Watching The Atomic Cafe with the Revolution Club

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a member of the Revolution Club New York City:

“This was so enraging!” a member of the Revolution Club burst out after the screening ended. She was met with nodding heads and cries of agreement from the rest of us. “People need to know; people need to see this!” she continued.

We were exchanging comments after a screening of the 1982 film The Atomic Cafe at Revolution Books NYC, which was hosted by the Revolution Club in place of our regular open mic nights, as part of the Future People cultural series.

We certainly recommend that other people make the time to watch this film; it is a very well-made documentary comprised entirely of U.S. Cold War era propaganda, military training footage, and newsreels starting around the year 1945, from the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, covering about 20 years through the height of the Cold War frenzy.

“We see very clearly that American interests are not the same as humanity’s interests,” someone said, referencing the “Peace! It’s WONDERFUL!” montage of “American life” shortly after the atomic bombing of Japan. Minutes after scenes of tremendous devastation, charred bodies and buildings reduced to rubble, radiation sickness and missing limbs from those who survived the initial blast, we see white American families frolic together at beaches and amusement parks, enjoy hearty meals together, and laughing. Much like President Truman did shortly before his television statement declaring that the nuclear bomb had been a gift from “god” to America and that they would continue to use it as “god” intended.

One woman declared, “This [the propaganda] is absurd! How did people believe this?!” And a Revolution Club member responded that this anti-truth and anti-science propaganda was not only training people to NOT think critically about what this country does all over the world, but actually get them to accept the horrors and cheer them on, all in the name of “America First” chauvinism.

We talked about the anti-communist hysteria that was whipped up to justify attacking Korea, leaving three million people dead, as well as justifying constant nuclear testing and detonations which poisoned several areas in the Pacific region, and even in some areas in the U.S. such as Arizona. Another woman, who had grown up in the ’50s, recalled getting exposed to radiation from such testing.

In the film, the U.S. political mouthpieces and propagandists tout ideals of individual freedom and liberty for all, at the same time as their military leadership condemned hundreds of their own soldiers to radiation sickness by deliberately and repeatedly running nuclear tests on them.

Someone criticized the film as focusing too much on the critique of American culture, and not enough on the devastation of life and the environment caused to all the places the U.S. destroyed and radiated, many of which are still suffering from lingering effects today.

Another woman, who had grown up hearing stories of the great social changes that had occurred in the 1960s, felt that those who, like her, had been raised in the ’80s and ’90s had been denied some of that social consciousness and revulsion to U.S. imperialism that people had in the ’60s. “It’s like that [chauvinism] never got rooted out and has taken an even stronger hold today. So then what fundamental shift DOES have to happen in this country and in people in order to ‘root it out’ for good?”

We closed on this point: The reality is that the Trump/Pence regime is speeding up its attacks on people and every day we are brought closer to the brink of a new era of nuclear warfare, with Trump’s finger hovering over the trigger and his threats to annihilate North Korea escalating. At the same time there is a real basis for huge sectors of society to “wake up” and take up the mission of, to drive out this fascist regime through mass mobilization in the streets beginning on November 4. We gotta go out and win people over to confront the real existential threat this regime poses, and fight against the lies being pumped out by the regime’s mouthpieces and the whole process of normalization taking place. And we gotta do so with broad open arms saying, “Look, you realize what is going on here, so don’t go back to sleep—follow through on your convictions and stand together with everyone who can be united, and in the name of humanity, drive out this regime.”



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.