The Left Front’s “Founding Manifesto” (1929)

Translated from the Czech by Alexandra Büchler.

From Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-Gardes,

1910-1930.  (The MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 2002).

• • •

The founding general meeting of the Left Front has agreed on the following program and manifesto:

The Left Front wants to unify and mobilize the cultural left: it wants to become the center of modern creation, creating new cultural conditions and collaborating to rebuild the world so that it achieves a new, rational socio-economic and civilizational equilibrium in a productive community of modern energies organized by a movement that will bring together intellectual workers from all areas of cultural activity who shall maintain contact and co-operate; at the same time, the Left Front wants to break down the narrow, isolating frameworks of professional specialization, in the conviction that only such work has general cultural value and can be seen as modern that has not become rigidly fixed in a narrow specialization, work that can, without losing any of its professional perfection, encompass the entire horizon of modern life, that is aware of its own connections with other cultural and social work, and that therefore has a revolutionary perspective.

Along with a concentration of left-wing intellectual and productive forces Left Front strives to achieve a consistent and direct connection between modern cultural work and its audiences: it wants its readers to become engaged, active collaborators, organizers and propagandists, politically and culturally aware supporters, and together with this modern, left-oriented audience it aims to stand up to the forces of cultural reaction.

Left Front is not an academic association; on the contrary, it wants to organize outstanding events.  It does not intend to waste time on paper protests, and whenever it will see intervention as necessary, it will base its intervention on carefully worked-out, concrete counter-proposals.  It will support freedom and promotion of scientific and artistic work on behalf of all new scientific, technical, social and aesthetic forms suited to modern man and to the modern spirit.  Modern cultural work, today continually silenced and repressed, robbed of any opportunity for real realization, must try, by means of the organized and planned Left Front movement, to break through the blockade of conservatism that surrounds it, especially in our country.  Left Front will promote works of modern spirit, introducing its audiences to modern views and directions in all areas, showing the results of collective cultural work to the widest groups, without using the old-fashioned, sentimental “educational” methods — rather it will use modern methods of promotion, clear information and visual demonstration.  It will organize lecture series around the whole country, purposefully compiled traveling exhibitions (on the subjects of architecture, housing, painting and sculpture, books, social health, education, etc.), as well as discussion evenings, surveys, etc.  Special committees will deal with essential and urgent questions and tasks collectively, and the activities of the Left Front will be international, based on international collaboration.

The Left Front wants to bring together in co-operative activity all those whose work is animated with the modern spirit and expresses the modern will: modern architects, writers, journalists, painters, sculptors, photographers, film-makers, theatre artists, typographers, publishers, lawyers, economists, historians, sociologists, philosophers, natural scientists, medical doctors, hygienists, psychologists, technicians, pedagogues, librarians, organizers, etc.

The basis on which the Left Front is being built is revolutionary: the Left Front is an organized and conscious resistance movement of intellectual productive forces against the ruling, disintegrating culture of liberalism, and takes a stand of resolute non-conformism against its traditions, outdated ideas, academies, aesthetics and morals of a [679] disorganized and decaying social system.  The Left Front makes a demarcation line between modern creation in the sense of materialist worldview and the old, out-dated aesthetic and idealistic delusions.  The Left Front derives its name from its position in the divided cultural world of today and from its social structure.  The Left Front is an apolitical association, not connected to any political party, it is an alliance of an international community of intellectuals who want to collaborate effectively on the creation of modern culture and defend modern views and interests against conservatism and reaction.

Among the members of the Left Front we shall, for the time being, name the following: F.X. Šalda, Otakar Chlup, J.L. Fischer, Josef Sokol, Vladislav Vančura, Vitĕzslav Nezval, Iša Krejčí, Vilem Závada, František Halas, Jaroslav Seifert, Laco Novomeský, Toyen, Štyrský, Václavek, Dr. Ivan Sekanina, Clementis, Dr. Janda, Dr. M. Matoušek, and publishers Fromek and Prokop, and others.

The Left Front calls anyone who agrees with the position and program of its manifesto and who wants to actively take part in its work, to become a member.  Applications are accepted by the editorial office of ReD.

For the near future, the Left Front is planning the following events: a lecture by F.X. Šalda on Rimbaud, discussion evenings on housing as an architectural and social question, and on the freedom of artistic and scientific expression and censorship, and a traveling exhibition on “minimum dwelling.”

[Originally published as “Leva fronta,” in ReD vol. 3, no. 2 (1929)]

~ by Ross Wolfe on October 21, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Left Front’s “Founding Manifesto” (1929)”

  1. […] Founding Manifesto of the Left Front.  Translated by Alexandra Büchler.  Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European […]

  2. […] Founding Manifesto of the Left Front.  Translated by Alexandra Büchler.  Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European […]

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