The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Hernán Laborde establishes the defense of human rights and peace as a point of agreement among all the intellectual groups gathered there. With regard to art, he begins with a premise of Joseph Stalin according to which writers, and by extension creators, are the “engineers of souls.” Although Marxist, he does not consider this attribute to be something necessary for the purpose of extending the single front. Laborde separated himself from “the aristocratic and contemptuous attitudes of certain intellectuals who, despite their leftist rhetoric, disdain the public and continue to believe that art is the monopoly and privilege of the minority.” On the other hand, Laborde believes that Soviet writers have achieved the “perfect communion” between intellectuals and the masses.
The Congreso Nacional de Escritores y Artistas [National Conference of Writers and Artists] opened at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on January 17, 1937. After the volley of criticisms leveled at the elitism of the institution, the Lázaro Cárdenas administration (1934–40) began to broadly support leftist cultural organizations. In his speech, Hernán Laborde, general secretary of the PCM [Mexican Communist Party], showed a hint of tolerance given the diversity of progressive intellectuals participating, in accordance with the tactic of establishing a united intellectual front against the advance of fascism. However, that less sectarian attitude ended with him condemning positions such as those held by Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1901–1992), the Guatemalan intellectual based in Mexico: “The twisted beliefs of aristocrats involved in the arts regarding the incompatibility of the people’s tastes and artistic quality are worthless. These declarations are nothing more than a ruse meant to conceal the impotence of those people who are incapable of creating beauty with depth through simplicity and clarity of form.” By contrast, the partisan leader supported his stance by appealing to that other Aragón, the French surrealist Luis Aragon (1897–1982), who upheld the work of John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld, 1891–1968) as an example that combines imagination with quality. Two of Heartfield’s photomontages had been used as covers for Frente a Frente [Front to Front].