". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wiki Afraid of the Truth in Bertolucci's *1900* ?

Bertolucci's epic 1976 film (the title in Italian is Novecento, which would translate into English as Twentieth Century -- very different from the title the U.S. market gave it, 1900) follows the conflict of the great Italian landowners and the agriculture workers from the turn of the 20th century to WWII, and the years immediately following. It does so through the relationship between the son of a landowner and the bastard grandson of an agriculture labor clan, the two born on the same day in 1900.

All through the wiki description of this film, 'socialist' and 'socialism' are substituted for communist, communism. * This significantly distorts the history that the writer and director so carefully work to depict in this vast film. In the workers' community center, their homes, their schools, are frescos of the hammer and sickle, portraits of Marx, Lenin and Stalin. In Italy communism was, and still is, an active political and economic alternative. You can see why this is so, in a country where the other choices are to be oppressed by the Church, the Mafia or Fascism - Corporate interests. This is particularly true for the agricultural worker, during these decades from the turn of the 20th century through the Depression, when agricultural populism was powerfully struggling everywhere, including right here in the U.S., leading to riots, assassinations, murders and thuggery of every kind, sponsored by the Bosses and their minions, whether hired or elected.

The irony here though, is that Marx, Lenin and Stalin were not in sympathy with the agricultural worker. It was urban industrial labor that they were concerned with, and from whom the great communist movements were expected to birth their success. Yet, in history, the longest successful Communist revolution came from the nation which was the least industrialized: China, and later, Cuba. Stalin in particular declared war on the land worker -- from which came the constant hunger of so many in the Soviet countries.

So why is Wiki insisting this is socialism and not communism in this great Bertolucci film? Is it really fear, that we can't even name communism in a great film to which communism is central to the conflict, because the 'good' protagonists are so clearly communists and the bad ones are so clearly the great capitalists?

* This is striking, since the history of the medieval economic mutual assistance and governing bodies, known as communes, began in the city-states of Italy and very quickly, if not simultaneously, moved into France.

1 comment:

K. said...

Stalin not in sympathy with land workers is an understatement. See Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands for an account of the planned starvation of millions of Ukranians. Snyder illustrates convincingly that, from 1933-45, Hitler and Stalin deliberately pulverized the swath of Eastern Europe stretching from Ukraine through Poland to address political and economic needs and -- at the end -- war aims.