Category Archives: Socialism

>Tuesday 3:00 PM Jean-Luc Godard…


From 1968 to 1973, [Jean-Luc Godard] stated repeatedly that he was working collectively. He was never tied to a party or a Maoist group, although the politics evidenced in his films seem loosely “Maoist.” For about three years he drastically reduced the technical complexity and expense of his filming, lab work, compositions, and sound mix. Partly he wanted to demonstrate that anyone could and should make films. He did not concern himself with creating a parallel distribution circuit. He said most political films were badly made, so the contemporary political filmmakers had a twofold task. They had to find new connections, new relations between sound and image. And they should use film as a blackboard on which to write analyses of socio-economic situations. Godard rejected films, especially political ones, based on feeling. People, he said, had to be led to analyze their place in history.

1968: Godard films some events
(Photo by Serge Hambourg, Hood Museum of Art)

1972: Jean-Luc speaks on intellectuals making films for the oppressed…

Are not these questions still relevant today? Possibly today there are more alternative voices being committed to various media because the means of production (e.g. ultra-lightweight HD cameras and laptop editing) and the means of distribution (e.g. the Internet) make it possible to do so. However, the questions facing media producers have not significantly changed. As Godard states, making a film “in the name of…” comes with a host of issues that, though intentions are good, may sabotage from within and without the film and its message. In the U.S. we are less likely to call filmmakers “intellectuals.” Certainly, U.S. filmmakers may not be intellectuals to the same degree (or as obviously so) as those in France once were. On the other hand, anyone who actively seeks to understand the world beyond the given and controlled ideological constructs we all inherit should be called an intellectual. Many social documentary filmmakers, it could be argued, fall into that category.

There is a trap, however, for contemporary would-be revolutionaries (filmmakers or otherwise) to borrow from the past what should be left in the past. The struggles of the 1960s (the period from 1956 to 1974) are inspiring and worth studying, but today’s struggles must be dealt with directly and not through a process of memory and hagiography. Today’s issues require their own terms. On the other hand, it is worth noting that (probably) all revolutions/reformations start from a re-examination and re-interpretation of the past – in particular the primary documents of the past.

In 1972 Godard had just completed Tout va bien. The interview above was made in relation to the film. Here is the “supermarket scene” from the film:

On a side note, doesn’t Godard (in the interview clip above) look like a slightly crazed hipster? I mean it’s apparent he just had a double cappuccino before the interview and afterward will ride away on his fixed gear. Also, is that a red bathrobe he is wearing? Marxist morning dress? Leftist lounge wear?

*From Jump Cut, no. 28, April 1983, pp. 51-58 copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1983, 200. This is a great article on Godard’s movement from his Nouvelle Vague and more popular period of 1960-1968 to his more overtly political and less popular (but maybe more interesting) period of 1968-1973. Note: Julia Lesage was my thesis committee chair for my MA.

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>a little poem from Che

>Given that this is National Poetry Month, here is a poem…

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>Chomsky on the roots of libertarian socialism in the U.S.


Although I have yet to research the history that Chomsky talks about, it seems to make sense, and it highlights how much things change over time and how much we tend to lose touch with our past. I find this fascinating.

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>The Crisis Now: Harman & Harvey on our (re)current economic troubles

>Given our current economic crisis (haven’t we been here before?) maybe this would be a good time to see what the communists have to say.

Here is Chris Harman speaking on how we got into this stinking mess:

Harman references several times the talk given by David Harvey. Here is Harvey:

I have to say I like a lot of what they say (in fact I think they are often spot on), but at times they come across a little too simplistic and a little too much like they are preaching to the choir (but Harman is a hoot, ain’t he). This is where some good reading will help. This last weekend I spent about ten hours on American Airlines reading Das Capital. It’s both great and a slog. Many pages left to get through that beast. Then on to other books and more perspectives. Bye for now comrades.

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Filed under American history, curious, Life, memory, Philosophy, Politics, Socialism, technology

>Noam Chomsky: The Stony Brook Interviews Part Two


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Filed under American history, Life, non-violence, pacifism, Philosophy, Politics, religion, Socialism, war

>Noam Chomsky: The Stony Brook Interviews Part One


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>Evo Morales interview

>I was going to post this on May Day, but didn’t. This is an interesting interview with Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. He is the country’s first fully indigenous head of state in the 470 years since the Spanish Conquest.

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>the more things change…

>Consider the following paragraph below. It is from an introduction to Karl Marx’s Capital Volume 1. It was written in 1976 by Ernest Mandel. I was struck by how much it describes our current day.

Periodically the bourgeois class and its ideologues have thought they have found the stone of wisdom; have felt able, accordingly, to announce the end of crises and socio-economic contradictions in the capitalist system. But despite Keynesian techniques, notwithstanding all the various attempts to integrate the working class into late capitalism, for over a decade now the system has appeared if anything more crisis-ridden than when Marx wrote Capital. From the Vietnam war to the turmoil on the world monetary system; from the upsurge of radical workers’ struggles in Western Europe since 1968 to the rejection of bourgeois values and culture by large numbers of young people throughout the world; from the ecology and energy crises to the recurrent economic recessions; there is no need to look very far for indications that capitalism’s heyday is over. Capital explains why the sharpening contradictions of the system were as inevitable as its impetuous growth. In that sense, contrary to a generally accepted belief, Marx is much more an economist of the twentieth century than of the nineteenth. Today’s Western world is much nearer to the ‘pure’ model of Capital than was the world in which it was composed.

Of course, capitalism has had a few more years of its so-called “heyday” since 1976. But maybe we are seeing bigger cracks in the system today than in the past. And yet I don’t think we’ve seen the last of capitalism for a long time now. Marxists have been saying for more than 150 years that capitalism is going to collapse any day now, but it keeps trudging along – making some rich beyond measure.

I must also say that it was fun typing this up while listening the the soundtrack from Repo Man.

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>What is Democracy? Beyond Elections documentary

>Democracy is one of those words, like love or justice, that we all know intuitively what it means, but then again we don’t really know as well as we think. I am often surprised by how much I don’t understand democracy and its implications, let alone how it plays out in different parts of the world. Below is the the first part of a documentary on the topic of democracy in the Americas. This might be a good place to start re-examining what democracy is all about.

You see the rest of the documentary here.

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>God help us to be human: Happy Birthday Cesar Chavez


Today is the birthday of activist Cesar Chavez.

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Filed under American history, business, ethics, Politics, Socialism