Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/752/16123

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 February 2013

Film comment:

Spielberg's Lincoln by Tony Mulhearn

Patrick Ayers and Eljeer Hawkins gave a penetrating analysis of the Spielberg film 'Lincoln' (the Socialist 7-13 February). They underlined the class forces which triggered the dynamic of the struggle against slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was driven by the expanding capitalist class' imperative to destroy slavery, which was an obstacle to the development of capitalism on a national scale.

These pressures compelled him to change from an apologist for the slave-owners to an outright abolitionist. The film reveals Lincoln's qualities as a leader whose historic role at that juncture was critical.

A key focus of the film is on Lincoln's moral repugnancy of slavery which is highlighted in various speeches and anecdotes he makes to mobilise support for his objective - the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the constitution.

This declares that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In one such anecdote he relates his revulsion at seeing a boatload of slaves being transported in appalling conditions to the southern plantations.

Spielberg reveals his sympathy for Lincoln by casting the anti-abolitionists as the most repulsive collection of political hacks - on a par with today's weekly spectacle of Prime Ministers Question Time - and his supporters as timid backsliders.

One anti-abolitionist venting his hatred of the 13th amendment hysterically screams: "What's next, votes for women?" The anti-abolitionist benches explode in fury at this prospect.

Daniel Day-Lewis's towering performance makes his Bafta award richly deserved. The film identifies the pressures on a leader brought to bear by hostile class forces. His superlative performance captures these hostile pressures which are refracted through various sources.

From his wife, played by a magnificent Sally Field, who lost a son in the civil war and is desperate for the war to end even if it means cutting a deal with the Confederates to avoid sending her second son to war; from his closest advisors who demand that he retreats saying the time is not right and, of course, from the anti-abolitionists whose hatred for Lincoln is displayed as all-consuming.

Historic role

Lincoln, determined to preserve the Union as essential in developing the United States as a viable state with a prosperous future, withstands these pressures with single-minded determination to secure the vote in Congress. Lincoln uses three unscrupulous conmen who, today, would be dubbed spin doctors.

Without Lincoln the interests of developing American capitalism would probably have prevailed, but it may have stretched out over a longer period.

Lincoln's leadership at that crucial point in US history certainly sounded the death knell of slavery and hastened the development of America as a giant industrial and commercial power.

Inevitably, much is missing from the film. The movement of the masses and the 400,000-signature anti-slavery petition organised by the Women's National Loyal League, for instance. Still, this is a powerful film and a must for all those wishing to gain an insight into the role of leadership and the shenanigans surrounding the end of US slavery.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 13 February 2013:


Socialist Party NHS campaigning

'Save our A&E' - Defend the NHS

Mid Staffs hospital scandal: Big business culture kills


Socialist Party news and analysis

GCSE U-turn shows all Gove's 'reforms' can be stopped

Smash the blacklist - not the unions!

Victory over 'workfare' sanctions

Horsemeat scandal: good for profit, bad for health

"Fully funded" social care plan - still needed

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

15 February 2003: A million on the streets to stop the war


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaigning against cuts

TUSC: 'No cuts' candidate in Eastleigh

Nottingham: Campaigning for comedy without misogyny

Support the fight for a socialist alternative

Socialist Party 2013 national youth and student meeting


Socialist Party workplace news

Unison region calls for general strike

Care workers fight cuts in pay and conditions

Workplace In Brief


International socialist news and analysis

Greece: Martial law ends ferry workers' strike


Reviews and readers' comments

Low pay + high prices = debt misery

Film review: 'No' - an exercise in rewriting Chile's history

Spielberg's Lincoln by Tony Mulhearn


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 February 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Lincoln:

triangleLincoln students back UCU ballot

triangleUprising to save the NHS!

triangleLincoln Socialist Party: Who was Trotsky?

triangleWhy I'm standing: TUSC can make a real difference

triangleMy hometown lost its soul when the steelworks closed

Tony Mulhearn:

triangleCardiff Socialist Party: Tribute to Tony Mulhearn

triangleTony Mulhearn - a Eulogy

trianglePacked labour movement service a fitting farewell to Tony Mulhearn

triangleCarlisle Socialist Party: Tony Mulhearn - the making of a Liverpool Militant

Film:

triangleFilm: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

triangleWeinstein found guilty

triangleBrilliant Korean film exposes class inequality

War:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleA new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

Capitalism:

triangleFight racism and class inequality, fight capitalism!

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

3/6/20

Football

Football in the time of coronavirus - reclaim our game!

3/6/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters

3/6/20

Labour Party

Socialism Today special issue: Lessons from the Corbyn experience

27/5/20

Letters

Going viral - Socialist comments and letters

20/5/20

Obituary

Obituary: Rob Crabb

20/5/20

Letters

Going viral: letters to the editors

20/5/20

Upton Sinclair

The Jungle: capitalism's remorseless attack on workers' safety and conditions

13/5/20

Letters

Going Viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

6/5/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

6/5/20

Review

TV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?

27/4/20

Coronavirus

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters

22/4/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters

15/4/20

Letters

Going viral: Socialist comments on the corona crisis

8/4/20

Socialist Party

Labour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

7/4/20

Coronavirus

Going viral

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999