Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 14, 2017

Andrzej Wadja’s Search for Freedom

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film,Poland — louisproyect @ 12:26 pm

When Andrzej Wajda died last year at the age of 90 after having just completed “Afterimage”, he was one of the last of the great auteurs of the 60s and 70s, leaving only Jean-Luc Godard (now 86) the sole survivor. Demonstrating their appreciation of his role in this golden age of cinema, the European Film Academy presented Wajda with a lifetime achievement award, only the third director to be so honored after Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman. His body of work would be a topic in itself worthy of consideration by CounterPunch readers but beyond his achievements as a filmmaker there is something else that recommends his films, namely their focus on one of the big political questions of our epoch–especially after a full century. What was the impact of the USSR on its own people and those like the Poles living under its control? Widely recognized as an anti-Communist director, he might be a polarizing figure to many who see the geopolitical divide as demanding alignment with the Kremlin—either pre or post-Communism. As such, his work demands attention, however you stand on this question insofar as his reputation and influence will persist long after his death. Was Wajda an enemy of communism or was his mission to create films that transcended narrow ideological considerations?

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  1. You wrote: “That story includes Mateusz’s fall from grace. After his hands failed to recover fully from the burns, he was fortunate enough to land a job as a travelling spokesman for the Communist Party’s labor union, which unlike unions in capitalist countries was designed to enforce labor discipline.” Really? Well my experience and observations of organized labour in the USA and Canada leads me to state that the vast majority of trade unions are led by class collaborators who “enforce labor discipline.” The leadership does not promote or want a mobilized militant labour movement as that would be threat to their position (job) and to the existing political-economic order ( i.e. capitalism) which they support. They have no vision of any alternative to the current system. There are a few reasons for this but one of the most obvious ones is the “Red Scare.”

    Comment by Ted — July 14, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

  2. Yes, trade unions in the West do help to enforce labor discipline but they also at times fight for higher wages, better working conditions and even against imperialist war as the UAW did in the 60s and 70s. However, in Poland it was exclusively to enforce labor discipline.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 14, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

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