Rollerball, and Grangemouth.

Some people are attracted to the light be it in the books they read and the movies they watch. Sometimes I envy those folk who can enjoy a rom com or  chick flick. Since I’ve been young I have enjoyed dystopian sci -fi. I can remember watching at the age of 10 the village of the damned and invasion of the body snatchers. alien invasion stories which had an undercurrent of fear of the outsider and malevolent forces taking over our way of life. In my teens I moved onto some films from the 70s such as Soylent Green and Rollerball. Rollerball fascinated me. It is set in an alternative future where corporations control society there is no more loyalty to country but the corporation you are born into. This is quite a Platonic society with the Executives at the top of the pyramid and workers at the bottom. There are no more books everyone except the executives no longer know how to read they can visit picture libraries where a movie will tell them anything they want to know. In such a society there is a need for entertainment and Rollerball is the game followed by the masses and executives. James Kahn plays Jonathon E who wants to find out more and pays for it with his team’s life. Rollerball is a brutal game where anything goes. The film caused a storm when it came out due to its level of violence but I didn’t watch it for the rollerball games but the society you could catch glimpses of. William Harrison the writer of the original short story “Rollerball Murder” died on October 22cd just two days ago so here is a link to the short story which formed the basis of his screen play of the 197 movie “Rollerball”

I really recommend you read it. He was a very talented writer please check out his other works. I am enjoying his recent collections of short stories “The mutations of rollerball” which are wonderful. RIP to an often overlooked writer.

I didn’t know about his death. What brought “rollerball” and the power of its corporations back into my mind were a few other events and things I have been learning about which have made me think about the power structures in society. I saw Denise Mina last weekend and she spoke about predation and how it happens at all levels of society where it be the huge corporations who control markets to women who are treated as sexual commodities by sexual predators. In the world of “Rollerball” which is set after a Pan-Asian war, six corporations rule they no longer even have trade names they are known as ENERGY,TRANSPORT,FOOD,HOUSING,SERVICES and LUXURIES anyhow go read the short story. These seven corporations rule the world and the executives at the top control everyones lives. This couldn’t happen here could it? Then we look at the events unfolding in Grangemouth and the power of a corporation to hold sway over a country. It is times like these that we can see where the balance of power actually lies. There is a class of people who are truly international they hold little allegiance to nation states and most to those who they make a profit for. This is not a new situation. I’m learning about The Crusades at the moment wars that started in the 11th century. Reading “Crusading and the Crusader States” by Andrw  Jotischy, he suggests that the aristocrats on both sided of the war had more in common with each other than the men in their own armies. They are a universal class beyond cultural, religious in fact all the ties that divide or bind ordinary folk. They are global capitalists.

The sell offs of assets owned by us in the eighties were accompanied by cute characterisation. “Tell Sid” and Maureen Beattie and BT spring to mind but they masked the truth that things owned by us were being placed in the hands of those who just wanted to make a quick buck. The Post Office has now gone the same way but the SNP have pledged to renationalise it if they were elected in an Independent Scotland. They have also taken Prestwick Airport out of private hands now they must take the initiative and privatise the Grangemouth refinery. It is an essential piece of the infrastructure that will flesh out the bones of an economic vision of an Independent Scotland. For me as a socialist that is the kind of Scotland I want where public ownership is supported and seen as a viable alternative vision not just the free market system which is failing the majority of people and profiting a handful. “Rollerball” may be set in  a dystopian future but its warnings on the power of corporations holds true today and this a book written by a Texan Christian! Predation is wrong at all levels of society and it’s up to us to be more aware of what is going on around us and see what is really going on.

Wilki link to William Harrison





About sandrassp

I am the mum to two sons who both live with autism. I give glimpses into my life. All views are my own
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