venerdì, marzo 27, 2009

No, seriously, now we're taking Berlin

We watched Battleship Potemkin last night. Just that sort of mood. Sometimes I can't emotionally commit to a film but just want to watch some sort of cultural document. But it turned out it was actually a film, even though it was silent and from 1925. The end made me cry. Goebbels loved it, apparently. He thought it could turn anyone Bolshevik who wasn't already strongly something else. Unsurprisingly it was banned in Nazi Germany; rather more surprisingly, it was also banned in the UK until 1954, at which point it was released with an X rating. A few chocolate-syrup blood scenes aside there's no gore, and there wasn't any move to ban other propaganda films like Triumph of the Will even at the height of the war, or, you know, that American one by Griffiths about how if you fully enfranchised black people they'd uncontrollably rape white women, the poor helpless dears, so I guess we know what that's about.

I wonder how much the working class still scares policy makers and property owners in the UK. Probably not much. The Labour party, who theoretically represented the working class, managed to sweep to a huge electoral victory after publicly castrating itself in the mid-nineties, and the public snobbery about the working class is amazing. But I guess that's the thing. The workers there don't have any impact on the means of production anymore because there are no means of production - they've all been exported, and the working class has turned into the service class. Just insecure retail or service jobs that don't mean a damn thing if you go on strike. It's pretty gross.

According to the Open Veins of Latin America, which I'm hoping to knock off on the plane tonight, because I just got The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson to read in tandem with A Social History of England by Trevelyan just to blow my mind (yes, I'm the world's biggest geek who doesn't understand math or computers) exporting industry wasn't always the British way; their constant push for free trade applied to primary resources for many years while the means of transformation stayed, aggressively, in England. Which was noticed by Ulysses Grant (sweet name) when his country opted to follow the same model for awhile:

For centuries England has relied on protection, has carried it to extremes, and has obtained satisfactory results from it. There is no doubt that it is to this system that it owes its present strength. After two centuries, England has found it convenient to adopt free trade because it thinks that protection can no longer offer it anything. Very well then, gentlemen, my knowledge of our country leads me to believe that within two hundred years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.

But a point always comes where the workers just get too scary and where protection can no longer offer anything because you've managed to create a big enough consumer class, to the point that it's worth exporting production piecemeal to export-focused economies full of people who remember what it's like to be hungry. Leaving the UK a bit of a shell when it comes to production, and increasingly the US as well. People get so het up about European protectionism in the manufacturing industries, and there is a huge and easily mocked disconnect between what is legally committed to and what is actually done here in trade terms. But there's no doubt French people or people here get more say what their government and their employer do to their lives than do British people. Oh well. Time to get ready for Berlin.

2 commenti:

Baywatch ha detto...

E. P. Thompson rules! likewise Herbert Gutman, Lewis Mumford, and Eric Hobsbawm.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Hobsbawn is next. After Trevelyan. Just to blow my mind.