Citizen Marx/Kane

My text on reading Capital in the cinema- with Orson Welles (forthcoming in ‘Marx at the Movies’ – edited collection [email me for details if needed]).

 

The cinema hall as a place to sell Eskimo Pie.

 

‘No matter how many customers there are, it’s still an empty building’ (Orson Welles in Welles and Bogdanovich 1998: 8)

 

This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital:– of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning – not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences, first chapters: start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things – about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities, and so much more. A vast accumulation of things that filter reading, so that it would be naïve to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.

 

The key to the beginning of volume one is where Marx starts with ‘a monstrous accumulation of commodities’ [‘ungeheure Waarensammlung’ – translation modified by author], but there are many possible starts and many people don’t get much further than chapter one, or they take chapter one as the ‘proper’ beginning. I want to suggest that there is something more here and so want to begin with something else, or even someone else, who might seem the total antithesis of the celebrated critic of the commodity system. A monstrous figure to expose the workings of monstrosity all the more (the monstrous will be explained). My reading is angular, so I choose a character from a parallel history of commerce, although glossed through a film. I have in mind William Randolph Hearst – moneybags – portrayed by Orson Welles in the classic film Citizen Kane. In this chapter, I want to develop this as an introduction to Capital, through its incarnation in the figure of moneybags Kane, and to begin to get at commodities through a focus on the kind of obscure, miniature, almost irrelevant and insignificant of objects to hand – those baubles and trinkets that mesmerise Kane, and us all.

Read the whole thing here: Citizen Marx-kane.

In the Name of the People

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The Royal African Society invites you to the launch of

In the Name of the People

Remembering Angola’s Forgotten Massacre: 27 May 1977 |Tuesday 20 May 2014, 7-8PM
Speakers: Lara Pawson, author; Ngola Nvunji, UK-based Angolan journalist and community activist; Keith Sommerville, lecturer, University of Kent. Chair: Mary Harper, Africa Editor, BBC.

On 27th May 1977, a small demonstration against the MPLA, the ruling party of Angola, led to the slaughter of thousands of people. These dreadful reprisals are little talked of in Angola today – and virtually unknown outside the country. In The Name of The People, journalist Lara Pawson’s new book, tracks down the story of what really happened in the aftermath of that fateful day. In a series of vivid encounters, she talks to eyewitnesses, victims and even perpetrators of the violent and confusing events of the 27th May and the following weeks and months. From London to Lisbon to Luanda, she meets those who continue to live in the shadow of the appalling events of 40 years ago and who – in most cases – have been too afraid to speak about them before. As well as shedding light on the events of 1977, the book contributes to a deeper understanding of modern Angola – its people and its politics. Join author Lara Pawson and a panel of experts to discuss the book and Angola’s past, present and future.

Date & Time: Tuesday 20 May 2014, 7-8PM

Venue: Brunei Suite, SOAS, WC1H 0XG

Register by clicking HERE

Film Screening and Bar Night

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from 7pm Friday 25th April

entry by donation, free popcorn and cheap drinks
hosted by Plan C London – all welcome
followed by a bar night and tunes

Finally Got the News (1970)
Produced in Association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers
dir. Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman, Peter Gessner, US, video, 55 min.

Finally Got the News is a forceful documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with the members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organisation that, unlike the UAW, will respond to worker’s problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry.

Spaces in Migration – Film Screening and Book Launch 14.10.2013

From Limit Experience:

14 October, 6pm Onwards. Cinema, RHB, Goldsmiths

An evening of film screenings, discussion examining the experiences of Tunisian migrants during and after the Arab Spring of 2011. The event which includes a drinks reception will celebrate the launch of Spaces in Migration: Postcards of a Revolution edited by Glenda Garelli, Federica Sossi and Martina Tazzioli (Pavement Books, 2013).

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Two films looking at life in the refugee camp at Choucha located on the Tunisian-Libyan border will be screened:

The first, a short made by the editors of Spaces in Migration during their visit to the camp in 2013. This will be followed by a brief discussion and introduction to the book which features interviews with those living in the camp alongside critical, philosophical reflections on the implications of various migrations and responses of European border control agencies which occurred in the wake of the Tunisian revolution together with the war in Libya. There will also be a skype link-up with Tunisian activists.

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Babylon (Exit Productions, 2012) won the top prize at the FIDMarseille festival in 2012. Directed by ismaël, Youssef Chebbi, Ala Eddine Slim, the film eschews subtitles, pushing viewers to focus their attention on the cacophony of languages and sounds encountered in the camp together with the visual, physical forms of communication which accompany and supplement oral communication.

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Attendance is free. All Welcome.

14 October 2013, 6pm.

The Cinema (small hall), Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths,

University of London.

Copies of Spaces in Migration: Postcards of a Revolution will be on sale at the discount price of £10 (list price £15.99).

‘The Advocate’ – screening and discussion [Uni of Westminster 23.10.2013]

You are invited to the screening of ‘The Advocate’ and to participate in the discussions on the role of civil liberties movements in the context of development, resistance and repression in India and elsewhere.

‘The Advocate’ documentary film on civil liberties, social movements and state in Andhra Pradesh, India

Wednesday 23 October 2013, 6.30-9pm

Venue: ‘The Pavilion’ University of Westminster, Cavendish Building
115 New Cavendish Street, London, W1W 6UW

The documentary film ‘The Advocate’ focuses on the life and work of late G. Kannabiran, India’s foremost lawyer and champion of civil liberties. The film highlights state repression including extra-judicial killings, political prisoners and violations of civil liberties of the Maoist movement that forms the context for his work in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. The context includes the socio-economic causes for the insurgency and its repression and the role of civil liberties movement in India in engaging the wider social issues. The documentary comes at a time of widespread state repression of popular movements in India including use of death penalties, rejection of clemency petitions, high numbers of political prisoners including women political prisoners, extra judicial killings, widespread use of torture, custodial rape, deployment of armed forces and lack of fair trials. The film highlights the context to the resistance and repression which, in most cases, lie in socio-economic deprivations and social polarisations. The film opens up the spaces for debate on the state of civil liberties in India, seen as the most populous democracy in the world, and more widely, the assumptions about human rights, civil liberties, economic polarisation and socio-economic deprivations more generally in other Third World countries.

Chaired by Prof Penny Green, International State Crime Initiative, Kings College London

Panelists include

Dr Radha D’Souza, University of Westminster, School of Law
Saleh Mamon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
John Hutnyk, Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University of London

Organised by CAMPACC, Development & Conflict group, School of Law, University of Westminster; International State Crime Initiative; Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

THIS IS A FREE EVENT. ALL WELCOME!

For information & RSVP contact: CAMPACC: Estella Schmid e-mail: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
Tel 020 7586 5892 www.campacc.org.uk <http://www.campacc.org.uk>

Development and Conflict Group: R. Seenivasan – ramasas@westminster.ac.uk

FILMS ON MAU MAU: THE FIRST GRADER AND ON GUANTANAMO, SHAKER AAMER 13 OCT 2013

PLEASE CIRCULATE
VENUE: BOLIVAR HALL, 54 GRAFTON WAY, LONDON W1T 5DL
Sunday 13th Ocotber; 10.20 for 11am
THE FIRST GRADER
Justin Chadwick, Ireland 2010 [12], 103 mins
This drama brings the case of the Mau Mau freedom fighters against the British to life with the story of Maruge, a villager motivated to read by the offer of free primary education. The 84-year-old pupil and his young teacher defy the underlying tensions within the local community but not before he gently educated the students about Kenya’s fight for independence. Based on the true story of Kimani Maruge and his fight for the education he could never afford.

Palm Beach international Award 2011; Emden Film Award 2011


SHAKER AAMER: A DECADE OF INJUSTICE
Mark Saunders, UK 2010 [E], 22 mins
Shaker Aamer is still held at Guantanamo bay without charges or a trial. This film documents the on-going struggle of his family with legal, political and human rights activists campaigning for his release. Although two US presidents have ‘cleared’ his release due to lack of evidence, he remains detained. What is the fear of the authorities denying his release – his knowledge of the UK government’s complicity in torture, his witnessing of the multiple Guantanamo suicides or the wider political implications of his incarceration?
Discussion led by Dan Thea, Mau Mau Justice Network, Mark Saunders and Joy Hurcombe, Chair, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign