Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Marx in Pop Culture

One entertaining irony about capitalism is when people profit from anti-capitalist ideas. Due to the highly negative image of communism in American culture, the ideas must be hidden in some fashion to be profitable: disguised as anarchy or countercultural ideas. This may be a result of the fact that communism and socialism actually inspire an image of dictatorship and oppression as existed in the USSR and still exists in China. The underlying ideas, however, have a great deal of artistic power. Fight Club is one example of a very popular movie within the past ten years that used communist and socialist ideas. By destroying a number of banks and credit centers, the 'proletariat' in that movie plans to erase the credit record, setting everybody back to zero and taking away the monetary power of the 'bourgeois'.

What are some examples of Marxist thought found in American pop culture that have affected you?

1 comment:

  1. I would like to post a piece of my summary of Chapter 2, dealing with Karl Marx, because I think it is relevant to your question, Michael. In talking about labor, I said:

    Although it appears that workers are “free laborers,” according to Ritzer, there is never really freedom in capitalist labor because the workers must accept the employer’s conditions, harsh as they may be. If the laborer is unwilling to accept those terms and conditions, the laborer can just move on to the next applicant in line. This caused me a great deal of frustration because it reminded me of the capitalism of war! Even those soldiers who are held as backup to substitute those soldiers who come back in body bags are called the “reserve army” just as Marx termed it. It is ironic that we use the same terms for both capitalism and war. It makes one wonder whether war is just another form of capitalism- for profit. (Ritzer 61) Also, it reminded me of the “reserve army” of illegal alien workers who are always available to work for back-breaking lengths of time for mere pennies, who our government is publicly denouncing, but secretly recruiting.

    So these are just a few examples of how I see Marx in pop culture. Also, for anyone who has seen the documentary of Walmart, of which we saw a clip in class, I have never seen a better example Marx's ideals at play. In it we saw the lives of Chinese employees working for Walmart, alienation, exploitation, and how fetishism of the commodities changes some people's lives for the worse. I must agree with Marx's partner, if I remember correctly, who said he was a genius. What better way to describe a person whose ideals have endured in truth for almost two centuries! I think Nostradamus would stand in awe.