Friday, December 9, 2016

Earth

I just waded my way through an old Soviet era silent film called "Earth", by Aleksandr Dovzhenko.  He had been cited by Tarkovsky as an influence, and as with Bresson and Antonioni, I felt the need to check him out.  I described it to my kids as quite possibly the most pretentious things I have ever watched.

Stylistically, with the long shots on nature, on apples, on fields of grain, on scenes of people doing ordinary things, one could clearly see echoes of this work in Tarkovsky.

But it was also a propaganda film.  To the extent it had a theme, it was the overtaking of "old" ways by new motorized farming, as exemplified in a tractor, and which itself symbolized the end of personal land through coerced collectivising. The chief exemplar of the new way, the aspiring Commissar and de facto bully, was played by an actor who made him look like a serial killer who had simply not been caught yet (and who was himself killed, by a "reactionary", which is to say someone who did not want his land stolen by a snarling bunch of bullies).

You get, although this was not the intention, the patent jealousy and vindictiveness that was barely under the surface, if concealed at all, in the Soviet project.  All the riff-raff get to go steal from the rich farmers.  It would be as if in the modern day members of the poorest neighborhoods got to simply walk into the homes of the richest and take whatever they wanted.  This was a Soviet theme, and it was a Nazi theme.  Both played to the worst human instincts.

And this film was of particular interest in that it came out in 1930, some three years before Stalin starved millions in the Ukraine to punish them for not cooperating with what amounted to an effort to industrialize and thus dehumanize, the agricultural sector.  Where you had a plot of earth, however small, to call your own, now you were just one of many working on what for all intents and purposes could become an endless field.  You did not keep the fruits of your labor, and could not call anything your own.  You became a cog in an endless machine, one not operated for you, or really for anyone else.  It was simply one more way of causing you pain, which is the true purpose of all Leftisms.

It is odd that Marx saw clearly the alienation which mechanizing work brings, and yet such a process was ubiquitously undertaken in his name, at least within the Soviet sphere of influence (Cambodia and Year Zero is another story).

I feel keenly the emotional retardation and shortsightedness which underlies totalitarian impulses.  All these people--all the Communists, all the Nazis, all the Fascists in Spain and Italy--make reasonable decisions given their world views.  As one example, many people who believe in Global Warming would, if they could, have anyone who disagrees with them literally put in jail.  People who are surprised at the sundry leaks which have sprung up in their propaganda bubble want to criminalize all those who report news they have not doctored, reviewed, or been given the chance to suppress first.  Goebbels and Lenin certainly would have appreciated the irony of the people doing the lying and indoctrinating accusing everyone else of it.

All you have to do to generate authoritarianism is combine absolute certainty with political power.  The rest follows naturally.  "Errors" are punished, and nothing wrong is seen in this, since they are after all mistakes.  That true errors cannot be detected in such a system is a thought which is foreign to the system. One must elevate ones thinking a level or two, which is where true Liberalism makes its appearance.  Rule by authority is a rule by arrogance, and arrogance, as de Bono points out, is always an error in the future.

It is also odd that such atavistic emotions and thoughts should be so common among people educated in a world which exemplifies the alternative to the various Fascisms, and who are STILL too stupid to see what is literally everywhere in front of them.

I get psychopathology.  I have felt most of the emotions which underlie it, and grown beyond them.  But I continue to be puzzled at how so many people can be so stupid for so long.  No important truths are more than a Google search away.  The books are on the shelves, the documentaries on Netflix and elsewhere on the internet.  The knowledge is readily available.

One can hope that sanity somehow finds its way back into the addled minds of those who educate our young.

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