Review of Melvin Bragg’s documentary on John Ball

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Review of Melvin Bragg’s documentary on John Ball
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Review of Melvin Bragg’s documentary on John Ball. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Hi Jaycee, and thank you so

Hi Jaycee, and thank you so much for your lovely article about John Ball and the Peasants Revolt as seen through the rather revolting  eyes of the deceptive BBC so famously good at trustworthy documentaries  - so democratic; so "balanced" so careful in its continuous bombardment of  viewers with the bourgeoisie's  ideological viewpoint. This they do do so well, so cleverly, that it  easily goes unnoticed.  This is in contrast with "Sky News" for example, for whom the Tories can do little wrong; or "FoxNews" whose uncritical adoration of the Republican Party often reaches moments of high comedy not understood by the programs presenters which makes it all the more hilarious. 

Jaycee wrote:
 It can be said that I am nit-picking at an otherwise good documentary to point out what we communists would guess would be the case before watching any BBC programme - which is that it’s probably not going to have a clear marxist analysis. However it is still important to point these things out because it is ultimately a question of which class inspiring events such as the Peasants’ Revolt belong to - the bourgeoisie or the proletariat, the exploiters or the exploited. The Peasants’ Revolt, although ultimately a failure, as all our movements have so far been, remains highly inspirational and needs to be appreciated as part of our struggle and our history.

Your account of the machinations of the documentary's presenter to make sure that the peasant's activities are reduced to the sort of slimy democratic mishmash which passes for politics under the dying bourgeoisie these days,  is well done. And to point out as you do that a BBC program is not likely to carry much of a "clear Marxist analysis" must be one of the decades'  most exquisitely delicious understatements.

  I doubt too whether Melvin Bragg would be overjoyed that the message you took away from his film was that the Peasants' Revolt is "highly inspirational " and can be understood as part of a wider ongoing historical movement against exploitation everywhere.

 "What? My god!  Are you sure you watched the right film? And all this talk of class as in 'to which class inspiring events does the Peasants' Revolt belong?' is really asking the wrong type of question. Class has nothing to do with it, dear boy.  It all comes down to democracy. Not class.  Like in the Scottish Referendum.  Class doesn't come into it."  [exit Melvin Bragg muttering angrily] 


thanks Fred. Yeah the BBC

thanks Fred.

Yeah the BBC type of propoganda is in a lot of ways more dangerous than the Fox News type because it is harder for people to spot. It's like bourgeois ideology in general very well hidden under the guise of 'objectivity', balance etc that all sounds so harmless and 'common sense' and is all the better to get their ideology believed in.because it enters peoples minds behind peoples thoughts and becomes part and parcel of the assumptions that go to make up the ruling ideology.


Well said Jaycee. You're

Well said Jaycee. You're right on target. 

I enjoyed the article and its

I enjoyed the article and its historical context and the exposure of the way the BBC takes up and turns everything into support for the state - there is something really Orwellian, "1984" to be specific, about the BBC  and it's no wonder that Goeballs adminred it, The Nazi's, the Stalinist's, Fox, as Jaycee says, can't compete with this level of sophistication and intelligence. The BBC is what I want to concerntrate on. Its documentaries are superbly made but there's always the kernel of bourgeois ideology that forms their nucleus. Even its wildlife stuff: You won't hear David Attenborough saying "...and behind this hill where the gorilla's romp and play people are being hacked to death by machetes". Occasionaly a documentary slips through the increasingly obvious net: one such I saw in the 70's which was about the mass strike in Poland, 1970. I think that it was written by someone in the WRP but it spoke for itself given that most of its dialogue came from the recordings that the workers made of mass meetings and of their negotiations with the state, which were broadcast to all workers. It was exhilarating. And there was another on the end of WWI about 4 years ago that showed footage of the Russian revolution that I've never seen before or since and the sailor's uprising in Kiel and strikes in Germany. Both, as far as I know, have never been repeated and nor are they likely to be. Even it's "comedy" programmes show a contempt for the working class and, more, put over a message of support for the state and its institutions. Not surprising really given the "comedy" production line from the top universities. And this week, its "even-handedness" over its blanket coverage of the party conferences is nothing but a massive programme for reinforcing democracy. Who would be interested in this garbage otherwise? All the news programmes are similar with their own particular bent. What I did notice about Channel 5 news during the attacks on the Twin Towers, was that it was about five minutes in front of the other new channels showing that its monitoring had been overlooked. It's not just that TV reflects bourgeois ideology it is part of it and it has structures within its structures that knowingly enforce "views".


I'm glad that this came up here because I've been looking for a thread where Fred, quite rightly in the context I thought, bemoaned the bad news that was going on throughout the world. This can be a factor of opporession and in fact the BBC a couple of weeks ago released a report that the number of complaints about "bad news" on the news programmes has gone up greatly and it's true that the "fluffy bunny" stories at the end of bulletins has tended to disappear while the trigger warnings, "workers might find scenes of this war disturbing" have increased . But there is another factor at work here, another role for the BBC to propagate and that is fear. It is part of the state's armoury and we have come a long way from Machiavelli. Fear, just like in the propaganda of the fascist and stalinist regimes, though much less crude, is part and parcel of the BBC's insidious responsibilities. "The world is breaking down, you are alone, there is nothing you can do about it, trust us to look after you, we are all you have in front of chaos" and so on is the message. In this respect the BBC works along similar lines to the media-savvy (see the Guardian today) propaganda of Isis that still has a lot to learn from the likes of the BBC..

The lie within the lie

This is the intractable layer of mystification. The BBC constantly hosts discussions about the second or third layer of dispute thus redefining the underlying lie as not-a-lie. This was Marx's starting point god dammit.

Earlier tonight I heard a 'serious' discussion about the MP - whose name mercifully escapes me - who defected to UKIP. His thesis at Uni. was on the Russian Revolution and so various commentators noted that he was 'a man of the people' and would always be 'a valiant leader of a people's movement'.

This is the broadcasting network that Norman Tebbit described as the bolshevik broadcasting corporation.

Oh dear.