Analyzing the Film “American Dream” by B. Kopple within the Marxist Framework Set in Austin, Minnesota, during the mid-80s where a union of workers protested against the seemingly unjust curtailment of wage and compensation by Hormel Foods, the film “American Dream”, under Barbara Kopple’s direction, attempts to exhibit the Marxist concept of class struggle and the impact of a capitalist society given a specific case picture. With the socio-economic issues demonstrated in the film, the viewers can be inclined to contemplate not only on the social conflict emerging out of the wide economic gap between a worker and an employer, but even the degree to which the American dream initiated in the 50s has departed from or stayed intact with its objective as the modern industrial system seeks to be justified within the encompassing philosophy of capitalism according to the economic policies imposed in the regime of Pres.
Reagan (Maslin, 1990). As such, “American Dream” depicts the main conflict source being the situation where Hormel Foods employees are confronted with a new hourly wage of $8.25 (Maslin) which is quite a dramatic reduction from $10.69.
The local union projects the solid right to retaliate against the company’s decision since workers are bound to experience such an unfavorable change at the period when Hormel Foods declares making outstanding revenue with an overall profit of $30 which, apparently, does not serve a fair proportion with the labour costs. Moreover, in the story, the workers are to face the burden of receiving diminished benefits in addition to the major hourly rate drop. This scenario evidently presents a form of class struggle within a typical framework with which Marx perceives from each class of ordinary worker and of employer a distinct approach to bring to resolution the kind of economy sought after by individual classes involved. On one hand, the event of struggle may be analyzed such that the observer understands the perspective adopted to by the capitalist who is merely concerned with adjusting business parameters toward an optimum personal gain.
The capitalist, nevertheless, provides the labourer an option whether to proceed rendering service for the company at a cheaper cost of work or to consider looking for a new job in case the employee finds it beyond amenable.
In the film, this corresponds to the part when the company is compelled to hire new workers to replace the union members who, with the aid of strike consultant R. Rogers, insist on opposing Hormel management along with the larger union established as United Food and Commercial Workers. When Marx claims “It (capital) arises only when the owner of the means of production and subsistence finds the free worker available, on the market, as the seller of his own labour-power”, he most likely means there ought to exist full mutual agreement between the business owner and the individuals working for him (Marx, Ch.
26). Judging, however, based on the workers’ response as witnessed on film, the grieving workers may not be found free to sell their labour eventually after getting disappointed with the former employer, marking the absence of capital as a consequence since the same opposing people cannot be subject to operate for the sake of productivity and production toward generation of commodity and regeneration of capital.
Works Cited Maslin, Janet. “American Dream (1990) Review / Film Festival; A Tragedy at a Plant as Lived by Strikers. ” The New York Times. 6 Oct 1990. Web. 8 May 2012. http: //movies. nytimes. com/movie/review? res=9C0CE5D71E3CF935A35753C1A966958260. Marx, Karl. “Chapter Twenty-Six: The Secret of Primitive Accumulation. ” Part VIII: Primitive Accumulation -- Capital Volume I. 1999. Web. 8 May 2012. http: //www. marxists. org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch26.htm.