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A Series of Five Short Films by Paul Mason on the Meaning of Marx Today
“Why does Marx matter today?” is the question posed by British journalist and filmmaker Paul Mason in five short films produced by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung to commemorate Karl Marx’s 200th birthday. Through Marx, Mason explores the topics of “Alienation”, “Communism”, “Revolution”, “Exploitation” and “The Future of Machines” in order to demonstrate how Marx, who Mason describes as the most influential thinker of the modern world, remains deeply relevant to understanding our contemporary world.
Alienation (Episode 1)
In the first of a series of five short films, British journalist and filmmaker Paul Mason searches for the roots of Marx’s thinking in Berlin, where he began his university studies in 1836. “For Marx, alienation doesn’t just mean we get depressed, we hate our jobs, or that we feel bad about the world. It means we’re constantly using our creative powers in the wrong way. We make things, but the things we make – machines, states, religions, rules – end up controlling us.”
Communism (Episode 2)
In the second episode of “K is for Karl”, Paul Mason visits the places and influences around London which contributed to Marx’s writing of the Communist Manifesto. “The year is 1847. Then, as now, London was the financial capital of the world. Here, Karl Marx set out to write a document that still has the power to inspire people and terrify the elite… the Communist Manifesto.”
Revolution (Episode 3)
“One day the people of Paris decided to stop work, build barricades and overthrow the government. That’s what we call a revolution…”. In the third episode of the series, Paul Mason travels to Paris, where Marx arrived on 8 March 1848 after being blamed for the 1848 revolutions in many European countries. Marx drew lessons from these experiences which still offer many important insights today, in the 21st century, as we fight for democracy and social justice.
Exploitation (Episode 4)
In the fourth episode of K is for Karl, Paul Mason travels to Manchester, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Here, Mason shows us how the use of human labour and the development of machinery brought about contemporary capitalism. “Capitalism, Marx said, is based on the theft of what he called alienated labour time.”
Machine (Episode 5)
In the fifth and final episode, Mason explains the importance of the machine – both for capitalism itself as well as for its potential overcoming. His discussion addresses, among other things, the famous “Machine Fragment” from Marx’s Grundrisse.