November 08, 2004

A letter to Michael Moore

Dear Michael,

As someone who was deeply impressed by your early work, and therefore a well-wisher, I would like to offer you my thoughts on your recent work.

The way I see it, the motif of your early work was promotion of social change through raising consciousness of the conflict between capital and labor. In those days you had to struggle to be heard. And, I think, you saw yourself primarily as a social activist.

More recently, though, your work has fit a lot more securely into what Chomsky calls "the spectrum of accepted opinion," though of course near the left end of that spectrum. Simultaneously, the establishment has been showering you with awards and encouragement. I would guess they have been celebrating what they see as the success of their efforts to co-opt you.

I am no Naderite, but I would like to urge you to reflect on whether there really is any difference between the two parties as far as social change is concerned. It could not have been more obvious that both Bush and Kerry had much more in common with each other than with you and me. Yes, the election of Bush is a disaster for the world. But what is to be done now? In my opinion, the thing to do now is (to continue) to try to change the social consciousness that made it possible for Bush to be where he is. A good physician treats the causes of an illness, not its symptoms. And, I think, a good social activist tries to "treat" people's misguided conception of their relationship to power.


ShutUpEd said...

I agree with you. I'm not a fan of Michael Moore, but I would have enjoyed Fahrenheit 9/11 much more had it been an expose on the failure of our system to provide viable options for leadership, and how both parties are too power hungry to care about America's desire and need for a third party. Instead it ended up being nothing more than just a crowning achievement in Bush bashing.

Al S. E. said...

Thanks for your comment, Ed. I don't think leadership is the problem. The main problem with American politics, and more generally with North American politics, is the lack of real political culture and education. What passes for politics in North America would be laughed out of court anywhere else in the world, because it does not involve any kind of deep understanding of the dialectic of power in society. If people don't understand the fact that politics is about the dialectic of power, no progress is possible, no matter who the leader may be, becuase real political progress can only come from below.