Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blacksgiving and Women in Film

It Was Only a Matter of Time

The execution of an unarmed and possibly handcuffed young black man, Jamar Clark, by Minneapolis police was only a matter of time.  The video on UTube is out there blurrily showing Clark to be handcuffed and the testimony of many eye-witnesses.  The Guardian count for civilians killed by police in the U.S. is over 3 a day.  The protest against the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis was later visited repeatedly by white racists, who confronted protesters again, then pulled out guns and shot 5 young black men from Black Lives Matter.  The cops told BLM that ‘that is what they wanted, wasn’t it?”

One of the fascists who shot BLM protesters
The 4th Precinct Police station is still under siege.  It is an “Occupy” scene.  Tents, fires, gas heaters, barricades and food lines full of protesters and neighborhood people limit or stop cop movement out of the front of the police station.  The street is closed.  How long will the cop’s ‘patience’ last?  They chafe at the orders of the lesbian Chief and the female mayor.  How long will BLM’s patience last?  After all, an Injustice Department examination of this issue could take months. 

The black proletariat, when roused, is a revolutionary force.  This is what the election of Obama was meant to corral, through symbolism and quarter-measures.  It is also the role of the police departments across the U.S. – to intimidate and kill black people so that no one gets out of line.  Calling the police ‘slave patrols’ and these ‘legal lynching’s’ is not far wrong.  Now both have been institutionalized by the whole capitalist state and are not just concentrated in the South. 

The third force trying to stop the development of a revolutionary black and Latino movement are the white fascists and right-populist demagogues like Donald “El Duce” Trump.  The fact that they have taken their bravado to a new level – not just beating a BLM member in Alabama during a Trump Rally, or arriving at protests with ‘open-carry’ firearms, but shooting 5 BLM folks - means that the things are reaching a new level.

Noticeable at the camp in front of the 4th Precinct is the absence of any visible military organization, though BLM does have marshals that protect rallies and marches.  No sentinels at the corners of the camp, no armbands, no communications in evidence.  The Black Panther party started as a force monitoring police violence against the Black community and developed a form of home-grown black socialism.  BLM has the potential to go that route, though it is influenced by members of the black middle class and also by some reports, money from George Soros.  All of these still have illusions as to the reformability of the police.  Remember, the BPP was upset about the same issues nearly 50 years ago.  Nothing has changed. 

Which is why police reformism is dead.  No amount of civilian review committees, body-cams, black cops, enlightened chiefs of police or better training changes this situation.  After all, it is Grand Juries and police unions with control over politicians that rule immediately.  The BPP advocated 'community-controlled policing' which would essentially end the present form of police.  This is similar to the Cuban block committees, which monitored crime.  This demands a very high level of organization in a neighborhood but also a change in the class structure of society. Both things BLM is not yet advocating.

Mayday Books pledges any support needed.

Note:  On November 30, the Democratic Party elite and their middle-class black hangers-on (what Black Agenda Report calls, "the black mis-leadership class") told the protesters to shut down the encampment in front of the police station, portraying it as a massive problem on the north side.  The liberal mayor Betsy Hodges, the slippery 'lefty' Keith Ellison, the corporate Start Tribune, millionaire governor Dayton and various preachers inveighed against the encampment.   The protesters held solid.  A few days later the cops cleared the camp.

Four Somewhat Political Films that Center on Women’s Issues 'Grandma,' ‘Sicario,’ ‘Suffragette’ and ‘MockingJay, Part II.’  (Warning, Spoilers Ahead…)

'Tis the season for political films.  ‘Trumbo’ and ‘Spotlight’ are also playing in theaters. 


This is one of the first Hollywood films to give an unapologetic and rousing defense of the right to abortion.  Lilly Tomlin plays a tough and out-front lesbian feminist. Elle Reid, who helps her too-young niece get an abortion.  Reid would probably be a hard person to live with, but if you need someone in a fight, she's it.  Hilarious, pointed and angry, Tomlin's character should wake up some of the young women who think that 'women have won' and can consequently sit back, knowing little and doing nothing.  Reid knows otherwise.


Sicario is a film about the drug war in Mexico, in which a young female FBI agent is drawn into the ‘heart of darkness’ that is U.S. anti-drug methods.  She is tricked by the CIA and perhaps DEA into participating in their efforts – to give them cover while they carry out illegal acts.  The essence is that the agents are actually working for one of the drug cartels in Columbia and revenge-killing their competition.  The ‘logic’ is to make the fight against drugs simpler, instead of a fractionated drug-delivery system. (which is what happens when you kill ‘king pins.’) This reminds one of “Operation Fast & Furious,” in which the BATF sold weapons in 2009 to the cartels in order to ‘track them.’  The most dramatic scenes are shot in Juarez, Mexico, the murder capital of Mexico – a place where not just gang members end up dead, but plenty of innocent people. 

The agent, played by Emily Blunt, eventually rebels, but signs off on their methods at the point of a gun.  Ah, naiveté.  The film asks if women are the Achilles’ heel of capitalist or government corruption.  A black FBI agent also accompanies her – another Achilles’ heel, but neither sufficient to stop the investment of the U.S. government in the failed drug war.


Notice the singular nature of the title.  This is the story of a young woman working in a laundry who becomes radicalized by her experiences and through contact with the British feminist movement of the 1900s, fighting for the right for women to vote.  She is dumped by her weak husband, loses custody of her child, is fired from her job, is made homeless, jailed several times, yet comes through to become an activist for the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU).  She participates in demonstrations, testifies before Parliament, bomb’s Lloyd George’s new house and some post-boxes and goes to Epsom Derby to protest, only to see a comrade die under the horses.  She protects a young woman in the laundry from sexual abuse by the owner – the same abuse she suffered. 

The problem in the film is that it is somewhat claustrophobic and its notion of a ‘movement’ is very tiny.  There is little understanding of broader events in society or even the time period.  The socialist movement was a big supporter of the right to vote, for instance.  The labor movement was beginning to flex its political and economic muscle. There was a left in the feminist movement that opposed WWI, represented by Sylvia Pankhurst; and a right represented by Emmeline Pankhurst that supported the war and stopped feminist activities during it.  All this was happening at the time of the film.  As is standard in films for U.S. audiences, it focuses on one isolated woman’s struggles.  The part is played by Carey Mulligan, who seems too middle-class to be a laundry-woman.  Then it moves to a very small group of activists who carry out direct action of various types, like bombings and window-breaking.  Emmeline Pankhurst, the leading middle-class Suffragette, is played by Meryl Streep for 3 minutes - an unfortunate and humorous choice. 

All women over 21 gained the right to vote in England in 1928. 

“Mocking Jay II,” (The last of the Hunger Games)

The ‘democratic’ revolution finally arrives.  All the districts are now united and Alma Coin, the head of the rebellion in District 13, orders a general attack.  Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, leads a combat group underground through Panem to assassinate the dictatorial President Snow.  (Everdeen, by the way, is the last name of the heroine of Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd,” so the name is no accident.)

Fancy Panem is now a wasteland, as the whole city has been booby-trapped by Snow.  Snow ultimately orders his well-dressed subjects to come to his palace for protection.  At the gates of the palace, what 'looks' like an imperial plane drops floating bombs, killing many children (including Katniss’ sister Prim, who is now a rebel nurse) and the resistance collapses after this war crime.  Coin subsequently postpones any election and Katniss is chosen to kill Snow with an arrow to the heart. 

Katniss figures out that the plane was actually a rebel plane, and that Coin committed an atrocity before she cancelled elections.  Bombing people who rush to aid wounded people is actually something American drone operators do.  Katniss instead shoots Coin with her arrow and the crowd kills Snow.  The 13 districts decide to have a vote right away, and the black female leader of District 2 is chosen president.

So the revolution is not in vain, as some middle class critics were trying to say, chief among them Andrew O’Hehir of  Nor is the old refrain by the Tory band, the Who, ‘Won’t get fooled again’ played out.  What is significant here is that it is now part of the popular understanding that any revolution has to be aware of the possibilities of a new bureaucracy rising, and to deal with it quickly.  Here that is done with one arrow, given this is a ‘political revolution’ in a movie that does not change the class system.

The most disturbing part of the film is what happens to Katniss after the revolution.  Her relationship with Peeta was always unconvincing, idiotic and juvenile, but then this was a YA book.  She returns to live in the empty District 12 shooting pheasants, living with Peeta and has two children, ending up dressed in a calico dress with her baby.  So a woman who has basically became the face and a fighter of a national revolution, who was chosen to execute the dictator, is now having babies and living a rural life.  Almost like the author wanted this woman to stay non-political, barefoot and pregnant. 

Reviews of books on the police – “The New Jim Crow,” and “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” an examination of the drug war, “Drug War Capitalism,” proletarian analyses of the women’s movement, “Marxism and the Oppression of Women,” and “Fortunes of Feminism,” and reviews of prior films in the Hunger Games series, below.  Use blog search box, upper left. 

Red Frog
November 26, 2015
Blacksgiving / Civil War Thanksgiving / Native American Mourning Day

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