – that the “intellectual cinema” constituted its dialectical narrative principle, always nourished by a historical synthesis or totalization.

Analogously with regard to the economy of the cinematographic process, Eisenstein, as he was not based (unlike the French avant-garde) on the notorious ontological specificity of cinematographic discourse – that is, on the reification of the filmic phenomenon, or of the supposed laws and codes of the new medium –, did not prioritize either the question of time or that of movement, both illusory.

Thus, “intellectual cinema” did not start from the isolated effect of the image or the minimal unit of the shot. In these terms, he discarded any strategy to make cinema positive, according to the apology of its supposed essence or the apparent specificity of the medium in relation to other older arts. From this angle, the centrality of the montage theory. Instead of residing in the shot – whose main effect consists of the very illusion of continuity –, the material foundations of “intellectual cinema” resided in the photogram and the montage.

What, in this scheme, did the frame consist of? In the simplest mechanical form of montage, contained in the basic material relationship of the film in which the discontinuity between one frame and the next is responsible for the cinematographic effect.

The analysis of this central effect of the cinematographic phenomenon was thus translated into a concept of mobility, also described as the non-congruence of contours in memory, generated “from the superposition – from the counterpoint – of two different immobilities”.[xxiii]

In short, Eisenstein designated the conflict of immobility, that is, the contrast between one frame and another, as the material foundation of cinema. Thus, he stated: “The secret of the dynamics of movement in the painting resides in the confrontation between the sensation that is preserved and the one that is born”. The conflict.[xxv]

In the same sense, the impression of depth itself was conceived in discontinuous terms as “a superposition of two non-identical dimensions”,[xxiv] that is, in terms very different from the idea of ​​continuity taken as the core of the geometric and linear system from Alberti's perspective, hegemonic since the Renaissance.

On the other hand, montage, as a reflexive articulation of opposites, founded on the philosophical principle of conflict, presented itself as a reflexive synthesis extracted from the principle of the filmic material and thus corresponded to a materialist expression inherent to the material of its own reflection, that is, to that of the materials that rebelled, from inertia to reflective activity.


bridges of petrograd

Em October – a film that begins with the emblematic antitotemic sequence of the regicide, that is, the one in which the statue of the tsar is knocked down and decapitated, to then give way to the story –, this synthesis – that of the upheaval or the leap from inertia to action – was inscribed in the metaphor of the movement of bridges. The latter and their conjunction played a crucial role in the narrative fabric of the film, namely: on the one hand, repression, cutting off contacts, dismantling bridges; and, on the other hand, the inverse dialectical movement: interconnected bridges, free traffic, montage, workers' power, Work – revolution – in progress.

The ultimate objective of the theory of “intellectual cinema” was to convert cinematographic language into the equivalent of direct forms of thought and concepts, and the latter, in turn as mental forms, into equivalents of forms of struggle.

In such a scheme, it is worth insisting, the idea of ​​conflict was the antithesis of “automatism” – which was characteristic of the “petty-bourgeois spirit”, as Eisenstein stated. The parallel shows that bureaucracy had already become, in the second half of the 20s, the main enemy of the hour. It is what the film also shows The General Line (1929) following the worker-peasant Inspection that invaded the office. This appears typified in scenic terms as a den of bureaucrats, whose characteristic activities – handling superfluous accessories – assume a meaning equivalent to that of relations of inertia and automatism.

Precisely to break the automatism at the heart of bureaucracy, Eisenstein favored the shock effect, of two superimposed images in the observer's perception. Provoked by the clash of ideas, discourses and exposed interests, it was up to the spectator to reflect, that is, to produce in himself the concept-images (obraz): the spark (iskra); spark for which the image-representations (izobrajénie) were just, according to Albera, the food, “the fuel destined to produce the others outside the cinema!”.[xxv]


The Return of the Minotaur

In the course of the following years, under the harsh Stalinist repression, Eisenstein ceased to work with the notion of conflict as a paradigm or eidetic structure, and his last film, the second part of Ivan the Terrible (1946), focused on the themes of lineage and absolute power. However, despite the limits imposed by Stalinism, the film managed, in Russia with the restoration of absolutism and the ideology of monolithic unity, to reveal the delirious discourse of political-bureaucratic monopoly and the tyrannical and paranoid atmosphere of the power apparatus indirectly compared by the filmmaker to a neo-czarism. The work was censored until 1958, five years after Stalin's death.

In conclusion. Juan Antonio had commissioned me, as I reported at the beginning, a history of modern art in the light of regicide. I hope I have met your demand by presenting the culmination of the revolutionary development of the productive forces of modern art, combined with the October Revolution, through the constructivist-productivist devices of the social order and the “conflict theory” as foundations of Eisenstein’s montage theory, and this whole set articulated to the affirmation of class struggle as a general principle and core of the notion of “permanent revolution”. That said, such ideas concern a future that was barely sketched out in the initial stage of the October Revolution process, before it was confiscated from the soviets and grassroots workers' organizations to be suffocated by the counterrevolution.

In this conclusion, we come to the theme of the paranoid mythology of absolutist tyranny. In fact, the force of things or our own current situation pushed us towards this. Indeed, our present problem, introduced by the post-1968 global conservative transition, is that of the restoration of absolutism in the form of so-called “one-thinking” or that of a further escalation of tyranny, driven by the neoliberal liquidation of workers’ organizations and democratic state institutions.

Surprising as it may seem to many, among the legatees of the organizational culture of Stalinism is the new business culture of neoliberalism. But that's another story. The history of art, like that of social formations, is not linear and involves apparent innovations, hybridized by setbacks, erasures, destructions and restorations. The historical inflection and the sinister labyrinth that we now face are of this nature, mainly in countries like Spain, Brazil and Chile [certainly, in the latter before the insurrections (2019-20) that led to the new constituent assembly (2021-22)], for example, where many suppose they have left totalitarianism behind, without noticing its projected shadow, as a permanent threat – like a gun in a safe, ready to go off.

*Luiz Renato Martins is professor-advisor of PPG in Economic History (FFLCH-USP) and Visual Arts (ECA-USP. Author, among other books, of The Conspiracy of Modern Art (Chicago, Haymarket/ HMBS).

Extract from the final excerpt of the original version (in Portuguese) of chap. 11, “From a lunch on the grass to the bridges of Petrograd (notes from a seminar in Madrid): regicide and the dialectical history of modern art”, from the book The Conspiracy de l'Art Moderne et Other Essais, edition and introduction by François Albera, translation by Baptiste Grasset, Paris, editions Amsterdam (2024, prim. semester, proc. FAPESP 18/26469-9).

To see the other articles in the series, follow the links:

Regicide and modern art – I

Regicide and modern art – II

Regicide and modern art – III


[I] See Kino Gazeta, 12.01.1926, cited in Kleiman, Levina, Battleship Potemkin, P. 213, apoud Francois ALBERA, Eisenstein et le Construtivisme Russe/ Stuttgart, Dramaturgie de la Forme, Lausanne, collection Histoire et Théorie du Cinema/ ed. L'Age d'Homme, 1990, pp. 193-4 (hereinafter ALBERA, on. cit. [nineteen ninety]); repub.: Sesto San Giovanni, editions Mimésis, 1990, pp. 2019-301 (hereinafter ALBERA, on. cit. [2019]); trans. en.: Eisenstein and Russian Constructivism / The Dramaturgy of Form in “Stuttgart” (1929), trans. Eloísa A. Ribeiro, São Paulo, Cinema, theater and modernity collection/ Cosac & Naify, 2002, p. 260 (hereinafter ALBERA, trans. br.: on. cit. [2002]). “The central executive committee in charge of the celebration of the year 1905, which gave rise to the making of the film, was composed of Lunacharsky, Maliêvitch, Meyerhold, Pletniev and N. Agadzanova-Chutko (…).” Cf. F. ALBERA, on. cit. [1990], no. 45, on p. 194; [2019], no. 49 to p. 303; trans. en.: on. cit. [2002], n. 49, on p. 267.

[ii]  « La commande sociale (…) program l'oeuvre – elle en est le 'contenu' – en fonction de sa tâche de reconstruction du 'mode de vie' et de la perception ». Cf. F. Albera, op. cit. [1990], p. 135; see also, on the “social commission”, pp. 136-7; [2019], pp. 204-5; trans. br.: op. cit. [2002], pp. 180-2.

[iii] “Way of life” issues – or the so-called debate around Perestroika Byta [reconstruction of the way of life], as a mode of a cultural revolution that simultaneously implied a change in social relations and, in particular, work relations – were among the neuralgic and thorny themes of the revolutionary debates, if not from the foundation of the Proletkult (proletarian culture movement) in October 1917, certainly from April 1918, when Lenin’s directives regarding the adoption of the Taylorist system of work were frankly contested by the magazine The Art of the Commune (1918-1919), published by the Moscow section of the Proletkult. Its members – so called kom-fut  (futurist communists) – they would meet again, in March 1923, in the magazine The F, whose chief editor and several collaborators had belonged to the The Art of the Commune. See in this regard Gérard Conio, "De la construction de l'objet à la construction de la vie [From the construction of the object to the construction of life]", in Le Construtivisme Russe, volume II, Le constructivisme litteraire. Textes theoriques – manifests – documents, Cahiers des avant-gardes/ Lausanne, l'Âge d'Homme, 1987, p. 9. Indeed, by nature unlimited and functioning as a kind of seismogram, the debate on the way of life, as a point of convergence, was also directly linked - such is the point of view iceberg –, to a more restricted debate, but one with a strong seismic potential: that of the privileges obtained within the one-party regime. See in this regard the report (for a long time kept secret) by Yevgeny Preobrazhensky (then one of the three secretaries of the party's leadership), dated July 1920 and addressed to the Central Committee, in which it stated that "among the communist militants in the neighborhoods, the expression "from the Kremlin" is pronounced with hostility and contempt", to conclude with a final recommendation: "... » (Source: RGASPI, fund 17, inventory 86, dossier 203, page 3, published as I. Preobrazhensky, “The question of the privileges of the apparatus of the communist party of the USSR/ unpublished document” in Labor Movement Notebooks, , no. 1, São Paulo, Publisher WMF Martins Fontes/ Sundermann, 2021, pp. 107-17 (earlier published in Les Cahiers du Mouvement Ouvrier, no. 24, Sep-Oct 2004, Paris). On Lenin's directives on labor relations, see "Les tâches immédiates du pouvoir soviétique [The immediate tasks of Soviet power]" (Pravda, No. 83, April 28, 1918 and supplement to Izvestia VTsIK, No. 85). For the debate around labor relations, see, in this volume, the chapter “From constructivism to productivism, according to Tarabúkin” (LR MARTINS, “Note on Russian constructivism”, the earth is round,19.11.2022, available at: <>). Still belonging to the ruling group, but soon in the Left Opposition (in October 1923), the People's Commissar for the Army and Navy, Trotsky, also intervened with a collection of texts in this debate (belatedly in relation to other authors) in July and September 1923 (Les Questions du Mode de Vie [1923], trans. Joëlle Aubert-Yong, introduction by Anatole Kopp. Paris, Union Générale d'Éditions, 10-18, 1976; ed. Eng.: Léon TROTSKY, Lifestyle Issues/The Era of “Cultural Militantism” and its Tasks (1923), preface Anatole Kopp, trans. A. Castro, Lisbon, Antidote, 1969).

[iv] "(...) d'une compréhension autonome de cette commande qui peut entrer en contradiction avec les commandes réelles des représentants de cette class“. See F. ALBERA, on. cit. [1990], p. 136, see also on the “social order”, pp. 135-7; [2019], p. 205, see also on the “social order”, pp. 206-7; trans. br.: [2002], p. 181, see also, on the “social commission”, pp. 180-2.

[v] See F. ALBERA, on. cit. [1990], p. 173; [2019], pp. 260-1; trans. br.: [2002], p. 238.

[vi] See F. ALBERA, on. cit. [1990], p. 174; [2019], pp. 261-3; trans. br.: [2002], p. 239.

[vii]  "Pour la première fois un mot nouveau dans le domaine de l'art – constructivisme – est venu de Russie, non de France". The F, no. 1, 1923, apoud F. ALBERA, on. cit., [1990], p. 118; [2019], p. 177; trans. br. : [2002], p. 165.

[viii] See Nikolaï TARABOUKINE, Le Dernier Tableau/ Du Chevalet a la Machine / Pour une Théorie de la Peinture/ Écrits sur l'Art et l'Histoire de l'Art à l'Époque du Constructivisme Russe, présentés for Andrei B. Nakov, traduction du russe par Michel Pétris et AB Nakov, Paris, Champ Libre, 1980.

[ix] See Wallace K. FERGUSON, The Renaissance/ A Symposium/ February 8-10, 1952, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1953 (see typewritten copy, available only in the museum library); however, by the same author, there is a published work (which I could not consult): Wallace K. FERGUSON, “The Interpretation of the Renaissance: Suggestions for a Synthesis”, in Karl H. DANNENFELDT (ed.), The Renaissance: Medieval or Modern?, Boston, DC Heath and Company, 1959, pp. 101-109. See also Giovanni ARRIGHI, The Long Twentieth Century / Money, Power and the Origins of Our Time, trans. V. Ribeiro, rev. C. Benjamin, São Paulo, Unesp, 1996; Giovanni ARRIGHI, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times, London/New York, Verso, 1994.

[X] In addition to Eisenstein, the filmmaker Esther Choub (1894-1959), the plastic artist and photographer Aleksandr Rodchenko, the Mexican painter Diego Rivera (1886-1957), among others, took part. On the October group, the first signatories and the founding manifesto (1928), see F. ALBERA, on. cit., [1990], pp. 140-8; [2019], pp. 213-23; trans. br.: [2002], pp. 186-94.

[xi] apud F. Albera, on. cit., [1990], p. 141; [2019], pp. 213-4; trans. br.: [2002], p. 191.

[xii] Entitled in the manuscripts “Stuttgart/ The dramaturgy of form”, the essay in question was prepared for a conference that would take place in Stuttgart, within the exhibition film and photo (FIFO), which took place from May 18 to July 7, 1929. Eisenstein was invited to a conference that was to take place after May 18, by the painter El Lissitzky and his wife Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers (1891-1978), who collaborated with the organization of the event, on behalf of the VOKS (Society for Cultural Ties between the USSR and Abroad). At the time, Germany acted as a sounding board for the Russian debate, echoing it (generally) favorably. O Battleship Potemkin (1925), for example, was established in Germany before being disseminated throughout Europe and even in the United States. However, the filmmaker was unable to attend the conference, due to the resumption of filming on The General Line (1929), after Stalin's hostile appraisals (1878-1953).

[xiii] An illustrative example of Eisenstein's deep political and personal interest in the dialectical dimension inherent in social struggles is attested by the first epigraph of the film The Battleship Potemkin: “The spirit of mutiny swept the country. In countless hearts, a formidable and mysterious process was taking place: the bonds of fear were breaking, the individual personality, which had barely had time to become conscious of itself, dissolved into the mass, and the mass itself dissolved into the revolutionary momentum. This phrase reproduced from Trotsky's report about 1905, and still present in a copy imported by the Film Society (London) in 1928, was replaced, perhaps in 1930, according to Montagu, by Lenin's phrase stamped on a considerable part of the copies of the film existing today. For the quote from Trotsky, see 1905, translation Anya Bostock, Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2016, p. 167. On the episode of replacing Trotsky's phrase in the epigraph with one by Lenin, see Ian CHRISTIE and Richard TAYLOR, Eisenstein Rediscovered, London, Routledge, 1993, p. 215, apoud Marcela Fleury, 1921: The Year of Contraries, master's thesis under orient. by LR Martins, PPGHE – FFLCH/ USP, 2022, p. 29-30. I thank the researcher for indicating this passage.

[xiv] On the shooting of several friends and close collaborators of Eisenstein – such as Vladimir Nilsen (1905-1938), Sergueï Trétiakov (1892-1939), Isaak Babel (1894-1940), Vsevolod Meyerhold (1874-1940), Léonid Nikitine (1896-1942) – and the pressures that forced the filmmaker to his self-criticism, see Eric SCHMU LEVITCH, A “Procès de Moscow” au Cinéma/ Le Pré de Béjine d'Eisenstein, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2008, p. 50; (to Eisenstein's letter of self-criticism, 16.04.1937/68/70), pp. XNUMX-XNUMX. This self-criticism was published in the magazine La Litterature Internationale, no. 7, 1937, under the title “Les erreurs du Pre de Bejine".

[xv] Sergueï EISENSTEIN, La Non-Indifference Nature/1. Listens 2, trans. L. et J. Schnitzer, pref. by P. Bonitzer, Paris, 10/18 – UGE, 1976.

[xvi] See F. Albera, on. cit., [1990], pp. 141-2; see also note 38 above; [2029], p.214; trans. br.: [2002], p. 187.

[xvii] See F. Albera, on. cit., [1990], p. 142; [2019], p. 214; trans. br.: [2002], p. 187.

[xviii] « Aucune idée progressiveiste n'a émergée d'une 'masse base'. (…) Tous les grands mouvements ont commencé comme des 'débris' de mouvements antérieurs. Le christianisme a d'abord été un 'débris' du judaisme. Le protestantisme un 'débris' du catholicisme, c'est-à-dire de la chrétienté dégénérée. Le groupe de Marx-Engels a émergée comme un débris de la gauche hégélienne. L'Internatinale Communiste a été préparée (…) par les débris de la social-démocratie internationale. Si ces initiateurs apparurent capables de se creer une base de masse, ce fût seulement parce qu'ils ne craignaient pas l'isolement. Ils savaient d'avance que la qualité de leurs idées transformerait en quantité./ (...) ce sont des petits groupes qui ont fait progresser l'art. Lorsque la tendance artistique dominant a eu épuisé ses ressources créatrices, des 'débris' créateurs s'en sonty séparés qui ont su regarder le monde avec des yeux neufs (…) ». The letter, dated June 17, 1938, and written by Trostky in Coyoacan, in Mexican exile, is included in the appendix of the French edition by L. TROTSKY, Littérature et Revolution, trans. P. Frank, C. Ligny, J.-J. Marie, Paris, 10/18 – UGE, 1974, p. 459-60.

[xx] Cf. Leon Trotsky [1922], « El Futurismo », dans Literature and Revolution, preliminary note, translation and notes by Alejandro Ariel González, introd. by Rosana López Rodriguez and Eduardo Sartelli, Buenos Aires, Ediciones Razón y Revolución, 2015 [ed. french. : Littérature et revolution, Paris, 10/18, UGE, 1974].

[xx] « A socialist regime of central plan », combined with «an anarchist regime of intellectual freedom. Aucune autorité, aucune contrainte, pas la moindre trace de commandement ». Cf. André BRETON, Diego Rivera and Léon TROTSKY, “Pour un art révolutionnaire indépendant (Mexico, the 25th of July 1938) » in Idem, pp. 492-500. For Breton's statement, naming Trotsky as author, see Idem, P. 500.

[xxx] See L. TROTSKY, “Results and prospects”, in idem The Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects, with introductions by Michael Löwy, London, Socialist Resistance, 2007, pp. 15-100, and M. LÖWY, The Politics of Combined and Uneven Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution (1981), Chicago, Haymarket, 2010. In French, there is the edition (not consulted): Léon TROTSKY, 1905 suivi de Bilan et Perspectives, trans. Paul Bukauskas, Paris, Le Club Français de Livre, 1969, available at: .

[xxiii] See Vv. AA., “The (group) LEF and cinema” (stenogram of a debate), in magazine Marxist Criticism, n° 40, trans. Maria L. Loureiro, rev. technique LR Martins, São Paulo, Fundação Editora Unesp, 2015, pp. 91-119; Left and film, notes of discussion (extracts), vv.aa., in Screen V. 12, n° 4, pp.74-80, transl., edited and introd. by R. Sherwood, 1971; Le LEF et le cinema, in review Documentary, No. 22-23, 1er quarter 2010, trans. F. Albera, 2010.

[xxiii] See F. ALBERA, on. cit., [1990] p. 76; [2019], p. 117; trans. br.: [2002], p. 93. Albera's terms, which I reproduce here in abbreviated form, closely follow Eisenstein's own notes for the “Stuttgart …” conference referred to above. Eisenstein conserved the conference text, referring to it on several occasions as part of a book that would collect his writings, and reworking it in the subsequent period that included his trip to the United States and Mexico. Subjected to various vicissitudes, the text gave rise to several translations and versions, receiving different denominations between 1930 and 1932, while serving to engender conferences and other texts. Its first version is missing, but the second, written in Moscow in April 1929, was deposited in 1937 by Jay Leida, Eisenstein's assistant, in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). On the comparison of the different versions of the conference text, see Idem [1990], p. 56; [2019], p. 50; trans. br.: [2002], p. 79.

[xxv] Cf. S. EISENSTEIN, «Stuttgart», folio 7, apoud F. ALBERA, on. cit., [1990] p. 67; [2019], p. 140; trans. br.: [2002], p. 86.

[xxiv] See Idem, [1990], p. 67; [2019], p. 101; trans. br.: [2002], pp. 86; 93.

[xxv] "(...) the fuel is destined to produce the second hors-cinéma! ». See F. ALBERA, on. cit., [1990], p. 181; [2019], pp. 272-3; trans. br.: [2002], p. 247.

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