Join 3,521 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Leftist Propaganda
November 20, 2005 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Leftist Propaganda video (embedded wmv) and quite well done!
posted by blue_beetle (31 comments total)

 
I didn't find anything that would constitute advocating a particularly left-wing political viewpoint. It's simply a criticism of the United States' foreign policy. A right-winger that isn't an American could have just as easily made the same points in their own self-interest.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:08 PM on November 20, 2005


More interesting is the fact that 'conservatism' or 'fundamentalism' isn't blamed -- it lays the blame at the feet of weapons manufacturers and companie sthat profit from war.

One can argue against it, certainly, but it's been a while since someone railed against the Military Industrial Complex without just meaning 'The Pentagon.'
posted by verb at 10:11 PM on November 20, 2005


Hmm. It vastly overstates its case. But there is a small kernel of truth that those in the US would rather not consider.

And I didn't see anything leftist about it.
posted by teece at 10:14 PM on November 20, 2005


I think this has been linked before.
posted by bigmusic at 10:17 PM on November 20, 2005


double post'd
posted by punishinglemur at 10:22 PM on November 20, 2005


d'oh!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 PM on November 20, 2005


Leftist? Looks more like an extreme right wing wet dream. It's hard to tell the difference between left and right on the extremes.
posted by stbalbach at 10:31 PM on November 20, 2005


If you're gonna double post, you might as well copy user/1.

(I hadn't seen this before, and was glad for the chance.)
posted by Guy Smiley at 10:59 PM on November 20, 2005


Both leftist and true.
posted by washburn at 11:15 PM on November 20, 2005


It's fundamentally a Marxist critique. That doesn't mean that a paleoconservative couldn't adopt some of the same talking points.
posted by dhartung at 11:17 PM on November 20, 2005


It's not propoganda, leftist or extreme. I would imagine this is a view held by the majority of the thinking human race because the facts support it. The middle ground has been shifted to the right by the American and British mainstream media. Incidentally is George Bush losing it?
posted by piscatorius at 11:49 PM on November 20, 2005


piscatorius, there's nothing in the definition of propaganda that says its content has to be untrue, nor its opinion held only by a minority. Propaganda is material designed to further a cause. Overt propaganda, such as this, is still propaganda.
posted by nthdegx at 12:49 AM on November 21, 2005


Note to poster: it's a little confusing to describe this as leftist in the post (which I agree with) but then only tag the post with conservative when it comes to labels from the political spectrum.
posted by nthdegx at 12:51 AM on November 21, 2005


Note to poster: it's a little confusing to describe this as leftist in the post (which I agree with) but then only tag the post with conservative when it comes to labels from the political spectrum.
posted by nthdegx at 12:51 AM on November 21, 2005


I wasn't suggesting that the film's use of truths made it immune from accusations of being propaganda. This film consciously invokes and parodies previous styles of propaganda in its coloring and its imagery, this is political art, I get the impression from their website that the authors 'Knife-Party' seem to thinks so. I'm also not sure whose agenda the film is meant to be furthering, The opinions in the film could have been expressed by any one of a large number of disparate political and religious groups despite it's Marxist tone. I think the film is highlighting a truth not promoting an agenda.
posted by piscatorius at 2:33 AM on November 21, 2005


pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to
posted by nthdegx at 2:35 AM on November 21, 2005


po-tate-oh!
posted by piscatorius at 2:46 AM on November 21, 2005


Po-tat-oes?!
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 4:07 AM on November 21, 2005


Yes, dhartung is correct, its basically a marxist critique. Marx's original analysis and critique of power has almost always been correct. But his solution was incredibly simple minded. Deliberative democracy, or jury duty for short, is probably the single best hope for any real resolution, but we'd need other ideas too, like IRV. I also like:
- direct popular control over large scale buget issues.
- mandating publication of plans, instructions, source code, etc. for patent or copyright protection (i.e. only OSS gets copyright protection).
- creating industry wide popular & deliberative bodies with veto power over the actions of corporate boards of directors; corporations grant the bodies power to obtain special privileges, like selling stock, operating radio stations, building weapons, using eminent domain (i.e. any utility, cable company, etc.).
But all of that is just details, deliberative democracy is what matters.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:35 AM on November 21, 2005


The critique is not really Marxist; it doesn't focus on America's role in a larger global capitalist imperialism. I suppose it has elements of that, in its linking of politics with economics, but that's about it.

I think it is a categorical mistake to lay the blame for war at the feet of arms manufacturers. They are in part responsible for the endless perpetration of war, but in the current world situation the reality is that wars are mostly fought for the needs of advanced global capital in general, not a specific cabal. Most wars have the aim of "stability," which means the ability of global capital to extract profit from a region's natural or industrial resources.

Calling Bush a fascist is also misleading. Fascism was a phenomenon that eradicated all democratic norms in favor of "order"; I don't think that Bush is really comparable. He is very much in continuity with the history of post-WWII US Presidents, if you are honest about their foreign policy, but has taken it to a more visible and higher level.
posted by graymouser at 5:51 AM on November 21, 2005


What's Taters, Precious?!?!
posted by Balisong at 6:05 AM on November 21, 2005


As pointed out this is a double. I got told off by the creator of the video for calling it: left-leaning - liberal - homo - communist - anti - america - terrorist-loving - freedom-hating propaganda. And I was just trying to be funny. I love stuff like this.
posted by chunking express at 7:29 AM on November 21, 2005


My tolerance for cold war era communist propaganda graphics brought magically to life backed by a soundtrack of unremarkable cliches and bland electronica must be unusually low. As gross and counterproductive simplifications go, I'd have to say that the narrator does have a charming accent. The primary innovation here appears to be replacing the term "military-industrial complex" with "war corporatism." Sexy.
posted by nanojath at 8:08 AM on November 21, 2005


it lays the blame at the feet of weapons manufacturers and companies that profit from war.

For a strong counterargument, see Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, Chapter 5: there's a section on "Economic Theories of Imperialism." Here's some extensive quotes.

... during the entire period of mature capitalism, no war, with the exception of the Boer War, was waged by major powers exclusively or even predominately for economic objectives. The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-German War of 1870, for instance, had no economic objectives of any importance. They were political wars, indeed imperialistic wars, fought for the purpose of establishing a new distribution of power, first in favor of Prussia within Germany and then in favor of Germany within the European state system. The Crimean War of 1854-56, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, the Turko-Italian War of 1911-12, and the several Balkan Wars show economic objectives only in a subordinate role, if they show them at all. The two world wars were certainly political wars, whose stake was the domination of Europe, if not of the world. Naturally, victory in these wars brought economic advantages and, more particularly, defeat brought in its wake economic losses. But these effects were not the real issue; they were only by-products of the political consequences of victory and defeat. Still less were these economic effects the motives that determined in the minds of the responsible statesmen the issue of war and peace.

So why do people believe in this theory?

What Professor Schumpeter has said of the Marxist theory of imperialism holds generally true: "A series of vital facts of our time seems to be perfectly accounted for. The whole maze of international politics seems to be cleared up by a single powerful stroke of analysis." The mystery of so threatening, inhuman, and often murderous a historic force as imperialism, the theoretical problem of defining it as a distinctive type of international politics, the practical difficulty, above all, of recognizing it in a concrete situation and of counteracting it with adequate means--all this is reduced to either the inherent tendencies or the abuses of the capitalist system. Whenever the phenomenon of imperialism presents itself for either theoretical understanding or practical action, the simple scheme will provide an almost automatic answer that puts the mind at ease.
posted by russilwvong at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2005


russilvwong:

Morgenthau's analysis of imperialism is depressingly shallow for someone who is supposedly on about the complexities of international relations. For a war to be about economics in the final analysis, there is no need for it to be about them in the first, and Morgenthau seems only interested in the first analysis. He speaks of "establishing a new distribution of power" as if such an act happened in a vacuum; as if power did not, first, spring from economic roots, and second, have economic ends. (Engels shows this in Anti-Dühring beginning in chapter 14 and continuing in chapters 15 and 16.)

In fact, Morgenthau basically concedes the point when he says: "Naturally, victory in these wars brought economic advantages...". The Marxist theory of imperialism is not that all imperialist conquest and action has to do with economic causes in the first analysis, but in the last. Morgenthau does not address this.
posted by graymouser at 11:22 AM on November 21, 2005


Incredibly eclectic host.
posted by xod at 11:24 AM on November 21, 2005


He speaks of "establishing a new distribution of power" as if such an act happened in a vacuum; as if power did not, first, spring from economic roots, and second, have economic ends.

Just because Engels argues this doesn't mean that it's true.

Morgenthau's view is that power does not in fact spring from economic roots (he discusses a number of factors which determine national power, both tangible and intangible). And the desire for power is not reducible to a desire for greater material goods and services.

Consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example. Do you think that the conflict could be resolved by simply paying people a large amount of money? It's not about the money; it's about national pride, humiliation, fear, injustice.

There are more powerful motivators than material well-being. If you don't believe this, consider the case of Osama bin Laden. He's given up the life of a playboy millionaire for the ascetic life of a guerrilla leader, living in a cave. How is this explicable by Marx and Engels?
posted by russilwvong at 11:49 AM on November 21, 2005


Just a note: I posted this because of the quality of the presentation, not necessarily because of the lucidity of the ideas put forth. That being said, I do think it gives some insight into the opinions that the people of other nations have of the United States.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:52 AM on November 21, 2005


Consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example. Do you think that the conflict could be resolved by simply paying people a large amount of money? It's not about the money; it's about national pride, humiliation, fear, injustice.

On the contrary. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes back to the logic of the settler state; the existence of Israel as a military power sympathetic to the United States is a Western check on the ability of regimes in the oil-rich Middle East to assert their independence. Israel is directly explicable in economic terms, though not principally.

There are more powerful motivators than material well-being. If you don't believe this, consider the case of Osama bin Laden. He's given up the life of a playboy millionaire for the ascetic life of a guerrilla leader, living in a cave. How is this explicable by Marx and Engels?

What is Osama bin Laden's stated motive? He is on a crusade for an Islamic caliphate, one in which he would doubtless be a hero of epic proportions and better off materially than he ever would have been in the oil business of his family.

You are accusing Marxism of a simple economic reductionism that just is not present. The Marxist view is that economic factors are the foundation of societies, and states are the superstructures. Imperialism does not have to be a up-front for profit enterprise in order to have deep economic roots. Imperialist wars are fought not just because they bring immediate cash; in many cases they are needed to establish or continue the hegemony of the advanced capitalist nations and allow them to project their influence so that finance capital can extract profits. Morgenthau's, and your, focus on the superficial aspects of imperialism do not invalidate this.
posted by graymouser at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2005


What is Osama bin Laden's stated motive? He is on a crusade for an Islamic caliphate, one in which he would doubtless be ... better off materially than he ever would have been in the oil business [actually construction business] of his family.

With all due respect, I think it's fair to describe this as "simple economic reductionism."

With respect to Marxism in general, here's Morgenthau again (subscribers only, sorry), writing in the New York Review of Books forty years ago:

... Marxism as a system of political thought and a guide to political action is today dead where it once had its greatest vitality: in Central and Western Europe. This sweeping statement is not contradicted by the fact that in France and Italy Communist candidates are supported by approximately one-fourth of the voters; for those votes are cast not so much for Marxism as a political philosophy as against the social and economic status quo. And in Germany and Austria Marxism is an historic memory altogether. One needs only compare this state of affairs with the enormous intellectual ferment—largely sterile politically, it is true—which Marxism caused in that part of the world in the Twenties, and the faith in its intellectual and moral rightness and promise which it aroused in its followers—to realize its decline, as an intellectual, moral, and political force. One of my earliest and most vivid childhood recollections is of a visit I paid with my father, a doctor, to the house of a German workingman who was dying of cancer. "Doctor," the man said, "when I am dead, will you please see to it that this book is put in my coffin," and he pointed to a small volume lying on his night table. "Was this the Bible?" I asked my father after we had left. "No, it was his Bible," my father answered with a trace of acerbity in his voice, being as class conscious as his patient was. "It was The Communist Manifesto." Can one imagine a German workingman, East or West, uttering such a last wish today?
posted by russilwvong at 1:36 PM on November 21, 2005


Except for the content it looks like something I fell asleep to in High School poli sci. So I liked it. Content not so much. But that's typical when you boil a wide array of complex issues into a short film.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2005


« Older Sharon to quit, form own party...  |  Need to know what a toad sound... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments