The fact that the vested interests in the United States are able to rely on a well-oiled propaganda system, in which the media dutifully play their appointed role, is perhaps nowhere clearer today than in the case of Social Security privatization. From the standpoint of the establishment the truth simply will not do. If the truth were presented on Social Security, that is, if there were a responsible and independent press hammering away at the truth, against the obscene manipulation of the facts by the establishment, there would be no Social Security “crisis” and no substantial public support for even partial privatization. The idea of the failure of Social Security is a classic case of propaganda by the elite aimed at manipulating the minds of the people.
Volume 53, Issue 05 (October)
In a 1963 talk on “The Pollution of Our Environment” Rachel Carson drew a close comparison between the reluctance of society in the late twentieth century to embrace the full implications of ecological theory and the resistance in the Victorian era to Darwin’s theory of evolution: As I look back through history I find a parallel. I ask you to recall the uproar that followed Charles Darwin’s announcement of his theories of evolution. The concept of man’s origin from pre-existing forms was hotly and emotionally denied, and the denials came not only from the lay public, but from Darwin’s peers in science. Only after many years did the concepts set forth in The Origin of Species become firmly established. Today, it would be hard to find any person of education who would deny the facts of evolution. Yet so many of us deny the obvious corollary: that man is affected by the same environmental influences that control the lives of all the many thousands of other species to which he is related by evolutionary ties (Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson, pp. 244-45).
What follows is a chapter from Nora Sayre’s Running Time: Films of The Cold War (The Dial Press, 1982). We reprint it here not only to mark the untimely death of its author on August 8, but because it is a good example of a kind of radical cultural analysis distinguished by incisiveness as well as clarity, and, unfortunately, not often seen. In this selection, Sayre not only provides a critical examination of films that resisted the post-blacklist conformity of Hollywood, but she places them in the context of both larger social and historical forces, and the evolving corporate pressures of the movie business.
While the largest American audiences of 1954 watched James Stewart studying his neighbors in Rear Window, or Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge shooting it out in Johnny Guitar, or Victor Mature fondling Susan Hayward in Demetrius and the Gladiators, while many savored the inspired lunacies of Beat the Devil, there was one film that most were protected from seeing. Salt of the Earth, made independently by blacklisted writers—directed by Herbert Biberman of the Hollywood Ten, written by Michael Wilson, and produced by Paul Jarrico—was presented by the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, which had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 on charges of Communist domination. The movie was beleaguered from its inception. Filmed in Silver City, New Mexico, Salt of the Earth was based on the 1951-1952 strike by the Mexican-American zinc miners of Mine-Mill, who had demanded equality with their Anglo colleagues, as well as safety regulations on the job
Barbara Epstein’s answer to What Happened to the Women’s Movement? (Monthly Review, May 2001) explains much of the decline of the intense, exciting, radical and socialist feminist organizing of the 1960s and 1970s, with its visions of societal transformation and women’s emancipation. However, I think that she underemphasizes, or even ignores, some important parts of a comprehensive answer. These have to do with the daunting reality facing revolutionary visions, the strength of opposition to women’s equality with men, and changes in economic and political relations that now seem to require new visions and ways of organizing
I take it as given that in publishing this piece Barbara Epstein sought to stir up controversy. I take it also that her effort seeks to revive feminism, rather than to bury it. And I agree with her notion that the situation of the women’s movement should be a subject for critical analysis. But I am surprised that such an acute observer of social movements should paint a picture so isolated from the larger political and economic context. In this response I will try to add some pieces of the broader picture.
I’m very pleased that Joan Acker and Hester Eisenstein have responded to my article. Since the questions that they raise overlap, I will address their responses together. I think that the questions they have raised are important for a discussion not only of the current state of the women’s movement, but more broadly, of the current state of progressive politics in the United States. I want to thank them for having taken the discussion that I started further
Where, and how, one distinguishes between continuity and change goes to the heart of methodological differences in the social sciences, and in intellectual endeavors more broadly. In the case of globalization, there are those who stress the underlying continuity, while others claim there has been a profound disjuncture in the historical development of capitalism as a mode of production. Political implications always follow from theorization of the social world. But even when there is agreement on the dimensions of a situation there may still be profound differences over what is to be done, and where individual and organizational efforts are best directed. In the case of the overlapping conversations concerning globalization, the topic of the book under review here, this is all certainly true