STARA ŠOLA KAPITALIZMA

o filmu

V svojem najnovejšem filmu z zgovornim naslovom se Želimir Žilnik, eden najvidnejših ustvarjalcev post-jugoslovanskega družbenokritičnega filma, odpravi v epicenter procesov, ki trenutno pretresajo srbsko družbo.
Postavi se med vrste obupanih in nemočnih delavcev, ki jih je kriminalno lastninjenje družbenega premoženja oropalo življenjskih pogojev in prihodnosti. Postavi se za hrbet izkoriščevalskih lastnikov, malih in velikih tajkunov, ki so si v brezpravju dereguliranega kapitalizma izdolbli udobne luknje. Postavi se v zakulisje oportunističnega mešetarjenja političnih elit, ki družbeni status quo vzdržujejo zgolj s pomočjo vse bolj represivnih ukrepov. Postavi se ob bok urbanim aktivistom, ki v globoki krizi vidijo priložnost za spremembe, ter intelektualcem, ki si na pogorišču zgodovinskih idej izprašujejo vest.
V svoji obsežni družbeni mizansceni Stara šola kapitalizma tako v prvi vrsti nastopa kot neposredna, angažirana, a hkrati zgodovinsko ozaveščena filmska zareza v »nova« protislovja kapitalizma v Srbiji (in seveda marsikje drugje). Zareza, ki je krčevito zvesta svojemu samoniklemu, lokalnemu počelu, hkrati pa ohranja določeno univerzalno veljavo. In kljub navidez brezizhodnemu položaju si Stara šola kapitalizma dovoli tudi mero žilavega optimizma, ko v reakcijah in dejanjih delavcev prepoznava nič manj kot ponovno prebujanje razredne zavesti.
Na drugi strani pa Žilnikova specifična, dokumentarno-igrana avtorska metoda terja tudi (ponovni) razmislek o položaju in odgovornosti družbeno angažiranega (filmskega) ustvarjalca; razmislek o pogojih avtorjevega vpisovanja v film, in hkrati razmislek o temu, kako je s filmskimi sredstvi mogoče udejanjati in precizirati podobo določene družbene realnosti, ki naj preseže ideološko redukcijo na bodisi dokumentarni, bodisi fikcijski film.

iz prve roke

STARA ŠKOLA KAPITALIZMA
Fragment scenarija
Želimir Žilnik

povzeto po reviji KINO 8/9 z dovoljenjem uredništva

SCENA U TURIJI U KUĆI TETKINOG BRATA.
Radnici dolaze u stan gazde, gazdarica uplašena daje hranu iz frižidera.
U subotu, 6. juna 2009. Prisutni na sceni: isti radnici koji posle donose klopu u krug fabrike.

Pažnja! Učesnici treba da budu obučeni, kao što su bili – kada su doneli kese sa klopom. Scena mora da se tako snimi, da ima tri mogućnosti za prekid, zbog paralelne montaže sa scenama DOGOVOR DA SE RUŠI HALA, RUŠENJE HALE, PODELA CIGALA. Ako pada kiša ili je oblačno i tamno, ti prekidi se postižu postavkom scene u stanu – fazama. I u tom slučaju, scenu početi pred vratima kuće kratkim razgovorom pod nadstrešnicom. Završiti – kada odlaze iz kuće, negde pod nastrešnicom – autobusne stanice u Srbobranu ili slično – gde će popiti pivo grupa koja se kreće ka pogonu. Ako ne pada kiša i dovoljno je svetlo: Izlazak grupe kroz kapiju koju je provalio traktor. Ostavljanje šipki i čekića, koje imaju u rukama. Hodanje ulicama i zagledanje kuće. Pred vratima kuće. Stoje, snebivaju se da zvone. Da li da provale, nenajavljeni, ili da zvone? Toma je da se provali.

Toma: Nećemo mi ništa njegovo uzimati. Samo nek kaže gde je ono što je naše. Nek pokaže račune što je prodao mašine u staro gvozdje. I nek od toga izdvoji 40% na ime naših akcija. Ne treba on da nas tapše i da se ljubimo.

Zoran je protiv toga da se provaljuje, odnosno ramenom hrupi na vrata.

Zoran: Kulturno ćemo zvoniti, reći da smo morali da dodjemo, kad on izbegava, da sednemo da razgovaramo.

Tu se svi slože.

Gazdarica otvara vrata.

Gazdarica: Dobar dan. Izvolte, koga tražite?

Radnici: Tražimo našeg gazdu, da razgovaramo.

Gazdarica: Nije kod kuće. Ako hoćete mobilni, pišite 061 1619147.

Zoran: Ne treba nam mobilni. Kad čuje ko je, gasi odma.

Gazdarica: U redu, navratite sutra izmedju 9 i 10.

Toma: Sad smo tu, čekaćemo ga.

Gura vrata i ulazi u predsoblje. Gazdarica iznenadjena, povlači se.

Svi se skupe u predsoblju.

Radnici: Evo, ovde ćemo ga čekati. Vi samo radite svoje poslove.

Rez. Gazdarica dolazi do njih sa skuvanim kafama.

Gazdarica: Udjite, sedite da popijete kafu, pa ako Živa ne dodje, najbolje je to odložiti za sutra.

Zoran: Ne treba kafa, dal je slobodno da zapalimo cigare ovde?

Gazdarica: Samo izvolte.

Stoje i puše. Ćute. Gledaju. Tokom tog čekanja, sa gornjeg nivoa čujemo gazdinu ćerkicu da svira violinu.

Grupa sluša. Čuju, kroz vrata, gazdaricu, koja je frustrirano podviknula ćerki da prestane.

Gazdarica: Prestani sa vežbanjem i idi u svoju sobu. Zar ne vidiš šta se dešava u kući?

Prestaje svirka.

Jedan od gostiju: Gospodjo, nama muzika ne smeta. Nemojte grditi dete.

Gazdarica kaze ćerki: Dodji ovamo, sviraj skale, mozda će ih to oterati.

Mala je dole, u dnu stepenica. Svira. Kad završi – gazdarica iznervirana sto je „delegacija” i dalje tu.

Gazdarica: Izvinite, ja ću morati da zovem policiju.Vi nas ugrožavate. Dete je u šoku!

Jedan od radnika prilazi, uzme violinu: Nemojte to raditi. Mi smo doprineli da udobno živite. Samo pre tri godine, vi ste živeli u kući lošijoj od moje.

Gazdarica izbezumljena, nervozna. Odlazi do frižidera. Histerično ga prazni u kese najlonske. Dete joj pomaže. Kese donose do „delegacije“.

Gazdarica: Evo, spakovala sam sve što sam kupila vašim novcem.

Radnici su zbunjeni. Dete daje kese onom koji drži violinu. On uzima kese, vrati violinu. Oni stoje sa kesama u rukama.

Gazdarica: Eto, to je od mene, a sa gazdom morate napraviti tačan i konačan obračun. Molim vas, ja i dete sa svim tim nemamo ništa!

Radnici se povlaće ... po malo skenjani. U prolasku kroz Srbobran, treba imati jednu situaciju da su stali ili seli negde na klupu.

Zoran: Sramota je ljudi što smo ovo uzeli.

Toma: Šta sramota! Ona nam je natrpala u ruke, video si kolko se trese, jer zna da živi u pokradenom. Daj da vidimo šta tu ima.

Nalaze pivo, svako uzme po jedno. Zoran neće, kao prvo bi da otvori – pa onda vrati. Ali od Tome uzme jedan gutljaj.

izjave kritikov

Stara škola kapitalizma: Da li radnik misli?
Branimir Stojanović

povzeto po reviji KINO 8/9 z dovoljenjem uredništva

Kako razumeti anketu sa radnicima u epohi tranzicije? Odnosno, kako razumeti davanje mogućnosti govora radnicima, koji su ideologijom tranzicije isključeni iz skupa ljudi koji imaju pravo da govore, odnosno sposobnost da misle. Šta više globalni trend, još od ranih osamdesetih, od momenta kada neokonzervativna revolucija vodi kampanju protiv radnika, poručuje: biti radnik je pozicija idiota; radnik je idiot koji je sebe doveo u situaciju da bude radnik; radnik nema šta da kaže pošto ne misli – da misli ne bi bio radnik!

Drugim rečima, pozicija ankete koja pokušava da dodje do toga šta radnik misli i čija je osnovna pretpostavka da radnik misli pokušava da napravi distancu i prema reakcionarnom talasu koji isključuje radnike iz polja onih koji misle i govore, odnosno da napravi oštar rez sa paradigmom klasne svesti, dakle paradigmom koja uvažava postojanje radnika ali smatra da u ime radnika neko drugi treba da misli i govori.

Forma filma Stara škola kapitalizma Želimira Žilnika je anketa sa radnicima u Srbiji. Radnici u Srbiji ne rade, zapravo zaposleni su, dolaze na radno mesto ali nemaju posla i neplaćeni su, oni zapravo imaju radnu obavezu bez ikakvog radnog zadatka, tako da neispunjavaju osnovni preduslov ankete. Naime, nisu radnici, odnosno mesta na kojima rade nisu fabrike nego neka vrsta socijalnih prihvatnih centara sa radnom obavezom da ne rade. Samim tim prostor fabrike je postao metafora društva u tranziciji, a ne mesto politike radnika. Drugim rečima radništvo u Srbiji je zatočenik: ili klasne paradigme, radnici su uvučeni u društvene antagonističke borbe koje nisu u ime politike radnika, ili uloge podržavaoca ideologije tranzicije, pošto veruju da bi podrška ideologiji nove vladajuće klase mogla zaposlene sa neplaćenim radnim mestom pretvoriti u radnike.

Sylvain Lazarus, antroplog imena, militant Političke organizacije i najveći mislilac politike našeg doba, neposredni predhodnik Žilnikove metode ankete, je kroz anketu-istraživanje otkrio izum radnika u francuskim fabrikama, koji su kroz preskripciju rešavali naizgled nerešivu zagonetku otudjujućeg izbora: otpremnina ili zatvaranje fabrike. Naime, na otudjujuću dilemu koja je radnike u Francuskoj stavila u situaciju iznudjenog izbora radnici su odgovarali sa: ni … ni , dakle ni jedno ni drugo nego: pravo radnika da sam prebrojava ko je radnik. Drugim rečima, radnici otudjujuću dilemu pred koju su stavljeni ne rešavaju birajući jedno od dva ponudjena rešenja, odnosno ne sukobljavju se sa vlasnicima fabrika oko interpretacije prirode spora niti zastupaju društveni utopizam klasne svesti, već zastupaju sasvim jednostavno pravilo: Samo zbor radnika o čijoj se sudbini odlučuje ima pravo da odluči ko je radnik a ko nije, pošto je dilema pred koju su stavljeni, zapravo bila način da vlasnici prebrojavaju one koji su za otpremninu i one koji su za zatvaranje fabrike, čime su preuzeli pravo zastupanja odnosno brojanja. Dakle, svako ko prisvaja pravo reprezentacije i brojanja radnika nije više radnik, drugim rečima u polju rada nema reprezentacije, zbor radnika je prisustvo bez reprezentacije i ono samostalno odlučuje o svojoj subini. Otkriće, da prisustvo radnika u radnom procesu isključuje mogućnost reprezentacije i da se radnici broje jedan po jedan medjusobno bez operatora brojanja, je otvorilo prostor za pojavu politike radnika.

Ova veliko dostignuće samobrojanja radnika u njihovoj prisutnosti, jedan po jedan, otvara veliku perspektivu politike prisustva bez reprezentacije, zapravo otvara jednu potpuno novu dimenziju vremena koja je vezana za prisustvo, a to je kategorija sadašnjosti. Sadašnjost je uvek do sada mišljena kao prošla sadašnjost ili buduća sadašnjost odnosno sadašnjost je uvek ostajala nemišljiva zapravo, bila je neko neodredjeno ništa izmedju prošlosti i budućnosti, s tim da su prošlost i budućnost zapravo kategorije potpuno suprotne od sadašnjosti i vezane su za istorijsko vreme, za koje znamo da ne postoji kategorija mogućnosti pošto je istorija isključivo vezana za nižnost i postojanje. Sadašnjost je vezana za mogućnost i u ovako mišljenoj sadašnjosti ne važe ni nužnost ni postojanje, ali se baš zato otvara prostor za izricanje preskripcije koja je otkrila politiku radnika. Dakle, kategorija sadašnjosti, prisutnost bez reprezentacije, je mesto produkcije politike radnika.

Stara škola kapitalizma uvodi kategoriju sadašnjosti u filmski prostor i u polju vizuelnog otvara mogućnost svojevrsnog prisustva bez reprezentacije. Dakle, mesto sa koga Žilnik snima film je mesto kreacija prostora za sabiranje aktualnog mnoštva koje pokušava da formira prisustvo bez reprezentacije, mnoštva koje se bori da organizuje radnički zbor u uslovima stvarnosti tranzicionog društva u Srbiju. Medjutim, to mesto ostaje nenastanjeno i stalno je devastirano prividnim kratkotrajnim uspesima koji su ništa drugo do serija tragičnih nesporazuma. Radnici u Srbiji su: čas lunpenproleteri spremni da unište fabriku i zauvek onemoguće prostor u kome bi povratili identitet i poziciju radnika, čas kalkulanti, koji koriste naivne političke aktiviste, da im ispune najprimitivnije fantazije osvete a koje odmah nakon toga žrtvuju rešavajući ih se kao balasta koji bi mogao da detektuje da su imali neke druge namere sem da pribave sebi hleb, sanjari koji sanjaju iste snove sa tranzicionim tajkunima, reakcionarna gomila nesposobna za solidarnost – jednom rečju šverceri vlastitih života.

I pored toga Žilnik ustrajava da sa njima ostane do kraja i ni jedan momenat ne ispušta mogućnost koju je otvorio pozicijom apsolutnog prisustva u mnoštvu, dakle čuva prostor za pojavu radnika i njihove politike. Ovaj nesklad izmedju prostora koji je otvoren za mogućnost politike radnika i stvarnosti politike bez radnika je rascep u kome propada i nestaje čitava stvarnost.

Fikcijski deo filma je tu samo u funkciji giljotine koja mora da odseče glavu lošoj beskonačnosti koja se u nedogled ponavlja.

Drugim rečima, Stara škola kapitalizma je prvi film koji misli film bez reprezentacije odnosno film koji narativ uvodi samo da bi onemogućio bilo koju uzurpaciju mesta koje je otvorilo prostor za pojavu politike i vizuelnog bez reprezentacije, dakle otvara mesto koje je mesto politike radnika i demokratije mnoštva za koje još nemamo ni ime ni slike ni koneptualni aparat.

The Potential of the New in The Old School of Capitalism
Ernest Larsen

povzeto po reviji KINO 8/9 z dovoljenjem uredništva

For anyone interested in — let alone committed to — the politics of film, Želimir Žilnik’s Old School of Capitalism will bear and abundantly repay the most intense scrutiny. There are only a very few films in any period with the nerve to stay right on the serrated edge of everyday life as it is in fact being lived by so-called ordinary people, those who earn their daily bread, and next-to-none that I know of so attuned in such detail to its deep betrayals and its brief triumphs. Old School of Capitalism is so densely packed and so thoroughly immersed in the unpredictable flow of ongoing events it could also be called The Here and the Now and yet, perhaps paradoxically, the film races ahead of the tumultuous surfaces of the cacophonous present to predict unexpected collisions. The film begins on April 29, 2009 at a demonstration in Belgrade called by the Independent Workers Union of Serbia against the government’s collaboration in the ruinous privatization of the economy, against the train-wreck reign of the tycoons. The camera captures a ricocheting, sometimes heated, but unresolved argument about which system of lies is less degrading: the old scoundrel state socialism or the new(-er) crooked capitalism. It is clear to all that the new(-er) bandits are even more ruthless: as we know to our intense regret every time we try to cross the boulevard of broken dreams the profit motive recognizes no brake on its rapacity. Some testify that the socialist state at a minimum made some promises it sometimes struggled to keep. Once the names of Putin and Obama are tossed like Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum into the wrangle, it’s also become clear that what’s been happening to them — to the workers struggling to support their families in the towns and cities of Serbia — is also a distorted microcosm of the contortions of global capital as it sweeps aside all lingering obstacles. Thus the energies and acute frustrations the arguers expend in the argument amid the bleats and sirens and applause of the demonstration should also be microcosmic: because as a group (rather than individually) they know what they are talking about. In other words, each spirited speaker is wrong in the sense of being irremediably partial but is nevertheless true to himself and so taken as a group (as indeed they take themselves, at least provisionally), they approximate or are attempting to shape a totalizing view of the intolerable situation in which they all find themselves. In any case, these men have real faces. One would never mistake them for actors. So, agree with them or agree to disagree, we cede them credibility. Already, Žilnik’s method has done its work on us. The reality effect which is both documentary’s glory and its Achilles heel has got us. Žilnik’s method is to presume no break, none at all, between the representation of the real and the representation of that something else which could be called the reality of the imagined.

At last one gaunt and impatient worker, with an impeccably lined and weathered face, speaks up, “Listen, if you don’t fight, you won’t get anything.” After not being paid for two years, he says, “We tore down one of our factory buildings” in his own village. The film then plunges with a straight cut into what turns out to be its first clearly narrative move, a lengthy flashback. But most viewers will not be sure of their ground for awhile. Instead, for some few seconds or minutes, they will be asking themselves the wrong but vital question: Is this real? By refusing to recognize any break Žilnik produces instead a continuum between the form of fact and the form of fiction (the imaginary). The confident presumption of a radical indistinction between the real and the imagined takes effective advantage of the latent if divergent potential of both documentary and fiction film to depict innovative action, which is to say, deliberate and credible but surprising interventions into the otherwise seamless texture(s) of the everyday. In getting viewers to put themselves in the position of asking the wrong question in the right way (displacing themselves from their own comfortable apprehension of what is presumed to be the real) Žilnik takes control of this ambivalent feeling of the potential for things to be suddenly and radically different. (Eisenstein, Vigo, Buñuel, Pontecorvo, Francesco Rosi, among others, have all achieved similar effects by grasping both for the real and the imagined at the same time and twisting. Think, in this respect, of the sudden collapse of the building in Rosi’s Hands Across the City.)

To demonstrate is to indicate publicly through the physical presence (the speech, movement, and gesture) of a (more-or-less) united group an indefinite potential for a future action. Sometimes — all too rarely, in fact — a demonstration turns into that act (a process analyzed in detail in Harun Farocki’s Videograms of a Revolution, when a huge demonstration in Bucharest moves from the potentiality of an action to the action itself, with the inchoate but successful aim of deposing Ceaucescu). Demonstrations are, then, most often, rehearsals for action that never occurs. They are a collective form of theater, which gives them their aspect of secular ritual. As I said, Žilnik places some of his actors (who since they are not professionals are non-actors acting) into this framework of public representation and then abruptly cuts to a scene in which workers bulldoze through the gates of a factory. However, this framework of public representation sustains much of the rest of the narrative, as it shuttles between present and very recent past, between this real demonstration against the bankruptcy of the system to which the film repeatedly returns and the increasingly risky substance of a fictional workers revolt.

Žilnik has taken the often sodden genre of the docu-drama by the scruff of the neck and shaken it loose of its dreary accumulation of excruciating histrionics and faux-immediacy. In so doing he has laid bare for our exhilarated attention the heretofore all too humble genre’s extraordinary capacity for exponential expansion of the dynamics between the apparently real (the docu-) and the apparently made-up (the –drama). In Žilnik’s hands, that little hyphen becomes a mighty sword. It is fortunately far too simple to say that the real provides the ground and the fictional the leap into the air. This is a film about praxis that in its working method and structuring embody praxis in ways that exceed that word’s complex Marxist history and links it to the long and equally complex anarchist history of direct action, not least in the sense that direct action counts as a disciplined and yet unpredictably spirited interventionist nexus of theory-in-practice at moments of great historical stress. The fictional narrative hinges on the sometimes cooperative, sometimes contentious relationship built between the rebellious workers and a group of young anarchosyndicalists who offer them support. And the non-fictional narrative is built around both the union demonstration and the circumstances attending an actual factory occupation in nearby Zrenjanin that began the previous year.

Žilnik’s group of workers in revolt engage in a series of half-bumbling actions intended to regain what’s been stolen from them — from which they harvest very little more than their dignity, which in some ways ought to be enough, and yet isn’t really, since we all have to eat and even to play to feel human. This quizzical and eternally unfulfilled relation between need and desire receives an all but heartbreaking treatment early on. Following the bulldozer invasion of the factory grounds, the workers-in-rebellion discover that the factory building has been stripped bare of all its machinery by the bosses. After the tumult of the demonstration and the uproar of the crash through the factory gates there follows a very acutely observed letdown: a number of quiet close-ups of faces stripped bare of illusion. The hollowness that follows upon disappointed hopes has seldom been evoked as effectively.

The next sequence crosscuts between the gathering cooperative destruction of the building along with the orderly stacking of the extracted bricks (to build homes for the workers) and what happens with the delegation of workers who troop off to the boss’s home to confront him, only to find that he’s not there. When they decide to wait, the boss’s young and self-possessed daughter encouraged by her conniving mother to bore the trio of restively suppliant workers silly by playing scales on her violin — instead entrances them. Need and desire trade places — and we can only gain by realizing that it’s not always so easy to tell the difference between the two. Never sacrificed (with the ironic asperity that’s also never absent from a Buñuel film) is the unbridgeable gulf of class privilege: the workers’ children, as one comments, are in no serious danger of ever being able to learn how to make such music. The counterpart to this scene follows: at the half-demolished factory building they come upon a cache of expensive (U.S.) football equipment, including shoulder-pads and a ball — and commence playing. When, a bit later, the boss and his thugs show up to try to force them off the factory grounds, the workers are still wearing the protective equipment — and successfully fight them off. The playful aggression of sports, of team vs. team, is replaced by actual aggression.

As we all know but at times forget video’s (often squandered) technical advance on film was and is its fidelity to the lived moment, the tenuous almost palpable illusion of the present. Old School, shot in high definition video (usually with two cameras) on a minuscule budget, does not squander this great advantage. Žilnik’s working method exacts from his nonprofessional actors, who mostly play close versions of themselves, a continuous and usually seamless interplay between the real and the scripted — and, it might be said, the script by which they have become accustomed to imagining their own lives. While this is a film in which every face, every gesture, every speech matters in its unsparingly vivid and often hilarious indictment of the rule of capital, Old School is structured on the telling absence of a singular hero (and singular villain, for that matter). Instead what Žilnik has here produced — or should I say assembled bit by bit? — is a stirring proof of the continued existence of a collective subject, just when some of us have grown a bit weary reading a number of surreptitiously joyful obituaries of the same. In so doing he has resolved in cinema a dramatic problem that largely eluded Brecht in theater. Gone (deep sigh of relief) is the apparatus of the exemplary (i.e. abstracted or reified) model hero or any of his/her cousins, gone also the chorus, the mob, the caricature, etc. which have been wearing us down and out since Eisenstein ruled the roost. The wretched genre of the docu-drama turns out to provide the room the wretched needed to thrive as a many-sided, contradictory, collective subject in itself.

When the resisting workers are wearing themselves out trying to crack open a safe they’ve extracted from their boss’s home, the group of young anarcho-syndicalists appear, which is also the point at which the workers’ relatively spontaneous but certainly untheorized approach to direct action wears thin. What Žilnik then undertakes to test at first plays like a half-improvised slapstick comedy (as the anarchists undertake to prove that they can play hardball and agree to kidnap the bosses) and then fearlessly switches gears into a gloves-off denunciation of the tied-up tied-down bosses. At this point in the plot, the anarchists and the workers embody a collective struggle that moves beyond immediate needs to grasp (and to reinstate) the implicit if only incipient utopian potential in the Serbian workers revolt, a potential historically squandered and negated by the ideology of socialism. The kidnapped bosses play upon the workers’ lingering suspicions of their new anarchosyndicalist allies’ motivations — and on their residual cynicism once the word ‘revolution’ gets tossed in the air. The anarchists and the workers may have much the same intentions but their rhetoric is by no means the same. When the workers permit themselves to betray the anarchists it’s in large part because they cannot quite trust themselves and their own deep needs for systemic change.

Old School often sweeps abruptly, almost effortlessly from local uproar — the factory, the demonstration, the field, the Mayor’s office — to the national/global conditions that have produced that uproar. In addition to scenes shot in the streets of New York City during the first week of the global financial crisis which rapidly depict simultaneous labor unrest and gathering panic outside the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, one of the film’s major characters is a stylized low-comic version of a dangerously corrupt Russian would-be tycoon, who wears an electronic GPS device on his suspenders that can call in a troop of Russian thugs to rescue him when necessary. Furthermore, the narrative pacing is almost shockingly nonstop. This breathtaking strategy — in which something new is introduced in scene after scene — echoes capital’s primary lesson, which is never to allow the wretched of the earth to have both feet firmly planted on the ground at the same time.

How much further off-balance are we then pushed when what we believe to be the main plot-line suddenly fizzles, when the bosses are freed and an uneasy handshake truce is struck with the workers while the anarchists are carried off by the Russian thugs? Praxis as the experientially rare concatenation of theory-in-practice has sputtered on the workers’ easily awakened suspicion of the privilege of the intellectual — or so it seems. As the central anarchosyndicalist character named Ratibor (played by an anarchosyndicalist who was jailed just after Old School’s premiere on a trumped-up and false accusation of state terrorism) rattles out, upon being challenged in the park following the demonstration, “We shouldn’t just influence their consciousness, we need to fight for a revolutionary practice which will create it.”

However, does the presumed shortfall of political consciousness tell the whole story? Isn’t it all too familiarly the case that the anarchists act from choice (from desire, that is) while the workers act on the basis of necessity? And the workers feel they should have known how the anarchists are funded in order to trust them fully — which Ratibor, upon encountering them in the park (the fiction at this point returns at last to the present moment of the demonstration), accounts for adequately. But the workers’ loss of resolution at the key moment is seen, not as a deep betrayal (which, to be sure, bourgeois dramatic narrative would routinely dictate), but as no more than one uncertain moment in a longer process — as Ratibor optimistically indicates, there will be other moments in which they will be able to join forces.

The apparent dramatic climax of the film which Žilnik has constructed is, in fact, on a political level, rather than simply an aesthetic or filmic level, falsely climactic: praxis continues to unfold, the film goes forward. U.S. Vice-President Biden makes a state visit to Belgrade and Ratibor takes the visit as a golden opportunity to burn the American stars-and-stripes in protest against U.S. imperialism. Once again Žilnik telescopes or in fact overlays the real and the fictional here: Ratibor did burn the U.S. flag upon Biden’s visit and was arrested and spent some time in jail for his act. Once having seen Ratibor’s (real) protest play itself out on television the (fictional) workers are finally and fully satisfied that the anarchists are for real — their anger and opposition to the state is not merely rhetorical or opportunistic. Another chance is generated for an alliance, for praxis to come into play one more time, for the enhanced collective subject (this particular worker/anarchist grouping) to awaken. Žilnik’s refusal to entertain any dynamics but those that constitute the collective effectively voids the dramatic unfolding of individual betrayal or, for that matter, any portrayal of individual solutions or resolutions to collective problems. The fatal stumbling block of the psychological is simply never engaged — which the breakneck pacing and sheer density of the film help to render superfluous: it is, as we are well aware, ordinarily through acute shades of psychological portrayal that we (as individual subjects of the collective dream of cinema) are led willy-nilly to believe in the notions of depth, of profundity.

This time the workers, who are still being exploited by the very same bosses, this time not in the factory but on the farm, seek out the anarchists. The alliance is made, at last on equal and unequivocal terms — but in the denouement, in the field as dusk gathers, the savage and remorseless machinery of exploitation intervenes one more time. The abrupt ending is characteristic: as it fades out the film still has us by the scruff of our collective neck.

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fotografije

podatki o filmu

Stara šola kapitalizma (Stara škola kapitalizma)
Srbija, 2009, video, 16:9, 122 minut
režija in scenarij Želimir Žilnik
fotografija Miodrag Milošević
montaža Vuk Vukmirović
nastopajo Lazar Stojanović, Živojin Popgligorin, Zoran Paroški, Ratibor Trivunac, Branimir Stojanović, Rade Ćurčin, Robert Paroci, Dragan Siriški, Leon Šurbanović, Vladimir Marković, Slobodan Nenadov, Tomislav Milankov, Svetozar Srdanov, Tadej Kurepa, Maja Krek

o avtorju