The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
Walter Benjamin was a cultural theorist who wrote about art in relation to Marxism in his essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Benjamin saw art and Marxism as relating forces in the age of mechanical reproduction. I believe that he was in favor of socialism over capitalism because he felt that humans are not mature enough to handle the freedom that comes with capitalism. This freedom that comes with capitalism also comes with art. Benjamin alludes to the idea that mechanical reproduction had eliminated the Marxist type restrictions upon art. With the modern technology that is available today, art has evolved into a free flowing array of forms. .
In the beginning of the essay, Benjamin includes an excerpt from Paul Valery that states that art cannot be unaffected by our modern knowledge. We have evolved into a time when art encompasses many forms such as photography and film. The film, for example, is a modern, powerful agent of art because it promotes social change. Although the film is an important agent of art, it can promote destructive aspects of human nature. I feel that Benjamin views capitalism in the same way because of the freedom that it places upon individuals. .
Art can be compared to capitalism in that art is expressing its freedom and individuality. Marxism is concerned with producing the same, all things and people alike. Since art encompasses a variety of expressive and creative spheres, it is like our capitalistic society. In this way, art is based on politics because art produces social change, just as the shift from Marxism to capitalism produced much social change. .
Marxist theory would see film as a way to organize the masses in order to promote social change. This is true when we consider art as a promoter of social change. There are many films, for example, that deal with violence. These films have gone beyond the realm of art and have become agents of social change.