Friday, 19 September 2008

The Working Class Goes to Heaven

Second in a series of free film screenings about going to work and going beyond it

Date: 19 September, 2008 Time: 7.00pm for 7.30pm start
Location: The Pullens Centre, Crampton St, SE17

Programme: Workers leaving the Factory by Harun Farocki followed by The Working Class Goes to Heaven by Elio Petri.

I was a piecework laborer, I followed the politics of union, I worked for productivity, I increased output, and now what have I become? I’ve become a beast, a machine, a nut, a screw, a transmission belt, a pump!

The Working Class Goes to Heaven:

Steeped in the volatile political conflicts taking place in Italy at the time, the Hot Autumn of 1969, the rejection of the compromises of the Italian communist Party (PCI), the refusal of work, factory and university occupations, Elio Petri's film The Working Class Goes to Heaven explores the struggles in the factory in all their contradictions; between consumerism and work, alienation, libidinal desire, self-destruction and, potentially, collective action. The Working Class Goes to Heaven demonstrates an impressive and inspiring illustration of the exploitation of capital society and the alienation of workers under this system. It showed us how the ruling class manipulates the ideology into people’s mind by alienating them through work, and how the workers are exploited with and without being conscious of that. Furthermore, it also gives us a sketch of the futility of reformism and the issues which will be confronted in the process of revolution. [borrowed from:]

Elio Petri, The Working Class Goes to Heaven/La Classe Operaia va in Paradiso (1971) 111 min.

Workers leaving the Factory:

Workers Leaving the Factory - such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this still existant sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home? These questions have preoccupied generations of documentary filmmakers. For the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of social conflicts. And furthermore, this sequence has become an icon of the narrative medium in the history of the cinema. In his documentary essay, Harun Farocki explores this scene right through the history of film: 'I have collected images from several countries and many decades expressing the idea "exiting the factory", both staged and documentary - as if the the time has come to collect film-sequences, in the way words are brought together in a dictionary.' Harun Farocki quoted from [arttorrents:] ">Harun Farocki, Workers leaving the Factory/Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (1995) 36 min.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Finally Got The News reading material

Compiled by Unterschreber

Finally Got the News Saturday, June 28, 8pm, £0 The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton St, Elephant & Castle, London SE17 Rare screening of documentary (dir. Steward Bird, Rene Lichtman, Peter Gessner) on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, from wildcat movement to formidable independent workers organization, inside and outside the auto factories of insurgent turn-of-the-'70s Detroit.

Shot as the events were happening, the film features interviews with participants and footage from inside the plants. With speaker Brian Ashton, ex-car industry shop steward. Below are brief descriptions (with URLs) of six online texts, which combine to form a sort of virtual 'reader' expanding on the content of the film. The first three deal directly with the the Detroit events, their historical background and immediate aftermath. The last three go further into the surrounding questions of class struggle, racial politics and industrial production and its evisceration.

1 & 2. Martin Glaberman, Black Cats, White Cats, Wildcats: Auto Workers in Detroit; Dan Georgakas & Marvin Surkin, extract from Detroit: I do Mind Dying: a Study in Urban Revolution (one url for both texts). Historical account by Glaberman of class composition in the Detroit car industry leading up to the events around DRUM/ELRUM/League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Followed by excerpt from the book Detroit: I Do Mind Dying (republished by South End Press, 2004), including a detailed and critical statement by John Taylor, a white Appalachian auto worker involved in the struggles.

3. A. Muhammad Ahmad, 1968-1971: the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Narrative of the League's genesis, activity and breakdown. Ahmad gives another version of many of the same events covered in the Georgakas/Sukin book, which he attacks for 'grossly distorting the history', also criticising the film Finally Got the News and the movement's highest-profile 'intellectual'/administrative leaders. The criticism comes from an explicitly black nationalist standpoint, but Ahmad also denounces 'the inability of the out-of-plant leaders to relate their theory to Black workers' reality, failure on their part to listen to and learn from the workers and to treat them as equals'. The intellectuals eventually ordered all members into Political Education classes; underlying the ideological split over 'the capitalist exploitation model and the colonial model', claims Ahmad, were unresolved 'social contradictions' between the college-trained 'Marxist-Leninists' and the shop floor workers.

4. James Boggs, Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook. Short book often cited as DRUM/LRBW influence, published in 1963 after Boggs broke with CLR James' Facing Reality group. Historical survey emphasises workers' struggle beyond and against unions; precocious futurecasting sections imagine a proletariat fully deindustrialized by military keynsianism-driven 'automation', with the resulting mass unemployment and race-category breakdown supposed to be a devastating and/or revolutionary force. Unworldly as the optimistic bits can sound today, there's no question about US capital's state-sponsored rush to deindustrialize, with the Detroit plants gutted and GM floundering in its core business as a health insurance/pensions fund.

5. Ferruccio Gambino, The Transgression of a Laborer: Malcolm X in the Wilderness . Essay by a former Potere Operaio militant, using FBI files to trace the metamorphoses of Malcolm X's mortal enmity towards the racial state, focusing on his life as a labourer before, during and after prison (when he became a 'grinder' at Gar Wood, Detroit).

6. Ferruccio Gambino, A Critique of the Fordism of the Regulation School. In which Gambino pulls apart the 'Fordism/postfordism' stereotype of industrial production, arguing that 'Fordism' in the only meaningful sense was defeated by the US industrial working class by 1941. Myths surrounding 'Toyotism', 'just in time' production and 'globalism' are also neatly skewered.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Finally Got the News

This was the first screening of the series

Free Film Screening - Finally Got the News

A forceful, unique documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit.

With a talk with former Ford Halewood worker and activist, Brian Ashton

Brian's talk wasn't recorded, but here is a link to an audio recording of a similar talk he gave in Liverpool with Ritchie Hunter:

When: Saturday 28th June, 7-11pm
Where: The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, Elephant and Castle, SE17

About the film:
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