PRECIS: If art reflects who we are, then who are we?
Benjamin spends much of his essay discussing the aura of art and what happens to the aura when art is produced for the masses. The aura of art relates to its uniqueness and its history or tradition, which usually centers in cult or, more modernly, religion. However, the tradition of cult, or religious, art is usually kept visible to only a small number of people: "... certain statues or gods are accessible only to the priest in the cella; certain images of the Madonna remain covered nearly all year round" (257). Modern forms of art, which focus now on the mechanical reproduction of art, have allowed for the masses to see what was once unavailable, "The scope for exhibiting the work of art has increased so enormously with the various methods of technologically [reproduction]" (257). "... technological reproduction can place the copy of the original in situations which the original itself cannot attain" (254). Getting art to the masses becomes the focal point of art reproduction, and Benjamin pushes that since this is the new direction, Communism should use this form to become more political in nature. If mass reproduction is becoming more acceptable, like films, then use the art for the political. He criticizes Fascism for the goal of "aesthesticizing...political life" (269). Fascism uses art to make people believe they have a choice, though the art is truly used for social control. Benjamin believes art should be how the Communists believe: "Communism replies by politicizing art" (270), not one of social control or cult, which can only lead to war.