[Howard Zinn raw #9]

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

0:04 Footage of Howard Zinn conversing with audience members before the start of the play.

8:50 The play is about to start. Music plays over a dark stage.

9:43 Karl Marx enters and unloads his belongings. He says he has returned to clear his name.

12:44 Marx launches into a story about living with his family in London. Marx says they were living in London after he was expelled from the Rhineland, Paris, and Brussels. He tells of a man called “Peeper” who followed Marx’s writings religiously and was constantly hounding Marx in his home in London. Peeper offered to translate Das Kapital into English, but Marx rejected his offer. He invited Marx to speak at the Marxist Society of London, but Marx rejected his offer, telling him “I am not a Marxist.”

17:06 Marx recounts telling his wife Jenny that his biggest fear is not that the workers’ revolution will not come, but that it will come and be taken over by men like Peeper, who will impose a new hierarchy in the name of communism and delaying the communism of freedom.

18:05 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.

19:33 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. “You call this progress? Because you have motorcars and telephones and flying machines? And a thousand potions to make you smell better? And people sleeping in the streets?”

21:38 Marx speaks further on the decay he sees in New York amidst all the obvious wealth.

23:18 Marx says after dinner, they would clear the table and he would stay up working until early morning. His wife Jenny would work across the table from him, transcribing his handwritten notes.

24:26 He tells the audience about how they pawned many of their possessions and gifts in order to stay afloat. Marx speaks to Engels’s generosity in assisting him and Jenny.

26:01 Marx corrects the record on his stance on religion. “‘…It is opium of the people.’ True, opium is no solution, but it may be necessary to relieve the pain.” He talks about the difficulties and losses he and Jenny faced living in poverty in London trying to raise their children.

28:16 Marx reflects on the Sunday picnics he took with his family when they lived in London.

28:59 Marx says his youngest daughter Eleanor was his favorite. “Imagine a revolutionary at age eight.” He tells the audience about the popular Sunday evening musical performances she organized when she was 15. He discusses her love of Shakespeare, her fiery disposition, her defense of the Jews, her support of the Irish struggle for independence and her poor taste in men.

35:33 Marx complains about his critics’ attempts to ascribe his anger towards capitalism to discomfort brought about by his boils. He dispells the notion that capitalism has become more humane since the 19th century. He praises Jenny’s assistance in dealing with his boils.

37:43 Marx talks about their housekeeper, Lenchen, who was sent to live with the Marx family in London by Jenny’s aristocratic parents. He says that she was loved by the children, but her presence led to tension between him and his wife.

38:56 Marx describes the disparity in 19th century London between wealthy and impoverished neighborhoods.

39:59 He speaks about Jenny’s praise and criticism for Das Kapital. He defends the work as an incisive analysis of capitalism, even if it is a little boring. He says she doubted that it would resonate with or even be comprehended by the people who needed to hear its message.

43:44 Marx talks about falling in love and marrying Jenny. He speaks fondly of his time spent in Paris and the people he met there.

46:13 He defends the complexity of his labor theory of value and criticizes wealth inequality in the United States.

48:10 Marx describes his lost-standing debate with the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and his involvement with the International Workingmen’s Association.

49:45 He tells the audience of Jenny’s undeviating support for female emancipation, sexual equality, and the Irish struggle for freedom. He speaks of their love for each other.

51:46 Marx condemns Stalin and the Soviet Union. He rejects the idea that the USSR represented communism.

54:58 Marx tells the audience about Mikhail Bakunin, his rhetorical attacks against Marx and Engels, and his intrusiveness.

58:31 Marx says he wanted to expell Bakunin from the First International for his utopian anarchist ideas.

1:00:00 Marx informs the audience of the events leading up to the establishment of the Paris Commune. “Paris became the first free city of the world, the first enclave of liberty in a world of tyranny.

 

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