By Daisy Valera

The Working Class Goes to Heaven” by Elio Petri (Italy, 1970)
The Working Class Goes to Heaven” by Elio Petri (Italy, 1970)

A few days ago, as I was walking by the Charles Chaplin Movie Theater, one of the cinemas with the best films in Havana, I noticed that they were showing “The Working Class Goes to Heaven” by Elio Petri (Italy, 1970), as part of a screening of the best 50 movies of the 20th century.

The title drew me in and I got to see one of the most moving movies I have seen in years of wandering from one cinema to another.

The film mainly takes place in a car parts factory and the name of its main character is Lulu. “The Working Class Goes to Heaven”provides those who have never lived in a capitalist system insight into what the life of a worker is like, complete with all its nuances.

Lulu is portrayed as no more than a work machine, constantly producing for an absent owner. Stressed and tired, he has no option but to be chained to an auto parts machine.

He looses a finger and for sometime also his job.  For the first time he realizes the importance of having free time to spend with his son and being free of the three alarm clocks and other things that become completely useless.

Lulu is in crisis and thinks he is going crazy.  He fully realizes that his social system has burnt him out and dehumanized him.

However, he goes back to the factory, determined to resist.  In alliance with his fellow workers, he declares war on the system that makes him spend almost his entire life in a factory, practically as a slave.

When the movie ended, its images mixed in my mind with the experiences that some foreign friends have told me about their parents.  Their parents are like Lulu; they have two jobs and only six hours of free time.

So the experience portrayed in the movie happens in the majority of countries surrounding us.

The capitalist world is unable to satisfy humanity, it depends on the existence of an exploiting class and an exploited one.

The struggle to get rid of this system is not a matter of preference, but of necessity.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

9 thoughts on “No Workers Paradise

  • Grady, excuse me, but the comparison you are doing is very naive. Again, you have NO IDEA. and remember that in Cuba probably more than 95% of the people HAVE to work for the government.

    I understand that you are not a mouthpiece of Socialism, but again, believe me when I tell you that someone who hasn’t experienced it has no idea of how Cuban society works.

    I find this post extremely simple and influenced by the Cuban government media. She seems to be more intelligent than that. I think Capitalism has a lot, a lot of very sad problems, but they are not compared with the system we have in Cuba.

  • Liset, actually I do kind of know what being a worker for the Cuban gov’t is. I’ve worked for government in the U.S. and have experienced first hand the alienation of most workers from interest in their jobs, the graft and corruption of supervisors, the disgusting nexus between business interests and gov’t bureaucrats where taxpayers are ripped off massively. I decided during my employment that this must be what being a worker under Marxian state socialism is like–although maybe not even as bad.

    There is a joke about alienated U.S. gov’t workers. It seems that one day a crew truck full of such workers left for their job site, but they forgot their shovels and had to lean on each other all day.

    I’m not an attorney of a mouthpiece for either Cuban state socialism or U.S. monopoly capitalism. What I hope for is freedom and workable, pluralistic, entrepreneurial socialism for both countries.

    Good luck to us all.

  • Grady doesn’t have any idea of what being a worker for the Cuban government is.

  • Grady, you make it sound like there’s a law against co-operative ownership in capitalist countries. That’s simply not true. I am a member of several Canadian co-operatives including a credit union where I do all my banking.

    And working for someone else does not make you a serf, modern or otherwise. Besides many public companies provide ownership shares to their employees as part of the overall compensation package. Does this mean these employees cease to be serfs? In my case, I work for a non-profit organization that isn’t owned by anybody because it’s set up on a non-equity basis. What does that make me?

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