Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Melodrama in the Communist Manifesto

After reading Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism and skimming through The Communist Manifesto (which was really, really, really long, like painfully long), I think the concluding paragraph in Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism summed up melodrama in relation to the Consequences of Capitalism –– melodrama is the "center of a culture war; a class conflict." Essentially, The Communist Manifesto beats a dead horse trying to reinforce the idea that the Bourgeoisie (upper class) was bad and the Proletariat (middle/working class; white collar workers) was good. In it, there were several aspects that can be singled out that displayed certain melodramatic qualities.
  • Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism writes that in melodrama, "rational will (maneuvering and exploitation) has always been permitted against enemies" (139) and even considered praiseworthy. The Communist Manifesto deems "law, morality, religion [as] bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests." Marx not only explicitly deems morality as negative, this quote also shows that even though what is "good" always persists, what is "good" is not always objectively "good." What is good or not is dependent upon the audience or storyteller (in this case, Marx).
  • Melodrama's intended audience was the white collared middle class. Old movies didn't have dialogue and "depended on pantomime with nonverbal aspects" (132), and many white collared workers didn't know how to read, thus melodrama was perfect for them. Just like melodrama, The Communist Manifesto was also directly towards the middle class. Marx claimed the bourgeoisie, who owned most of the property, were unfit to rule because they couldn't guarantee "an existence to its slave within its slavery," and thus "its fall and the victory of the proletariate are equally inevitable." In a time of rapid technological change and  widespread homeownership and payments, melodrama was showing people tied to train tracks and the middle class white collar workers thrown out for not paying mortgage on time by landowners (132). This played into Marx's purpose trying to popularize communism to overthrow these figures of authority like landowners.
  • Melodrama also "demonizes venal, abusive aristocrats" (132). As Marx continues to beat a dead horse, he tells the bourgeoise: "you are horrified at our intending to do away with private property, but in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population." The whole point of communism is to condemn aristocrats, claiming that they are harming the larger population, which is made up of the working class. He goes onto to talk more about the concept of property –– workers to not gain property through labor, and at the same time, that property serves to exploit them due to bourgeoise control. Overall, the aims of Communism: "formation of the proletariate into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat" are in line with the idea that of melodrama, which is the middle class represent virtue, and "virtue will always triumph" (135)
Overall, melodrama was a "reflection of a new reality" and encouraged "aggressive individuality" (145) which pointed towards a Communist approved society or reality.

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