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.
Directed by John Singleton
Higher Learning is a progressive movie which takes on many
political issues, including those which relate to gender,
nation ("race"), class and sexual orientation. This upsets
many bourgeois film critics, who prefer "art for art's
sake," and therefore consider artists like Singleton
"preachy" for addressing the issues of the day.
One of the worst things about Higher Learning is that in
some places, it lends itself to a liberal individualist
analysis. One example of this is where we are told that a
character who becomes a violent white supremacist was
beaten as a child. The issue of individualism is also
raised by quick scene changes which seem to indicate a
symmetry between supporters of white power and supporters
of Black power.
Overall, however, Higher Learning does more to promote an
analysis of groups than a psychoanalysis of individuals.
For instance, Singleton does a lot to illustrate that the
white nation or "race" has state power in the U.S. The
school in which the film is set is Columbus University (Go
Conquerors!), and U.S. flags and portraits of Columbus and
George Washington are ubiquitous.
One of the best things about Higher Learning is its
treatment of gender, particularly in relation to nation.
Nation or "race" is correctly shown to be the principal
contradiction, the one which provokes the most violent
actions and reactions. Gender oppression's existence is
demonstrated with a white-on-white date rape. When the
raped woman attends a women's support group, she finds that
the pseudo-feminist discussion, which centers around the
need for more campus cops, does not address the experience
of date rape. Elsewhere in Higher Learning, we see that
campus cops mainly serve the function of harassing, and
occasionally beating, Black men. While most rape is date
rape, pseudo-feminism promotes a strengthened white state.
Class is best dealt with in Higher Learning by comments
acknowledging that it is a privilege to be in college. The
Third World unfortunately does not make its presence known
in this film.
Singleton's treatment of sexual orientation is good.
Obviously Singleton is more progressive on this question
than were some audience members MIM witnessed who loudly
proclaimed their discomfort with a same-sex love scene.
Another scene shows a gay couple being bashed by a gang of
fascist skinheads. As with gender oppression, Singleton
shows that heterosexist oppression is real and sometimes
violent, but nonetheless does not mobilize people the way
that the contradiction between oppressed nations and the
oppressor nation does.
Campus multiculturalism is correctly shown for the liberal
gloss it is. A multicultural "Unity Fest" is a good excuse
for a concert, but does nothing to prevent the reality of
racist violence from crashing in.
On the question of national oppression, Singleton tells the
audience through the voice of a wise professor that if the
oppressed want to seize power, they need to have a plan.
The professor reminds us what Frederick Douglass said:
"Without struggle, there is no progress."