The movie is not entirely Marxism-themed, it promotes justice and anti-capitalism. It adheres to oppose globalization as a benchmark criteria and the face of development. It showcases the effects of globalization and integrates the propositions of inevitable opposition to the concept. However, its attempt to oppose the concept merits failure. (Author’s Full Name) (Instructor’s Name) (Course Title) (Date Submitted) The cinematic realm of Marxism: Fight Club (based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk) Fight Club (1999, FOX), Chuck Palahniuk’s book-turned-film, is a movie which centers on the struggle to overcome alienation.
Alienation serves as one of the films central themes and depicts how alienation can be a struggle especially when dealing with one’s self. Edward Norton, simply called as Jack, is the narrator of the film. He is the protagonist of the movie. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is Jack’s own alter-ego. Jack can be described as an insomniac being, tired of his prescribed job. He finds self-fulfillment through choosing only designer furniture products, and in support of groups raising health-related issues. He quickly identified with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), who like him is finding some things to do to meet his needs.
But Marla has been so much like an imitation of jack, and so he tries to find for other venues where he could be. Tyler and jack, as both character reflecting one’s struggle, discovered a rush emotion during one time they fought. They were playful the whole time, but brutal against one another. It is in that moment that the concept of fighting held a different meaning. Fighting, as they experienced, has made them feel the pain and anger in a more vocalized manner. It gathered attention and awe as they observed their audience, thus, fight club emerged.
Fight club became an organized and frequent event, an event which received a welcoming enthusiasm for its audience. Jack, his character and struggles were exemplified in the film. But Tyler, being his alter ego was also highlighted in the film. The awareness of their existence grew into the film’s conflict, and evoked a schizophrenic character that portrays a character with various emotional details. On the other hand, Jack is ultimately overcome by the transcendence of both. For most critics, the film may instill a sense of 19th century German philosophical view of the concept of alienation.
The film, although treated as a movie with fictional characters and settings, has a touch of connection with some of the greatest philosophical views about man’s existence. In this research paper, it shall attempt to uncover the relationship between the characters and the movie per se, with the probable concept of alienation and Marxist ideologies. Using various texts as sources, the paper shall evaluate if such concepts are related to the movie, and what it brings in its entirety. Hegel in his book entitled the Phenomenology of Mind (1807) explored the philosophical views of alienation and the conflict between masters and slaves.
The concept of alienation as described by Hegel depicts an emotion when individuals feel isolated from the rest of the society. However, when one becomes isolated from his true self, the concept of alienation brings an individual towards much more complex level. The paper shall explore the concept of alienation as it progress with its analysis. Following the prominent idealism strongly held in the Marxists view, the kind of alienation described in Marxist concept maintains that alienation is deeply embedded in capitalism.
Beginning with Jack, we became to realize ho capitalism is greatly construed in his character, his view of the world, and the system he follows in his life. For one, his profession entails cost benefit analysis for a major automobile company. But more than the superficial and the obvious form of capitalism shown through Jack, capitalism evolved in several categories wherein it guides his self-being, and defines who he is as a person. Capitalism is depicted through Jack and his consumerist views. Jack, as narrator, asks, “What kind of dining room set defines me as a person?
” and confesses, “I loved that condo. Everything, the lamps, the chairs, the rugs- was me (Fight Club, 1999, Script available from crosswind. net)”. If one analyzes the situation more deeply, we begin to realize Jack’s character being that of a person epitomizing a consumer, one who sees everything as a price tag. As Jack’s self-consciousness, his awareness grows, and again the conflict arise when his world-view is realized to be hollow and a continuous pursuit of self fulfillment. “We were raised by television to believe that someday we’ll all be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars but we won’t.
And we’re learning that fact that this madness begins to be seen as a form of slavery: [we are a] whole generation [of] slaves manipulated by advertising to chase cars and clothes, working jobs they hate, just so they can buy things they don’t really need. ” (Fight Club, Script available in crosswinds. net) Just beneath the surface of these consumerist categories, a more conflicting character is drawn. The abject feeling of being a nobody, of having no destiny other than being a mindless drone in the hive of society. Jack knows what his problem is.
He knows, but it seems that he himself does not know how to cure it. When Jack described his condition, he mentioned, “I am helpless. I am stupid and weak and all I do is want and need things. I am my little shit job. I am my condo and my Swedish furniture” (Fight Club, 1999, Script available at crosswinds. net) He knows he has a problem and that is one of the crucial steps towards finding his cure. Jack decides to turn to his alter-ego, Tyler. The entry of Tyler Durden into the life of Jack marks his subconscious desire to depart from his dull, meaningless existence (Kerr, 2006 p.
1). Fight Club is born out of Jack’s need to replace come into terms with his feelings and world-views. The club caters to those members of the society simply neglected and ignored, and whose life, like that of Jack, is one monotonous day after day of catering to a society that does not care about them. The capitalist system of working, the drive to realize larger profits in less time and capital required has reduced work to drudgery and creation is replaced by production (Marx, 1844). The introduction of the assembly line in the 1900’s changed the means by which work is approached.
In the years before, jobs still produced a sense of personal fulfillment and growth. Products were hand made, with each year of making improving the experience of the creator and thus the quality of the product. However, in today’s capitalistic world, the mantra of specialization of tasks has reduced work to an activity of repetition and ultimately boredom. Cubicle workers, those that work in an assigned work place no larger than an elevator room leave work everyday with no sense of personal fulfillment, just a degree of satisfaction that the work required to get the next paycheck was done.
Work in the capitalist society has become a pursuit of the means to subscribe to the material goods that the society says defines the life of a person (Ta, 2006 p. 70). No longer does the sense of personal achievement and pride in one’s work, and the struggle to achieve mastery in one’s job exist; it has been replaced by a sense personal repression, just to achieve a status in the capitalist world. Hegelian and Marxists theories have influenced some of the works of greatest philosophers of all times. One of them is Immanuel Kant.
Kant did not only attempt to define and explain the concept of perception on one’s self, but defined and categorized structures in how we perceive our world, how we are also perceived by the world, and how we must be able to perceive ourselves. Kant contradicts Hegel’s separate and hidden world, with a world independent from our perception and awareness. Instead, the world is to use a common metaphor, projected by the subject (Hegel, 1955). If we follow Hegel’s logic, we can attribute disunity from one subject reflected to the other.
Thus, when we aim to unify ourselves with the world, and our self consciousness, Hegel describes the phenomenon as a true self-knowing freedom (Hegel, 1955). The Solution: Fight? (Bliss) In the establishment of Fight Club, the protagonists embrace and face pain and fear head-on, as it were, through organized fighting, which produces a kind of bliss (Iocco, 2007 pp. 56-62). People who participates in the Fight Club are those who does not care about society norms and values, those people venting emotions brought about by alienation, and people who are in need to feel some kind of real human nature.
Fight club participants are aware of their problems; they all feel oppressed from where they come from. This character provides a contrast with Jack’s character. People who watch and fight in the club are those who are anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist. Tyler’s philosophy in other people maintains these two antagonistic world views. In the world of the fight club, no class or levels were regarded, their own adapted new world view grants no difference with superiors and inferiors. The Fight Club also tackles the repression of basic primal masculinity and physical aggression.
The capitalist society views itself as the epitome of civilization and thus frowns upon acts which are deem barbaric (Tuss, 2004 p. 99). Fighting, the act of physically confronting another person with the desire to inflict pain has been seen as a taboo and repressed act in today’s civilized world. The movie shows how hard it is to pick a fight in a basic corporate and suburban setting, and it shows that it is, of all people, a priest, which dares subscribe to physical violence. The capitalist world and the industrial revolution have ushered in a slightly different view of manhood.
In early days, manhood was dictated by physical prowess and courage, the better to defend one’s family and to provide for them (Tuss, 2004 p. 94). However, in today’s environment, the primary currency of survival is money, and those perceived of as successful and manly are those who can provide and control with their money and bureaucratic authority. In analyzing Hegelian dialect, the logical progression of arguments is characterized with a starting passage from the proposed thesis.
The thesis, will then be used to form an anti-thesis, developed into a higher synthesis which validates arguments and eliminates the partial truths (Hemling, p99). In this paper, we shall progress following these thoughts: capitalism is our thesis, our developed anti-thesis is Fight Club, and the higher synthesis contrasting it with the partial truths, maintains that either one can be regarded solely as a final thesis of anti-thesis. The fight club and ultimately project mayhem are just short-tem processes to add details of the struggle in the film. They are not regarded as solutions.
They must and will end in order to give way to a higher synthesis. The fight club has this effect in the roles of fighting in the movie. Fighting is after all the main conflict and expression of conflict in the movie. One, fighting is a struggle to be recognized, acknowledged, and known. Second, fighting confronts fear. When fear becomes abolished, then the condition of freedom can be met. According to Hegel, as cited by Benzaquen 1998, self-awareness is only through other people’s mediation. The film did not only show this through fighting, but also through Jack.
We mentioned earlier how Marla Singer becomes a reflection of Jack’s character, and when he realized this, he finds other places where he could get his fix, somewhere where he is the only one known. Just like what Kelly 1966 mentions, the story of self-consciousnesses whose need for recognition leads to mutual struggle. The personal character and the world dominating view must find its own characteristics. Their relationship is mutual, wherein if one s lost, the other is found. Both characters are a reflection of one’s own identity, thus it is difficult to settle their own difference.
In a way they engage to compete with each other to gain independence, and remain essential towards their true identity. The assumption of both subjects is that the other one is not real. In this struggle, one attempt to emerge as the winner, even aim for the destruction and the death of the other while attempting to save his. This exact expression is what victory conjures annihilation towards the other. When one mediates, a person will be more likely to conquer his self-consciousness, and eventually gain recognition.
Hegel describes this situation through a master-slave relationship. He explained that a master and his slave share a complementary relationship. A master is superior, highly independent of his slave. A slave is the inferior, highly dependent of his master. This complementary relationship exists because as the slave labors for his master, he affirms his status being an unessential. In the same context of the subjection of a slave to his master, the goal of the inferior is to achieve independence through his recognition by the master.
However, as this mutual relationship follows through, the master begins to develop his own dependency towards the servant’s and his services. This is significantly an act of his consciousness. When the master becomes dependent for both the recognition and the work, he is no longer independent of his consciousness. Through this, he becomes subjective to his servant. The exchange of roles seen in this example is a turning point in the identities played by both the servant and the master. Thus, the reversal of consciousness and roles becomes different actions towards the self (Kellt, 1966)
As the identity and role change, the reversal will also apply in the consciousness and identity of the servant construed by it. Consequently, when the servant has experienced this change, his labor or service becomes his preconditions of true freedom. Citing Hegel, Kelly (1966) explains that the reversal will yield a consciousness repressed within it, and modifies into a real and true independence. The second precondition towards self-freedom is done through the servant’s recognitions of his independent and self-consciousness.
As depicted in the film, fear is achieved through fighting, and ultimately, to death. The essence of risking one’s life in a fight is essential to gain freedom. It is like fighting in a war, were strongly-held beliefs are fought for in exchange of sacrifice of one’s life. The true measure of an individual, as Kelly (1966) insists, must recognize his true independence and self-consciousness. In this analysis, we constitute fear as something profoundly essential to reach true freedom. A servant meets this requirement more than the master because his own existence is governed by fear and submission.
Essentially, his role as a servant constitutes his fearful quality. But to get Hegel right and, I think, to understand the film, it’s important to see that the process does not end here. If we adopt the method of drawing a higher synthesis without the impartial truths, we regard the struggle as a realization of the self-consciousness which resolves the mutual conflicts. The real resolution according, to Helmling in his “Immanent Critique and Dialetical” paper, maintains that mutual recognition and respect, and not domination, will resolve conflict between roles.
In the film, time and time again, we recognize the quality of struggle to attain freedom. As Marla emphasizes, “Dying people are so alive” (Fight Club, Script available in crosswind. net) Without absolute fear, we have in Hegel’s words only an attitude that does not get beyond the attitude of bondage, since it is still inherently a determinate mode of being, like that of a thing, rather than of a Person (Kelly, 1966). Fight club evolved into what is known in the film as Project Mayhem. The group now becomes an organized, large-scale group, aiming to relieve oneself with oppression.
Jack reacts to this development with rejection of capitalism he is comfortable with during the beginning. Although Jack as a changed character ultimately opposed the corporate power which constitutes a social system derived with name, levels, and classes, Project Mayhem is in itself living in that kind of role and through Tyler’s role and guidance, Project Mayhem unified itself against The Oppressive Establishment. The effect of the Fight club yields two varying characters for each individual. One, as Jack narrates, “Who you were in fight club is not who you were in the rest of your world.
You weren’t alive anywhere like you were alive at fight club. But fight club only exists in the hours between when fight club starts and when fight club ends. ” (Fight Club, Script available in crosswinds. net) This kind of dual life for members may be unavoidable, as long as Fight Club is a club, available only to a limited number of members. We shall consider the second reason as an impartial truth. Duality of personality is recognized in the film. It is a character recognized and honored by Fight Club. A Rousseau philosophy kicks in this analysis.
Rousseau mentions that the savage and harsh life in the world ultimately results to voidance of comforts and amenities it presents. Ta (2006, p. 6) explains, just like as capitalism grows secretly within the world system and dominates, a counter-movement would lead to an equally terrible disaster bound to happen. In lien with this though, we realize that fear, rooted in one’s pursuit to achieve freedom, enables a person to truly live. When the need for recognition of freedom is made, unity and self-consciousness desires emerge.
However, if we realize that one should die in order for the other to live and achieve true freedom, it will probably be easier if either Jack or Tyler risks their life, or even both. But using Hegel’s dialectic, this option will not yield us with an advantage because both the presented thesis and the anti-thesis are negated by synthesis done in the higher level. Both share a mutual relationship with and without the other. In order to bring the equality derived from fight club to the oppressive capitalist society, it was necessary to move unto the next stage.
Project mayhem aims to change the society at large, by disrupting the economic base and superstructure interaction. In all societies the Economic foundation or base of the society determines the shape and form of the rest of society, its superstructure (Marx, 1844). In a capitalist society the economic base, the industries and modes of production as well as the basic ethos of capitalism serve to shape the superstructure, the laws, arts, culture, and society. And it is this laws, and culture and society that affirm the righteousness of the economic base, and the capitalistic ideology (Marx, 1844).
Project Mayhem tried to change this interaction as an alternate superstructure which is anti to the one prevalent in society. With their alternate base, the notion of a man as part of something larger, of equality and opposition to capitalistic ideals, they have produced an alternate society, an alternate culture, which is the fight club at its early stages and evolved into project mayhem. In order to legitimize their own base-superstructure, they must disrupt the existing capitalist one, and since most of their members are the drones, those whose specialized jobs make society run, the task becomes infinitesimally easier.
In the capitalist world of specialization of tasks, it becomes easier to sabotage industries and societal process by simply removing or influencing key individuals. Since the society is reliant on the accomplishment of its members of its specific tasks, removal of this accomplishment would lead to an inevitable chain reaction by which change could be accommodated. Thus those of the lower classes, with their specialized class, are able to deny their masters and oppressors the services which they are supposed to do, effectively making them realize how the upper classes of society are reliant on the lower ones.
Worker bees can leave Even drones can fly away The queen is their slave. -Jack (Fight Club, Script available in crosswinds. net) This disruption of the basic principle of class division between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is in Marx’s view the inevitable destiny in capitalism’s ultimate evolution to Marxism. However, the evolution to Project Mayhem is also anathema to Marxist principle of equality. Whereas Marx promotes equal individual welfare, the removal of individuality upon becoming a part of Project Mayhem and its subsequent restoration upon death is a direct contradiction of Marxist ideals.
The members were looking out for the interests of the project, without the Project looking out for them, violating a Locke agreement. In order to attain the transition from capitalism to communism, the proletariat must first unite and overthrow the bourgeoisie. A revolution is inevitable. Leninist Marxism provides a revolution of a united proletariat must be spearheaded by leaders committed to the cause, in Fight Club’s Case, Tyler Durden. The withdrawal of the proletariat everyman mentality, of Jack, is replaced with Tyler’s violent, but clear sighted leadership as to how to impose the tenets of Fight Club into the society.
Thus comes the inevitable criticism of Leninist Marxism, as the proletariat becomes unaware of the direction they are heading, with only their leaders knowing the full extent of the revolution. This cell mentality is reminiscent of capitalistic society, and is only legitimized as being the only method that could ensure capitalism’s downfall, an argument used by terrorist organizations worldwide. The end of the film allows for the death of Tyler Durden and the reawakening of Jack.
This symbolizes the end for the violent personality needed to instigate the transitory revolution and the return to the everyman, the individual. The success of project mayhem’s plan to bomb the city’s financial district is in itself the catalyst by which the transition picks up on. The success of the anti-thesis in countering the capitalistic society and its subsequent end brings to the forefront a glimpse of the synthesis after. The destiny of Tyler Durden, as with all revolutionary leaders is to lead the revolution, and then give the reins to the proletariat, Jack.
Thus Jack’s shooting of himself in order to remove Tyler Durbin is in itself an acceptance of the fact that Tyler’s work is done, and that it is now time to go back to compassion as means for societal revolution. Fight Club is an anti-capitalist movie. It shows us what capitalism has done to affect our perceptions of masculinity, our self-esteem and our take on civilization. It exhibits how people can become lost and alienated in their society and ultimately even within themselves. In order to provide an anti-thesis to capitalism, Fight Club used Marxist themes in order to show how one could respond and fight capitalism.
It shows how those classes marginalized by capitalist society can turn the tables on it and use the specialized tools given to them to disrupt the base and superstructure interaction within and promote the tenets obtained from the Fight Club. The movie exhibits Marxism not as an end unto itself but simply as an option, as a means on how to provide a fighting chance to those individuals reduced to meaningless roles in a capitalist society. Works Cited Fight Club, a screenplay by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher, and based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk; Fox.
1999 (Script available at http://www. crosswinds. net/~filmhouse/scripts/fight_club. html. ) Benzaquen, Adriana S.. “Thought and Utopia in the Writings of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Benjamin” Utopian Studies, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p149, 13p. 1998 Bilton, Alan. An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, Phenomenology of Mind. Trans. J. B. Baillie, 2nd. ed. Macmillan, New York, pp. 25-58. 1955. Hegel. Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Trans. J. Sibree, Dover Publications, New York, 1956.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 25 November 2016
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