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Party News: Art Under Capitalism

At the end of May students of the Hornsey College of Art (which is the responsibility of the Haringey Borough Council) occupied the college buildings and declared a “Student’s Republic” with the aim of reforming the administration and art education generally. Their action has sparked off similar ones in other art colleges. Haringey branch gave out the following leaflet:

To the students of Hornsey College of Art.
 
We hope that your efforts to improve your working conditions, to raise the quality of your training and to obtain a more effective voice in college affairs will succeed.
 
The problems against which you contend are symptoms of a society which cannot effectively serve human needs based as it is upon the class monopoly of the means of production, and the profit motive.
 
This system has little time for the arts and the humanities. It is primarily concerned to employ the talents and energies of artists, sociologists, writers and their fellows, either directly in commerce and advertising, or in the control and manipulation of wage and salary earners — the working class. 
 
Even where good design is an integral part of the productive process it is often employed as a weapon in the struggles of companies and nations to capture markets.
 
Art is the Cinderella of capitalism. The capitalist class, as a class, have no use for it unless the work of the artist serves the needs of capital The value of Art as an authentic expression of human feeling and enjoyment, its evocation and communication of emotion and experience, past and present — all these functions of art fail to ring the bells on the cash registers of the bourgeoisie.
 
Only in a socialist society will the artist be free from domination by the values and pressures of a profit-seeking society. In a socialist society there will be no officials to set limits to what may be done in the sphere of artistic activity.
 
Today there is no Socialism anywhere. Nowhere is there full freedom of expression.
 
We in The Socialist Party aim at building a world community — without frontiers, based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production where things will be produced for use. A world without war, world hunger or racialism. A world that has no need of money and has abolished rent, interest, profits, wages and prices. A world fit for human beings in which the way of life would be:

From each according to his ability —
       to each according to his needs

We think such a society can be brought into being only when it is technically possible for abundance to be produced (as it is now) and when a majority of the population understands the implications of such a socialist reorganisation, desire it and take the necessary democratic action to establish it
 
We insist that any attempt to make such a revolutionary change, except by organised democratic political action will never succeed. We are opposed to the efforts of anarchists, Leninists, Trotskyists, Maoists and other elitist groups which set out to disrupt the democratic process or to seize power following deliberate provocative actions aimed at manipulating masses of students and workers in the interests of the self-appointed ‘revolutionary' vanguards. Fortunately, although they do not share our revolutionary socialist view, most students and workers have sufficient political insight to reject the roles intended for them by these would-be leaders.
 
When your immediate difficulties have been overcome we look forward to hearing from students who might have found our views to be of interest. If you would like to have a speaker from our branch address you, we would be very pleased to make the necessary arrangements.
 
Yours for Socialism, 
Haringey Branch