Monday, May 12, 2008

Iran and Russian and Film Adaptations of Graphic Novels

A few quick thoughts, partially inspired by seeing Persepolis, partly by Russian history, and partly by having not had tiem during the semester to put this all down:

1. Revolutions are really good at making loyal yet less competent people into winners. This is a flaw, but it makes sense: a degree of competence in running a system is put in place only after the system has been around for a while and fixed.

2. Revolution can be way, way less sexy than punk makes it seem.

3. Nihilism parallels reactionaries/conservatives in a crude breakdown of outlook: both want to go back to the beginning. Nihilists just think we need a fresh start because any system is better than what exists, while Reactionaries (Khomeini or the slavophiles) want to go back to the beginning when everything was perfect. These attitudes work great together for destroying, but they are a terrible combination in figuring out a solution. This is another pairing that I see fitting in with Cory Doctorow's progressive/regressive apocalypse bit, which is increasingly my favorite frame of reference.

4. The horrors of a revolution only legitimize a revolutionary government for one generation, which is often exhausted and unwilling to live through another bitter struggle with the potential for things to get worse. In any period of stability, no matter how repressive, later generations will become discontent, and appeals to the sacrifice of a revolution will fall flat.

5. Repression can pay for itself through bribery or fines. If it doesn't do that, it has to actually be carried out consistently, which makes it much harder to sustain.

6. Marxism is appealing because it is about social justice and hard work being justly rewarded. It's persistent because it addresses the economics affecting injustice, and economics can be a huge, impersonal, and terrifying thing. It is flawed because economic systems and arrangements have to be entered into willing, or they will be subverted by what people are more willing to do. For all its praise of social justice, the very nature of forcing this concept on people invalidates all its moral backing, and for all its talk of sane economics, it is both time-limited and often wrong.

7. That said, it makes sense that young Marjane Satrapi has God and Marx as her moral basis, but only as a rare backdrop to the much more relevant and situationally appropriate advice of mortals.

8. Eye of the Tiger will always be the best montage song:

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