The editor of Marxist.com, Alan Woods, recently appeared on a programme on the French Revolution broadcast on the History Channel in the U.S. The Channel interrupted its schedule of WWII footage for a special on the French Revolution. This was shown on Saturday 22 January and consisted of an hour-long re-enactment with commentaries by experts representing different viewpoints.
The Marxist standpoint was defended by Alan Woods, who appeared three times on the programme. Alan was interviewed for the programme last June, when the producer came to London for the purpose. They even hired a room in the Wallace Collection to shoot the interview, which lasted for two hours, although, as usual, only a very small part of the material was used in the end.
The editor of Marxist.com is shown on the programme defending the Revolution and stressing the role of the masses as the main motor force behind it. He describes the mood of the people of Paris after the conspiracy of the royal family was exposed. He vividly describes the actions of the plebeian poor (the Sans culottes). He points out the tremendous participation of the women at every decisive turning point of the Revolution, as in the women’s march on Versailles. All this is in stark contrast to the usual academic platitudes and the picture of the French Revolution painted by reactionaries as an “orgy of bloodshed”.
The History Channel has a very big audience, and Alan’s contribution has already caused a stir in Left circles in the USA. One supporter of the US Workers International League (WIL) was listening to the television, but not really watching it, when he recognised a voice and found out to his astonishment that it was Alan Woods talking about the French Revolution.
Another said: “I was surprised. When they bring on someone who comments about the said subject they display the name and occupation, like author or professor. And for Alan they put ‘author, In Defence of Marxism’ I just thought that odd, putting and acknowledging a communist on American TV. [...] Overall, he was clear and his statements made much sense.”
Another young supporter of YFIS (Youth for International Socialism) in the USA commented: “I just found it interesting that they would put a communist on TV. I wonder how much ended up being cut out.” The answer is: quite a lot. “They should have given Woods more time,” somebody else commented. “I wasn’t too fond of some of the other people on the show.”
Alan is identified as “Author, In Defence of Marxism” but there is no mention that this is a website. That was obviously thought to be going too far! Nevertheless, the fact that a Marxist could put his point of view on the French Revolution in a television programme watched by millions of people in the USA and worldwide is in itself a great achievement and a further indication of the way in which the ideas of Marxism are beginning to get an echo in an ever widening public.
PS We’ve just heard that the show will be broadcast in the UK on March 28. We do not yet know the time, so you should watch the published schedules and get your video ready. Watch this space!