Revolutionary literature or literature for a revolution. We’re talking about revolutionary literature. Meaning those who with honesty and authentic militancy, far from the opportunism that also exists on the left, those who lost their cultural capital, their prestige, their place in the canon, economic opportunities, glamour and complicities in order to change the future, in order to create a literature perhaps excessively didactic, even naïve, too simple, perhaps of a grandeur that we don’t yet understand, they deserve our respect. They don’t deserve from us neither paternalism nor shame nor remorse. Because whatever a revolutionary work might be, it isn’t credible that it would consist of finding a high-profile figure “from the other side,” a figure that writes “good” books, that is to say, so “good” that even the noble Academia, of course independent and objective, finds itself obligated to recognize it, and the noble Market, of course free and without owners, finds itself obligated to recognize it, and the noble autonomy of literature, of course free of interests, of course incapable of promoting one kind of narrative and leaving others out of circulation, finds itself obligated to admit it. This is not to suggest the classic condemnation of the successful author or the idea that failure is necessarily a mark of honesty. But neither is anything stopping us from saying that the construction of a revolutionary work can’t just be an individual project, but rather it requires the construction of a place to direct ourselves towards and a shared space that won’t coincide with the space that the large majority of the capitalist literature of our times inhabits nor the place towards which it directs itself. And if expressions like “social realism” or “novela social española” don’t designate the endpoint of this journey, neither are they the perfect excuse to justifiably return to the dominant discourse.
As they refer to science, these words from the cuban immunologist Agustín Lage allow us to approach this issue in a different way: “Science learns through trial and error, but systems of mainstream thought determine what is to be tested and what sectors of reality are to be explored.” Having agreed on this assertion, it becomes clear to assume that the mainstream thought systems also determine what is tested in literature and what sectors of reality it explores; consequently, they determine what will not be tested, what sectors of reality will be left unexplored. They determine how so much knowledge will become useless, how what we knew about the path- its curves, the thicket, the fierce animals, the murky spring and that other spring that yes you can drink out of, the hidden cliff, the two crossroads- will become useless because today the mainstream thought systems say: let’s stay here, we’ll stop thinking that we have to go where there are no highways, let’s stay, we’ll explore our everyday horror but not its causes, we’ll explore oblivion but not its necessity.
Since its birth as a genre, the novel has taken dozens of false steps, it has set out on dozens of paths that lead to dead ends, it has drawn on the resources of other genres, it has evolved to adapt to the literary mediums of distinct moments. And every one of these false steps, like every one of their metamorphoses, has been studied, given value, has come to be a part of a kind of capital accumulation called culture. Revolutionary writing is not this. Nor will it be studied nor will it become part of any body of knowledge as its sole mention will evoke shame, the desire to reject it, remorse. But, what is it that is being rejected, the path chosen to get to the other side of the fence or the will to get there?
References Gopeqgui, Belén. “Literatura y política bajo el capitalismo.” Guaraguao, no. 21. Rebelión. Dec. 2005. https://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=26876.