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The Pinnacle of Old Left AgitProp


Gary North’s article, “Dirt Cheap: Roosevelt’s Farming Propaganda Film of 1936,” concerning The Plow That Broke the Plains, inspired me to share with our LRC community this video version of Native Land (1942), perhaps the finest (and most insidious) example of Old Left agitprop (agitation/propaganda) of the period. Purportedly the film is a resounding retrospective on the enduring value of freedom and treasured civil liberties but something else is lying beneath the powerful surface visuals and text. Nativist racist bigots, mercenary capitalists and their thuggish strike-breakers are allied in a widespread, clandestine, elaborately organized, sinister conspiracy to install domestic fascism and brutal repression in America.  Associated with this cinematic production, which Wikipedia described as

“A combination of a documentary format and staged reenactments, the film depicted the struggle of trade unions against union-busting corporations, their spies and contractors. It was based on the 1938 report of the La Follette Committee’s investigation of the repression of labor organizing.”

are among the most noted (and notorious) cavalcade of left-wing talent before and behind the screen, many who were later blacklisted. They include the famous African-American singer, actor, unrepentant Stalinist (and secret CPUSA member) Paul Robeson as narrator and vocalist; Communist Party balladeers Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie; filmmakers Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz (also associated with The Plow That Broke the Plains); screenwriter Ben Maddow; the American composer, lyricist, and librettist Marc Blitzstein; and the noted character actor (and CPUSA party member) Howard Da Silva.

10:05 am on October 28, 2017

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