The politics of 'Casablanca': Workers' Liberty 3/65

The politics of 'Casablanca'

Published on: Thu, 13/12/2018 - 13:31

Sean Matgamna

Copy-edited and slightly modified version of text in printed paper

Casablanca, which came out in November 1942, in the first year of US participation in the Second World War, may be the most popular Hollywood movie ever made. It is at the centre of a big cult, and part of another big cult, that of its star, Humphrey Bogart.

It is a highly-burnished fable, or set of fables, about how good (though at first politically disoriented), not so good, and thoroughly bad people finally rally to "the fight against fascism" as embodied in the Allied, specifically the American, cause in World War Two.


Stalinism and its zig zags

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:03

Sean Matgamna

To understand Casablanca's subtexts, we need to look at what the Stalinists were doing in the 1930s and in 1942.

Core political Stalinism outside Russia, always and everywhere so long as it remained itself, was service to Russia, devotion to the idea that socialism was being built there and it was the duty of socialists to serve it. Everything else in their governing values and in their practical politics came lower in the political scales than that.

They would do anything, "make any alliance, pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe", to assure the

Dirty Old Town

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:59

Sean Matgamna

A vast number of popular singers have by now recorded Ewan McColl’s song “Dirty Old Town.” Luke Kelly, Liam Clancy, Esther Offarim, The Pogues, Rod Stewart (in Las Vegas!), Paddy Reilly, Van Morrison, Roger Whittaker, Julie Felix, and many others.
It is sung by Manchester United supporters at football matches. (Salford is part of Manchester).

It is a good song, I think. It was made in 1949 for performance at London’s Unity Theatre, an ancillary organisation of the British Communist Party (CP).

I met my love,
By the gas works wall.
Dreamed a dream,
By the old canal…
I heard a siren,
From the

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