[Marxism] Death of a Salesman

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 16 13:47:32 MDT 2012

On 3/16/2012 3:27 PM, guava tree wrote:
> posting my thoughts on this play, which has recently had a Broadway
> revival-- There's more to be said I think about the intersection of
> playwrights and the CP&  HUAC, but this is mostly centered on the
> content of the play:


Arthur Miller
One of our Greatest Political Artists

by Louis Proyect

(Swans - February 14, 2005)   Arthur Miller, one of our greatest 
political artists, died at the age of 89 on February 11, 2005. 
Although none of his other plays received the critical acclaim of 
"Death of a Salesman," his reputation could rest on this one work 
alone. Whatever his sixteen other plays, including "The Crucible" 
or "The Price," might have lacked in craftsmanship they more than 
made up for in terms of political and social insight. For Miller 
the ultimate goal of a work of art was to provide some kind of 
lesson for humanity. If some critics in this age of postmodernist 
irony deemed that old-fashioned, Miller was content -- as we on 
the left should be -- to adopt the stance embodied in Dante's: 
"Segui il tuo corso e lascia dir le genti." This dictum, which 
Marx cited in the opening pages of Capital, means "Go your own way 
and let people talk."

Although his father was a wealthy garment manufacturer, the 
Depression would reduce the family to poverty. Like fellow New 
Yorker and Jew Howard Zinn, Miller eventually went to work in the 
Brooklyn Navy Yard, a hotbed of labor radicalism. Like Zinn, 
Miller never joined the Communist Party but was content to speak 
out against injustice on his own. Zinn's medium was history and 
Miller's was the theater. Both knew who the enemy was and refused 
to be cowed into political submission, standing up to witch 
hunters in the 1950s and '60s. Now with efforts afoot to launch a 
new McCarthyism against dissidents in the academy, such as Ward 
Churchill or Mohammad S. Alam, the heroic example of earlier 
resisters should serve the movement well.


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