Film-showing of ‘Palestine: What Hope Peace?’


Just prior to the Christmas holidays the CPGB-ML were pleased to host a showing of the documentary-film ‘Palestine: What Hope Peace?’ in Manchester with a live Q&A from the film’s creator Kerry-Anne Mendoza. There was a stall where people could pick up our latest Gaza leaflets as well as stickers, postcards, a copy of Harpal Brar’s excellent ‘Imperialism & War’ book and copies of the CPGB-ML pamphlet on George Habash, and one of our North West comrades provided an introduction to the event before handing over to Kerry-Anne to say a few words as this was a platform for her project.


We were very keen to show the film as the CPGB-ML has stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people since our inception and we have been consistent in our stance as a party unlike many of those groups who are only interested when Palestine makes the headlines! Kerry-Anne Mendoza is a talented and dedicated author, journalist, film maker and activist as those of you familiar with her work and as blogger of the Scriptonite Daily website will know. By travelling to us in Manchester Kerry-Anne gave us a rare and valuable insight into what is really happening in Palestine via both her own eyewitness experience and from first-hand interviews with the people of Gaza. This is the kind of truth that we will never get from the BBC with its shameful censorship and insidious campaign of disinformation and lies.

I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the converted here as regards the mainstream media though! You only have to look at news coverage to see that it is the Israeli ‘victims’ who dominate the narrative while the numerous deaths of Palestinian civilians are pushed to one side or glossed over – Palestinians merely ‘die’ while Israeli’s are ‘murdered’.

A recent and pertinent example of this skewed reporting is when three Israeli teenagers were killed by an unspecified person(s). Yet despite the fact that the bodies had been found, Zionist leaders whipped up a media shitstorm sending mobs baying for blood and vengeance by reporting that the three teens were still ‘missing’. This, apart from being seen as some bizarre justification for burning alive 16-year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, also provided an excuse for the ransacking of homes in the West Bank by occupation forces and the kidnapping of hundreds and killing of ten Palestinian people.


In ‘Palestine: What Hope Peace?’ Kerry-Anne provides us with a harrowing look at what the people of Palestine are facing day in and day out. Rather than relying on image upon image of maimed and bloodied corpses in the kind of sick, almost eroticised voyeurism and glorification of death that saturates online social networking sites, Kerry-Anne has opted to approach the situation from the point of view of a western outsider (herself!) and her reaction to what she is seeing. But she also combines this with the views of the people who live with this every day.

The images of the dead and death that are shown do not linger — in fact it is because they don’t linger that they are all the more real to us. Kerry-Anne told us that the reason she wanted to show herself as an outsider and how frightened and upset she was is because often the people she met in Gaza were so numb and so shell-shocked that the full impact of what is happening to them is almost lost. They are desensitised to a point, living under the constant threat of death, a barrage of bombs. Yet somehow they are maintaining a sense of normality even under conditions that worsen with each new attack. This is the most terrifying of all – that a community of people can live this life as though it were ‘normal’.


As well as the human element this film is set very firmly within the historical context and the history of this apartheid. Kerry-Anne spoke to us afterwards about the Israeli people who are ‘resisting’ the attacks, she said that most of these people who say they want ‘peace’ actually just want ‘quiet’ — they want no blood but are happy for the segregation, the walls and the oppression and racism to remain. People need to be aware that the Palestinians are not terrorists, they don’t have advanced weapons or an army — when Israel claims to be defending itself in actual fact what it is really defending is the illegal occupation of a country.

After the event Kerry-Anne had the chance to network with the various Palestinian campaign groups from the Manchester area and as a result another showing of the film is planned which will coincide with a tour of the film’s final cut with dates already scheduled for January and February 2015 – well worth seeing!


What we all need to bear in mind is that Palestine is not something far away that does not affect us, it is one part of a whole – every single issue is linked from Gaza, to the NHS and Bedroom Tax, Nato to fracking, fascists in the Ukraine to police brutality – these are all symptoms of the imperialist disease. This is why we have to stand in solidarity with the brave Palestinian people who are rising up against the imperialist occupiers. We need to stand against the minority of capitalists in power, those who care only for domination and maximising profit for themselves and to the detriment of the masses. We have to stop all parts of the imperialist war machine from functioning in whatever way we can be it by boycotting Israeli goods or mass action.

Stand with Gaza! Victory to the Intifada!

Superman or Stalin – who's the real Man of Steel?

Stalin Man Of Steel

Another year, another Hollywood superhero blockbuster. A film about someone with superpowers who takes down petty criminals, local gangs and the occasional super villain. The bourgeoisie has to keep us spoon fed on this kind of “culture”.

But what about real super heroes? Men and women who have given their lives in the struggle against fascism, for medicine, for science and reason over idealism and superstition. Where are the films about these heroes? Where are the Blockbusters which reflect the real life superhuman struggles of working class and oppressed people to take control of their own destiny?

Champions of the working class, men like Stalin and the Bolsheviks are the heroes for red youth. Stalin realised, unlike Superman, that the bourgeoisie’s constant willingness to cause death and destruction and poverty to pursue their own economic interests was a much worse form of criminality than the occasional act of petty theft or super villain smugness. He understood that the real super villain, the rel arch criminal was the system of imperialism itself which commits daily genocide by allowing thousands to perish of hunger and disease whilst a tiny set of parasites lives off our backs. Fundamentally, Stalin understood that ceasing to make greed a virtue in society would mean less greed, and that taking care of people’s basic needs – such as food, education, and housing – formed the foundations of a healthy, fulfilled society. Thus, he followed the Marxist train of thought: that the rule of the bourgeoisie is the rule of the greedy and corrupt, and that the removal of the bourgeoisie from their position of power and the elimination of their influence meant the removal of greed and corruption.

To understand and act on this required no special powers, only an understanding of Marxism-Leninism and the determination to create a society that worked for the proletariat rather than against them.

Stalin Stencil, Man Of Steel

man of steel

stalin britain

Django Unchained


Quentin Tarantino misses the point.

Django Unchained is a beguiling film. ‘Beguiling’ may seem an odd adjective for a Tarantino blood-fest, but despite that director’s well-known penchant for violence being well to the fore in this tale of the pre-civil-war southern states of America, the film does charm the viewer. This is chiefly because of the engaging story, which grips from the opening shots, the clever, witty and often laugh-out-loud funny script and, above all, the stand-out performance of the supporting lead, German actor Christoph Waltz.

Only lately come to US films and international stardom (and until now mainly playing villains), Waltz plays a German immigrant doctor travelling as an itinerant dentist (we are never sure of his true qualifications, if any) but in reality operating as a bounty hunter, duly authorised, we are given to understand, by the US courts to capture wanted criminals “dead or alive”.

This being a Tarantino film, the Doctor (thus we will call him, as he is called this by all in the film) never bothers even to try to catch them alive. A corpse, duly produced and identified, is sufficient to claim the bounty, and no doubt less bother to transport to show the authorities than a living prisoner, and each ‘capture’ provides an opportunity for a display of crack shooting.

The Doctor character is handsome and erudite; a funny, charming and convincing con-man (as all con-men have to be, or they would never succeed). He fools everyone until the moment after the killing, when he produces the wanted poster/warrant from his inside coat pocket.

Slavery is the backdrop against which the story of the film plays out. The film is hyped by some critics as a serious exposé of the brutal reality of the slave system in the USA, which existed, and was the basis for much of the wealth of that country, from the late 17th century until the second half of the 19th century. Is that assessment of the film justified? We would have to say that no, it is not.

The film starts with a pair of travelling slave merchants, who are moving Django and a half-dozen other slaves along a remote woodland track in rural Texas. The Doctor, in his character of itinerant dentist in a horse-drawn closed wagon complete with a large model of a molar bouncing on a spring on the wagon’s roof, hoves into view.

It appears he has been looking for these particular slavers with the object of buying Django from them. He parries the slavers’ curious enquiries and concludes the deal after he has questioned Django to confirm that he knows and could identify three brothers who were the overseers at the last plantation he worked on before being sold away by the owner.

Once the purchase is completed and verified by a signed bill of sale, at the Doctor’s insistence, an altercation arises which is resolved, Tarantino-style, by the Doctor shooting and wounding one slaver and killing the other, tossing the remaining slaves the keys to their shackles and a rifle and giving them the choice of taking the injured and helpless surviving slaver back to the nearest town (in the hope that they might get their freedom as a reward), or shooting him and escaping to “a more enlightened part of this country” where they might be free.

The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film: comedy, irony, wit, with the doctor usually getting the better of everyone he meets through his quicker wits and greater intelligence, but with every dispute being settled summarily with casual, lethal violence.

Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is needed by the Doctor because the three overseer brothers are wanted ‘dead or alive’ and are the objects of his latest bounty hunt; the Doctor does not know what they look like, but Django does. The pair find the overseer brothers working under different names at a new slave plantation.

Django turns out to be a naturally accurate marksman with pistol and rifle. Having been given his freedom as his reward for his contribution to the success of the hunt, he agrees to the Doctor’s proposal that they work together as a team as bounty hunters in the mountains of the far West for the duration of the winter, with Django taking a third of the rewards earned. The Doctor trains him and Django practises until he is a perfect shot. They spend a ‘profitable’ winter together.

The story then changes gear and becomes almost a different film. Django has told the Doctor that he and his wife were sold separately (by express order of their owner) after they had tried to run away from the plantation together. He wants to find and free his wife so they can run away together again.

The Doctor has promised to help Django after the winter, although that means going back to Mississippi, where they were sold at slave auction, in order to discover his wife’s buyer and present whereabouts. This is a mission and a place that will be very dangerous for Django as an African American (‘Nigger’ in contemporary parlance), even one now a free man and with papers to prove his new status.

There is a stand-out performance by Leonardo di Caprio as the new owner of Django’s wife, ‘Monsieur’ Candie, owner of one of Mississippi’s largest plantations, ‘Candieland’, and scion of an old, rich slave-owning family. ‘Monsieur’ Candie (his title of preference) owns a string of slaves kept specifically to fight, bare-knuckled, to the death if required, the slaves of other plantation owners in a ‘sport’ called ‘Mandingo fighting’. It is through this pastime that our heroes make contact with him.

The Doctor is shown to view with distaste the violence of a bout he witnesses with ‘Monsieur’ Candie, and also the result of the latter’s subsequent command to an overseer that the dogs be let loose to kill a Mandingo fighter slave of his caught while running away in order to avoid having to fight further bouts. Django reminds the Doctor that months before he had told Django to shoot a wanted criminal “in cold blood in front of his own son” from a safe and hidden vantage point, afterwards giving the poster to Django as a keepsake (“You never forget your first bounty”).

The twists and turns of the plot thereafter we will not reveal. It is enough to say that there is an explosion of violence and killing before Django can ride off into the sunset together with his companion.

Why do we say that this film is not a serious exposé of slavery? Because essentially it just presents the same, dominant (if not sole) message of modern American cinema in another setting: which is that any wrong can be righted by individual, vigilante-type violence.

There is no reference, even in passing, to the economic basis of slavery as a system, or of the economic basis for its eventual abolition; it just seems to be the result of wicked, callous and ‘unenlightened’ men, with the way out therefore being through ‘enlightened’ men or individual gunfights.

The organised ‘Freedom Railroad’ is not mentioned even when the context invites it, as when the doctor suggests the slaves escape from Texas (an awful long way without help from the ‘more enlightened’ parts of the country he referred to as their possible destination), or when Django recounts the story of his and his wife’s failed attempt to run away.

Django refers to his lost love as his ‘wife’ throughout, though slaves in fact had no right to marry; they might be made or allowed to breed, or used (often) by their owners for sex, but if they formed relationships of their own choice these could be and often were broken at will by their owners, as the slaves were regarded as livestock, like cattle, not fully human.

Django and his wife are shown as rare exceptions to the rule of cowed and obedient slaves. He gives no clue to the feelings of his fellow slaves, even though the brutality of the system is shown.

The ‘solution’ to slavery is totally misrepresented in Django Unchained, and not by accident. The truth, however, is that slavery became uneconomic partly because of the development of technology (which meant brute strength was no longer the prime requirement for cultivation on the plantation), and partly because of the increasing cost and difficulty of controlling the slaves and putting down their repeated uprisings.

Slavery was (and still is) a class question – in its modern manifestations, it is a feature of imperialist exploitation, which was and will be defeated only by collective action by the oppressed people themselves, who in the current conditions of imperialism can only succeed if led by the revolutionary proletariat.

Slavery in Tibet was only ended when the region was liberated following the success of the Chinese revolution and the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Bonded labour in India (slavery by another name) and outright slavery in a number of African countries have not been affected by the ‘independence’ of those countries from direct colonial rule, since their local leaders still govern on behalf of the imperialists.

So long as surplus value can be extracted from another’s labour, there will be every form of exploitation, including slavery, even in the heartlands of imperialism.

See and enjoy the film, but do not be beguiled into buying into its ‘solution’.