The final chapter reveals the peculiarities of the reproduction of capital in the twenty-first century. Major attention is devoted to new aspects of the structure of social reproduction. Two sectors are distinguished: the useful sector, in which goods that aid the development of technologies and human qualities are created, and the useless sector, where the goods created consist of junk: simulacra, fakes, and other phenomena that do not contribute to the progress of humanity, society, or technology. These goods consist mainly (but not exclusively) of phenomena created in the areas of finance, marketing, bureaucratic management, and so forth. A second crucial aspect of reproduction in the twenty-first century is the transformation of the general law of capitalist accumulation. The chapter shows that along with the direct consequence, the growth of socio-economic inequality, there is also another consequence: a reduction of this inequality to the extent to which, as a result of the social activism of working people, a socialisation of capitalism takes place. The chapter proposes a new way of formulating the general law of capitalist accumulation: there is an inversely proportional relationship between the expansion of the hegemony of capital on the one hand, and the degree of progress of the creatosphere and of the social creativity of working people on the other.
Production relations vs. productive forces, social creativity vs. activism
Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov
Continuing in this vein, and building on their innovations in the field of the dialectics of transformation, progress, and regression, the authors propose the hypothesis of possible stages (genesis, developed state, ‘sunset’) and models (mutations) of different economic systems (pre-capitalist and capitalist). This helps them to show the importance of understanding the nature of the world of (social) estrangement (in Marx’s terminology, pre-history, ‘the realm of [economic] necessity’) as a whole. The authors consider it no accident that the ‘sunset’ of the capitalist mode of production coincides historically and logically with the ‘sunset’, that is the overcoming, of the ‘realm of necessity’. This hypothesis is supported by analysis of the interaction of productive forces with the relations of production. The authors show not only the direct, but also the reverse couplings involved in this interaction. In particular, they reveal the socio-economic mechanisms responsible for the formation of particular types of productive forces, the incentives at work, and the limits to the development of these forces. The contradiction of social being in which a person acts both as the creator of history and as a function of objectively alienated social forces has been discussed in our previous works, and should be considered under the rubric of philosophical rather than of political and economic provisions. We argue that this contradiction underlies historical progress and regression, and determines the main features of the Marxist concept of the human individual.
Four Conversations with Canadian Communications Officers
As the production, content and display of humanitarian images faced the requirements of digital media, humanitarian organizations struggled to keep equitable visual practices. Media specialists reflect on past and current uses of images in four Canadian agencies: the Canadian Red Cross, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, the World University Service of Canada and IMPACT. Historically, the risk to reproduce the global inequalities they seek to remedy has compelled photographers, filmmakers and publicists in these agencies to develop codes of visual practice. In these conversations, they have shared the insights gained in transforming their work to accompany the rise of new digital technologies and social media. From one agency to the other, the lines of concern and of innovation converge. On the technical side, the officers speak of the advantage of telling personal stories, and of using short videos and infographics. On the organizational side, they have updated ways to develop skills in media production and visual literacy among workers, volunteers, partners and recipients, at all levels of their activity. These interviews further reveal that Communications Officers share with historians a wish to collect, preserve and tell past histories that acknowledge the role of all actors in the humanitarian sphere, as well as an immediate need to manage the abundance of visual documents with respect and method. To face these challenges, the five interviewees rely on democratic traditions of image-making: the trusted relationships, both with the Canadian public and with local peoples abroad, which have always informed the production and the content of visual assets. For this reason, humanitarian publicists might be in a privileged position to intervene in larger and urgent debates over the moral economy of the circulation of digital images in a globalized public space.
Lewis Hine’s Photographs of Refugees for the American Red Cross, 1918–20
Sonya de Laat
From June 1918 to April 1919, the American social photographer Lewis Hine made photographs of refugees in Europe. Refugees emerged as an unexpectedly humanitarian subject during World War I. Care for them was part of the American Red Cross’ (ARC) overall war relief activities, which Hine was hired to visually record. In this paper, I present the way in which refugees went from being framed in the ARC’s mass-circulated popular Red Cross Magazine as unique, innocent, idealized war-affected civilians to eventually being visually displaced in a shifting humanitarian landscape. For refugees who were, by 1920, making their way across the ocean to North America, visual displacement from the humanitarian visual sphere was tantamount to territorial displacement. Anxieties and negative rhetoric of the unassimilated alien prevailed, resulting in the temporary ‘closure’ of America’s borders and the ARC’s growing American-centric relief activities. Entwined with anti-Bolshevism, American immigration, and isolationist politics of the early twentieth century, Hine’s photographs and the ARC’s role in contributing to humanitarian photography are an early example of a rise and fall in sympathies towards refugees that would continue throughout the century.
This article introduces you to the general themes and questions of this special
issue. We argue that history and visual media have long been central to
humanitarian communication, but that the overlaps between history, visual media,
and humanitarian communication have seldom been addressed. A focus on those
overlaps, we suggest, not only demonstrates that critical historical inquiry has
much to offer for professional communication specialists, it also sheds new
light on the workings, changes and persistence of humanitarian narratives over
the twentieth century.
The Visual Politics and Narratives of Red Cross Museums in Europe and the
United States, 1920s to 2010s
Interpreting Red Cross museums as a visual medium, this essay explores the visual
politics of Red Cross museums through the twentieth century. The essay puts
particular emphasis on the entanglements between the visual politics and
humanitarian narratives of Red Cross museums and identifies three major
narratives that museums promoted through the times: a heroic narrative, a
narrative of civility, and a volunteer’s narrative. Last, the essay
argues that Red Cross museums may offer a fruitful field to encourage more
engagement between (public) historians and humanitarian practitioners.
An Interview with Rainer Schlösser, Spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Rotkreuz-Museen)
An accomplished academic, collector, and long-time Red Cross volunteer, Professor Dr Rainer Schlösser is head of the Red Cross Museum of the Red Cross Chapter Fläming-Spreewald in Luckenwalde. He has directed the museum since 2000. Since 2006, he has also served as official spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany, a group connecting thirteen Red Cross museums across Germany. I met Rainer Schlösser in his office at the Red Cross Museum in Luckenwalde. After an extended and insightful tour through the museum we sat down to discuss his ideas and his work at the museum.
For two decades, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) prepared pedagogical materials for Canadian schools. This article reviews the role of visual media in the hundreds of publications prepared for Development Education. Samples collected by Marc Rockbrune, Distribution Clerk responsible for their expedition in schools, libraries, and homes, and donated in 2016 to Carleton University Archives and Research Collections, are read with the help of the ‘psychopedagogical guides’ prepared by CIDA, and the testimonies of two workers of the agency linked to their preparation and dissemination: Mary Bramley, curator of the International Development Photo Library, and Rockbrune himself. Prepared with a large measure of autonomy by a sizeable team of visual artists, designers, and third world reformers, the program outreach was large, and its popularity strong. The expected and effective roles of visual media in the history of this short-lived institution of Development Education is explored to suggest elements of understanding of their impact on a generation of Canadian children and youth.
Visual Advocacy in the Early Decades of Humanitarian Cinema
Focusing on the pivotal period of 1919–23 and the large-scale humanitarian responses in Central and Eastern Europe, this paper discusses the development of advocacy in the movies made by organizations like the ICRC, Save the Children Fund or American Relief Administration. While aid agencies observed and competed with each other for visibility, humanitarian cinema shaped visual advocacy, grounded in the idea that ‘seeing is believing’. Exploring the fragmented audiovisual archives, as well as magazines and promotional material, this paper explores the testimonial function of humanitarian films in the 1920s. It first shows that the immediacy of the cinema technology increased the immersive and affective experience of the viewers by using forensic evidence and images of the body in pain. It then analyses how these films compelled audiences to witness suffering and act through persuasion, suggestion, and emotions. Finally, it inquires into the use of eyewitness images and first-hand accounts during the screenings, to show how these movies operated within larger regimes of visibility, while making claims on behalf of distant beneficiaries.
The following conversation explores the emergence of advocacy within the MSF movement. Maria Guevara was Senior Operational Positioning and Advocacy Advisor in the Operational Centre Geneva (OCG) at MSF Switzerland. Marc DuBois was the Head of the Humanitarian Affairs Department in the Operational Centre Amsterdam (OCA) at MSF Holland and the former Director of MSF UK. Together, we discuss the principle of ‘bearing witness’ and the dilemmas it has raised among MSF’s different sections, as well as its link to eyewitness.