16 July 2009

The Baader Meinhof Gang - What Can We Infer From The 1960s/1970s?

Recently watched the film made last year on the infamous "Commie/Anarchist terrorist" group, the Baader Meinhof Gang, simply entitled "The Baader Meinhof Complex". It was a two hour whirlwind of explosive scenes of riots, confrontation between the Left in Germany in the late 1960s/1970s, the acts of terrorism against the government, the USA, the capitalist tycoons and anyone who represented the Right. Done in the Hollywood/commercial narrative of action-pack sequences, it was not exactly a very good film: it fails to characterise the main figures of the Gang sufficiently to allow the audience to understand where they were coming from ideologically and contextually, the characters in the film were simply just characters without much attempt to establish some empathetic links between the viewers and the main protagonists.

However, the story of the Gang is a moving one: back then (it was only 30 to 40 years ago!), the people were idealistic, single-minded and determined to jump into action becuase of what their believe in, no apathy allowed basically. Both the Left and Right would go to streets, fight their opponents and even kill if need to. I am not advocating anarchy here but I am definitely touched by their conviction and devotion. In today's world, humans are simply caught up in the pure apathetic worldview of consumerism, 24-hour entertain-me people and careerist impetus in what they do.

Perhaps the collapse of the bipolar world of the Communist and the Western democratic worlds also marked the end of ideological fervor. But one interesting thing depicted in the film is that the so-called Islamic terrorists then were allies with the Baader Meinhof Gang and many other Left wing cell action groups around the world (see the demand-to-be-released list of the terrorists who bloodied the Munich Oympics or the training the Arabs provided for the Gang in the early 1970s). A far cry of the simplistic, religious/cultural based confrontational stance we see today between the Muslim fundamentalist groups and the West.

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