5.02.2008

Primo Maggio 2008: "Sacco and Venzetti"

We went to the Labor Hall in Barre last night, the Barre Historical Society marked May Day ('Primo Maggio') with a showing of the film "Sacco and Venzetti" presented by the filmmaker, Peter Miller.

The Labor Hall is an architecturally quite prosaic building (at one point it was used as vegetable warehouse) but there is a lot of history here, and it is a very appropriate venue to screen a film on Italian anarchists.

Peter Miller introduces his film. He said that his children woke him on May 1 (May Day) by singing "The Internationale" -- giving some idea of the political leanings of his household. The film, however, did make it clear how the existing power structure wanted Sacco and Venzetti dead -- there was little in the way of presumption of innocence. The police, prosecutor, judge, governor of Massachusetts, etc. colluded to ensure that this story ended in the electric chair.

Q&A session afterward. Tonight there is a second presentation on another figure in the anarchist movement in the 1920s, Carlo Tresca.

I have gone to three presentations in this venue and they have all been pretty interesting and informative -- if universally from a quite hard left perspective. Looking at some of the antics of state and federal government today, the anarchist viewpoint makes some sense to me. (Note to any federal elected officials reading this: It makes me furious when I read that the largest United State embassy in the world is being built in Baghdad, Iraq: I want no part in this imperial delusion.) And ironically, Vermont, known for being a hippie-liberal haven, has constructed an unaffordable and intrusive state superstructure; the current economic downturn is forcing unwilling and recalcitrant state legislators to consider the idea (very reluctantly) that the growth of state services cannot continue unabated...

Enough of my half-baked political ranting (riven by internal contradictions, as usual), here's the trailer to the film. It was very interesting, both for it's coverage of the case, including interviews with some quite elderly first-person witnesses, but also for it's portrayal of lost Massachusetts, it's disconcerting to see an interview at the scene of the crime, a once a street lined with houses, machine shops, factories... that is now just another anonymous shopping mall, the industrial landscape is gone forever, and I'm not sure that what has replaced it is much of an improvement.

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