[Howard Zinn raw #8]

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Scenes from Howard Zinn's 1999 play Marx in Soho.

0:05 Karl Marx reflects on the brief success of the Paris Commune and the French government’s crushing, brutal response.

1:27 Marx speaks of his drunken debates with Mikhail Bakunin on the needs and possibilities of the revolution.

4:04 “No they could not let the Commune live. The Commune was dangerous: too inspiring an example for the rest of the world. So they drowned it in blood.” Marx notes that this type of violent repression continues today: whenever people attempt to undertake a new way of life, the old order seeks to destroy it.

5:03 Marx criticizes the contemporary standards by which it is said capitalism has triumphed. He draws attention to childhood poverty, widespread unemployment and mass incarceration. “Yes, capitalism has triumphed, but over whom?”

8:08 Marx reflects wistfully on his time spent with his wife Jenny and their family.

8:54 Marx rails against national boundaries and the political conflicts fought over them. He says that while he underestimated capitalism’s ability to maintain itself, it will inevitably be rejected and society transformed. He discusses commodification and estrangement from nature, each other, and oneself. He says in order to change this, we must come together and take action.

14:46 “Let’s not speak anymore about capitalism or socialism. Let’s just speak of using the incredible wealth of the earth for human beings.” Marx makes the case for a society that addresses the needs of every single person.

16:14 The play ends and the audience applauds. Shots of audience members milling about and conversing.

17:08 Beginning of play. Karl Marx unpacks his bag on the table and tells the audience how he ended up in Soho, New York in the modern day. He says he has returned to clear his name.

20:06 Marx launches into a story about living with his family in London. He says they were living in London after Marx had upset the authorities in the Rhineland and was unable to stay in continental Europe. He tells of a man called “Peeper” who adhered religiously to Marx’s writings was constantly hounding Marx at his home in London. Peeper offered to translate Das Kapital into English, but Marx rejected his offer.

24:20 Marx speaks on his daily routine: walking to and from the British Museum, writing on political economy, bearing witness to the poverty and degradation of Soho. He says that this fueled the anger that went into writing Das Kapital.

25:42 Marx tells the audience that the inhumanity and degradation he saw in the 19th century is still here today. He condemns the pollution and poverty he sees on the streets of New York earlier in the day. He says that we have developed many new products and technologies over the past 150 years, but this does not constitute progress so long as human lives are degraded and cast away by the economic system.

28:58 He reflects on meal times with his family in Soho, where they discussed politics and the news of the day. He talks about Jenny’s support of his work and his family’s poverty. He thanks and praises Engels.

31:35 Marx corrects the record on his stance on religion. He talks about the difficulties and losses he and Jenny faced living in poverty in London trying to raise their children.

32:38 Marx speaks fondly of his daughter Eleanor and her love of Shakespeare. He goes on discussing her fiery, combatitive disposition, her defense of the Jews, her support of the Irish struggle for independence and her poor taste in men.

37:39 Marx complains about his critics’ attempts to ascribe his anger towards capitalism to discomfort brought about by his boils. He praises Jenny’s assistance in dealing with his boils.

39:41 Marx describes the disparity in London between wealthy and impoverished neighborhoods.

40:42 He speaks of Jenny’s praise and criticism for Das Kapital. He says she doubted that it would resonate with or even be comprehended by the people who needed to hear its message. He speaks fondly of his life and friends in Paris.

43:53 Marx defends his labor theory of value and criticizes wealth inequality in the United States.

45:27 He tells the audience of Jenny’s undeviant support for female emancipation, sexual equality, and the Irish struggle for freedom. He speaks of their love for each other.

46:54 Marx condemns Stalin and the Soviet Union. He rejects the idea that the USSR represented communism.

48:47 He tells the audience about Mikhail Bakunin and Bakunin’s rhetorical attacks against Marx and Engels.

50:17 Marx informs the audience of the events leading up to the establishment of the Paris Commune. “The people of Paris formed, not a government, but something more glorious, something governments everywhere fear: a commune, the collective energy of the people.” He speaks glowingly of the progress and humanity of the policies adopted by the people of Paris. He reflects on the brief success of the Paris Commune and the French government’s crushing, brutal response.

56:48 Marx speaks of his drunken debates with Mikhail Bakunin on the needs and possibilities of the revolution. He tells of a drunken wrestling match he once had with Bakunin.

59:25 Marx tells of the brutal destruction of the Paris Commune and notes that this type of violent repression continues today.

1:00:24 Marx criticizes the contemporary standards by which it is said capitalism has triumphed. He raises issues of childhood poverty, widespread unemployment, mass incarceration. “You have sent men to the stratosphere, but what of the people left on earth?”

 

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