popular culture

In " Avant-Garde and Kitsch", Clement Greenberg describes a second new cultural phenomenon that appeared in the industrial West: Kitsch. For Greenberg, the new urban masses lost their taste for the folk culture of the countryside, discovered a new capacity for boredom, and set up a pressure on society to provide them with a culture fit for their own consumption. For Greenberg, Kitsch is produced by a rationalized technique that draws on science and industry and erases the values that permit distinctions between good and bad art. 

For Greenberg in 1939, the demand for Kitsch seems to accompany modernization, be it under Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, or in the Western Democracies. "Kitsch is the culture of the masses in these countries, as it is everywhere else." In fact, the backwards Russian peasant is "protected from the products of American capitalism. " Socialist realism" would not stand a chance next to a Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell". Greenberg ends his essay by stating that these products of "Capitalism in decline" corrode the society under whose aegis they are made possible. 

In the dramatic ending to the essay, Greenberg claims that "Today we look to socialism simply for the preservation of whatever living culture we have right now."