The Intellectual and His People

The Intellectual and His People

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English
299 Pages

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Rethinking the role of the radical public intellectual.

Following the previous volume of essays by Jacques Rancière from the 1970s, Staging the People: The Proletarian and His Double, this second collection focuses on the ways in which radical philosophers understand the people they profess to speak for. The Intellectual and His People engages in an incisive and original way with current political and cultural issues, including the “discovery” of totalitarianism by the “new philosophers,” the relationship of Sartre and Foucault to popular struggles, nostalgia for the ebbing world of the factory, the slippage of the artistic avant-garde into defending corporate privilege, and the ambiguous sociological critique of Pierre Bourdieu. As ever, Rancière challenges all patterns of thought in which one-time radicalism has become empty convention.

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Published 19 June 2012
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THE INTELLECTUAL AND HIS PEOPLE
STAGING THE PEOPLE, VOLUME 2
Jacques Rancière Translated by David Fernbach
This work was published with the help of the French Ministry of Culture – Centre National du Livre This edition first published by Verso 2012 © Verso 2012 Compiled from articles originally appearing inLes Révoltes logiques ©Les Révoltes logiques1975 to 1985 Translation © David Fernbach 2012 All rights reserved The moral rights of the author have been asserted 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Verso UK: 6 Meard Street, London W1F 0EG US: 20 Jay Street, Suite 1010, Brooklyn, NY 11201 www.versobooks.com Verso is the imprint of New Left Books Epub ISBN-13: 978-1-84467-921-8 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress Typeset in Fournier by Matt Gavan, Cornwall, UK Printed in the US by Maple Vail
Contents
1. The People’s Theatre: A Long Drawn-Out Affair 2. The Cultural Historic Compromise 3. The Philosophers’ Tale: Intellectuals and the Trajectory ofGauchisme 4. Joan of Arc in the Gulag 5. The Inconceivable Revolution 6. Factory Nostalgia (Notes on an Article and Various Books) 7. The Ethics of Sociology Index
1 The People’s Theatre: A Long Drawn-Out Affair
July 1848.Citizen Eugène Delaporte, a former student at the Conservatoire and musician in the town of Sens, submitted to the members of the National Assembly a project approved by the minister of the interior. He drew their attention to an essential weapon for ‘spreading Holy Fraternity’ and ‘dissipating the shades of fanaticism and ignorance with the help of science’: the development of choral music. As evidence, he cited the story of workers from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine who were canalizing the Marne and had been poorly received by the locals. Brawls had already broken out, when some Paris workers emerged from their ranks and performed in the open air ‘some of those choruses that stir the masses, calm hatreds and lift up populations by reminding them of the common heavenly origin of us all’. Fraternity then reigned on the Marne, and would soon reign throughout the Republic, by means of a unified organization of musical education and choral societies that this Citizen Delaporte was prepared to devote himself to 1 directing. November 1853.The same Delaporte, who had spent the last five years organizing local bands in the departments of Yonne, Aube, Marne and Seine-et-Marne, wrote to His Excellency the minister of the interior to remind him of a great truth: music is ‘the most certain means to achieve the moralizing of the people’. This was not because it raised them to heavenly fraternity, but more modestly because it drew them away from the bars. And over the years, high officials of state and His Majesty himself would be able to witness this: evil haunts and evil doctrines had lost ground, while religion, the family and social order had gained as choral singing expanded – was this not a practical demonstration of the impossibility of achieving anything fine or great without the authority of a leader? A benefit for which the Empire would soon show appreciation, by appointing M. Delaporte to the post of inspector-general of musical societies. What we can see here, over and above the opportunism of a particular individual, is the singular temporality that enables major socializing initiatives to be always timely. Social harmony through the artistic education of the people reflects the logic of social inventions. These stubbornly follow a dynamic of their own, whether summoned on the royal road of reform or that of governmental revolution, most often conveyed by the countless networks which are generated by the daily demand for new ideas to handle new school populations, distract new populations of workers, give new life to abandoned rural regions, instruct conscripts or moralize prisoners, not to mention creating new markets, ensuring the expansion of the press or giving substance to political alternatives. Everywhere that a connection is needed, the social inventors are at hand, resurging under every regime and acting as a pivot for new political investments – less out of opportunism than from the spontaneous Aristotelianism that helps every particular regime to survive by establishing the most suitable form of sociability for all involved. What government would not welcome the project of improving popular manners by means of art? Everyone can understand heavenly fraternity or earthly docility as they like, and the socializing ideas will follow their course, ready to draw the contours of an objective socialism that is often far removed from the hopes and conflicts of politics. That does not simply mean that all cats are grey in the dark, but rather that roles and significations are distributed at an early stage according to an autonomous logic, forming a finished ensemble of alternative solutions to which the most dominant theoretical and political novelties cannot help bending. The long drawn-out story of the ‘people’s theatre’ offers a good illustration of this. The idea found a place early on at the centre of positions on Art and the People, positions that were both mutually contradictory and equally available for conservatives and revolutionaries. After half a century of oscillation between the accelerated revolutions of art and the permanent inertia of theatre administrations, by around 1900 this idea had become a complete set of possibilities that the novelty of Marxism had to accept as it was. The Brechtian critiques made much later demonstrated this, denouncing the Théâtre National Populaire under Jean Vilar for its project of having a socially undifferentiated people celebrate their ‘communion’ in one and the same ‘ceremony’, and contrasting this with a theatre that would keep the 2 real people at a critical distance, away from petty-bourgeois consumers. This diagnosis was both correct and ineffective. In fact, Jean Vilar, just like Copeau, Gémier, Pottecher and a number of others, saw their audience as Michelet’s ‘people’. But there was no other audience for our popular theatre. Its project kept to the minimal proposition of not being a class theatre. The ‘good’ people, the ‘undiluted’ people, were left outside the field where desires for a people’s theatre might dwell. They belonged to a different tradition, one that precisely sought to remove the people from the social mingling and communitarian passions of the theatre. The undiluted people were the support for a certain idea of popular art, ‘art
without representation’: that of folk tales, nursery rhymes, pottery and embroidery that were an extension of handicraft life and rural leisure activities. In the places and non-places allocated by the contradictory investments of art for the people, a popular theatre with neither communion nor identification belonged rather to critical thought than to the actual stage.
Taste and temperament: Athens and Épinal Let us start at the beginning. In other words, with the simple proposal to moralize the people through the spread of art. The constraints of the petitioning style in difficult times may embroider this with soothing images of decreed public festivals or homes regenerated by the sound of the harmonium and reproductions of Raphael. It is just that these images were never enough to mobilize any artist’s desire. Even musicians who were fervent upholders of the established order always refused to accept a bandsman’s wrong notes for the false satisfaction of having pulled him away from the bar. And politicians who were a little enlightened knew that the question was more radical. To moralize meant creating manners. But manners are not created by lessons, rather by identification and imitation, in other words by learning a certain jouissance. And they only take hold of the social body insofar as they are held in common. To moralize the people thus meant providing them with some enjoyment in common with the aristocratic classes. Where moral submission to duty and the political claim for rights were equally powerless to merge or to exclude one another, moralization by way of art had a strong ideal to offer, that of a pleasure that simultaneously elevated the more powerful, subjected those below to discipline, and united both in a single community. Understood in this way, popular morality has an unchallenged homeland: Athens, and a privileged place: the theatre. The people as legislator, both aesthetic and military, melded into the cult of the collective stage and the enjoyment of the masterpieces of Aeschylus or Sophocles, made available to all – such is the emblematic image of all modern aesthetic education. In every case, the question is ‘to adapt to the conditions of modern popular life the spirit that gave birth to and inspired the theatrical festivals of 3 Greece’. We still have to know what precisely this spirit was, and in what place and forms it could render the manners of a society once again harmonious. One path taken was resolutely urban and educational. The secret of Athenian greatness was that its state entrusted the education of the people to artists; and that is what the modern state had also to do. This was at least the task that the marquis Léon de Laborde set out inQuelques idées sur la direction des arts et le maintien du goût public– an exemplary approach on the part of an equally exemplary character. A social inventor, and himself the son of a social inventor (promoter among other things of mutual instruction and amorous gymnastics), commissioner of the Republic to the Exposition Universelle of 1851, and reporting on this task to the Empire, Laborde sought to show that everything went together. France was faced with the threat of industrial decline, if it let the artistic taste that supported both public civility and national energy fall into confusion: The French have to live in the good company of great things . . . Just as a well brought-up person only attracts to his salons and his intimate acquaintance his equals in education and good form, so must the state act for the nation. It will surround it with masterworks of art, so that the people are impregnated with these without noticing it, by habit and by imitation of all the elegant tendencies that pass in 4 procession. To transform the taste of the people, taking it by surprise, was the precept that many a progressive educator would borrow from this dignitary of the Second Empire, along with the vision of the world that organized it: the opposition between high and low that wasalso that of centre and periphery, and a vision that blended the republican mission with the court as model of elegance. A single principle, therefore, for this crusade of good taste: ‘Combat that which rises from below, spread and make general what descends 5 from above.’ The ‘below’ here meant such things as the whining of barrel-organs or the decorations of pâtissiers; above all, it meant the countryside where ‘people grow stupid and coarse’ and theimages d’Épinalwhich depicted lives of the saints and the Stations of the Cross – a museum and library of the countryside, with their uncouth language, crude drawings and glaring colours that ridiculed the great deeds of national history. The ‘above’ meant the state, the city and the court, which would flood France with the productions of good taste: plays entrusted to the best writers, actors, directors and designers who would define the centre of conversation and the canons of fashion with twenty exemplary productions in Paris which would then be exported to the provinces; reproductions of Raphael, Leonardo, Murillo or Gros distributed right down to the most wretched hamlets; calendars drawn by Daumier and Gavarni, engravings by Vernet or Decamps, printed in millions of copies and sold for ten centimes by selected
local dealers with a view to stifling the dross ofimages d’Épinalwith their competition; and all objects of daily life, through to playing cards, redesigned according to norms of aesthetics. As Laborde wrote, 6 ‘we stand at the dawn of popular publicity’. And this publicity had to make the whole people dwell in familiarity with the beautiful, or at least, in constant comparison of the beautiful with the ugly. For this progressive conservative the ugly, ‘an extreme and an asperity’, would be always superior to the 7 mediocre that ‘softened the most lively and determined feelings’. Publicity was thus to transform a crowd of styleless rurals into a public of taste, living by the generalized regime of distinguished public opinion. Out of this radical educational project, the more empirical retained one point in particular: the development of the decorative arts as substitute for the decline in handicraft values, and as stimulus to industrial quality. The rest of the programme scarcely convinced politicians any more than it did aesthetes. The former were hardly inclined to make such major efforts to arouse in the people ‘the most lively and determined feelings’, while, for the latter, it was the serials of thePetit Journaland the performances of the café-concert that the ‘dawn of popular publicity’ particularly illuminated. And the very penetration of works of a more ‘elevated’ taste into the countryside could only make clear to both parties the destruction of the traditional modes of expression of well-behaved country folk. The elevation of public taste was therefore opposed by a certain idea of the popular temperament. It was a tamed bohemian, Champfleury, who set the tone for this in the same era. In the aftermath of the revolution of 1848, he set out to gather popular songs, imagery and pottery. And in his Histoire de l’imagerie populaire, he targeted connoisseurs who found the gaudy colours ofimages d’ÉpinalFor him, their horror of coarseness amounted to a defence of the ‘artifices’ of ‘barbaric’. academic routine. Theimage d’Épinal, on the other hand, displayed the virtue common to both nature and genius, i.e. naivety. ‘Among the savage and the man of genius we may note a boldness, an ignorance and a 8 break with all rules, which make them stand out.’ With the ‘quality’ of Parisian celebrities, this aesthetic was lost:
Today the maker ofimages d’Épinalhas seen the drawings of Gavarni. I leave the reader to conceive what a singular ‘elegance’ his pencils depict . . . M. Gustav Doré’s ‘Wandering Jew’ has penetrated these regions . . . M. Doré takes particular care with the décor; he has Ahasuerus sacrificed to the background of old Brabant houses, storms and cloudbursts, pine forests and crocodiles. These are 9 simply exciting Bengal lights that the set designer turns on during the performance of his drama . . .
The major vice of Doré’s Parisian taste was to bring the peasant reader into the world of representation. This opened the way for enjoyments that were not those of high art, but rather feuilletons and the choruses of the café-concert: the Greece of Offenbach rather than Aeschylus. With the disappearance of naive imagery, a certain popular sentiment, a certain normal regime of popular life, was corrupted:
Popular imagery was engraved for the people and spoke to the people. The punishment of crime, the remembrance of heroic deeds, were traced here in striking colours. This teaching was clear, visible and speedy. The moral lesson was combined with a good temperament. It would be desirable that the 10 people never saw any worse pictures than these.
The moral issue arose at two levels: the Prodigal Son or Wandering Jew of these images, like Old Man Poverty in the almanacs, gave the people healthy lessons in resignation. But above all, this imagery established between its producer and its consumer a relationship of circularity and mutual recognition that effected a self-regulation of the popular temperament. An alternative model was thus defined in which the same principle of naivety brought into communication at a distance popular art and great poetry. This was in some sense a certain ‘spirit of place’ that assured the social foundation of lettered civilization and the principle of its artistic renewal. 11 Between the frank expressiveness of popular art and the ‘strong poetry of the ancients’, between these two manifestations of the spirit of nature, the distance travelled by the sap in the social body had to be 12 respected. The principle of corruption lay in compositions that fell between the two.
From Salamis to Domrémy: the theatre of the nation Two paradigms thus separated out. On the one hand, the education of the public by artistic impregnation; on the other, the poetics of the spirit of place – the light shining down from top to bottom, and the sap rising from bottom to top. The people’s theatre was summoned to define its identity between these two paradigms, prepared to cross their effects and divert their trajectories in order to assure its own circuit, that of a great art that was the education of the people by way of their own legend. It was Michelet who
laid down the principle of this in his lectures of 1847–8, in which he taught the students of the Collège de 13 France their duty to ‘feed the people from the people’. But this relationship of people to people, in which the student takes the place of the travelling salesman, no longer had anything in common with the tepid regime of regulating village passions. The people’s theatre that would carry out this programme would be one in which the people would perform their own grandeur for themselves. And this they could only do if they were a true people, abolishing a class division whose principle did not lie in the distribution of property but precisely in the separation of languages. Such was the theme of these lectures, which a clairvoyant government suspended after three sessions: the evil that our society suffered lay in the divorce between the educated classes and the people. This divorce went back five centuries, when the clergy opposed their Latin, and the nobles their French, to the diction of the people. Caught between the old and the new, the people no longer had a tongue of their own. Or, what amounted to the same thing, they had a hundred tongues. But not one, at all events, in which to speak to the men of culture. It was this absence of common language that deserved the name of barbarism. It was opposed to the very principle of civic life: the constant movement from ‘instinctive wisdom’ to 14 ‘reflective wisdom’, ‘the mutual initiation of the instinctive and the educated classes’. The revolutionary ‘miracle’ that had given the coming unity its legend had not managed to abolish the separation between the two virtues that were supposed to mutually irrigate one another: the culture of the lettered class that summed up the experience of the men of the people, and the energy of the men of the people in which the lettered had to immerse themselves. It was up to the young, who were not yet ‘classified’, to reunify these two halves of the national body. What they needed to give the people was not ‘popular’ books. The people would create these for themselves, if they could only speak. In order for them to speak, they had to be given ‘the sovereign teaching that was the whole education of the glorious 15 cities of antiquity: a theatre that is truly that of the people’. Here Michelet takes up Plato’s analysis, while reversing its meaning: it was the manners of the theatre that made the laws of democracy. Democracy was essentially theatrocracy:
Athens deserved the name that the sophists gave it without grasping its significance: a theatrocracy . . . The sovereign People at the theatre, by turn actor and critic, constantly rediscovered the unity undermined by disputes in the public space; they created for themselves this community of thought and feeling, this common soul that was the genius of Athens and still remains in history the flaming torch 16 of the world.
For Plato, theatrocracy meant the noise of the mass, applauding themselves by applauding the actors. For Michelet, it meant community of thought based on a spectacle that was fundamentally self-representation: the theatre as mirror in which the people could view their own actions, the scene of reciprocity in which each could be at once the judging critic, the playing actor and the chorus in dialogue. A representation without separation in which the warrior-citizen himself wrote and played his victory, which was the victory of the community. A single image summed everything up: that of Aeschylus, the soldier of Salamis who on return from the battlefield acted before the people the victory over the Persians, and by this very act communicated its secret. This emblematic image is also a screen-image: the victor playing victory, this summary of citizen theatre, masks the question as to how the relationship of the stage and the public tiers actually achieved the essence of a theatre in which each half of the people was alternately the representation of the other. Michelet’s popular religion comes up against the same problem as Feuerbach’s humanist religion: how can representation be at the same time the immediately experienced essence of the community? Michelet avoids this difficulty in two ways. On the one hand, he endows this representation with a moral surplus: the essence of the theatre is not the glamour of illusion but rather the accomplishment of sacrifice. ‘What 17 is theatre? The abdication of the actual, self-interested individual in favour of a better role.’ On the other hand, this moral form of the theatrical act serves to express a content that is the legend of national unity formed from the sacrifice of each. The solution of popular communion is thus shifted to the side of the represented. No one clearly sees how the people will play for themselves. But it is clear how the people can be fed from themselves: by the representation of their legend which is their anticipated unity. In a certain sense, what would be played in the theatre of our New Athens would simply be episodes in the equivalent ofThe Persians: the sacrifices and victories of the nation. But also, since France was not a city that could contemplate itself in a single theatre, being rather an organism enlivened by constant circulation from the centre to the periphery, it would make this pulsation its essential theme. Exemplary in this respect were the two first characters that Michelet proposed for a people’s theatre. Joan of Arc, first of all, indicated its style: her youthful charm and the earthly vigour of her answers to the
tribunal did away with any artifice of representation or distinction of language. After her, La Tour d’Auvergne was the prototype of Michelet’s positive heroes. This first grenadier of Republican France was also an erudite Breton and panegyrist of the Celtic tradition. His comings and goings between his study and the battlefield combined not only the man of letters and the soldier, but also the spirit of place with that of the Republic. The opposition between rootedness in the soil and antique grandeur was thereby resolved. This people’s theatre, intended for production in every village, would represent the union between the national virtues of the Convention and the earthly virtues of the Vendée. The theatre thus had its unifying effect by virtue of this power of an ‘embodied legend’ in which the representation that abolished the division of the audience also abolished its distance in the national history that a united public inherited. By the same token, the Rousseauean opposition between the corruption of the theatre and the health of the militant festival was likewise suppressed. At the limit, the people’s theatre was simply a Fête de la Fédération ceaselessly replayed.
Between field and office One might imagine that the citizen spectators would tire of an unending festival, at least if they were given the opportunity. But what began with these words of Michelet was just the prehistory of this festival, the interminable gestation, theoretical and administrative, of the popular theatre. The project, called for in 1848 but submerged by the vicissitudes of the Republic, would reappear in 1856 in a more modest form – that of a theatre offering the working classes the comfort of an elevated bourgeois leisure activity with a moral suited to their condition. The character of the putative director, D’Ennery, a leading impresario, suggested a morality that had little in common with the Athenian, though the ruin of a certain financier put an end to this fine idea. Solicited anew in 1867, the superintendent of theatres settled the question as follows: ‘The theatre will never be a school of morality for anyone . . . It is already hard enough to 18 prevent those existing now from doing more harm than they do.’ This spontaneous Rousseaueanism, buttressed by both administrative inertia and budgetary restriction, found an echo in several of those who sought to raise up the people by art. For them, the world of the theatre confessed its true nature in the age of the great corrupter Offenbach, that of an art demoralized by the spatial barrier that separated it from the great sighs of the soul. It was in this sense that the new champion of local bands, the flautist Jules Simon, attacked the corruption of musical religion by theatrical speculation: Saddened by this confined horizon that surrounded it like an inflexible circle, the Muse now moved her wings and her lyre without an echo, and under her weakened fingers rendered only soulless melodies and chords lacking strength and warmth . . . The divine and chaste Muse has been stripped of her azure tunic, and in greedy and profane hands has donned the spangled garb of the acrobat and 19 juggler. This diagnostic was not haphazard. It implied a different idea of Greece, harmonic rather than dramatic in essence. It was not Plautus and Terence who made the literary grandeur of the cities of antiquity, nor even Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, but rather Horace, Cicero, Plato, Virgil or Pindar: the heaven of philosophical harmonies and the earth of bucolic poetry united against the theatrical stage. It was the symphony and the oratorio that were in harmony with a people unified less by its heroic history than by its everyday work and life. Music would create the true legend of the people, by accompanying them everywhere they worked and prayed, to the glory of life, ‘whether in the solitude of the field, the noisome 20 activity of the workshop, the public place, the church or the home’. Here again, alliances crossed the division between ideological and political camps: the spokesman of the well-behaved local bands was not far in his opinions from red Proudhon. Immorality and barbarism lay in separating the performances of the theatre from the labours and seasons of life. The symbol of this, for Simon, was the theatre; for Proudhon it was salon or concert music, to which he opposed ‘music in situation’, whether fanfares in processions, hunting songs in the woods, or oratorios in cathedrals. Such was the music of the future that would one day be sung everywhere: ‘during the harvest, haymaking and 21 thevendangePopular art was the art of the harmonics of work. Once, at seed-time and in school’. again, therefore, the end of art was this limit at which it was abolished in what it had to celebrate. In this case, it would cease when the cultivated earth became an immense garden, and organized labour a vast 22 concert. The idea of a popular theatre was thus established in the long duration of its contradiction. It had its theoretical rise at the moment when new urban spaces and new scales of artistic values set in motion a 23 long process: that of the artistic devalorization of the theatre and its desertion by the people. But this
idea now went hand in glove with the great project of national education, and all the high tides of this idea and of progressive struggle brought it to the front of the stage: the liberal Empire of Émile Ollivier and Victor Duruy; the secular Republic of the 1880s; the Republic of the 1900s; and, after the world wars, the breath of reconstruction and of the Resistance. Each time round, the clear need arose for a supplementary means of national education and unity, for rooting the lettered classes in the people, and for having the people participate in the riches of culture. And on each occasion, too, the growing decline in the spectacles of high art, the advance of the café-concert, followed by cinema, sport, radio and television, only added practical urgency to theoretical necessity. In the logic of administration and budgets, the question was quickly pinned down: the people’s theatre was simply one more subsidized theatre to add to the two major dramatic stages and the two great opera companies. The Beaux-Arts budget was meagre under any political regime, and even the least socialistic state was always inclined to the radical solution of making the rich pay. The 1870 project already defined the doctrine that would reign until 1951: the popular theatre would be a hall in which the four subsidized theatres of the rich would take turns to enrich the poorer classes with the treasures of their repertoire. (Students at the Conservatoire would find an ideal initiation to their trade in filling the remaining evenings.) From 1870, too, the artists and managers of these theatres would adduce evidence that such performances, on top of the increased costs they incurred, would always present too ‘precarious’ 24 conditions ever to bring the people displays of art that were worthy of them. But the simple thinking of the Beaux-Arts civil servants would nonetheless continue its path. In 1902 it again lay at the centre of the project for a popular theatre, initiated this time round by the city of Paris. Certainly, other demands were also periodically heard. The project of Viollet-le-Duc, in 1882, insisted on a genre designed to make the people’s theatre ‘both a stimulant and an education’ for popular 25 manners: the historical and social drama, whose development would indeed require the contribution of new dramatic writers. The director would be held to produce each year a minimum of ten new works, including at least five three-act ones, one of which had to be from a French writer who had never had a play of more than two acts performed at a Paris theatre. It goes without saying that dramatic authors warmly supported this vocation of the popular theatre for historical and social creation. In 1902, they sought in vain to press their opinion against that of the leading light of the conservative faction, Adrien Bernheim, administrator of the Théâtre Français and of ‘Trente ans de théâtre’, an organization that assisted retired members of the company. For Bernheim, the popular theatre’s task was to undertake periodic tours to perform selected pieces of French literature in local or suburban theatres, introduced by lecturers primed to show the popular public that the subject ofAndromaqueno different from any was crime story in the newspapers. His doctrine was simple: ‘The theatre is only a means of instruction and 26 popular education if the people are offered masterpieces and nothing but masterpieces.’ And if death was not a sufficient condition for recognizing the author of a masterpiece, it was certainly a necessary one. It was naturally a civil service logic that settled these factional quarrels. The thinking of the late Empire’s superintendent of theatres still prevailed in 1920 when the organization of the Théâtre National Populaire was entrusted to Firmin Gémier: travelling productions ofWerther,FaustandManonwere its staple in its heyday, before economic crisis and an ageing population brought the whole business into 27 decline.
Poetic communion This logic was certainly too petty to express the militant enthusiasm that sought to raise the people to the luminous temple of art, or refill art from the treasury of popular energies. This enthusiasm found expression, in the final years of the nineteenth century, in theRevue d’art dramatiquethough with an – interesting shift of priorities. Activism was now the cause of aesthetes rather than politicians. The scepticism of the latter was clearly expressed in the way that Jaurès reversed the order of reasons given by Michelet: Theatre is not, and by its nature cannot be, an avant-garde force. It only proclaims ideas long after these have been proclaimed elsewhere, in books . . . A new idea has to have matured forcefully 28 before it starts to take theatrical form. Conversely, the pioneers of art for the people often shared the contempt of the new literary generation for 29 the parliamentary republic. They rejected en bloc ‘titbits of socialist preaching’, and even those comedies of manners in which social criticism and ‘literary’ theatre often excelled, dissecting the corruption of institutions and bourgeois manners or depicting popular misery and suffering. Whatever its