The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner:
Descendant and The New Fish

Nov 13, 2023

Film: Descendant, a historical documentary directed by Margaret Brown, 2022. Available for streaming on Netflix.

The documentary Descendant tells the story behind the settlement called Africatown in Alabama, and the descendants of the last known enslaved Africans brought (illegally) to the United States in 1859 by the slave ship Clotilda. The survivors of this horrific enslavement were able to settle together after the Civil War and pass on to their descendants their story, generation to generation. Zora Neale Hurston even recorded the narrative of one of the last living enslaved men in 1927 in his own dialect. (It was not published until 2018, as it was not felt to be “marketable.”)

The film shows that, in 2019, the world suddenly took notice of this history when the shipwreck Clotilda was finally unearthed in the Mobile River. The ship had been burned, sunk, and even dynamited to hide its truth, and for centuries some denied its existence.

Book: The New Fish by Simen Saetre and Kjetil Ostli, 2023

Most of us have heard of the horrors in corporate pig or chicken farming: overcrowded, torturous living conditions and unbridled use of chemical poisons and antibiotics. This book exposes how capitalism has brought the same harmful practices to fish farming.

Fish used to be looked at as a healthful alternative to meat. There was a large underserved market for affordable and plentiful fish. The book shows how profiteers flooded to farm salmon, throwing caution to the wind. They developed a fish which grew faster and fatter, and overcrowded their farms in insecure nets, which allowed millions of stock to escape and to mate with the wild fish. Disease and pestilence flourished, and chemical after chemical was dumped into the seas. Salmon even died from the stressful conditions, by the thousands.

The book details how these practices spread from Norway and Sweden to the coast of Chile, to Canada and Washington state. Salmon farming is now a trillion dollar business. The drive for profit has deformed even our healthy alternatives.