by Bob Black
- Groucho Marxism, the theory of comedic revolution is much more than a
blueprint for crass struggle: like a red light in a window, it illuminates
humanity's inevitable destiny, the declasse society. G-Marxism
is the theory of permanent revelry.
(Down boy! There, that's a good dogma.)
- The example of the Marx Brothers themselves shows the unity of Marxist
theory and practice (for instance, when Groucho insults somebody while
Harpo picks his pocket). Moreover, Marxism is dialectical (isn't Chico
the classic dialect comedian?). Comedians who fail to synthesize theory
and practice (to say nothing of those who fail to sin at all) are
un-Marxist. Subsequent comedians, failing to grasp that separation is
“the discrete charm of the bourgeoisie,” have lapsed into mere pratfalls on the one hand, and mere prattle on the other.
- Because G-Marxism is practical, its acheivements can never be reduced to
mere humor, entertainment, or even “art.” (The æsthetes, after all, are
less interested in the appreciation of art than in art that appreciates.)
After a genuine Marxist sees a Marx Brothers movie, he tells himself:
“If you think that was funny, take a look at your life!”
- Contempary G-Marxists must resolutely denounce the imitative, vulgar
“Marxism” of the Three Stooges, Monty
Python, and Bugs Bunny. Instead of vulgar Marxism, we must return to authentic
Marxist vulgarity. Rectumification is likewise in order for
those deluded comrades who think that “the correct line” is what the cop makes them walk when he pulls them over.
- Class-conscious Marxists (that is, Marxists who are conscious that they
have no class) must spurn the anemic, trendy, narcissistic “comedy” of comedic revisionists like Woody Allen and Jules Feiffer. Already
the comedic revolution has superseded mere neurosis - it's ludic but
not ludicrous, discriminating but not discriminatory, militant but
not military, and adventurous but not adventurist. Marxists realise
that today you have to look into a funhouse mirror to see the way
you really are.
- Although not entirely lacking in glimmers of Marxist insight, socialist
(sur)realism must be distinguished from G-Marxism. It is true that Salvador
Dali once gave Harpo a harp made out of barbed wire; however, there is
no evidence that Harpo ever played it.
- Above all, it is essential to renounce and revile all comedic sectarianism
such as that of the equine Trots. As is well-known, Groucho repeatedly
proposed sex but opposed sects. For Groucho, then, there was a
difference between being a Trot and being hot to trot. Further, the
Trot slogan “Wages for Horsework” smacks of reform, not revelry. Trot efforts to claim A Day at the Races and Horsefeathers
for their tendency must be indignantly rejected; in truth
National Velvet is more their style.
The burning issue confronting G-Marxists today is the party
question, which - naive, reductionist “Marxists” to the contrary - is more than just “Whay wasn't I invited?” That never stopped Groucho! Marxists need their own disciplined vanguard
party, since they're rarely welcome at anybody else's.
- Guided by the Marxist leader-dogmas of misbehaviourism and
hysterical materialism, inevitably the masses will embrace,
not only G-Marxism, but also each other.
- Groucho Marxism, then, is the tour de farce of comedy. As Harpo
is reliably reported to have said:
In other words, comedy is riotous or it is nothing! So much to do, so
many to do it to! On your Marx, get set - go!
BORED AGAIN? Why not rattle your cage? I propose a dialog of the
disaffected, a conspiracy of the equals, a politics of pleasure. Ours
is the anomic power of negative thinking and corrosive laughter.
The unruly amongst the institutionalised have only themselves - and
possibly each other. Let's confer. The choice is sedition or sedation.
Any number can play.
- Bob Black, 1979
Originally published in The Abolition of Work and Other Essays, by
Bob Black, with no copyright.
“Ours is the anomic power of negative thinking and corrosive
laughter… The choice is sedition or sedation. Any number can