Pottery was made in China long before history was set down in writing. A coarse gray earthenware was made before the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC), and a finer white pottery was made during this era. These vessels resemble in size and shape the Chinese bronze vessels of the same period, and it is likely that the bronzes were first copied from pottery.
For years globalization was equated with progress and economic growth and generally supported. However, in the last few years an increasing number of voices have started to criticize this phenomenon and point at several flaws and dangers associated with it. The anti-globalization movement has grown. Not only left-wing anti-capitalists oppose globalization, but conservative nationalists have recently emerged as a strong force against it. To what extent is globalization to blame for problems such as national , inequality, terrorism and cultural homogenization?
Where today a political regime establishes an official culturalpolicy, it is for the sake of demagogy. If kitsch is the officialtendency of culture in Germany, Italy and Russia, it is not becausetheir respective governments are controlled by philistines, butbecause kitsch is the culture of the masses in these countries,as it is everywhere else. The encouragement of kitsch is merelyanother of the inexpensive ways in which totalitarian regimesseek to ingratiate themselves with their subjects. Since theseregimes cannot raise the cultural level of the masses -- evenif they wanted to -- by anything short of a surrender to internationalsocialism, they will flatter the masses by bringing all culturedown to their level. It is for this reason that the avant-gardeis outlawed, and not so much because a superior culture is inherentlya more critical culture. (Whether or not the avant-garde couldpossibly flourish under a totalitarian regime is not pertinentto the question at this point.) As a matter of fact, the maintrouble with avant-garde art and literature, from the point ofview of fascists and Stalinists, is not that they are too critical,but that they are too "innocent," that it is too difficultto inject effective propaganda into them, that kitsch is morepliable to this end. Kitsch keeps a dictator in closer contactwith the "soul" of the people. Should the official culturebe one superior to the general mass-level, there would be a dangerof isolation.
Returning to our Russian peasant for the moment, let us supposethat after he has chosen Repin in preference to Picasso, the state'seducational apparatus comes along and tells him that he is wrong,that he should have chosen Picasso -- and shows him why. It isquite possible for the Soviet state to do this. But things beingas they are in Russia -- and everywhere else -- the peasant soonfinds the necessity of working hard all day for his living andthe rude, uncomfortable circumstances in which he lives do notallow him enough leisure, energy and comfort to train for theenjoyment of Picasso. This needs, after all, a considerable amountof "conditioning." Superior culture is one of the mostartificial of all human creations, and the peasant finds no "natural"urgency within himself that will drive him toward Picasso in spiteof all difficulties. In the end the peasant will go back to kitschwhen he feels like looking at pictures, for he can enjoy kitschwithout effort. The state is helpless in this matter and remainsso as long as the problems of production have not been solvedin a socialist sense. The same holds true, of course, for capitalistcountries and makes all talk of art for the masses there nothingbut demagogy.
Nevertheless, if the masses were conceivably to ask for avant-gardeart and literature, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin would not hesitatelong in attempting to satisfy such a demand. Hitler is a bitterenemy of the avant-garde, both on doctrinal and personal grounds,yet this did not prevent Goebbels in 1932-1933 from strenuouslycourting avant-garde artists and writers. When Gottfried Benn,an Expressionist poet, came over to the Nazis he was welcomedwith a great fanfare, although at that very moment Hitler wasdenouncing Expressionism as . This wasat a time when the Nazis felt that the prestige which the avant-gardeenjoyed among the cultivated German public could be of advantageto them, and practical considerations of this nature, the Nazisbeing skillful politicians, have always taken precedence overHitler's personal inclinations. Later the Nazis realized thatit was more practical to accede to the wishes of the masses inmatters of culture than to those of their paymasters; the latter,when it came to a question of preserving power, were as willingto sacrifice their culture as they were their moral principles;while the former, precisely because power was being withheld fromthem, had to be cozened in every other way possible. It was necessaryto promote on a much more grandiose style than in the democraciesthe illusion that the masses actually rule. The literature andart they enjoy and understand were to be proclaimed the only trueart and literature and any other kind was to be suppressed. Underthese circumstances people like Gottfried Benn, no matter howardently they support Hitler, become a liability; and we hearno more of them in Nazi Germany.
If the avant-garde imitates the processes of art, kitsch, wenow see, imitates its effects. The neatness of this antithesisis more than contrived; it corresponds to and defines the tremendousinterval that separates from each other two such simultaneouscultural phenomena as the avant-garde and kitsch. This interval,too great to be closed by all the infinite gradations of popularized"modernism" and "modernistic" kitsch, correspondsin turn to a social interval, a social interval that has alwaysexisted in formal culture, as elsewhere in civilized society,and whose two termini converge and diverge in fixed relation tothe increasing or decreasing stability of the given society. Therehas always been on one side the minority of the powerful -- andtherefore the cultivated -- and on the other the great mass ofthe exploited and poor -- and therefore the ignorant. Formal culturehas always belonged to the first, while the last have had to contentthemselves with folk or rudimentary culture, or kitsch.
The signs were all around us: the knotty, urbane films of Spike Lee; the punkish bravado of Fishbone; all the artsy, middle-class kids exploring identities that weren’t beholden to readymade signifiers like “Africa and jazz.” This would be a generation of “cultural mulattos,” postmodern children of the multicultural age who were comfortable in a variety of settings, a kind of hopeful, flexible, and self-empowered embodiment of W.
All values are human values, relative values, in art as wellas elsewhere. Yet there does seem to have been more or less ofa general agreement among the cultivated of mankind over the agesas to what is good art and what bad. Taste has varied, but notbeyond certain limits; contemporary connoisseurs agree with theeighteenth-century Japanese that Hokusai was one of the greatestartists of his time; we even agree with the ancient Egyptiansthat Third and Fourth Dynasty art was the most worthy of beingselected as their paragon by those who came after. We may havecome to prefer Giotto to Raphael, but we still do not deny thatRaphael was one of the best painters of his time. There has beenan agreement then, and this agreement rests, I believe, on a fairlyconstant distinction made between those values only to be foundin art and the values which can be found elsewhere. Kitsch, byvirtue of a rationalized technique that draws on science and industry,has erased this distinction in practice.
In his last article on the Soviet cinema in the Dwight Macdonald points out that kitsch has in thelast ten years become the dominant culture in Soviet Russia. Forthis he blames the political regime -- not only for the fact thatkitsch is the official culture, but also that it is actually thedominant, most popular culture, and he quotes the following fromKurt London's : ". . . the attitudeof the masses both to the old and new art styles probably remainsessentially dependent on the nature of the education affordedthem by their respective states." Macdonald goes on to say:"Why after all should ignorant peasants prefer Repin (a leadingexponent of Russian academic kitsch in painting) to Picasso, whoseabstract technique is at least as relevant to their own primitivefolk art as is the former's realistic style? No, if the massescrowd into the Tretyakov (Moscow's museum of contemporary Russianart: kitsch), it is largely because they have been conditionedto shun 'formalism' and to admire 'socialist realism.'"
China and the Indian subcontinent have civilizations that date back thousands of years. Except for intermittent conquests, these cultures were relatively uninterrupted in their development, and industrialization arrived late. It is likely, therefore, that folk art in these regions has a history dating back to ancient times. Because of the great period of time involved, however, it is not always possible to distinguish true folk art from the tribal, or primitive, arts that may have persisted for several centuries. By contrast, folk art in Japan can be dated back only to the 17th century.
Because it can be turned out mechanically, kitsch has becomean integral part of our productive system in a way in which trueculture could never be, except accidentally. It has been capitalizedat a tremendous investment which must show commensurate returns;it is compelled to extend as well as to keep its markets. Whileit is essentially its own salesman, a great sales apparatus hasnevertheless been created for it, which brings pressure to bearon every member of society. Traps are laid even in those areas,so to speak, that are the preserves of genuine culture. It isnot enough today, in a country like ours, to have an inclinationtowards the latter; one must have a true passion for it that willgive him the power to resist the faked article that surroundsand presses in on him from the moment he is old enough to lookat the funny papers. Kitsch is deceptive. It has many differentlevels, and some of them are high enough to be dangerous to thenaive seeker of true light. A magazine like the ,which is fundamentally high-class kitsch for the luxury trade,converts and waters down a great deal of avant-garde materialfor its own uses. Nor is every single item of kitsch altogetherworthless. Now and then it produces something of merit, somethingthat has an authentic folk flavor; and these accidental and isolatedinstances have fooled people who should know better.