[KS] The Frederick Starr Collection photos

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Tue Dec 28 15:52:31 EST 2010

Dear Ross, and All:

I take the freedom to divert the topic of this tread a little. There 
is a point that I am very curious about.

Ross King wrote:

>>  Certainly not, assuming that one still counts Russia as
>>  belonging to the 'western world' (...)

In preparation of a text I recently read the speeches (as far as they 
have been translated) given at the 1934 Soviet Writers' 
Congress--because that's were "socialist realism" was masterminded 
and defined.

I'd be very interested in responses to my below observation/theses. 
The below is from my notes ... about the East/West + locality issue, 
the self-defined non-West designation, which then opens the doors to 
legitimize just really everything (revolution away from Marxist 
predictions/conditions, human rights abuses, etc.). I would argue 
(well, nothing really new) that this is an important model for other 
non-Wester revolutions and dictatorships also, may it be Cuba or the 
authoritarian regime in South Korea under Park Chung Hee.


Maxim Gorky, in his speech about "Soviet Literature," delivered at 
the 1934 Soviet Writers' Congress defined the essence of Socialist 

Gorky continues to attack the early modernist movement, refers 
especially to the period 1907 to 1917 in his native Russia, which he 
refers to as a period of "complete 'freedom of creation'" (p. 48). 
His main argument is that this was only the freedom of the "Western 
bourgeoisie," and without really getting it down further, he 
indicates that this freedom was not for the good of the proletarian 
masses. It is important to note that he talks about "bourgeois 
society" of "the West." The West, that is Western Europe, in Gorky's 
definition. According to Gorky the West has "lost the capacity for 
invention in art" (p. 44) because of its social degeneration. But 
Gorky misses to provide any direct linking to colonialism, 
capitalism, or fascism--does not clarify or define any further what 
exactly this social degeneration is that he talks about.

In addition it is highly interesting that Gorky did this with clear 
reference to a Russian locality and the Russian intelligencia. This 
Russian locality he is establishing here is clearly separated from 
"the West," is in an alternative locality, an outside-of-the-West 
locality, that has in the past referenced and imported the cultural 
ills of "the West" (thus his reference and criticism of the 1907 to 
1917 period), but in sum it is an alternative locality that is 
distinctively different from the West--geographically, culturally, 
historically, politically.


Frank Hoffmann

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