When Science Fiction Meets Marxism

John Carpenter’s "They Live”

Science fiction has been frequently utilized in embellishing the capitalist system. Suffice it to mention movies like Superman and Exterminator, which, under a seemingly innocent story, cover a barely hidden apology of its dominant values. In the history of the seventh art there exist, however, opposing examples where the symbolism of the imaginary is used for aims of social criticism. One of the most outstanding is undoubtedly offered by John’s Carpenter’s They Live. Although it appeared about 20 years ago, in 1988, the movie remains timely and relevant as one of the most devastating and sharp criticisms of American imperialism ever made. And it also reads as prophesy of what later crystallized to be the embodiment of its most brutal features, the corrupt and cynical Bush administration, now leaving the scene.

The symbolic dimension is indeed central in science fiction. Moreover, its symbolism does not draw from the past, as in the case of myth, but turns to the future, which it attempts to predict and foreshadow. Yet, while in apologetic movies symbolism is realized in an irrational way, covering or distorting social contradictions in order to foist biased and fallacious conclusions on the spectator, in progressive creations it fulfills a realistic function of revealing and emphasizing contradictions, which elevates to a sense of the totality and awakens consciousness.

Following this second road, Carpenter, a talented, independent director who has given us a number of significant films, is able in “They live” to represent in exemplary fashion the process of neo-conservative barbarization in American society as well as the dynamic of its revolutionary overthrow. And while he possesses an element of conscious approach – he himself has compared his strange aliens to republicans – his sharp intuition results in lending the movie a much deeper problematic than his conscious intentions.

Virtual reality

Nada, Carpenter’s hero, is a simple worker, a builder immersed in the American dream. His words in one of the first scenes, “I believe in America and follow the rules. I’m waiting for my chance”, sum up the illusions of the majority of American workers. What he ignores is that the yuppies and “successful” people he encounters in the streets are not what they seem. In fact, they are aliens who have come from a distant world and are plotting to gain control of our planet. The road of success is thus open only to those humans that are recruited by them and consent to become their docile organs.

Nada will become aware of this when he is hired in a construction plant and gets in touch with the rebel forces fighting the aliens. After an attack of the police, he will accidentally discover in a garbage heap the special glasses with the help of which it is only possible to perceive the ugly aliens. These creatures seem completely alike ordinary humans when one looks at them with a bare eye. However, when observed with the glasses, they transform to zombies, with a hideous, black face, just as in fact they inwardly are.

Yet the glasses have another, still more important function. Thanks to them, the multicolored virtual reality around us becomes white-black and the process of subjugation and brain washing, through which the aliens keep humans in ignorance and obedience, is revealed. When the hero puts them on, he is thunderstruck to see “Come to the Caribbean”, with the much promising, seductive top models, turn into a two-colored bill, “Reproduce”. “We are creating a transparent computing environment” becomes “Submit”. He is encircled with commands from all sides: “No independent thought”, “Consume”, “Watch TV”, “Buy”, “Stay asleep”, “Do not question authority”. As for dollar, it is a white paper with a black stamp imprinted on it: “This is your God”.

With this extremely clever trick, Carpenter is able to bring to light the true nature of the ruling elite, which is symbolically presented as a clan of aliens. Besides the rulers and politicians – almost never appearing in the scene, except for a brief but significant snapshot, when the hero sees a politician delivering a TV speech and then, wearing the glasses, the man turns to an alien appearing under the signboard “Obey” – the zombies include businessmen, policemen, bored petty-bourgeois and people of the star system. Even more cleverly, their headquarters is placed at Channel 54 (an allusion perhaps to the infamous Studio 54, the well known Manhattan yuppie disco of the eighties), a typical mass media corporation, through the antenna of which they come to earth and return to their far away planet, a clear hint at the role played by the media in general brain washing.

The role of the media

The channel controls heavily the information allowed to the people. Sporadically, the illegal channel of the rebels appears on the screen, only to be lost in the noise interfered by the aliens. The speaker, an orator with a somewhat fanatic look, zealously castigates the devilish rulers: “The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices… They have made us indifferent, to ourselves, to others, we are focused only on our own gain. That is their primary method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, keep us sedated… More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery”.

Through a number of such epigrammatic phrases, a bit schematic but illuminating as well, the creator depicts the essence of the social conditions. Yet, apart from its direct message, the movie unfolds in a second, deeper level, developing the dynamics of the struggle between the oppressors and the rebels.

When Nada realizes what is really happening, he decides to take law into his hands. He rushes into a bank and starts shooting the zombies. The aliens locate him soon, but he manages to escape and finds refuge in Holly’s house, who proves to be a highly standing executive of Channel 54. Ignorant of what is really happening, she violently defenestrates him when she finds a chance, and Nada returns in terrible plight to his workplace. There he meets Frank, his Negro friend, and attempts to enlighten him about the reasons of his strange behavior, which has resulted in him being presented by the media as a criminal and his persecution by the authorities. However, although eager to help him with some hardly saved money, Frank resists and declines his exhortations to wear the glasses. Their conversation is very revealing:

Frank: “I don’t want to see anything. I have a family and children.”

Nada: “I’m trying to save you, you and your family.”

Frank: “You did not save your own…”

Nada: “Put on the glasses. I do not want to fight with you.”

Frank: “I do not want to get in trouble.”

In the overall symbolism of the work, the heroes are not so much acting as individuals, but rather as embodiments of social groups. If Nada represents the conscious vanguard, Frank is the backward, still naive worker, who tries to hold himself aloof, in the hope that he will avoid all problems:

Nada: “You are a worker. Come to see the revolution.”

Frank: “Give it up, friend. This does not concern you or me. I want to keep my job. Do the same.”

Nada: “The white line is in the middle of the road. You are in danger.”

There follows a long scene of tough beating, when Nada reaches the point of almost killing his friend in order to force him wear the glasses. A scene with a deep meaning: the vanguard must show an iron will, in order to make the whole class accept the truth, after a process that will be both difficult and painful. Bleeding heavily, the two friends make up and fraternize again when Frank sees the deeper reality through the glasses. “They came here for profits. Many people sell themselves and get promotions. New houses. Money”, Nada explains.

The ascent of the aliens is ably depicted. In all places, banks, police, mass media, we see normal humans and aliens – honest people and scoundrels – coexisting, without the last being perceived by the first. Yet the aliens are methodically advancing and strengthening their domination and power.

Finally, the two heroes, using a special device of the zombies, will penetrate their headquarters and find themselves in front of a gathering of the newly rich. “In a few years”, the speaker prophesies, “the whole planet will be under our domination. Profits are huge. The capital of all us present here increased last year by 39%. The terrorist network was obliterated” (this last remark refers to the extermination of most rebels after a police attack in their refuge).

When Nada and Frank start shooting the guards in order to get inside the forbidden area of Channel 54, one of the rascals attempts to dissuade them: “Believe me, they know what they are doing. You are making a big mistake. It is only business. There are no countries any more. The planet belongs to them. Is profit bad? They will give us money. We sell ourselves every day. I will go with the winners”. They are ready to shoot him as well, but he manages to escape by using a special watch-like device, permitting the aliens to disappear.

An excellent finish

The last scene sums up the meaning of the movie. The two friends ascend to the sundeck of the building, aiming to destroy the antenna making the aliens appear as ordinary human beings. Holly, who meanwhile has learned the truth about the aliens and met once the hero in the underground movement leads them, yet events prove that, while she is not one of the aliens (when seen with the glasses, she appears human), she in fact belongs psychically to them. She shoots Frank and threatens Nada from behind with her gun, precisely when he is ready to destroy the machine. “Do not do it. You can not win”. Initially he is taken by surprise, but manages to draw a gun from the back of his trousers and shoots her dead. In the end the hero is himself killed by guardsmen in a security helicopter flying over the roof, but only after he succeeds in destroying the antenna. In this way the aliens become uncovered. In the comic epilogue we watch the Oscar winners as zombies now being interviewed without knowing they have been revealed (“all this sex, all this violence” one of them protests hypocritically) and a zombie-yuppie wondering in front of his girlfriend staring at him with disgust: “What is the problem, baby?”

The expressive and attractive Holly is in fact the embodiment of the American dream, of the hero’s illusions that he can satisfy his human needs within the capitalist system. Only after killing her, thus liberating himself form illusion, he will therefore be able to accomplish his mission. And his loss immediately after this displays a tough but authentic realism. The vanguard sacrifices itself, bearing the difficulties of the struggle, but due to its efforts and self-sacrifice it becomes possible to open the eyes of the people.

With this scene “We live” is elevated from the level of an acute polemic to that of a masterpiece. If instead Carpenter had given a different solution – making his heroes triumph in a happy end or even allowing them to be killed by the aliens only and not Holly, the artistic result would be significantly inferior. For Holly does not only personify Nada’s illusions, but also his inward uncertainty. Her phrase, “You cannot win”, sums up the essence of dominant ideology, its ability to create confusion and passivity, by continually corrupting human minds and consciences. Had this moment been ignored, the work would lose in strength and persuasiveness, because the most crucial question would remain unanswered: is the working class able to overcome this pernicious influence?

The truly amazing thing is that while other symbolisms, like the comparison of the aliens with republicans, are made consciously by the creator, the peak of the movie comes intuitively, without a clear comprehension of its meaning. Thus, Carpenter himself in his interviews failed to give the above interpretation, moving in the circle of Christian sacrifice ideas and other metaphysical notions with which he is preoccupied in other movies.

Reactionary and misconceived criticisms

Needless to say, reactionary commentators, sensing the significance of the movie as a devastating critique of their beloved capitalist system, have made every attempt to bury and discredit it. Making it worse, even progressive commentators have sometimes failed to appreciate the meaning of critical scenes and details.

Limiting ourselves to just a few examples, Mike Clark of USA Today is of the opinion “They live dies around the time Carpenter allows 10 minutes of gratuitous Piper-David eye-gouging, an apparent bone to wrestling fans. Forget the amusing premise; a full crate of magic glasses couldn’t make this a bearable movie”. A similar view is echoed by Peter Stack of San Francisco Chronicle: “Typical of some of the absurd moments in this film is a long drawn-out fist fight between the hero and Frank, who almost kill each other because Frank is too proud to try on the magic dark glasses. It is completely stupid.”

Even more hostile is Richard Harrington of the Washington Post: “Even for sci-fi, the creatures-walk-among-us plot of “They Live” is so old it ought to be carbon-dated. Oh, sure, director John Carpenter trots out the heavy artillery of sociological context and political implication, but you don’t have to get deep down to realize he hasn’t a clue what to do with it, or the talent to bring it to life… The plot for They Live is full of black holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the whole thing is so preposterous it makes “V” look like “Masterpiece Theatre.”

These unjust and scornful remarks are easily understandable. Their motives lie in the reactionary commentators’ sense that they themselves are the zombies so acutely exposed and satirized in the movie. It is this feeling of those who not only do not understand, but do not wish to understand that stirs their indignant contempt and not any concern to show some real shortcomings of the film, which, if existent, are definitely of secondary nature.

Passing to a more objective critic, G. MacReady, praising the critique of capitalism, also considers that from the moment Nada takes law into his hands “Carpenter fails to make much of the movie… Meg Foster’s character is almost totally irrelevant and extraneous. She serves no purpose. The prolonged fight scene between Nada and Frank is supposed to be funny, but simply isn’t. It just feels odd”. Similar complains have been expressed by others, finding Nada’s character too rough and his remarks, like the one in the bank shooting scene – “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I’m all out of bubblegum” – excessively crude (in fact Roddy Piper, whom Carpenter appropriately selected for Nada’s role, is a wrestler and no actor at all).

In fact, these are the vital innovations introduced by Carpenter, who based himself on Roy Nelson’s small novel Eight o’ Clock in the Morning. Such innovations, having a deep, if hidden, meaning, are feasible only to a great, inspired creator, and Carpenter depicts the workers in a realistic way, as they truly are in capitalist society, which prevents them from acquiring any kind of subtle taste.

Asked if his approach is somehow related with Marxism, Carpenter answered in the negative. Nevertheless, They Live does not cease to be perhaps the Marxist movie par excellence in the history of the seventh art. Even if it appeared 20 years ago, it does not cease to be topical and will remain so until the social evils it so graphically and skillfully depicts will be removed through social transformation.

Christos Kefalis is a chemist, editor of the Greek journal Marxist Thought. He can be reached at: chrkefal@otenet.gr. Read other articles by Christos.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ark said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:27am #

    The movie is actually anti-Marxist. The aliens could be either the “Communist Party” or the “Monopoly Money”. By the way, the Monopoly created Marx and the Parties. That’s why Marxism itself advocates total monopolization – it is just a tool to achieve the same goal.
    There is no Marxism in this movie whatsoever, indeed the author of the movie is too smart to believe in Marxism.

  2. Don Hawkins said on February 21st, 2009 at 9:47am #

    Well done I put this under favorities to read again to think man think.

  3. Don Hawkins said on February 21st, 2009 at 10:39am #

    Snap it on
    plug it in
    Check it out
    Send it on

    Snap it on
    plug it in
    Check it out
    Send it on

    Snap it on
    plug it in
    Check it out
    Send it on

    Then someone yell’s, “snap out of it”, and the next voice you hear is, “who said that”? As two people take Mr. Smith off to retraining he is still yelling, “snap out of it, snap out of it”.

  4. robert1014 said on February 21st, 2009 at 10:40am #

    I saw THEY LIVE when it first came out in the 80s, and I have always loved it and thought it a powerful depiction of the reality of America. Of course it has become even more pertinent as time as passed, with the difference that the monsters today barely bother to disguise themselves. I did always think the protracted fight between Nada and Frank was too long and should have been edited, but I will reconsider it in light of your critique. I do wish Carpenter had had a better budget for the film, but he managed with meager means and a sharp script to produce a stinging “satire” of “America that is barely satire at all, but virtually a documentary of America’s state.

  5. Eric Patton said on February 21st, 2009 at 10:45am #

    For the record, “The Terminator” and “The Exterminator” are actually DIFFERENT movies. The former is a famous trilogy (and now TV series), while the latter is a little-known “Death Wish” ripoff starring Robert Ginty.

  6. Tree said on February 21st, 2009 at 10:56am #

    I seriously question the idea that Carpenter is a talented movie director.
    They Live is an all around bad movie that covers important ideas, whether by accident or not. Although, the “all out of bubble gum” speech is a hoot.

    As an aside, anyone familiar with the teachings of Gurdjieff will see his ideas in quite a few films, one example being Dark City which is a much better representation of how things are than They Live.

  7. Don Hawkins said on February 21st, 2009 at 2:39pm #

    The Old Coffee Shop.

    The coffee shop again this day was full and everyone was waiting on a new thing the coffee shop was to offer. The new thing was unite and organize for the coming years. Different speakers on how to do this and today an old man in the corner table was about to speak on the State of the union and Capitalism and Socialism and a little Atlas Shrugged just for the hell of it. He started talking form the table he was at as he was old and stayed seated. “People of Earth”, this got a good laugh, “We are all in big trouble people and waiting on government to make the changes we need is probably not the best approach. The cities and States are starting to fall apart well fall apart to a point where now most people can see it. This has been happening for years now but kind of covered over by something I like to call the Matrix. What is that well a system run by so called elite’s and people who want to be elite’s you know want a be’s a system that keep’s us the other 99% in slavery not only with what we need to pay these people in coin but what they are doing to our minds and are kid’s mind’s. Of course this has been going on for many years but reached new heights in the twenty first century. It is time to unite and organize. We now see the results of this system in living color sort of as they are still trying to hide it from your eye’s and not doing a very good job of that. We need to take care of each other and build the World we know can happen if we try. Those of you who have lost your house we are starting a list and those of you who have just lost your job a list remember strength in numbers and those who still have a house can put up tents on your property for those who don’t. Yes I said tents. We are trying to get two million to start for a little meeting in Washington DC to see if we can wake up our policy makers to face reality and let them know the system must change. Capitalism has got us to this point and to try and bring it back to normal is called insanity. The system in simple terms is an economic system based on private ownership of capital and the last time I checked 1% of the population control most of that capital and doing a lousy job of that. The other system Socialism let me read this from the socialists labor party of America.

    Under socialism the factories and industries would be used to benefit all of us, not restricted to the creation of profits for the enrichment of a small group of capitalist owners. Under socialism our farmlands would yield an abundance without great toil; the factories, mines and mills would be the safest, the most modern, the most efficient possible and productive beyond our wildest dreams—and without laborious work. Our natural resources would be intelligently conserved. Our schools would have the finest facilities and they would be devoted to developing complete human beings, not wages slaves who are trained to hire themselves out for someone else’s profit. Our hospitals and social services would create and maintain the finest health and recreational facilities. Socialist Labor Party of America

    “Now is this true I sure hope so because on this present path of capitalism our resources are not intelligently conserved how can they be and with climate change added to the mix unless we can change this system and the minds of the people who want to bring capitalism back to it’s glory that will mean the destruction of human civilization and send my kid’s and there kid’s into the darkside and this will not work out to well the story doesn’t have a happy ending. These so called elite’s want us to go along with them and go into the darkside so they can go out in style sort of and I say fight back think of this as kind of a war and with that innkeeper a cup of coffee black and make it strong. Read DV Barrack? Oh one more thing if these 1% don’t like this idea they can have the entire State of Colorado and probably barb wire it in and fight over who get’s what and controls the State and we will call it money Island an old and very good book and before they get there we could put cameras on every corner and make it into a reality show. We could call it The Old Way Of Thinking and see who becomes King and how well they do without us the 99%”.

  8. Ark said on February 21st, 2009 at 3:41pm #

    It’s not Socialism vs Capitalism, its Monopoly vs Government by the People. The people got the new deal and it was good. Then the politicians dismantled the New Deal and enslaved the people. What to do?
    Return Glass-Steagall, return anti-usury laws, ban derivatives, ban lobbying … it’s legalized bribery for crying out loud. But first and foremost – keep the constitution. There is your manifesto. If you can’t do that, what makes you think you’ll do socialism better? The Soviet Union was the richest country in the world when it comes to natural resources. They ended socialism in debt to their necks. 20 years without Schmocialism and they have $500 Billion is surplus.

  9. Don Hawkins said on February 21st, 2009 at 4:51pm #

    Russia has a surplus nobody has a surplus it’s all debt. Democracy is it a system of government where each person has equal representation within the government? Right now in the United States well how about just States do we have democracy. We have corruption and money talks and tells us who we vote for in most cases. The system is somewhat out of hand haven’t you noticed? We need to change the economic system and that means democracy. There is very tuff times ahead and only harder in the coming years unless we can work together and try and solve the problems we face. Just as they are doing now the people who want to hold on to the system are saying Obama’s policy’s are not working and will not work we need to give the money to the rich, what. In the coming years even if we could change the system tuff times and then what do we hear same thing. Bit of a problem don’t you think.

  10. ceti said on February 21st, 2009 at 4:59pm #

    “They Live!” is great. I wanted to see it so badly when its premise was reviewed in the local paper. It has some great radical monologues. Having Roddy Piper as the working class everyman hero also elevated professional wrestling in my eyes.

    However, the subtext to a lot of science fiction movies are also as radical. Schwarzenegger’s sci-fi films of the 80s — Terminator, Running Man, Total Recall — all had radical subtexts. And even if Robocop III was a crappy movie, it did present urban guerillas as the heroes, and Robocop going against his corporate programming to join them against the hired Blackwater-type OCP mercenaries who were cleansing Detroit before the corporate-controlled Delta City was to be built.

    Even a Vin Diesel vehicle like Chronicles of Riddick had an interesting premise. The Helios System, the energy heart of the human galaxy, was a Liberal Muslim democracy before the necromonger fanatics (with their inverted Christian religion) invaded, complete with a light show reminiscent of the bombardment of Baghdad. And while it’s hard to see it, even a straight shoot ‘em action film like Starship Troopers had some interesting satire on militarism and war propaganda.

  11. Don Hawkins said on February 22nd, 2009 at 1:52pm #

    “A lie is halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.” Twain

    The time is now and we need to get our boots on. The problems we face are big and they are real. The so called leaders are lying to themselves and us. There is still time we must act now. Two million to start at the Capital one voice face the problems the time is now.

  12. Don Hawkins said on February 22nd, 2009 at 2:13pm #

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — If we don’t deal with climate change decisively, “what we’re talking about then is extended world war,” the eminent economist said.

    His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad weather and were talking climate. They couldn’t do much about the one, but the other was squarely in their hands. And so, Lord Nicholas Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict.

    “Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is,” the British economic thinker said.

    Stern, author of a major British government report detailing the cost of climate change, was one of a select group of two dozen — environment ministers, climate negotiators and experts from 16 nations — scheduled to fly to Antarctica to learn firsthand how global warming might melt its ice into the sea, raising ocean levels worldwide.

    If the world’s nations act responsibly, Stern said, they will achieve “zero-carbon” electricity production and zero-carbon road transport by 2050 — by replacing coal power plants with wind, solar or other energy sources that emit no carbon dioxide, and fossil fuel-burning vehicles with cars running on electric or other “clean” energy.

    Then warming could be contained to a 2-degree-Celsius (3.4-degree-Fahrenheit) rise this century, he said.

    But if negotiators falter, if emissions reductions are not made soon and deep, the severe climate shifts and sea-level rises projected by scientists would be “disastrous.”

    It would “transform where people can live,” Stern said. “People would move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree increases” — 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. And that would mean extended global conflict, “because there’s no way the world can handle that kind of population move in the time period in which it would take place.”

    Is Stern right on this unfortunately he is. The time is now. Think of this as kind of a war and put those boots on people. I have an old pair with a few miles left in them. Tired of lies, corruption, nonsense, one side fighting the other on plans being made for nobody? Tuff times ahead but can be done.

  13. Deadbeat said on February 22nd, 2009 at 2:59pm #

    Don,

    Those were some of the best posting I’ve seen in a long while.

    thx

  14. Don Hawkins said on February 22nd, 2009 at 6:58pm #

    Many are trying to continue killing the truth’s in the twenty first century and this time the lies that are immortal brings us to the truth’s. We need to use the truth and the knowledge and soon.

  15. Michael Dawson said on February 23rd, 2009 at 12:02pm #

    Hey, Ark, tell us why all Marxism advocates total monopolization, other than in your fevered brain?

  16. Christos Kefalis said on February 24th, 2009 at 2:39pm #

    First of all, I would like to thank all people who contributed their comments. Especially Eric is right in pointing my mistake of putting “Exterminator” in place of “Terminator”. This is definitely the kind of mistake that makes one feel embarrassed! Well, the Greek title of the movie is Ex-olothreftis (from the ancient olethros, i.e., vanishing or anihilation), i.e. precisely ex-terminator. A long time having passed since I last saw it, I retranslated it directly from Greek to English…
    It is rather difficult to comment on all observations made.
    Of course, I cannot agree with Ark’s view that “They Live” is anti-Marxist and that monopolies created Marxism. As a matter of fact Marxism was made possible and appeared during the reign of free competition, when the proletariat had matured enough to be able to produce this kind of outlook in a part of the intelligentsia. Both Marx and Engels had completed their work at 1890, before monopolies appeared or just when they began to appear.
    Moreover, views like “Carpenter is not so stupid to believe in Marxism” leave very little room for positive argument. Ark’s view in his other post, that Carpenter’s view is “Monopoly vs Government by the People”, I find much more serious and debatable. However, monopoly is a development of capitalism and government by the people a prerequisite of socialism. So, the two things, Capitalism vs Socialism and Monopoly vs Government by the People, hardly contradict each other. View it this way, if you wish, the meaning remains roughly the same.
    With regard to Carpenter I would say that he is talented but unequal. He can produce a great movie like “They live”, but he can also produce some mediocre things. However as a whole he is admirable for his independence and has a certain right to greatness.
    Speaking about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, they were mystics and reactionary in their political views but cannot be entirely dismissed as thinkers. For example, Ouspensky to a large extent predicted in his works modern ideas about many dimensions of space-time. And, moreover, it is one thing if Gurdjeff says that people live in sleep in general, because they are by nature inferior to the aristocratic few, etc., and another one if Carpenter connects this with a social reality. So, the matter is not if he takes something from Gurdjieff, but how he interprets it.
    The Marxist tendency of “They Live” can, in my opinion, be most clearly seen not only in the clear presentation of the conflict between the workers and the ruling class (embodied in the aliens), but also in the fact that this conflict is presented as impossible to be reconciled or solved in any other way eccept by overthrowing the oppressors. This differentiates it from other movies like e.g. “Gremlins 2”, where the boss is in fact a good guy and in the end fights the evil (which is the product of the system he heads). But I did not attempt such a comparison, which would further clarify the meaning. Finally, I will say that movies like Superman, Terminator, etc, are not so nakedly apologetic as a Rambo, but their heroes embody in a subtle way the spirit of Americanism (we are superior to the rest of the world, which is represented as a threat, finally stemming from communism).
    As for the rest, it is clear that the dangers facing the whole of humanity are great, be it the imminent economic collapse or the greenhouse effect. It is also true that the present deep economic crisis, together with the stupidities of the Bush administration in Iraq and the rest of the world, destabilize capitalism and make for the first time a fruitful oppositional movement possible. However, while the time to act is now, I would add that clever action is needed and results will not come in one or two days. And, of course, one should not expect any kind of fruitful action by Obama and those now in charge…