Mobilization of the Individual Proletarian and the Collective Proletariat in the Poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Bertolt Brecht
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Art is endowed with an imaginative power that allows it to show other possibilities than the current objective reality, and artists of all kind have tried to mobilize their audience to play an active role in the shaping of history. The audience that is addressed by Communist artists in the first half of the 20th century is painted as coherent, united, endowed with common goals and interests. However, these ‘masses’ may – in reality – not be as tightknit as they seem. Addressing a collective as well as specific individuals can take on many forms. By analyzing the poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Bertolt Brecht, two of the artists that were keenly involved in the potential mobilization of art, the different potential characterizations of the ‘masses’ will become apparent. The ways in which both artists interpellate their audience, either through a manipulation of emotion or a manipulation of reason, will generate more insight in the mobilizing power of art, the position of individual within a collective, as well as in potential subsequent ascriptions of (collective) responsibility.