Friday, March 27, 2009

Another New Mexico Story

"Salt of the Earth" (1954)

It's still one of the most inspirational Labor movies of any era, and it really puts to shame the languid indifference and/or passive argumentation that passes for "opposition" today.

That it is set in New Mexico, based on a real strike at a real mine in 1951, is a bonus. The movie deals with racial, ethnic and gender discrimination quite openly and productively; labor exploitation of course is central. But what moves people still is the fact that the strikers take charge of their own fate, they are prepared to suffer, be gassed, jailed, starved out, run over by rogue cops, etc. in order to achieve their objectives -- which they do -- and they are supported by hundreds of thousands of workers all over the country and the world.

Of course the picture was made by blacklisted Hollywood types who ran afoul of the Red-baiting of the post WWII era. But their work stands tall, today as yesterday, and it should be seen now as a reminder -- as a forceful reminder -- of just what "struggle" means.

Also available in a somewhat better version at Internet Archive.

"The People, united, will never be divided..."


  1. I just watched "Salt of the Earth." Thanks for that. Il wonder: How does one organize 298 million screwed-over, lied to people?

  2. Glad you watched it. It's a really excellent picture that I think I saw -- somehow -- maybe thirty years ago. I remembered some scenes anyway.

    What will goose today's Americans to fight for what's right? There is a stirring, yes, but it seems to lead to more bewilderment than organization. I don't know what will work, but the signs are pointing (eventually) to something like what happened in "Salt of the Earth." People reach the point where they're not going to take it any more. And they will make it impossible for the predators to continue. Whatever it takes.

    Persistence is the key...