Bertolt Brecht and the problem of a Marxist dramaturgy
It the revolutionary and humanist/ethical poles of Marxism are to be retained a crucial epistemological distinction must be made between the marxist analysis of History when it refers to class-based societies, and when it refers to the ideal of a communist collective. The normative core of Marxism is to be found, as a matter of logical necessity, in the notion of Communism, whether "primitive" or "mature", and this paradigm is the yardstick by which both class societies and "revolutionary" Marxism/Leninism are to be judged. Marxist aesthetics is privileged in that it is suggested that the literature of class-based, antagonistic societies often implies a classless ideal as a result of. unwittingly or otherwise, exposing the brutalities of exploitation and expropriation. Literature is thus ambivalently placed; as not only a tool of false consciousness and ruling class ideology, but also as an expression of the utopian core of Marxism. Such a position rests upon the jamesonian premise that Marxism is a metacommentary uniquely well-equipped to interpret History. The drama is deemed of especial value in that its tendency to focus on the Subject and the problem of subjectivity evokes the ideal of individual self-fulfilment; an ideal intrinsic to the Communist paradigm. Brecht's development of a Left theatrical practice in the context of an engagement with German politics of the 1920s and 30s and with marxist theory (particularly Lenin's), is examined in detail precisely because it best explicates and underpins this interpretation, not least because Brecht attempted to work through the marxist definitions of History in terms of a radical assault on bourgeois notions of subjectivity in the context, ultimately, of the alternative communist paradigm. There is, therefore, a vital link between the character of Brecht's radical experiments in the theatre and several problems central to marxist theory. This interaction reached a climax at the end of-Brecht's life; a climax which. while a failure in theatrical terms. makes the importance of Marxist Humanism particularly clear.