Sunday, September 30, 2007

You know the type. Those "completely demoralized elements, wearing showy bell-bottom pants and sporty haircuts."

Not sure if Jim D over at Shiraz Socialist is blogging with a straight face, but he's unearthed a quote from James P. Cannon for those of you who are sick and tired of always having to fall back on that old George Orwell quote from 'The Road To Wigan Pier'. You know . . . that one.

Yeah, I know the Cannon and the Orwell quotes are not like for like, but they both boil down to the same sentiment. To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre: "Hell is other party members."


Martin Wisse said...

Are you kidding? Sunny Jim D had his sense of humour removed at the age of three.

Darren said...

But Cannon was joking, right?

I mean, I hope so. 'cos it's a good punchline.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

"Unearthed a quote"..."Cannon was joking?"

--- unearthed from the late 1990s- AWL "basic education programme" (and probably an extract from the "History of American Trotskyism")... did Cannon have humour? He sure liked a drink, but did he like a joke?

(If the AWL ever decides to go for a central-European franchise, it might be best to inform the English comrades first about the work clothes German artisans and some workers wear - one example:

the trousers, jacket, and non-visible waistcoat are from "Manchester courdroy", the hat is from felt. The lack of facial hair is genuine - it's the film poster from "Spur der Steine", East German "socialist classic" about workers on a massive building site, Party, and class - which was banned shortly after release in 1966 (thanks to orchestrated "protests" in cinemas), re-released in 1990 and - quite rightly - an instant success. The novel of the same name, on which the film is based, remained standard school-reading material and a very, very state-approved socialist work.

Darren said...

Hello KMS,

well a few other AWLers in the comment box have begged to differ with Jim over the purpose of the quote, and heart of hearts I am hoping that Cannon was in fact just exhibiting a dry sense of humour.

Btw, in case nobody else got it, the "completely demoralized elements . . . " quote in the title of the post was from Trotsky.

What was it about Bolshevik-Sartorialism back in the day?

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Now all you need is to find that quote from Trotsky ("My life" I think) on the decline of the RSDLP post-1905 due to its members turning to other pastimes, notably pornography, instead. Is that a problem your Mensheviks have too incidentally? It's not the kind of conduct I've (until now, anyway) associated with the SPGB. And those Germans in the courdroy, fetching, don't you think? (Though maybe not in the case of GDR film and music superstar turned children's tv presenter once he defected to the west and discovered his past career counted for nowt Manfred Krug, in that link I sent before)

Darren said...


I can't access the link. Any chance of sending it as a link.?

I'd love to find that full quote of Trotsky's that you mention. ;-)

The bloke did have a way with words (and insults).

Brw, any thoughts on this film? I only heard it of yesterday when listening to the Observer's Film Podcast.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

'HTML Links?' Hmm. Hang on.
(accesses google for a brief reminder, something to do with href and brackets and things)

'Spur der Steine film poster'
'the rest of the cast, some with maybe-fake-tashes'
'yet another one of Manfred Krug, and, yes, the earrings are part of the uniform'
'and a genuine version, two of them accompanied by the mayor of some hole in a pic for their local paper ca. 2006'

(That's enough workers in uniform).

I had heard of that film you linked to - via an article in the Guardian. I'd be surprised if it reaches Germany, though, as a) the market for 'Ostalgie' bottomed out after you couldn't move for such films and television programmes about 3 years ago; b) it's a British film; c) it's probably too negative about the GDR for those people in the east who might be interested in seeing yet another 'comedy' film around the theme of Stalinism.

But you never know. Anyway, there's some other films I've been meaning to write about, and perhaps I will too. But I'll probably just chicken out and write something about train strikes and government spying of computers via internet viruses and the like, for which I can only apologise.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Hang on, Mrs. Radcliffe's Revolution has about 2 German actors in it, one of them being Katharina Thalbach, a wonderful actor who is currently being typecast as a earthy good-at-heart proletarian. I wonder what her role's like. Otherwise, it seems to have been filmed in both the UK and Hungary - which I can't understand. The real family on which the film is based moved to Halle - which has apparently barely changed since the wall came down - i.e. it's still dirty and in a right state (though most who can do so have left, and the air is breathable, unlike pre-1990). I like it there. So, they filmed it somewhere near to Budapest anyway - probably for tax reasons. They could have gone for Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic - it's not as if there's many cities left with a chemical factory in the town centre.

Darren said...


Well the film hasn't reached the States yet but it might. Weirder things (films) have happened, and 'The Lives of Others' was loved by the critics (as well as the winning the Foreign Language Oscar).

I guess the tenuous connection between the two films could be the selling pitch for an American release.

Thanks for the pics of the German workers. I think you're asking a lot of dedicated comrades in the AWL for them to seek to adopt such a dress code. ;-)

Doesn't the CPGB have a presence in the German Labour Movement? I seem to remember that one of their members writing articles on German politics in the pages of the Wekly Worker.

Maybe you could offer the comrade similar advice?

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Apart from Tina Becker, yes, I think the "CPGB" had/have someone in the WASG (then known in the media as the "Linkspartei" before the oh-so-clever PDS renamed themselves the "Linkspartei PDS"), who stood for election to their executive. Whether he got on or not, it wouldn't matter - a good percentage are SWP, I mean Linksruck, I mean "friends of the magazine Marx 21"...