A Vision for Culture
There are libraries full of books seeking to define and understand the word culture. Cultural Studies is an academic subject in its own right. There is a deep and important tradition of dialogue across the world within socialist movements about the place and importance of cultural matters in the struggle against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism.
Some of the leading thinkers on the place of art and literature and cultural theories in the history of progressive thought have come from Britain and various strands of Marxist inspired traditions.
The battle of ideas does not just exist in the workplace alone when arguing over the right course of action in a struggle for jobs or wages or other improvements. It takes place in the many forms of expression that people create about the value systems and ideas and emotions that flow around and within us and make up our identity and sense of place in the world. Marx often said that the greatest insights into history were given in novels. We also know that it is often the persecution of writers and artists by reactionary regimes that most clearly expresses their fear and loathing of political progress and symbolises the repression of an entire people.
Who was it who said that people cannot live by bread alone? Human beings are creative not just in the development of the natural world to produce things, processes and systems that improve material existence and continually develop science and technology, but in the creation of art. Because there is a human need to participate, to be social, co operative and collective, there is a need to produce reflections of our perceptions of the world and our human relationships.
We communicate because we cannot survive as individuals. There is a need to create images of ourselves and how we feel and think about others and the natural world which our collective labour continually transforms.