Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/254/24743

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 May 2002

Review: Stupid White Men

'SENSATIONAL' CAN be an overworked cliche deployed by publishers to maximise sales. But Michael Moore's book really is sensational. The US capitalists and their hirelings in the media certainly think so, otherwise why try to suppress it.

It was written before 11 September but 'held back' in the hostile mood which followed.

Peter Taaffe

The author was vilified by capitalist journalists for daring to lift the lid a little on the underlying realities of 'corporate America' and the stooge politicians and parties which support it.

Yet hundreds and thousands queued at Moore's book signings to buy copies, propelling it to the top of the best sellers list in the US and now Britain.

Every page teems with scrupulously researched facts and figures. The shocking picture which emerges is of a brutal US capitalism and its political representatives, the Republican and Democrats, mired in greed and corruption.

But it is the weapons Moore deploys - humour, irony and satire - which sets this apart. Critic Tom Paulin was correct in comparing Moore to the great British satirist Jonathan Swift, with US folksy humour.

Send in the marines!

In the chapter 'A Very American Coup' he describes in detail the way that Florida was 'secured' for George Bush by the use of absentee ballots and the debarring of Democrats. "154 million of us... had not voted for [Bush]. In a nation of 200 million voters, I would say we constitute the majority."

Little wonder then that Bush, the 'Thief in Chief,' at his inauguration ceremony in January 2001 was besieged by thousands chanting 'Hail to the thief!'

Moore's solution?: "I have sent a personal request to UN secretary general Kofi Annan to hear our plea. We are no longer able to govern ourselves or to hold free and fair elections. We need UN observers, UN troops, UN resolutions! Send in the Marines! Launch the SCUD missiles!"

Who was behind this 'coup'? The detailed CVs on Bush's cabinet members are very illuminating. Attorney general John Ashcroft, a Christian fundamentalist, for instance opposes 'dancing' and "lost his Senate re-election bid against a dead man".

Bush's White House team is a veritable 'rogue's gallery' of corporate America. Even Colin Powell, mistakenly described by some as a 'moderate', is a multi-millionaire who "sat on the boards of Gulfstream Aerospace and AOL". The latter merged with Time Warner, and Powell's stock rose in value by $4 million.

The author comments: "His son, Michael Powell had been the only Federal Communications Commission member who recommended the AOL/Time Warner merger go through without question".

Moore's conclusion is: "This regime is intent on lining its pockets... These Stupid White Men must be stopped. I have informed Kofi Annan of the various locations where these (mostly) men can be found and apprehended by UN troops... We plead with you: Save the United States of America! Demand that new, clean elections be held. Give the junta 48 hours to agree - and, if they don't, then treat them to a US Air Force-style laser light show".

The author's 'open letter to George Bush' is a similarly irreverent dig at the President. Tracing George junior's roots back to his 'grandpappy' Prescott Bush who 'traded with the Nazis', he records the 'widely held impression' that Bush junior is usually 'asleep on the job'.

Striking a blow for sleep-deprived US citizens, Moore writes: "Your critics berate you for taking naps in the middle of the day and ending your workday around 4.30pm. You should just tell them you are starting a new American tradition - lunchtime naps for all, and everybody home by five! Do that, and trust me, you'll be remembered as our greatest President."

At first, Moore appears to go too far, to be too personal in accusing 'Dubya' of perhaps being a 'functional illiterate'. But he reveals when Bush has told 'porkies' about his past. When asked about his favourite childhood book Bush replied: 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. Moore comments: "Unfortunately, that book wasn't even published until a year after you graduated from college."

Moore concludes: "In short, you've been a drunk, a thief, a possible felon, an unconvicted deserter and a crybaby. You may call that statement cruel. I call it 'tough love'."

Moore situates his demolition of Bush in the context of a critique of US capitalism. Criticising the 'mediocre but ruthless few' the author writes: "It's called C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M...We have the grand total of two and a half US car manufacturers. That's the way it works in our system. You don't like it, you can move to...to...um...damn, where do you move to these days? Oh - of course - Bermuda!"

On the environment, on the searing racism which scars the US, on the oppression and discrimination against women and the crisis facing men, on US foreign policy, on the waste of 'Star Wars', Moore is very informative without being correct in all his conclusions.

Satire overstates, it pushes trends and tendencies to 'absurd' conclusions. Art emphasises different aspects of its subject through different shadings, colour and light, so does satire but perhaps more starkly. Michael Moore, on the evidence of this book, is a brilliant practitioner of this art.

A new workers' party

This book has some weaknesses, particularly in contradictory statements on the Democrats. Early on he states: 'Take over your local Democratic Party'. Yet in a later chapter he says: "Democrats have become nothing more than Republican wannabes. They must merge with the Republican Party. That way, they can keep doing what they both do very well - representing the rich - and save a lot of money by consolidating staff and headquarters into one tight, fit, fighting machine for the top 10 percent.

"The good news about such a merger? The working people of this country will finally get to have their own party! What's so terribly wrong with that? It'll be the second party of the two-party system, except it will represent the other 90 percent of us."

Moore is facing both ways. On the one side he proposes a radical 'takeover' of the Democratic Party, much like the SWP-dominated Socialist Alliance in Britain advocates that the trade unions should make 'one last effort' to take over the Labour Party in Britain. Both in the US and in Britain this is wrong-headed advice.

Undoubtedly the failure of the US Labor Party to develop as a real independent voice of working people - due to the restrictions placed on it by the US labour bureaucracy - explains why powerful political figures like Michael Moore are equivocal and therefore hesitate to clearly help to create a new mass party of working people.

However, mighty events will push the US working class to see the need for a party that does really represent the majority 'the other 90 percent of us'.

In the meantime this book can play an invaluable role in preparing the ground for the emergence of such a party. It is not specifically 'socialist' or even 'anti-capitalist'. It is an indictment of US capitalism and particularly of the corrupt and rotten ruling economic and political elite.

But it is nevertheless a part of the pre-socialist and even pre-political process which the US working class must take in arriving at a socialist consciousness. Hopefully the sale of thousands and millions of Moore's book will help to lay the basis for such an understanding.

I was lucky enough to be given a copy as a birthday present from good friends and comrades, Alec, Linda and other South Wales comrades.

You should try and buy it. If you can't do that beg, borrow or 'steal' It has as much relevance to the tasks that face the British working class as it does to our US counterparts.

Stupid White Men by Michael Moore, published by HarperCollins.

Special offer from Socialist Books:

18 including postage.

Cheques payable to Socialist Books to: PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD.

Tel: 020 8988 8789 for credit card orders, or email: bookshop@socialistparty.org.uk

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 17 May 2002:

Rail safety: Profit Kills, Renationalise rail now

Israel/Palestine: Stop Sharon's Bloody War

Privatisation Has Ruined Rail Safety

Action To Kick Out The BNP Fascists!

Review: Stupid White Men

How Can A Palestinian State Be Achieved?

A Breath Of Fresh Air Amidst The Stench Of Corruption


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 May 2002   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Review:

triangleBT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

triangleTV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

triangleComprehensive account of bloody conflict

triangleWell-deserved ridicule of Stalinism is impressive, funny but flawed

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

US:

triangleTrump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

triangleMobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

triangleThem & us

triangleTrump's tax attacks

Socialist:

triangleTamil Solidarity AGM & public meeting

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangleSocialist Students national conference

Michael Moore:

triangleKshama Sawant's response to Obama speech

Democrats:

triangleHurricane Harvey: A tragedy made far worse by capitalism

Britain:

triangleInterview: Refugee Rights Campaign

Working class:

triangleFighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle

Capitalism:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Fidel Castro

New musical on life of Castro

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle11 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Campaigning workshop

triangle11 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas Quiz

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2