Friday, March 16, 2007

After the Fact, Appropriation

Lousy Smarch weather! Our trip out of town has been cancelled, and the weekend will have to be for something other than a trip to Chicago. Tonight instead is a little chess, a little Berlioz, and a little Knob Creek. And, as is readily apparent, some blogging ...

"What is now happening to Marx's doctrine has occurred time after time in history to the doctrine of revolutionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes struggling for liberation. The oppressing classes have constantly persecuted the great revolutionaries in their lifetime, reacted to their teachings with the most savage malice, the wildest hatred and the most shameless campaigns of lies and slander. Attempts are made after their death to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to speak, and to confer a certain prestige on their names so as to 'console' the oppressed classes by emasculating the essence of the revolutionary teaching, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it. The bourgeoisie and the opportunists within the working-class movement at the moment co-operate in this 'elaboration' of Marxism. They forget, erase and destroy the revolutionary side of this doctrine, its revolutionary soul. They push to the foreground and extol what is or seems acceptable to the bourgeoisie. All the social-chauvinists are now 'Marxists': oh, please don't laugh! And it is ever more frequent for German bourgeois scholars, who only yesterday specialized in the destruction of Marxism, to speak about the 'nationa-German' Marx who allegedly educated the workers' unions which are so splendidly organized for the waging of a predatory war!"

-- Lenin, the first paragraph of The State and Revolution (trans. Robert Service)

"There are even some people who believe that thinking based on the opposition of subject and object was invented by Marx. (After all, why should they be any different in claiming Marx for themselves?) They are still arguing about what constitutes "correct" and false consciousness, for instance. Yet, consciousness must always be false if it is set in opposition to the "unconscious," emotion, and human affectivity--and as a rule, it is. [In case the context isn't enough to make this clear, Theweleit is saying "it is" empirically, referring to how people conceive of the psyche, and not laying down a piece of theoretical doxa. --ZC] "Correct" and "false" exist as potential distinctions within axiomatic systems. The science of human beings should learn to renounce such distinctions and introduce others, for instance, distinctions based on modes of production or degrees of aliveness. "Living," "dying," and "killing" are distinctions that are more adequate to reality, easier to make, and more useful (but more dangerous)."

-- Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies (vol. 1) (p. 219) (trans. Stephen Conway)

"Mr. Smith, You should really stick to Mr. Kaus' rule, never compare anything to Hitler. If you remember, Hitler despised anyone who was not of Arian descent. In fact the Germany army in their quest to conquer the world invaded Greece and occupied it in the early stages of World War II. Over 100,000 Greek Civilians died from starvation alone in the 1st year of German Occupation. I'm not so sure Adolf's Boys were too interested in glorifying the battle of Thermopylae since the Greeks would have been considered sub-human in the eyes of the Nazies."

-- comment from one Ryan Higgins to film reviewer Kyle Smith, surrounding the hate mail that came in after Smith made some apparently too-liberal remarks about Zack Snyder's 300 and its ideological or allegorical content.

(By the way: two good English-language films about Greece and WWII--Powell & Pressburger's Ill Met By Moonlight, and Robert Aldrich's The Angry Hills.)

(Above: the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, or at least by his Anglo-German team. I didn't look it up to be sure. 2006.)

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