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Chaplin and Marx

December 7, 2010

The video above is of Charlie Chaplin’s speech at the end of The Great Dictator, one of Chaplin’s most controversial films when it was made, and was made a year before the Unite States entered the Second World War. In his speech Chaplin has a very Marxist stance, he intentionally bases his character off Adolf Hitler, yet he juxtaposes this with the content of the speech, where he addresses the racial and class suppression faced by ¬†minorities in America and Europe. His message is spot on in the need for social change, the need for the working class to be able to have some upward mobility. The American Dream supposedly represented this idea of anybody for any class being able to make something of yourself, yet workers were subject to the same stringent class divisions and discrimination that they faced where they emigrated from. Yet, Chaplin’s speech got me thinking were has this change actually occurred? Now in America even though our economy is still not very strong have some of the best opportunities available to most, like public education for example. I am not saying that he united states had reached a perfect state where everything is available to all, yet my question lies in the global economy. Where were the clothes you are wearing made? Do you know of whomever made them was payed a fair wage? Are the conditions they are working safe? All questions that can not be answered. Yet, the answers are probably not very good. Now, there seems to be a global proletariat that makes the majority of the goods we consume, yet they do not seem to know. This deals with the idea in Marx in which the work we do to fulfill our needs, most importantly money, our conciseness is formed. This seems to be the case with the “global proletariat” I mention earlier, it seems to me like the oppressed work force of the Industrial Revolution, seem to have formed a conciseness that this kind of work is normal and what they are meant for. Therefore, Chaplin’s speech still applies today in a very relevant way.


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