According to director Michael Moore, the film Bowling for Columbine paints a portrait of the United States, “a nation that seems hell-bent on killing first and asking questions later” at the beginning of the 21st century. Appealing to the likes of us, we thought, and this proved to be no false expectation. Apart from a film that grabs the spectator by the scruff of the neck, at times being tragic by the bare facts alone, Bowling for Columbine is above all a very humorous and enjoyable documentary about the American weapons industry, but also about the latter’s link with US foreign policy.

Yesterday’s British ‘The Independent’ published an article confirming that looting, on the part of US troops and even some journalists, of precious works of art has indeed been taking place in Iraq.

Goya was one of the greatest artists of all time.  His paintings are a priceless document of the history of the Spanish people. He painted the world in which he lived, and he painted it in terms of uncompromising realism. His entire outlook was shaped by great historical events - the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the ferocious struggle for national independence and the movement for liberal reform that followed it, a movement that was brutally crushed by the forces of darkness, obscurantism and reaction. This article is part of an important new series by Alan Woods called Art and revolution.

In the second part of his article Alan Woods deals with the profound changes in Goya's paintings in his later years. The Peninsular War transformed the whole situation in Spain overnight - and with it, Goya's art. In place of the sunlight there was darkness, instead of colour, only different shades of black. This impenetrable darkness was only an expression of the all-pervading blackness he saw all around him. The reason for this astonishing transformation cannot be found in art. It is a direct reflection of the processes at work in society.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

For once a film that accurately portrays the moods and attitudes of the East Berlin population during the year 1989-1990. This period saw a total upheaval in life, from the first demonstrations repressed by the East German state on October 7, 1989 till German unification a year later, all the main events are interspersed with the way these events impacted life.

It is rare, these days, to see the bloodhound like features of John Pilger on television - rare, but welcome. John Pilger made his name as a crusading, left journalist, exposing the truth from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited, especially focussing on the victims of American imperialism such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

Wole Soyinka is a prominent Nigerian playwright, and in 1986, he became the first African writer ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In October 1965, Soyinka was arrested for allegedly seizing the Western Region radio studios and using them to publicly dispute the published results of the recent elections, but in December of the same year, he was acquitted. Didi Cheeka of the Workers' Alternative Editorial Board looks at the ideas and works of this well known writer.

In Part Two of his article, Didi Cheeka shows how Soyinka's works express the struggle for " the liberation of the individual, for the individual, by the individual and the removal of general liberation for the mass of the people". It arises from the petit-bourgeois intellectual's conception of human nature in completely individualistic terms, divorced from all social being. It is, nevertheless, a tribute to Soyinka that at the height of the ethnic cleansing that presaged the Nigeria/Biafra civil war he was shrill in his condemnation of the perpetrators. He paid for this with 27 months in detention. Again he protested against the brutal repression of students in 1978. But his individual and petit-bourgeois approach has now led him to have illusions in the present party of government, the PDP.

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