Monday, September 03, 2007

"At the moment politics are more dangerous to young writers than journalism.....because writers now feel that politics are necessary to them, without having learnt yet how best to be political....writers function in a state of political flux, on the eve of the crisis, rather than in the crisis itself; it is before a war or a revolution that they are listened to and come into their own and it was because they are disillusioned at their impotence during the war that so many became indifferent to political issues after the peace" Cyril Connolly in 1938.

On the Iron Law of Oligarchy, From Political Parties; A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy written by Robert Michels in 1911:

"Organization implies the tendency to oligarchy. In every organization, whether it be a political party, a professional union, or any other association of the kind, the aristocratic tendency manifests itself very clearly. The mechanism of the organization, while conferring a solidity of structure, induces serious changes in the organized mass, completely inverting the respective positions of the leader and the led. As a result of organization, every party or professional union becomes divided into a minority of directors and a majority of directed."

Read the book here.

"Over the last twenty years there has been a systematic campaign to eliminate any figure of the worker from political space. "Immigrant" is a word that came to be used at a certain moment in this campaign. For example, one of the first Mitterand governments, the Mauroy government, during the major workers' strikes at Flins, at Citroen, at Talbot, said that these workers were in fact immigrants who were not really integrated into French social reality. The category "immigrant" has been systematically substituted for the category 'worker', only to be supplanted in its turn by the category of the 'clandestine' or illegal alien. First workers, then immigrants, then illegal aliens. If we insist that we are actually talking about workers--and whether they have worked, are working, or no longer work, doesn't represent a subjective difference----it is to struggle against this unceasing effort to erase any political reference to the figure of the worker."
Alain Badiou in a 1998 interview.
Alexander Cockburn on "Whatever Happened to the Anti-War Movement?":

"America right now is ‘anti-war’, in the sense that about two thirds of the people think the occupation of Iraq is a bad business and the troops should come home. Anti-war sentiment was a major factor in the success of the Democrats in last November’s elections, when they recaptured Congress. The irony is that this sharp disillusion of the voters owes almost nothing to any anti-war movement. To say the anti-war movement is dead would be an overstatement, but not by a large margin. Compared to kindred movements in the 1960s and early 1970s, or to the struggles against Reagan’s wars in Central America in the late 1980s, it is certainly inert."
This film portrait of Stravinsky en route to Berlin brought me back to a passage from Memories and Commentaries, by Stravinsky and Robert Craft:

"World War II had broken out in Europe when Stravinsky next entered New York harbour in September 1939 on a ship overcrowded with refugees. The steamer, the SS Manhattan, sailing from Bordeaux, was so thronged that he was obliged to share a cabin with six others, even though all seven had paid for private accommodation. Toscanini was on board, too, but they did not meet. The fiery Italian has refused to enter his cabin, since it also bunked six other passengers. Apparently he slept in the lounge. (More than thirty years later, one of Stravinsky's cabin mates, from Cleveland, returned a shirt that the composer had loaned him during the voyage.)
Unaware that Stravinsky was not seeking asylum in the country---he had a return ticket in his valise---the Immigration official who interviewed him asked the most startling question of his life: ' Do you want to change your name?' When Stravinsky laughed, the official said, "Well, most of them do.' Stravinsky himself, of course, had not remotely supposed that his intended stay for a few months would last until 1951. "
Expanded Cinema is finally back with a post on Alexandr Hackenschmied [of a rare film of his to have survived World War II]. Recent posts include Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, and Joris Ivens.