Plutocracy V: Subterranean Fire

Plutocracy V: Subterranean Fire

2019, History  -   3 Comments
Ratings: 7.72/10 from 18 users.

The documentary charts the establishment of the labor unions in America as a response to the accumulation of wealth by capitalists and the poor treatment of workers. It highlights some major labor movement events of the 1920s and 30s and gives insight into the interplay between labor, race, politics and organization. It speaks to the founding of the labor movements and the radical ideas behind them.

During that time, organization became pertinent if workers were going to earn a livable wage or improve their general way of life. Unions allowed for organized action among exploited workers who shared one ultimate goal and desire to improve their standard of living and earn a livable wage. It seemed that organized cooperation on as large a scale as possible was the only way to accomplish this.

Support for the movement came in many forms. The documentary reflects on how writers and other artists presented workers as protagonists and represented a form of subtle resistance and defiance. Imperialists, fascists, and leftists chose their sides and in the post-war era, there was a brief period of economic boom. Still in the 1940s and post-WWII era, workers became more and more disadvantaged even as industries thrived. Politics played a huge role as well.

The deliberate fostering of cold-war paranoia led to McCarthyism. It created the perfect environment for Truman Doctrine and American interference in other State's affairs and it also went as far as targeting Hollywood, because anyone associated with or appreciating any content deemed communist was labeled as communists themselves.

The documentary also explores the initial radical ideas and "communist" leaders that led to the success of the union movement and offers commentary on the effects when they were arrested and eliminated. The movement was naturally permanently altered.

The basic worker's rights that exist today would not be there if not for the actions of the labor movement. Yet, it is clear there is more to be done and that could have been done. The film notes that today the richest people in the world own more wealth than the entire bottom half combined. It begs the question of how much change has actually been effected?

The other parts:
Plutocracy I: Political Repression in the USA
Plutocracy II: Solidarity Forever
Plutocracy III: Class War
Plutocracy IV: Gangsters for Capitalism

Directed by: Scott Noble

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3 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Richard Weiler

    A wonderful series.
    Each generation has to learn of the historical struggle and carry the torch for labor rights. What does the ownership class teach their children?
    Are there "us-them" psychology studies about how and why moguls, management and their enforcers work against human rights and dignity?
    The legal fiction of corporate person-hood is like "My name is Legion." Mark 5:9, Luke 8:30.
    This morning's Seattle Times, January 28, 2021 front page had an article: "Amazon seeks to block proposals on diversity, hate speech, other issues; Workplace conditions, surveillance tech also subjects of petitions."
    Thank you.

    1. Antisandman

      In the last part the recent rise of the labor movement, primarily teachers and nurses is covered. As in former crises, real and imagined, I fear the Covid crisis will be used to deflate that incipient movement. Remember Katrina was used to privatize schools in New Orleans eviscerating the teachers' union. Naomi Klein details Disaster Capitalism in her book the Shock Doctrine. I hope I am wrong but I fear I am right. I have family and personal history going back several generations to support that fear.

    2. David

      Covid lock-downs in Australia are being to prepare a clueless populace for the implementation of marshal law.

      The great depression and the 2008 GFC saw worst global growth figures in history of -.01%. During 2020, negative growth had hit a staggering -4.7%, while oil production is now in permanent decline, having exhausted over half the world's reserves.

      You go bed to escape the nightmare that you wake to every morning