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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: July ::
Re: Exploitation, Marx, and Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1398  Friday, 14 July 2000.

[1]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 09:12:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[2]     From:   David Siar <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 10:32:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 12:31:23 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 22:02:07 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[5]     From:   Belinda Johnston <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Jul 2000 16:15:46 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1378 Re: Exploitation, Marx, and Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 09:12:08 -0500
Subject: 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Gabriel Egan wrote:

> Andrew White wrote
>
> > I would be especially curious if Dr. Egan could
> > point to a version of this lawsuit in print -- it
> > would be interesting to see how the defendants
> > accounted for themselves, if at all.
>
> G E Bentley prints bits from it in _The Profession of Player in
> Shakespeare's Time_ (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1984), the stuff about
> hired men's shortfalling pay being on pages 109-112.
>
> Bentley gives as his source a call number for the Public Record Office
> (PRO C24/500/103) and I can't find him discussing these documents about
> the lawsuit (although he discusses other documents about it) in
> _Jacobean and Caroline Stage_, so I assume that these were discovered
> between publication of JCS and 1984.  If anyone knows of a subsequent
> full transcription I'd be interested.

No full transcription has been published that I know of, but C. J.
Sisson first brought the lawsuit to the attention of the scholarly
community in 'Notes on Early Stuart Stage History', Modern Language
Review 37, 1942, 25-36.  He then discussed them much more fully (but
without full transcripts) in 'The Red Bull Company and the Importunate
Widow', Shakespeare Survey 7 (1954), 57.  Both of these articles were
published after volumes 1 and 2 of *The Jacobean and Caroline Stage*
(1941), which dealt with actors and acting companies, but before the
volumes dealing with playwrights (1956) and miscellaneous other matters
(1968).  I'm pretty sure Bentley consulted the original documents before
writing *The Profession of Player in Shakespeare's Time* (1984), because
he quotes some things that Sisson didn't mention, but neither Sisson nor
Bentley ever published a full transcript.

Dave Kathman

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Siar <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 10:32:48 -0500
Subject: 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Michael Myers wrote:

>Bottom line, rising social inequalities has nothing to do with Marx, but
>everything to do with the normal dynamics of capitalism. And whether
>the government wants to temper this normal phenomenon is a question of
>public policy. Even, if the government does nothing the situation will
>correct over a period of years [assuming the government is diligent in
>breaking up any permanent monopolies]

First, is this the Michael Myers from Saturday Night Live? Yes, I expect
that the next world war between capitalist powers in search of new
markets, more profits, and the creation of massive wealth for the very
few will correct *everything* quite nicely. Please show me when in the
last century or so has this so-called ability of capitalism to "correct"
things occurred?  (And what, by the way, do you mean by "correct"?--that
capitalism will finally wipe out the vast economic disparities that
exist between the "core" capitalist countries and the third and fourth
worlds? See Samir Amin on the impossibilties of that *ever* happening in
light of the basic contradictions between labor and capital,
"super-exploitation" of the periphery, etc.). And what are you talking
about when you say that "rising social inequalities has nothing to do
with Marx, but everything to do with the normal dynamics of capitalism"?
What do you think that Marx labored to describe and explain in the three
volumes of _Capital_, the _Grundrisse_, etc. if not "the normal dynamics
of capitalism"? Sheesh!

I'm going into the hospital tomorrow for surgery, so I'm checking out of
this conversation for now. While I'm gone, please read some Marx.

David Siar

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 12:31:23 -0700
Subject: Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Sophie, I'll try to explain again.

> It's all very well to yawn before the oh-so-wearisome catalogue of other
> people's tragedies, but I fail to understand just why people who would
> like to ignore the cruelties of Communism always bring the cruelties of
> Christianity or Islam into the equation--one does not cancel the other
> out, surely?  No-one, after all, would seek to explain or wave away the
> cruelties of Nazism thus.

You fail to credit the fundamental difference. Bad people took what was
said by Marx, Jesus, and Mohamed and appropriated their ideas to wreck
terror on the world.   Hitler took his own words and did the same.  Of
course this is an oversimplification, but it is fair to blame Hitler for
what he did.  It is not fair to blame Marx, Jesus, or Mohamed for what
others did.  I am stunned that you fail to grasp this.

> And surely we cannot pretend that Marx's ideas did _not_ serve as such an
> ideology for the Maos, Lenins, Stalins, Pol Pots and so on of the 2oth
> cent. and their devoted followers.

Nobody does, nor does anyone depute that the words of Jesus and Mohamed
served as the ideology for many other bad people.

Perhaps you can get your mind around it if I put it the opposite way.
Let's say I read your ideologist tirade against Marx and actually found
it persuasive.  Make that very persuasive, so much so that I felt the
need to extinguish all communists and socialists before they committed
mass murder.  First I go to Cuba to take out Castro and his gang.  Next
I'm going for the Cultural Materialists!

Do you really think you should be blamed for those actions?  That is
what you are saying.  Of course you don't mean it, not under these
circumstances.  No more should Marx be blamed for the actions of
Stalin.  You can't control how I appropriate your words, nor can Marx be
blamed for the human rights violations of the Soviet Union.  He wrote
something trying to make the world a better place.  Others took that and
committed mass murder.

> I distrust ideology--and ideologists,

So do I, but you leave me with the impression you are an ideologist, if
only negatively.  When you react to any thinker so resolutely, and
clearly do not understand the dynamics involved, you portray yourself as
fervently an ideologist as those you oppose.  A more informed approach,
a real understanding, could put you above this suggestion.

BTW, your rhetorical device

> It's all very well to yawn before the oh-so-wearisome catalogue of other
> people's tragedies

is extremely insulting.  You don't know how I feel about the tragedies
of others, only how I feel about your naive statements regarding the
causes of them.  I have marched for peace against two wars, been tear
gassed, had friends beaten by the police, protested outside the South
African Embassy, and been banned by my wife's bigoted family for working
for human rights, to name just a few of my exploits.  How dare you?

Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 22:02:07 -0700
Subject: 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1391 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Sophie writes:

> The point is too that _any_ ideology which reduces people to the level
> of abstractions, especially when it has the aim of making a paradise on
> earth, a paradise to be firmly described and delineated by true
> believers only, is bound to cause a terrible human tragedy. It is that
> which turns ordinary people, and not just psychopaths, into
> monsters--the failure to see others--all others-- as fully human, which
> can justify anything, however gruesome, by an appeal to ideology.

I agree, though I find it rather ironic that this is a criticism of
Mike, whose critique of the totalizing nature of certain discourses has
been made a few times on this forum.  What you're adding, I think, is a
strong sense of the fact that totalizing arguments aren't just silly,
but also potentially really harmful, since they shut out the
incommensurability of the other human being.  When we treat people as
things to be known, rather than Others to be acknowledged, we begin the
process of totalitarianism.  And nothing makes us better able to look
down on people, as objects of our knowing gaze, then an all-encompassing
theory of everything.

> And
> surely we cannot pretend that Marx's ideas did _not_ serve as such an
> ideology for the Maos, Lenins, Stalins, Pol Pots and so on of the 2oth
> cent. and their devoted followers. And the point of view which, in the
> name of the defence of said abstract ideas, forgets that all those
> boring statistics of political and ideological murder conceal real
> people, each with a name, a history, an individuality, certainly does
> nothing to endear Marx--or any other 'abstract thinker'--to me. It is
> why I distrust ideology--and ideologists, whether of the right, left, or
> in between. Some might say that is a cop-out or that everyone must have
> an ideology; but it is that I just cannot think of statistics, I'm
> afraid it's all boringly personal for me, and so it is only in works
> such as Shakespeare's that I find the truth told, in all its many,
> uncomfortable, ambiguous forms.

Well, yes, there's always someone willing to say that "it's ideology (or
whatever) all the way down" but I think that we needn't argue with such
persons, though it can be vaguely amusing seeing how they'll prove that
everything is X, like reading a particularly perverse scholastic
argument.

And I agree, following Isaiah Berlin, that the Utopianism of many
movements including Marxism, believing that paradise is achievable on
earth and just around the corner, leads to the worst horrors of this or
any other century.

The question of Marx's continuing value, I think, is a question of
whether we can "de-ideologize" Marxism. Is the Utopian element of Marx's
thought the first and last thing to know about it?  Need Marx's argument
rest entirely on itself, refusing any reference outside the system?
Could we just accept that he had a series of original observations of
social and political life which remain valid, if in need of being
further informed?

> It is no surprise that people in those countries marked by
> Marxist-inspired oppression found Shakespeare's plays so relevant and so
> real. WS' plays never forget that we are all--even the victim, even the
> oppressor, even the monster-- we are all human. And  that there are
> constant, universal truths of the conflicts in human nature   which
> cannot be described by ideology, and never  will be.  As to the
> exploitation of actors--of course they are, sometimes, in some ways, but
> then so are, and were, writers. And the word, exploitation, with all of
> its ideological connotations, doesn't even begin to describe what the
> truth of the matter is.

Another way to put this, I think, is that oppression only becomes really
vile if we acknowledge that the human beings who are oppressed have a
value in themselves, greater than their value to an economy of any
kind.  We have to stop thinking economically to judge 'the market' as
such.

I think that Levinas, in an essay entitled Ideology and Idealism, put
this nicely when he said that Marxism finds its origin in a rebellion
against reason:  "A prophetic cry, scarcely discourse; a voice that
cries in the wilderness; the rebellion of Marx and some Marxists beyond
Marxist science!"  On the other hand, the first act of Marxism is to
"demystify" all the ethics it finds, declaring it to be some sort of
bourgeois trick.  Marxism's desire to be an absolute science, without
any presuppositions outside itself, undermines its origins in a horror
before the suffering of the workers.

We need to break the tendency of Marxism to close like a loop, and keep
social causes informed by an actual concern for other people.  Breaking
this loop would not only allow us to avoid turning into monsters of
ideology, but also return Marxism itself to its original, even Holy,
concern.

Cheers,
Se

 

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