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Modernism at the Barricades

Modernism at the Barricades

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"Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia," by Stephen Bronner revisits the modernist project’s groundbreaking innovations, its experimental imagination, and its utopian politics.
"Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia," by Stephen Bronner revisits the modernist project’s groundbreaking innovations, its experimental imagination, and its utopian politics.

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Published by: Columbia University Press on Jul 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/03/2013

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MODERNISM AT THE BARRICADES
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Modernity is a crucial concept in contemporary discourse. It is oen vaguely described as a set o cultural and political preoccupations that aroseduring the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Tese involved the natureo moral autonomy, tolerance, the character o progress, and the meaningo humanity. Modernity justied itsel through scientic rationality and anethical view o the good lie that rested on universal values and the dem-ocratic exercise o common sense. Civil liberties and the tolerance associ-ated with a ree public sphere were logically implied by these secular liberalnotions, along with ideas concerning the rule o law and citizenship. All o this was part o an assault on powerul religious institutions and aristocraticprivileges in the name o a liberal “watchman state” coupled with a ree mar-ket. Te rising bourgeoisie introduced a new economic production processthat rested on the division o labor, standardization, bureaucratic hierarchy,and the prot-driven values o the commodity orm. Te use o mathemati-cal or instrumental rationality by this class tended to dene reality in such away that qualitative dierences were transormed into merely quantitativedierences. Tose who worked to create commodities were treated as a costo production, or an appendage o the machine, while the accumulation o capital served to inspire all activity. Te living subject (workers) that pro-duced and reproduced society thereby appeared as an object, whereas thedead object o its activity (capital) appeared as a subject. Te result was whatrst G. W. F. Hegel and then Karl Marx termed the “inverted world”—aworld o modernity shaped by alienation and reication.Modernism was the response to this world. Te assault was launched by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Te Discourses
(),
Te Social Contract 
(),
1
The Modernist Impulse
SUBJECTiviTY, RESiSTANCE, FREEDOM
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