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It can be said with confidence that the structure of Lewis’s politics is not “Right all the way,” and not “Right-Left-Right,” but “Left-Right-Left.” If the brief revisionist survey which follows appears to some readers to be a challenge too far to the prevailing orthodoxy, let me hint at the possibilities by quoting from the autobiography Lewis was in some meaningful sense on the Left until about 1930.During the mid-1920s he deals with ideas that open more naturally towards socialism and anarchism than they do towards the right and to fascism; some of these are discussed below.That discussion has been scarcely noticed, and I wish to explicate it here as a contribution to the challenge to the orthodox view that Lewis’s work was infiltrated at every level by right-wing ideas.Recent work by Paul Edwards and Andrzej Gasiorek has altered the critical and political landscape, substantially and permanently.He founded and organized the Vorticist movement in London between 19, creating an exciting and substantial, if rather brief, British contribution to European modernism.
In December 1939 he published was published in 1941, George Orwell praised its understanding of class in Britain.
I pointed to the importance of Proudhon to Lewis as long ago as 1976, in an article that has had no influence.
The title of this conference, and the strategy of thinking it encourages, offers the opportunity for a more focused account than I could make thirty years ago.
For Lewis the philosophy and the politics were new in the 1920s, but his concern with the circumstances of the production of art was not.
We should recall that more than ten years before these theorizations appeared, Lewis was established as a considerable visual artist.
The trajectory of Wyndham Lewis’s politics is not yet well understood.