Wednesday, 27 March 2013

'The Spirit of 45': Critical review of the new Ken Loach Film

Ken Loachs new film The Spirit of  45 has been showing this week at the Moston Small Cinema at the Miners Arts and Music Centre.    The latter is an impressive small cinema entirely furbished by volunteers.   The film however is a great disappointment compared to some of his earlier works such as "Land and Freedom " and "Bread and Roses".    It  is a curious mishmash of newsreel material, reminiscences of elderly activists and a whole gamut of Trotskyists including John Rees, Alan Thornet, Karen Reisman and Tony Mulhearn as well as a few fellow travellers of the orthodox Communist left.

It is an exercise in nostalgia for the supposedly golden age of socialism under Clement Attlee and wallows in sentimentality and eulogises this era without any genuine analysis of the nature and structures of fabian socialism with its top down bureaucratic ethos and lack of genuine participatory democracy from the bottom up.   State socialists and their supporters on the authoritarian left will undoubtedly wax lyrically about this film but libertarians and anarchists will pose the question why scarcely any reference in the film to grass roots movements such as Occupy and the anti-capitalist movements based on consensual decision making.

In conclusion, this film and its director  represent a partial and tendentious effort to rehabilate state socialism with its welfarist component and keynesian economics at a time of economic austerity.   Unfortunately this model of socialism so enthusiastically endorsed by Loach has been tried and failed in post war Britain .   Bureaucratic and hierachical theories of socialism should be relegated to "the dustbin of history".   Ken Loach presumably a student of the Spanish Civil War has manifestly learnt nothing from the substantial achievements of the Confederacion de Nacional Trabajo (CNT) which is living proof that workers and peasants can develop and organise forms of collective action from the base upwards which offer a vision of how society could managed in a post capitalist world.

No comments: