This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
Maoist Internationalist Movement

Conan: The Barbarian 
Rated R 
131 minutes 
Universal Studios 

Conan: The Destroyer 
Rated PG 
102 minutes 
Universal Studios 

These movies feature a youthful action-hero played 
by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Taken as a slave as a 
child and turned into a gladiator, Conan gains his 
freedom and begins on quests for adventure.

"Conan: The Barbarian" would be unambiguously 
progressive without the first ten minutes of the 
film quoting from Nietzsche and building a legend 
of the "superman" fit for Hitler. If the film had 
started where the dogs chase Conan up into an 
abandoned temple, Conan would have picked up his 
sword and made a pretty good mark from then 

In the climactic battle, Conan gets no help from 
the hapless members of a  religious suicide cult 
reminiscent of Hari Krishna (in costumes and 
atmosphere of the members), the Aum Shinrikyo and 
life in general under capitalism. True to 
Nietzsche and idealist views of history, it was 
just one hero freeing the sheep. "Conan" movies 
thereby raise the question that we often face 
whether it is a Lenin or a Che (whose line we have 
serious disagreements with) that always ends up 
carrying the disproportionate weight of struggle 
or whether there really are classes behind the 
various important struggles of the day.

In the case of "Conan: The Barbarian," Conan is 
explosive material because he came from an 
oppressed village that ended up in slavery. There 
is definitely something dialectical about how 
someone forced down to the bottom rose up and 
upended convention.

Meanwhile the self-satisfied youth who followed 
the exploiter leader of the suicide cult had no 
progressive umph of their own, just alternative 
lifestyles. Though the exploiter leader was Black, 
MIM has no trouble calling him an exploiter and 
oppressor in that context. By itself, nor do we 
object to casting a Black character as the godly 
leader of evil. It's just that Nietzsche, a Black 
leader leading white youth to their doom and a 
superman raised up from oppressed white people to 
free white people from a Black god--the message 
combined is definitely not good. Even more 
troubling than the film is the reality of the 
thought that the imperialists may raise up a Colin 
Powell or the like and this may make the anti-
imperialist struggle more difficult.

In the end, all the sheet-wearers bearing candles 
had their little fantasy extinguished. It was 
progressive, albeit not a Marxist film, just 
without the first ten minutes.

"Conan: The Destroyer" is outright progressive 
despite the myth of the superman behind it. The 
leaders of evil in "Conan: The Destroyer" are all 
white except for the chief in charge of the 
Queen's guards.

Wimmin play a very strong role--both as the 
principal villains and as fighters, one of whom 
comes back from the dead to fight in one scene. 
Meanwhile, Conan takes on a god in battle and 
kills him. Now we wish a Schwarzenegger action-
hero would save us from the Christian suicide-
rapture cult running the united $tates.

In terms of class, "The Destroyer" opens with 
classic lumpen lines from our hero who is a thief 
with a scrawny thief partner. Conan tells the 
queen he is from a people with no government and 
he appears to have nothing in common with the 
queen; although in truth Conan believes in a 
certain god but without much detail or depth and 
his superstitions prove to be a weakness the queen 
exploits. These same lumpen qualities gained Conan 
recognition in the "Conan: The Barbarian" when the 
king realized that Conan's band of lumpen is 
fearless enough to dethrone the suicide-cult, 
especially if provided sufficient money. Without 
Conan's particular class background, there would 
be no interesting story here--just another body-
builder looking for a girlfriend.

In terms of race, gender and class--"Conan: The 
Destroyer" is progressive. Although these "Conan" 
movies came out in the 1980s, they still have a 
1960s/1970s feel to them. There are odd mixes of 
accented English and attempts to speak English of 
yore along with English fit for contemporary 
times. Aside from the subject matter itself which 
is always good for a snicker, the overall effect 
is one of upper-end "B" grade movies.

 [About]  [Contact]  [Home]  [Art]  [Movies]  [Black Panthers]  [News]  [RAIL]