Marxist Standpoint of Brecht in Galileo

Doubtless, Brecht is a Marxist playwright. In Galileo, Brecht infused Marxist leaning. In this play he represented Galileo as a victim of an institutionalized power. The Inquisition brutalized Galileo's sincere theories viciously and mercilessly. The institutionalized and organized form of power, that is, the Inquisition, knew that what Galileo declared was un-doubtly true.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

Even the very representative of the inquisition cardinal Barberini had known that Galileo's theories are correct. He had extended the grain of sympathy to Galileo. But their sympathy and intellectual regard for Galileo dwindled down when cardinal Barberini became pope in the chamber of the Vatican. Cardinal Barberini's sympathy for him disappeared soon after he assumed the power of the pope in the chamber of the Vatican. The more powerful he became, the crueler he appeared to be. The more Barberini enjoyed the organized and over institutionalized theocratic power, the more brutally he distorted the truth advanced by Galileo. The way the theocratic power embodied by pope Barberini functions suggests that the institutionalized power works exactly like a bourgeois power, though it does not know the truth. There is a politics of ignorance. The theocratic institution abused its power by putting a painful curb on the progressive science. The bourgeois institution which makes a sincere quester of knowledge be fooled and ridiculed. Galileo had to come into relationship to the aristocratic cosmos the Medici. Had Galileo been economically strong enough to survive, sponsorship and patronage would have exerted no pressure on him. The dire economic necessity of Galileo brought him into Florence. The theocratic power-network took advantage of the economic dependence of the individual. In an attempt to take advantage of Galileo's economic condition the theocratic power-center viciously distorted and falsified that individual's quest, and his theory. This is not only a simple case of atrocity. On the strength of its organized power and institutionalized body of politics, the Inquisition interrogated Galileo till he recanted his recently discovered scientific theories and findings. The Inquisition in this regard seems to be fascist and capitalistic. It knew that Galileo is sincerely true. But pretending that Galileo is wrong, it imposed its own politically motivated truth. Furthermore, it exploited and dominated an individual so as to spread the political aura of its own truth.

The relationship between Galileo and the Inquisition is not the relationship of truth and falsehood; rather it is the relationship of power and domination. Theirs is the relationship of power politics. The battle between Galileo and the Inquisition is the battle between the political truth of the Intuition and the pure scientific truth embraced by Galileo. Hence their relationship seems to be a relationship of domination.

In this relationship of domination the helpless individual is defeated. It is natural also. But this alone is not and can't be the intention of the playwright. To show an individual being victimized by socio-politico-economic circumstance is not the ultimate purpose of Brecht the play writing. The ultimate goal of Brecht, the Marxist playwright is to show that an individual is capable of altering the deep-seated socio-political structure no matter how defeated and victimized he/she may be. In Galileo we can see Galileo engaged in his hopeless revolt against the dictatorship of the Inquisition. Brecht did not bother whether the individual succeeds in this move against the impregnable tyranny of the Inquisition, which increasingly resembles the fascist and the capitalist structure. Brecht is committed to show that an individual, no matter how defeated, struggles to pose an exceedingly challenging jolt to the foundation of socio-politico economic circumstances.

Brecht's Marxist leaning can be seen in the concept of his epic theatre. Brecht does not like his theatre-goers to be easily deceived by the spectacular and the epic theatre. Instead of being emotionally vulnerable Brecht demanded his audiences to be rationally alert. Brecht disapproves emotional vulnerability on the part of his readers, on the part of his theatre-goers. Brecht is of the opinion that the theatre goers must be rational enough to cast aside illusionist conventions. Audiences in epic-theatre, according to Brecht, must be rational enough to penetrate the painful, alienating truth behind the appealing veil to illusion. Brecht sounds Marxist in his strong defense of the emotional vulnerability of audiences and in his strong support of a rational bent of audiences mind.