Monday, April 22, 2013

Poster of the Week

Wir Bringen die Pole zum Schmelzen
Klaus Staeck; Greenpeace
Offset, 1988
Germany: Heidelberg

We Bring the Poles to the Melting Point—Most Catastrophically Everybody only talks about the climate—we break it and make a good profit on it: by the production of 140000 tons of CFC’s [Chlorofluorocarbons] per year. Kali and Hoechst, the Climate killers.

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970 was marked by environmental teach-ins held throughout the U.S. Approximately 20 million Americans participated and this date marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Now, more than 40 years later, the situation is worse and the climate is changing rapidly and very noticeably. The polar ice caps are melting faster than scientists had predicted, extreme weather is becoming the norm, and expanding swaths of oceans and lakes are becoming dead zones where no marine life can survive due to depleted oxygen levels caused by pesticide runoff. In 2004, 146 dead zones in the world's oceans were reported. A 2008 study counted 405 dead zones worldwide. Meanwhile, new ways of polluting our air, soil and water are increasingly profitable therefore actively supported by industry and government alike: from deep sea oil drilling, to fracking, to transporting tar sands across some of the most fertile and fragile agricultural land in the country. When will we ever learn?

CSPG’s Poster of the Week was designed by Klaus Staeck, arguably the most prolific political poster designer in Europe, for Greenpeace, one of the oldest environmental organizations with offices in more than 40 countries.

CFC’s, sold under the trade name of Freons, were extensively used in refrigerators and air conditioners, in the production of plastics, as solvents for electronics, and as a propellant in spray cans. When CFC’s were shown to destroy the Ozone layer, causing a rise in skin cancer, severe sunburns and eye problems, their use as aerosol propellants was discontinued. However, due to improper disposal, they continued to leak into the atmosphere, destroying more of the Ozone layer. In the 1980s, Greenpeace launched a campaign against the largest producers of CFC’s in Europe: the chemical companies Kali-Chemie and Hoechst. Hoechst also translates as “Highest”, so the poster uses the double meaning of the name to both highlight the company, and its role in contributing to global warming. In the 1990s, many Hoechst and Kali-Chemie plants throughout the world ceased production of CFC’s.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poster of the Week

Gone with the Wind
Bob Light; John Houston
Offset, 1980s
Hampton,  Connecticut

Margaret Thatcher died this week.  She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and the only woman to have held the office. A Soviet journalist called her the "Iron Lady", a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics.  Thatcher’s political philosophy and economic policies emphasized deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), privatization of state owned companies, and union busting.  Sound familiar? 

When two-thirds of the country's miners went on strike in 1984, she called them, “the enemy within…”   In March 1985, after a year out on strike, the union leadership conceded without a deal. The cost to the economy was estimated to be at least £1.5 billion.  Of 174 state-owned mines, most of which were profitable, 97 were closed by 1992, and those that remained were privatized by 1994. This resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and devastated entire communities.  And this is just the result of her attack on one sector of the working class.  Thatcher also presided over the Falklands War with Argentina and provided critical support to the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

As government officials and the corporate press eulogize her strengths and accomplishments, CSPG’s Poster of the Week focuses on her close relationship with President Ronald Reagan.  George Schultz , Reagan’s Secretary of State, called Reagan and Thatcher “ideological soulmates.”  No more need be said.

Poster Text:
The Film To End All Films
The most EXPLOSIVE  love story ever
Milton Friedman  in association with Pentagon Productions presents  "Gone With  The Wind"  Screenplay By  Henry Kissinger  Directed By Cap Weinberger  Music by Jerry Falwell 
Winner of Ten Academy  Awards 
She promised to follow him to the end of the earth.  He promised to organise it!
 "The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God."
- Phyllis Schlafly, Boston Globe, 7/15/80

G All Ages Eliminated  From an Idea Conceived By Phyllis Schlaughly [sic]
An IMF Picture  Now showing world-wide 
Bob Light/ John Houston for Socialist Worker  Published in the U.S. with permission by Donnelly/Colt, Box 1988, Hampton, CT 06247. [union bug] Local One New York  $4 per copy by mail Bulk rates available

Poster History:
Originally designed in 1982 for the Socialist Workers Party (London), it was then remade in the U.S and Germany.  This poster parodies the Reagan-Thatcher alliance as a remake of Gone with the Wind, with Reagan as Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) sweeping British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as Scarlet O'Hara (Vivienne Leigh) off her feet.

The poster was adopted by its opponents and decorated many a young conservative's apartment: It conveyed, more successfully than its designers had intended, a certain romantic quality in the "special relationship" between Reagan and Thatcher.

Others in the "cast" :
Jerry Falwell - fundamentalist right-wing Baptist minister who founded the Moral Majority in 1979.
Milton Friedman - a member of President Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board.
Henry Kissinger - Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford.  Was Reagan's Chairman of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (1983-84).
Phyllis Schlafly - a right wing antifeminist activist, who really did say, "The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God."  [Boston Globe, 7/15/80]
Cap (Caspar) Weinberger - Secretary of Defense under Reagan Administration, 1981 – 1987.



Many British Pop stars wrote songs highly critical of Thatcher.  In 1988, Stephen Patrick Morrisey wrote a song titled 'Margaret on the Guillotine,' even featuring a sound effect of a blade cutting a neck.  In his 1989 song "Tramp The Dirt Down,” Elvis Costello prayed he'd live long enough to stamp on her grave. "I'd savor/ when they finally put you in the ground/I'll stand on your put you in the grave/and tramp the dirt down,” he spat.  Since her death, Costello’s song has risen to #79 on iTunes. But Thatcher’s death is propelling an even older song to the top of iTunes:"Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” from The Wizard of Oz (1939).  A Facebook page established in 2007, encouraged people to download the “Witch” song when Thatcher died, to make it number one.  The BBC plays the top ten songs…the question is, will they play this one? The controversy is escalating amid charges of censorship vs free speech. Stay tuned.


Sources for the musical protests: