“Finally Got the News” -Doc Film on League of Revolutionary Black Workers

Described below in a review from the site IMDB.com, this version has subtitles of the American soundtrack, in German, added by Darnell Stephen Summers, now living in Berlin. A veteran of the League, he can be found Zooming in from Berlin in weekly Zooms held by the modern League of Revolutionaries for a New America-Detroit Labor Committee. This version was free-downloaded off the web and not of high-definition resolution.

Made well outside any kind of Hollywood studio structure, the collectively-made ‘Finally Got the News…’ presents Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers/DRUM finding new ways to circumvent the corrupt union bureaucracy and to organise within the workplace. Far from a nostalgic or ‘local’ document, the film’s structure veers between ideological lecture, practical summary, functional illustration, and ‘news’ of a different kind, a treatise conveyed through affective means. The film opens with a montage of racial capitalism in America unfolds in a succession of stills which give the impression of a kind of spasmodic movement, underscored by dramatic tympani (the opposite of the reverential aura the archive would attain in the Ken Burns-trademarked style of succeeding decades). A brief shift into colour for electric guitar and footage of the auto-factory and the racial violence of the long hot summers brings things up to date; for the credits, we shift to the sounds of the factory itself, to be followed by a lecture on surplus value by a member of the League. As the film cuts from the scene of the lecture (an apartment filled with revolutionary posters, for Che, for Mao, for Angola, for Malcolm X) to the factory itself, these spaces–the space of ideological debate, of theory, of Third World Marxism–and of the factory itself, with the more mundane, grinding, or specific struggles of how to organise within it–form the film’s too axes, often united as impromptu lectures unfold over footage of the various negotiations within the factory spaces, reaching a kind of furious peak during another speech around 15 minutes into the film. Here we see the cars themselves, the product of centuries of dead and living labour congealed into an object whose gleaming surface is dismantled by the coruscating, incandescent lyricism of that speech. The film is acutely attentive to such intersections of sound and image, of the thorny demands of activism and the affective register which gives the truth of the emotional life without which they wither and die: a moment channeling hurt, rage, fury and steely determination whose chord still strikes.