Jacob Lawrence, "Magic Man," 1958
Jacob Lawrence, Magic Man (1958)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

June 5, 2006:

Idealist historiography.

It's clear that the politician has sided with the poor. Farmers, primarily. But also oil field workers, construction workers, transit workers.

His movement is strictly reform from above. Elect me, I will redistribute the wealth. Independent of any mass mobilization outside the poll.

Remarkably, he does what he promises, utilizing the standard mechanisms of patronage, gerrymandering, bribery, intimidation. Stopping short, it seems, of outright violence. Where now these weapons are wielded not to assist the rich and powerful, but the poor and oppressed.

On the ground, exacerbation of the "contradictions," until both camps are armed. On the one side the state militia, on the other, city police, corrupt sherifs, and private paramilitaries. In no sense, however, are the people involved.

Frustration: the optic is the standard liberal focus on great men, leaders, policies, the contents of people's heads. Lacking entirely a sense of the balance of forces.

So that the assassination is presented abstractly, that is independently of the relations of struggle, the act of an angry individual, despite the strongly stressed support which that action enjoys among all spectra of the privileged.