What are some famous literary manifestos

The history of the manifestos In revolt against the familiar

(One rep. From May 4th, 2019)

From Stefan Zednik

Original manuscript by Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto was followed by many manifestos - be it in literature, in film, in music or in art. (dpa / picture alliance / Uwe Anspach)

There is always something rebellious, in the best case even revolutionary, when a person, a group, a party opposes everything that has gone before with a manifesto. But the authors do not always know what could take the place of the old.

"A ghost roams around Europe" - with this sentence from the most famous of all manifestos, the "Communist Manifesto", a round begins in which educational and performative artists, architects, musicians, writers and filmmakers come together. There are texts, sometimes even productions, that have the courage to think completely different in spite of their unreasonableness.

"Anyone who has visions should go to the doctor" - this is how a popular Federal Chancellor once put his understanding of the art of what is politically feasible.

In a world whose self-destructive potential is constantly growing, manifestos deserve special interest as rebellions against the familiar. Regardless of whether they advocate the preservation of nature or total mobility, whether they advocate functional purpose-built buildings or the rule of the mold, whether they advocate total economic freedom of the individual or the socialization of all property. Or even for the abolition of the manifesto.

What makes these texts so fascinating? This "Long Night on Manifestos" undertakes a foray into the history of this very special genre of texts.

Read the complete manuscript for the broadcast here: Manuscript as PDF / Manuscript as TXT.



The Communist Manifesto

"A ghost is haunted in Europe - the ghost of communism. All the powers of old Europe have allied themselves in a holy hunt against this ghost, the Pope and the Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French radicals and German policemen. It is high time, that the communists openly present their way of thinking, their purposes, their tendencies before the whole world, and oppose the fairy tales of the specter of communism with a manifesto of the party itself. For this purpose communists of the most diverse nationalities have gathered in London and drafted the following manifesto, which is published in English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish. "

The "Communist Manifesto" written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was published in London in February 1848. (imago / ZUMA Press)

Only on the last of 21 tightly printed pages does the text finally get the revolutionary impetus that we expect from a manifesto intended to establish the communist movement.

"The communists disdain to hide their views and intentions. They openly declare that their purposes can only be achieved through the violent overthrow of all previous social order. May the ruling classes tremble before a communist revolution! The proletarians have nothing to do with it lose than their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite! "

The "Communist Manifesto" written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It appears in February 1848, and even if there were manifestos before, this political text becomes the prototype of a new, literary-artistic genre.

"A manifesto is a declaration that wants to be particularly effective and therefore formulates more or less radical demands. A manifesto can be something that makes political demands, but it can also be something that represents demands in the field of art and literature." (Wolfgang Asholt, literary scholar and manifesto researcher)

The reaction to the "Communist Manifesto" is inevitable, it fuels revolutionary efforts. It is fermenting more and more in Europe. Of course it is forbidden, printers and publishers are prosecuted. The persecution also hits artists who sympathize with such ideas.



19th century manifestos

As a result, more and more texts appear that have a manifesto-like character. A selection:

In Dresden, Richard Wagner, 35 years old and just enjoying the first successes of his compositional art, is in the service of the Saxon state. He is Kapellmeister at the opera and one could call the life that he has been leading in the Saxon capital for several years as regulated.

But Wagner is infected by the spirit of rebellion. When the uprising broke out on the Elbe in the spring of 1849, he was there. He later developed a worldview that linked social change to the idea of ​​an artistic avant-garde. The artist, in Wagner's understanding above all himself, should be the prophet and pioneer of this new society.

Music as a consecration service, the artist as a priest, as the legitimate representative of an art religion that everyone should follow - that de facto means the reversal of his originally socialist revolutionary ideals. Wagner's writings, even if they do not bear this title, have the character of manifestos. They take a stand against a reality that the author deeply rejects, they develop concepts of the "completely different", i.e. utopia, and they are public.

The writings of the composer Richard Wagner, even if they do not have this title, definitely have the character of manifestos. (picture alliance / dpa / central image)



Wladimir Stassow is a writer, journalist, journalistic representative of a small group of musicians who come together in Russia, especially in Petersburg, parallel to Wagner's essayistic attempts at Switzerland:

"The Russian people have always loved their song, which is as broad and as full of wisdom as the nature of our borderless land. It is not fitting for the heirs of Glinka and Dargomyshski to bend their knees at strange thresholds."

Stassow, who advocates the ideas of the "five", including Mussorgsky, in countless articles, thus provides a kind of forerunner of a music manifesto.



In France, in the second half of the century, as a counterpart to Wagner's music, symbolism was formed at the same time:

"A new revelation of art, developing for a long time, is about to unfold. And all the insignificant jokes of the jolly press people, all the concerns of weighty critics, the whole bad mood of the audience, surprised in its carefree routine, only reinforces them every day Vitality of the current development in French literature - this development which hasty judges in an inexplicable contradiction qualify as decadence (Jean Moréas, "Le Figaro", Supplément littéraire, September 18, 1886)

Moréas ’manifesto is having an impact. The symbolism in the fine arts, for example with Gustav Moreau or the Austrian Gustav Klimt, but also with musicians such as Claude Debussy or the early Arnold Schönberg, gets a theoretical foundation here.



Manifestos from the beginning of the 20th century

"The man of our time, who smears the walls with erotic symbols out of inner urge, is a criminal or a degenerate. We have overcome ornament, we have struggled to be ornamentless. See, the time is near, fulfillment awaits us. Soon." the streets of the cities will shine like white walls! " (Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime)

"Ornament and crime", not "ornament is crime" but "ornament and crime" is often misquoted because it fits better into the cliché. If that is the archetype of the manifesto, one could say that it is polemical, it is Nietzschean in one sense, it is written with a sharp pen "(Jörg Gleiter, architectural theorist). Century appear even more frequently.

The Viennese settlement Heuberg was built in 1924 according to a concept by Adolf Loos. (imago / viennaslide)



"We had watched all night, my friends and I, under the lamps of the mosques, whose copper domes, which were as broken as our soul, had electric hearts. An infinite pride stretched our chests to see us standing alone, like lighthouses or like advanced outposts, facing the host of hostile stars who camp in their home bivouac. " (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Founding and Manifesto of Futurism)

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's motif is that of a raw, destructive force. Marinetti will especially admire this power when it comes from modern machines. It is the time of weekly new inventions, the Titanic is being planned, automobiles rattle threateningly through the cities, electricity turns night into day, airships conquer the skies.

Just two months after the manifesto, which first appeared in France, Marinetti published - this time actually in Italy - a pamphlet entitled "Death to the Moonlight". The spell of all morality now seems to be broken and Europe's occidental spirit thrown away. It is the building of ideas of fascism that does not yet focus on race, but on male strength and superiority.



Luigi Russolo, painter, composer, avowed futurist: "Every utterance in our life is accompanied by noise. The noise is therefore familiar to our ears and is able to put us directly into life." (Luigi Russolo, Manifesto "The Art of Noise")

Stefan Drees, music historian, says: "Luigi Russolo's manifesto" The Art of Noise "is a manifesto that is actually based directly on Marinetti's theses, the point is that we live in the modern world, that is, we live in the big city we also have to create art that fits this big city and Luigi Russolo transfers that to music, so to speak. "



"The song of a Dadaist who was neither happy nor sad, and who loved a cyclist who was neither happy nor sad, but the husband knew everything on New Year's Day, and in one fit, he sent their two bodies in three suitcases in the Vatican." In the years of the First World War there was a small group of experimental jesters in Zurich who, on the surface, had one thing in mind: nonsense. One of their protagonists: the French-speaking Romanian Tristan Tzara.

"Manifestos of the avant-garde movement also work according to the principle: the new movement wants to trump the previous movement with its manifesto. The Dadaists, who performed in the tranquil Swiss town of Zurich, knew exactly what the Italian futurists had made, and made their own out of it Lessons learned and tried to beat that. Futurism and its enthusiasm for war were one of the opponents one wanted to fight. " (Wolfgang Asholt)



While Schwitters initiated the first division of Dadaism in the German-speaking area with the "Merz movement", the same thing happened in Paris. In 1924 a direction emerged that will be of particular importance in the visual arts: surrealism. Your main spokesman and author of the first surrealist manifesto is André Breton:

"So I define it once and for all: SURREALISM, noun, masculine - pure psychological automatism through which one tries to express the real process of thinking orally or in writing or in any other way. Thinking-dictation without any control by reason, beyond everyone aesthetic or ethical consideration. " (André Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism)



"Russian music is admirable precisely because it is Russian music. Franco-Russian or Franco-German music is quite mediocre, even if it is inspired by Mussorgsky or Stravinsky, Wagner or Schönberg. I want French music from France." (Jean Cocteau, Rooster and Harlequin)

The multi-talented writer Jean Cocteau is an ideal seller of such messages. Cocteau moves between all arts, he has contact with theaters and musicians. After the First World War, a circle formed around him, the name referring to the Russian "mighty heap", the "Group of Five". There are six musicians, including a woman, and they become known as "Groupe des six".



The year 1918 not only marked major political upheavals across Europe, but aesthetically, attempts were made everywhere to break new ground. In Holland it is the group "De Stijl", which, under the leadership of the painter and architect Theo van Doesburg, is striving for an organic connection between architecture, sculpture and painting. "There is an old and a new time consciousness. The old is directed towards the individual. The new is directed towards the universal. The conflict between the individual and the universal is evident in both world wars and in contemporary art. War destroys the old world with its content: individual supremacy in every field. " ("De Stijl" Manifesto 1)



It is not surprising that van Doesburg stayed in Weimar in 1920 and 21st and, although not officially employed as a teacher there, was able to exercise considerable influence. A completely new art school, the Weimar Bauhaus, had been founded there under the direction of the architect Walter Gropius. Gropius wrote the first Bauhaus manifesto:

"The ultimate goal of all artistic activity is the building! To decorate it was once the noblest task of the visual arts, they were indissoluble components of great architecture. Today they have a self-sufficient peculiarity, from which they can only be released again through conscious participation. and interaction of all workers among one another. " (Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius)

A completely new art school was founded under the direction of the architect Walter Gropius: the Weimar Bauhaus. (imago / United Archives International)



In the movement of Russian Futurism he is the spokesman: Velimir Khlebnikov. He wrote the first Russian futuristic manifesto as early as 1912:

"We are the face of our time. The horn of time roars through us in the art of words. The past is narrow. The academy and Pushkin are more incomprehensible than hieroglyphics. Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, etc., etc., are to be thrown from the steamship of the present. " (Russian futuristic manifesto from 1912)



Manifestos between the two world wars

The manifesto experienced the greatest boom as a literary and journalistic form after the revolutionary events of 1917. A myriad of manifestos emerged.

The flaming commitment to the beauty of war, published on the occasion of the Italian war of conquest in Ethiopia in 1935, is one of the last manifestos penned by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. For more than 25 years he has been active as a producer of countless manifestos.

Walter Benjamin, who fled Germany as a Jew, is now living in Paris and is working on an essay that will form the basis for modern media and communication theory:

"The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility": "The increasing proletarianization of today's people and the increasing formation of the masses are two sides of one and the same event. Fascism sees its salvation in giving the masses to their expression (by no means to their right) Fascism logically amounts to an aestheticization of political life. Instead of channeling rivers, society directs the flow of people into the bed of its trenches, instead of scattering seeds from its airplanes, it scatters incendiary bombs over the cities. " (Walter Benjamin, "The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility")

"The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility" by Walter Benjamin became the basis for modern media and communication theory. (picture-alliance / akg-images)

Like Benjamin, the Austrian composer Hanns Eisler was unable to return to Germany after 1933. From Moscow he writes to his friend, author Bertolt Brecht:

"I have a very interesting composition plan and I want to write a large symphony that will have the subtitle" Concentration Camp Symphony "."

Eisler will work on the work for over ten years, and its final title will be "Deutsche Symphonie". It becomes a kind of musical manifesto for a cultural Germany that seems to have perished.

Manifestos after the Second World War

Musically, artistically, architecturally, politically: The time after the Second World War is also rich in a wide variety of manifestos:

In the still Stalinist Soviet Union, a meeting of international composers was to be discussed and adopted together. The most prominent participant in this congress, which took place in Prague in May 1948: the returned Hanns Eisler.

"The music and musical life of our time shows a deep crisis. This is mainly characterized by the contrast between so-called serious and so-called light music. So-called serious music is becoming more and more complicated, more constructed, more individualistic and more subjective. So-called popular music is becoming more and more flat and leveled , standardized; it becomes the object of the monopolized cultural industry, a commodity. " (Prague Manifesto, quoted from Hanns Eisler)

Stefan Drees, musicologist: "The Prague Manifesto actually tries to solve the music crisis by saying that, first of all, we are not allowed to write music that is only for the ivory tower, but it cannot be music that is popular music either can consume. "

Eisler's former companion and former co-author, soon to be a philosophical mentor of new music with a West German character, Theodor W. Adorno, will condemn this path in his essay "Die Gängelte Musik". He sees the Prague Manifesto only as an attempt to "justify universal conformity" and warns against a "self-liquidation of subjects".



The centers of the avant-garde soon formed in the West, including in Darmstadt through the "International Summer Courses for New Music". Here in 1958 the American John Cage made an unusual appearance:

"The noise of a truck at 50 kilometers per hour. Atmospheric disturbances on the radio. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, not to use them as sound effects, but as musical instruments." (John Cage, The Future of Music - Credo)

His manifesto dates from 1937. Cage completes what the "noisemakers" of the Italian futurists timidly and little inspired had begun in the 1910s: the equality of everything that is audible to the human ear, the acceptance of noise in the world the music.



Heinz Mack founds the group ZERO together with his artist colleague Otto Piene, to which Günter Uecker will later join. They too are looking for a new artistic start. And they discover the light, the white, the emptiness and the movement of objects. ZERO made its breakthrough at the Kassel Documenta in 1964. It is the first time since the Weimar Republic that German artists have caused an international stir with their art. You write a poetic manifesto:

Zero is the silence. Zero is the beginning. Zero is round. Zero rotates. Zero is the moon. The sun is Zero. Zero is white. The desert Zero. The sky over Zero. The night -. Zero flows. That Eye Zero. Navel. Mouth. Kiss. ​​The milk is round. The flower Zero, the bird. Silent. Floating. " (ZERO Foundation)



"No experiments" is the political slogan with which the 81-year-old Konrad Adenauer won the elections for the CDU in September 1957 with an absolute majority.

"The undersigned nuclear researchers are deeply concerned about the plans to arm the Bundeswehr with nuclear weapons." There are 18 scientists, some of them very prominent, who on April 12, 1957, immediately before the start of the Bundestag election campaign, set a clear signal against being loyal to the authorities. You formulate the "Göttingen Manifesto". The manifesto sparked a broad discussion about the meaning of the nuclear armament planned by the government and promoted by its defense minister Franz-Josef Strauss.

Society is irritated. The main author of the Göttingen Manifesto is Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker, the refined son of a Nazi diplomat and SS leader, brother of the future Federal President. He will devote a large part of his life to peace research.



In the field of architecture, there was a great need for action in those years, especially in the deserts of destroyed German cities. And that both in terms of real building and in the area of ​​thinking and planning. How should the city of the future, what should the house of the future look like? The Swiss architect Le Corbusier and his colleague Pierre Jeanneret had already written a manifesto in 1926:

"This is by no means about aesthetic fantasies or costumes for fashionable effects, but about architectural facts that mean an absolutely new building, from residential buildings to palaces."

Le Corbusier strives for a radical break with tradition. The Philips company commissioned him to design a pavilion for the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels. He develops and builds apartment blocks for more than 1,000 people, also referred to by critics as "residential machines". Its buildings are bright and the apartments are often flooded with sunlight. And yet there is something inherent in Le Corbusier's buildings, mainly because of the coldness of the concrete as a building material, that met with resistance as early as the 1950s.



Friedensreich Hundertwasser 1953 - he published a "Moldy Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture" (Lessing / Image Archive of the Austrian National Library)

One person who strongly opposed building according to the principles of modernism at an early stage is the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. In 1958 Hundertwasser published a "Moldy Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture":

"Everyone should be able to build, and as long as this construction freedom does not exist, the current, planned architecture cannot be counted as art at all. What has been realized are miserable compromises made by rulers with a guilty conscience! The material uninhabitability of slums is moral uninhabitability preferable to functional, useful architecture. In the so-called slums, only the human body can perish, but in the architecture supposedly planned for the human being, the soul perishes. "

A few years later, the criticism of this architecture will also be formulated from the scientific side. "The inhospitableness of our cities. Incitement to strife" is the title of a well-known book by Alexander Mitscherlich. But Hundertwasser's manifesto is not a socio-psychological analysis, but rather, around 20 years before the founding of the Greens, an ecological manifesto from the perspective of art.



At the beginning of the 1960s, the signs point to a new departure in many places, whether in politics, in art, or - as with Hundertwasser - on the borderline between the two. It seems that the time for powerful counter-positioning is ripe again. Manifestos are becoming topical again.

"The collapse of conventional German film is finally removing the economic ground for a mindset that we have rejected. This means that the new film finally has the chance to come to life." (Alexander Kluge, Oberhausen Manifesto)

The German film industry was in bad shape in 1962. With Heimatfilmen, Sissy and Winnetou you can only occasionally make a profit at the box office, and cinema produced in Germany is also not internationally competitive. Only the short film is an exception. A law that exempted cinema operators from paying an entertainment tax if they presented artistically valuable supporting films to their audiences allowed the genre to develop well.

Alexander Kluge is the spokesman for a group of filmmakers who mainly made short films of this kind. The big form, the full-length feature film, has so far been denied to his generation. The Oberhausen are successful. Three years later, the "Kuratorium Junge deutscher Film" was founded, and film funding based on artistic criteria was set in motion.



On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas, 32, was walking up and down a building in Manhattan, New York. Andy Warhol's "Factory" is located on the fourth floor of the house, the place of work and scene meeting point of the famous Pop Art artist. This afternoon she is waiting for Warhol.

"The reduction of women to animals in the most backward sector of society - the 'privileged', 'educated' middle class, this back province of humanity where Daddy rules unchallenged - is so thorough that women are pushing themselves to the treadmill of work and today, in the middle of the twentieth century, in the most advanced country on earth, with babies getting fat on their bosoms. But still it is not for the good of the children, as 'experts' want women to believe, if mom stays at home and in the area of ​​the Animalistic has to crawl around but it's daddy's advantage. "

The suffragette Valerie Solanas carried out an assassination attempt on Andy Warhol. (dpa / picture alliance / UPI)

Solanas, who is waiting for Andy Warhol in Manhattan on June 3, 1968, does not speak well of him. She had entrusted him with the script of a play in the hope that he would produce it. When Warhol arrives at around 4.15 p.m., they take the elevator to the factory floor. There Valerie Solanas pulls out a revolver and shoots Warhol several times.

A bullet hits Warhol's lungs, bile, stomach, liver and esophagus. He survived: "He had too much control over my life" - this is how Solanas later commented on what she did to a police officer who arrested her. The manifesto, which until then she had only tried to sell in hectographed copies on the street, is entitled "SCUM" (PDF). On the one hand this means something like "scrap", on the other hand it is the abbreviation for "Society for cutting up men". It is still the most radical manifesto of the feminist movement worldwide.



The Italian composer Luigi Nono sees his work as highly political. He is an active member of the Italian Communist Party. In the second part of his composition "Musica Manifesto Numero uno", he uses a tape collage to deal with the joy of protest, with the poetry of resistance, but also with its violence. The warning, almost instructive title of this part: "Non cosumiamo Marx", "Let's not consume Marx!".

The year is 1968. Nono tries to link politics and music together, to consider the political in music. Like Cage, he uses noises, everyday original sounds, but does not ignore their historical dimension, but emphasizes them. Political protest is not put on the music, as is the case with an agitprop song. The protest always lies in the form itself, which is intended to develop or overcome the old. The "Musica Manifesto Numero uno" is a statement for the necessary connection between political and musical work.

Nono seems to want to express the rift through the human being, which also appeared again and again in Valerie Solana's feminist manifesto. It is the longing for private, personal happiness, perhaps in contact with nature - on the one hand. On the other hand, the need to unite politically with others and to oppose obvious injustices in the world.

Because with all demands that are expressed in manifestos - mostly the pain about a world as it is is the starting point. A world that one would rather imagine differently.

Production of this long night:
Author: Stefan Zednik
Editor: Dr. Monika Künzel
Director: Stefan Hilsbecher
Web production: Jörg Stroisch

About the author:
Stefan Zednik previously worked as an opera director and has dedicated himself to making radio for several years. His focus is on the history of music theater and its participants as well as the reception and social history of music. In addition, numerous features appeared on various broadcasters (DLF, WDR, SWR, RBB / MDR). His book "The Murderers Sit in the Opera", about the history of the opera's reception, is currently in the process of being published.