Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ben Singer's take on Melodrama as expressed in the Communist Manifesto

The majority of Marx and Engel’s “Communist Manifesto” is formatted in such a way that reflects many of the themes and ideas presented in Ben Singer’s “Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism.” Marx and Engel speak to the masses, specifically the proletariats, entertaining the notion of undermining the cyclical nature of a bourgeoisie society. Singer explains that melodrama exploits the “poverty, class stratification and exploitation, job insecurity, workplace hazards, heartless contractual systems of housing and money-lending – these and similar components of the new capitalist social order,” (Singer, pp. 4) which Marx and Engel directly address throughout the manifesto. Marx and Engel stress the difficulty of everyday proletariat life, describing the working class as “a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital.” (Manifesto, pp. 18) This directly reflects Singer’s emphasis on job insecurity among proletariats, casting the working class as a group of defenseless victims subject to the ever changing economy and aristocratic authority. There is most definitely both a good guy (the hero) and a bad guy (the villain) portrayed throughout the manifesto. The “hero,” the working classes; and the “villain,” the bourgeoisie, have been in constant conflict throughout history, a conflict that has yet to be resolved. Singer explains that in every classic melodrama there is a cycle of never-ending conflict between good and bad. While problems may be temporarily resolved, in the end the cycle begins again as the working class becomes more and more restless. Yet the mere fact that Marx and Engel in fact admire the bourgeoisie (and capitalism in general) for withstanding and surviving much conflict throughout its history creates an interesting attitude towards where society should step forth in the future. Marx and Engel stress that history is merely a never-ending cycle of class struggles. The difference between this past cycle of struggles and the future is that capitalism is becoming less and less compatible with the ever-changing society. The proletariats will once again rise up, but this time they will not be defeated. Marx and Engel stress that it is time for the structure of society to change. Just as Ben Singer suggested that melodrama is a reaction to capitalism, communism is also a response to the downfalls of said political system. In this new communistic society, justice is “meted out by a higher power that never failed to reward the humble and good and eradicate or reform the greedy, lustful, and corrupt.” (137) The proletariats, or the “victims,” will receive benefits, such as receiving easier access to property. The “greedy, lustful, and corrupt” bourgeoisie will no longer control the property rights of the working class. In contrast with Singer’s melodramatic theme of "every man for himself," this new communistic society promotes every man to work together in a less competitive and cutthroat environment. 

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