Another recent book:
‘Why Marx Was Right’ – Terry Eagleton.
btw…sure…the invariable logic of Capitalism leads to the shopping mall. But never, ever forget that it also leads to people scratching a desperate living on the rubbish dumps of Nairobi and Mumbai.
“If any Marxist tells me that under Communism everyone will be peachy and cooperative and altruistic, I’ll tell them to cut the liberal crap. I’m not a liberal.”
That made me smile. Really wide.
That’s one smart Chimpanzee.
“For myself – and I would count myself a Marxist – I honestly don’t know what is meant but a Marxist government. What form of government did Marx propose? Neither do I think that Marxism proposes a replacement for Capitalism. What it /does/ do is to provide an understanding of how the world is…and possibly where it should be going to get out of what Marx called ‘the same old filthy business’.”
Also, fully endorse that.
“The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future.” —Marx
Still true of the 21st century, too.
“If Roddenberry was head of a ‘police club,’ was educated in police studies, joined a police force and worked with a national investigative body, then he certainly might have found a happy home in East Germany back in the day. He might have thoroughly enjoyed himself in Stalin’s USSR as well.”
As if East Germany or the USSR had had a monopoly on repression.Please.
The real wacky thing about that quote is the assumption that just because he was trained as a police investigator, that means he’s all about abuse of power and repression.
2 with John Wayne:
Big Jim McLain
The Green Berets
Brad: I should clarify; I was merely responding to Torres’ post about Roddenberry’s being a cop, etc.
Just a chance to point out how pretty much nothing got done politically in East Germany unless a cop was involved (a bunch of cops, actually) and employment opportunities were boundless.
I saw some irony there, nothing more; I don’t seriously suspect he was an abuser of power.
For all I know Roddenberry was a righteous dude.
And yes, Torres, we all know oppression has had a role in numerous political systems and societies.
It’s just that the folks behind the old Iron Curtain clearly possessed a talent for it.
(I suppose everyone, at some point, gets to be the best at something.)
The stunning part is that it was still going on during the 1980s.
Now it’s all on Cuba to carry that mantle.
Well in fairness, the Soviets found it convenient to let the Nazis carry on running the GDR.
They weren’t unique in this. The BDR was also far less de-Nazified than people admit. In the 50’s they came close to a pro-Nazi coup. This was the sort of thing that die Rote Armee Fraktion were getting at in their ever so loveable, muddle-headed way – and why The Baader-Meinhof Complex’ paints such an incomplete picture of them.
And some Norwegians tell me that the same Nazi sympathisers who invited the Germans in are still basically in charge in Scandiwegia – as touched on in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’- it’s a bit of a stretch to describe that a s a Marxist film, even if the book was written by a Marxist. He even trained Marxist guerillas overseas.
Cuba: Are there perhaps any other countries which intern people without trial during wartime?
Actually…we should mention Che Pts 1&2 shouldn’t we?
I’m deadly serious about The Godfather being a Marxist movie, btw. It’s all about Class Struggle.
In Pt 2 we can see De Niro (who later grows up to be Brando) struggling to get by as a lowly immigrant. He manages – and the struggles for commercial supremacy he faces within The mop are exactly the same thing. Young, fresh-faced Pacino thinks he can remain immune from it but finds himself on the Capitalist treadmill.
But Capitalism isn’t an evil plot – it’s just what people have to do to get by:
’It’s not personal. It’s just business.’ (Pt 1, later repeated in Pt 3)
Everything he does is just about looking after his loved ones. He knows he has to get free and sets about getting high enough the Capitalist tree to do so – but the nature of Capitalism is that you’re always part of the struggle:
‘I thought I could rise above all the killings but they keep on dragging me down’
And then there’s the whole thing about Organised Crime, Legitimate Business Politics and the Church being part of the same economic superstructure. Not to mention…the Cultural Marxism bit…the economic sphere within which the players operate not only shapes their culture but is also reinforced by it. Those big weddings are how they do their business networks. Economic transactions are managed in accordance with traditional Sicilian laws.
Oddly enough, the Soviets used to make a big deal out of ‘Gansgter Gapitalism’. Ironic, given contemporary Russian economic life.
STRAW POLL: The Godfather: Best movie ever?
“Cuba: Are there perhaps any other countries which intern people without trial during wartime?”
Well, Guantánamo Bay is in Cuba after all. But, apparently, Lemonglow isn’t aware of the vast bulk of atrocities committed in Latin America during the 20th century by right-wing dictators. His selective attention is ideological (as is his ideas of “human nature”).
I think there are a few more explicitly Marxist gangster films. Mesrine and Un Prophète. But I would say Force of Evil is the greatest Marxist gangster film/noir.
Also, what’s this about China realizing capitalism needed cells and executions to enforce? China only realized you needed cells and executions to prevent the government from being criticized, and to prevent people from secretly drowning their female children because they aren’t allowed to try again for a boy.
I would make a mathematical argument for capitalism. Yes, it’s rooted in self interest, but it causes self interest to lead to collective interest. Everybody acting in their own best interest leads to the best results for the most people.
Know any cancer survivors? They survived because a greedy capitalist was able to profit off the treatment. I went to a lecture last week where somebody argued that the reason for the industrial revolution in the 20th century was America’s patent system. When Isaac Newton came up with the basic laws of physics and calculus, he kept them to himself for years because he was afraid somebody would steal them. The patent system made sure inventors could profit off of their inventions, in exchange for disclosing them and making them available, and that’s the reason we’ll all probably live into our 70s.
But yeah, for capitalism to work you need laws to protect individuals’ basic rights. You need ‘Natural law’ and the Harm Principle, and you need union rights. I’ll take a few greedy medical researchers making billions off saving lives over a government taking all my metal to melt into cannon balls.
I’ll also add that in America, it’s the libertarians who are the loudest voice for pulling the military completely out of other countries.
Hate to deviate from this Hatfields vs. McCoys tone here, but if we take a practical view of what economic systems have been most successful, they tend to have a combination of both capitalist and socialist elements. The challenge is in determining the ratio, but pure capitalism leads to vast inequalities and a poisonous level of poverty and suffering for those on the wrong side of the free market. Pure socialism (communism), as we have seen, encourages despotic and oppressive governments and a devaluing of freedom. While it’s details may be outdated, something along the lines of FDR’s New Deal provides a model that we could work from once we get past wanting to re-fight the Cold War.
Know any cancer survivors? They survived because a greedy capitalist was able to profit off the treatment.
Do you know how many people die to a neglected disease of poverty (tuberculosis/dengue/typhoid fever/chagas)? That’s because greedy capitalists see less profit in creating vaccines for diseases that affect people with limited resources to spend than in finding new and improved ways to get and maintain erections. The majority of funding for the development of treatmets and cures for these diseases comes from the pulic or joint public-private ventures. You can thank governments for what lives have been saved.
^ . . . and it’s worth pointing out, too, that even with cancer treatment, something like 20% of Americans with cancer WHO HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE end up still not being able to afford their treatments.
I somewhat sympathise with your desire to stop the feuding, Brad. If I say I’m a Marxist, I don’t think I’m placing myself in a tribe. What do I think of Capitalism? Well I’m tapping away at a Capitalist keyboard, ain’t I? But I might feel differently if I were on a rubbish dump in Lagos, of course. Or possibly if I worked in one f the factories where keyboards are assembled. Nevertheless – Capitalism does indeed deliver cancer drugs. And iPads. And Cheetos. Any money that governments have to do good things are delivered by Capitalism. (And Capitalism earns it by extracting profit from the labour of individuals: Marx’s Labour Theory of Value.).
Of course, it’s massively complicated. I agree somewhat with Jirin’s observations also. Hell – any Marxist will tell you that history progresses through a dialectical process. However I do think that China’s big project has been about making money. Surely that should be the job of any government? They’ve been massively good at it – millions lifted out of starvation. (although admittedly not the 20m who had already died in Mao’s famine). The West can’t match their record. They’ve been quite astute at focussing their apparatus of repression on keeping the Renminbi flowing. With the help of their overseas customers, of course. We have all our good shit because the Chinese can knock it out cheap for us.
It always seems odd to me, though, when capitalists say that capitalism and only capitalism is the answer and that (some mythical and quarter-understood notion of) Marxism has nothing to add to the debate.
I’ve just remembered another Marxist Movie: Black Power Mixtape
“I would make a mathematical argument for capitalism. Yes, it’s rooted in self interest, but it causes self interest to lead to collective interest. Everybody acting in their own best interest leads to the best results for the most people.”
If you leave out most of Southeast Asia, much of the Middle East, some of Eastern Europe and the Balkans and pretty much all of Africa…
Global Capitalism is the model of “collective best interest” for about 1/1000th of the people that participates in it…
Aaaarrrgggghhhh!!! Someone’s been reading Ayn Rand! ;-)
I simply can’t imagine a society in which everyone was free to act in their own self interest. No – scratch that – I can. Welcome to Somalia.
In all tolerable societies we accept that we have to abide by certain laws for the greater social good. These laws might prohibit killing people and taking their money, or stealing their patents, or insider dealing, or they might set regulations on work by children or minimum wage or environmental emissions. Some of these are derided as limiting the freedom to act in one’s interest to make money (there were once vigorous complaints about limiting the right of children to work!) but by and large we accept that we /don’t/ always get to act in our own self interest. Or do we? The smart guys recognise that others’ interests can align with our own. Would you rather live in Somalia or Sweden?
DRAGGING THE CONVERSATION BACK TOWARDS MOVIES:
The economist Ha-Joon Chang (strong book recommendation 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism – he’s not a Marxist) compares these regulations to the piano wires that hold the performers up in kung fu movies. We don’t even notice the ones we approve of. For most of us – but not all – it would be simply unimaginable to earn a living by killing people and stealing their money. Or by engaging in an activity that dumped crude oil into the sea…
Capitalism simply could not function if we always acted in our own interest. And Ayn Rand was a socially dysfunctional halfwit.
Above, Izzy Black recommended Antonioni’s ECLIPSE. I’d also recommend L’AVVENTURA. See my Marxist-aesthetic analysis of that film at this initial link:
If Izzy has a specific quotation from Antonioni in which he stated he was a Marxist, I’d LOVE to learn where. I interviewed him years ago and was able to get him to go as far as anyone else ever had in spelling out his political stance: “I was so against the bourgeoisie…and in favor of social justice”; “the bourgeoisie is sliding into nothingness. They’re disappearing slowly” but he never directly said he was a Marxist. Most CRITICS see him that way, but that doesn’t mean he ever publicly acknowldged it. There’s also quite a difference between a Marxist and a European socialist or “man of the left.”
For the most part, Western European filmmakers and the occasional American director follow Marx’s lead and critique capitalism rather than show the inherent superiority of socialism. Soviet, Chinese, Cuban, and Eastern European filmmakers often explore the wonders (and problems) of communism; I’m thinking in particular of Jancso. Has anyone mentioned Bertolucci?
Also, for years, Eisenstein contemplated a film version of DAS KAPITAL.
And Ayn Rand was a socially dysfunctional halfwit.
She also received Medicare benefits and social security payments toward the end of her life. Not that her ideas aren’t debunkable without resorting to ad hominem attacks but I’ve always found that particularly amusing.
A film version of Das K would be…interesting. The only problem I’d envisage is that it barely works in book form.
BTW, on its initial release, Titanic was hailed as a socialist masterpiece by Newsweek, mainly because the film pointed out the stark differences between the social classes in steerage vs. first class — and sided with Jack and the steerage passengers.
Also, in my youth I met Ayn Rand briefly when she spoke on a college campus. She wore a mink coat. During the Q & A, a student asked her what the difference was between her philosophy, Objectivism, and Sartre’s Existentialism. She replied, “Sartre doesn’t wear mink!”
@Hellshocked: As an American citizen, no matter how wealthy she may have been due to royalties from her books, I don’t see why Ayn Rand shouldn’t have collected benefits based on her payments into the system over many years. Although I agree with the assessment that she was a “socially dysfunctional halfwit,” I don’t think we should apply a moral or ideological test to Social Security and Medicare. And, there’s still not a means test.
I assumed that Hellshocked was referring to that fact that she thought that welfare was A Bad Idea. Hell – the whole point is that we shouldn’t apply a moral or ideological test. We should give it on the basis of need.
Titanic socialist,? Jaysus. If the existence of socio-economic divisions is news to people, they ought to get out more.
btw…I’d never thought of comparing Objectivism with Existentialism. They both stress the individual..yet Sartre was a Marxist for most of his adult life. There isn’t actually a contradiction. Marx said something along the lines that we realise our freedom through the freedom of others.
As an American citizen, no matter how wealthy she may have been due to royalties from her books, I don’t see why Ayn Rand shouldn’t have collected benefits based on her payments into the system over many years.
When you spend your entire life calling people who use welfare and medicaid leeches, looters and parasites and referring to welfare as an “entitlement” it is somewhat disingenous to suddenly decide it is ok to use it just because you finally need it.
Edward: Social Security and Medicare are not, strictly speaking, welfare payments. They’re designated entitlements, based on one’s ongoing contributions into the systems over a lifetime.
In one sense, one is getting one’s own money back (at about a 2% interest rate) and so it is not welfare per se. There are, of course, flaws in the system, one of which is that most recipients nowadays end up getting far more in benefits than they actually put into the pot (or “lock box,” as Al Gore wanted to call it). And people are living much longer than expected, putting a major strain on its sustainability.
Yes. Thanks. I was struggling to find a catch-all term that works in American.
In fairness to Rand – and just to be provocative – she might argue that under her system one wouldn’t need social security etc. A supreme being like her would be able to get to the top of the pile unhindered by the other parasites. It was only because America didn’t work like this that she was forced into the indignity of social security.
This argument possibly has other flaws…
Cinema’s twin giants: