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Film and the Anarchist ImaginationExpanded Second Edition$
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Richard Porton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043338

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043338.001.0001

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Anarcho-Syndicalism versus the “Revolt against Work”

Anarcho-Syndicalism versus the “Revolt against Work”

(p.110) 3. Anarcho-Syndicalism versus the “Revolt against Work”
Film and the Anarchist Imagination

Richard Porton

University of Illinois Press

This chapter evaluates how the continuing conflict between anarcho-syndicalists and proponents of the “refusal of work” provides evidence of the animating tensions within contemporary anarchism. Harry Braverman's groundbreaking Labor and Monopoly Capital (1974) challenges many of the post-industrialists' rosier prognostications. Braverman's methodology is scrupulously Marxist, but many anarchists welcomed his probing critique of the ongoing “degradation of work.” He had little patience for the post-industrialist assumption that the “service economy” could liberate workers “from the tyranny of industry.” It is important to realize that anti-work motifs surface in films from the 1930s, while documentary and fiction films that attempt to recapture the repressed historical memory of anarcho-syndicalism were released during the 1970s and 1980s. Whether ardently syndicalist or determined to revile the labor process, all of the films discussed in this chapter demonstrate that workers' resistance has not been subsumed by late capitalist inertia. The chapter then considers René Clair's À Nous la liberté (1931), Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's Tout va bien (1972), and Elio Petri's The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971). A more recent film, Richard Linklater's Slacker (1991), is not preoccupied with active resistance to work: the film's world-weary anti-heroes do not need to be convinced of the work ethic's futility since they take the virtues of idleness for granted.

Keywords:   anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-syndicalists, contemporary anarchism, anti-work, films, labor process, worker resistance, slackers

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