“What Is to Be Done?” — Jean-Luc Godard

“What Is to Be Done?”

by

Jean-Luc Godard

Translation by Mo Tietelbaum

First published in English and French in Afterimage, 1970


  1. We must make political films.

  2. We must make films politically.

  3. 1 and 2 are antagonistic to each other and belong to two opposing conceptions of the world.

  4. 1 belongs to the idealistic and metaphysical conception of the world.

  5. 2 belongs to the Marxist and dialectical conception of the world.

  6. Marxism struggles against idealism and the dialectical against the metaphysical.

  7. This struggle is the struggle between the old and the new, between new ideas and old ones.

  8. The social existence of men determines their thought.

  9. The struggle between the old and the new is the struggle between classes.

  10. To carry out 1 is to remain a being of the bourgeois class.

  11. To carry out 2 is to take up the proletarian class position.

  12. To carry out 1 is to make descriptions of situations.

  13. To carry out 2 is to make concrete analysis of a concrete situation.

  14. To carry out 1 is to make British Sounds.

  15. To carry out 2 is to struggle for the showing of British Sounds on English television.

  16. To carry out 1 is to understand the laws of the objective world in order to explain that world.

  17. To carry out 2 is to understand the laws of the objective worlds in order to actively transform that world.

  18. To carry out 1 is to describe the wretchedness of the world.

  19. To carry out 2 is to show people in struggle.

  20. To carry out 2 is to destroy 1 with the weapons of criticism and self-criticism.

  21. To carry out 1 is to give a complete view of events in the name of truth in itself.

  22. To carry out 2 is not to fabricate over-complete images of the world in the name of relative truth.

  23. To carry out 1 is to say how things are real. (Brecht)

  24. To carry out 2 is to say how things really are. (Brecht)

  25. To carry out 2 is to edit a film before shooting it, to make it during filming and to make it after the filming. (Dziga Vertov)

  26. To carry out 1 is to distribute a film before producing it.

  27. To carry out 2 is to produce a film before distributing it, to learn to produce it following the principle that: it is production which commands distribution, it is politics which commends economy.

  28. To carry out 1 is to film students who write: Unity—Students—Workers.

  29. To carry out 2 is to know that unity is a struggle of opposites (Lenin) to know that the two are one.

  30. To carry out 2 is to study the contradiction between the classes with images and sounds.

  31. To carry out2 is to study the contradiction between the relationships of production and the productive forces.

  32. To carry out 2 is to dare to know where one is, and where one has come from, to know one’s place in the process of production in order then to change it.

  33. To carry out 2 is to know the history of revolutionary struggles and be determined by them.

  34. To carry out 2 is to produce scientific knowledge of revolutionary struggles and of their history.

  35. To carry out 2 is to know that film making is a secondary activity, a small screw in the revolution.

  36. To carry out 2 is to use images and sounds as teeth and lips to bite with.

  37. To carry out 1 is to only open the eyes and the ears.

  38. To carry out 2 is to read the reports of comrade Kiang Tsing.

  39. To carry out 2 is to be militant.

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