Monday, August 2, 2010

Base and Superstructure

In the scene from “Glengarry Glenn Ross,” a motivational speaker has been brought into talk to the sales people. He starts out by ‘firing’ everyone and telling them they have to earn their jobs back. The employees don’t feel they have good leads. He tells the employees they are nothing and they are not worthy of the leads if they cannot close them. Although he belittles the employees and tells them everything he has that they don’t, they are not able to stand up to him. This is not only because they don’t want to lose their job, but because everything he is saying is true. He is the successful rich businessman that they want to be. He has everything they don’t, and they want to believe that they are capable of achieving the same success.

His speech and the way he treats the employees is a portrayal of the base and superstructure theory in Marxism. His speech and treatment of the salesmen relates to the relations of the means of production within the base. Everyone and everything is subject to the relations of production. The base is a representation of the economy and the way production is organized. This includes the relationship between the employer and employees. In “Glengarry Glenn Ross,” the motivational speaker treating the employees as if they are worthless and demanding more of them in order to keep their jobs relates to the relationship between the managers and workers. These relationships are an aspect that influences the relations of production, and therefore, the base. The base influences the superstructure, which help to determine other relationships and ideas in society, including culture, religion, education, and politics.

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