Monday, February 3, 2014

Virtue and Revolution

In a study on aspects of everyday life (4), Trotsky argues that the worker is trapped between vodka, the church, and the cinema. Though he sees all three as narcotics which harm the proletariat, he sets the cinema apart from the other two. Compared to going to a tavern and drinking oneself into a stupor, or attending church where the same drama is perpetually performed out of habit and monotonous ritual, Trotsky prefers the cinema, whose role is entirely different. Encountering the silver screen provides a theatricality of greater grip than that provided by the church, which seduces with a thousand years of stage experience. The cinema clothes itself in a more valuable garb than the vestments of the church and its hierarchy is more varied -- it amuses, educates, and makes a powerful impression. Trotsky says that the cinema quashes every desire for religion, that it is the best way to counter tavern and church. He suggests that the cinema should be secured as an instrument for control of the working class. In other words, Trotsky feels seductive spectacle to be essential to revolutionary discourse and practice.

(4) Originally published in Pravda July 12, 1923
Zizek and Gunjevic, "God in Pain, "Inversions of Apocalypse"

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