Michael Moore on AlterNet

by Yule Heibel on December 22, 2003

Michael Moore has a great article on AlterNet detailing the negative and desperate attitudes of American service personnel on the ground in Iraq. The article also includes much detailed information on how you can help the soldiers. It concludes with a rallying call by Moore:

I know it feels hopeless. That’s how they want us to feel. Don’t give up. We owe it to these kids, the troops we support, to get them the hell outta there and back home so they can help organize the drive to remove the war profiteers from office next November.

To all who serve in our armed forces, to their parents and spouses and loved ones, we offer to you the regrets of millions and the promise that we will right this wrong and do whatever we can to thank you for offering to risk your lives for us. That your life was put at risk for Bush’s greed is a disgrace and a travesty, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime.

Be safe, come home soon, and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you during this season when many of us celebrate the birth of the prince of “peace.”


Doug Alder December 23, 2003 at 2:06 am

I have a real problem listening to Moore. It’s not that I don’t agree with his politics, it’s that he has a real problem getting his facts straight. He has been caught our quite a few times bending the facts to fit his perspective. The end result is you can never, without doing a lot of double checking of his facts, know what to believe in what he says. It’s the main reason I don’t point to him on my site or discuss his posts very often.

Stu Savory December 23, 2003 at 2:13 pm

I saw him live when he was on a promo tour here in Germany recently. MM is entertaining, but his world is black or white, no shades of gray. He also provokes situations to fit his perspective. Nevertheless I like his politics too.


Mike Golby December 23, 2003 at 7:44 pm

I’ve had issues with Moore since firstI came across him. He strikes me as a local boy who’s pissed *his* rights have been stomped. Not that that’s a bad thing, but he’s still the average, middle-to-right guy with a sense of humor and a desire to take things as far as he can for seemingly selfish advantage. His wheels do come off. I recall one of his recent interviews wherein he proclaimed Americans as ‘liberal’ as all hell and then proceeded to tell the world most were functionally illiterate. The guy’s making money, he’s good for a smile and he takes the mickey out of the mouse in the White House. But, yes, he’s superficial and not to be taken too seriously. Ah hell, call me ambivalent. Whatever he is, he’s good at what he is :). In his most recent essay, Canadian writer Douglas Ord pins him down like a butterfly to a board. Now that’s a piece worth reading and a site worth exploring.

Yule Heibel December 24, 2003 at 3:06 am

Thanks for the feedback on Moore, Doug and Mike. I’ve never come across criticisms like this of him before, but — being in this nearly media-free bubble of no-TV — it’s not the case that I have many opportunities to react to him, except in print (and I’m probably the last person on earth who hasn’t seen Bowling for Columbine). Perhaps I read a bit too uncritically when it’s something I politically agree with, ’cause I haven’t bothered asking how accurate his statements are. Something to think about, I guess.

At the same time, I think there comes a point where we can tear one another apart on issues of purity or correctness. There comes a point for me when I don’t care if it’s a slick-willy who’s going to rid us of criminals, provided it gets the criminals out, or makes a contribution to shifting the electorate to kick the criminals out of office. Perhaps that sounds foolish, bourgeois, “white,” and not-male: like I’m making woman-y sounds or something. But then again, I have a different history from most men.

For example, how vividly I remember the put-downs by the male 30-something communists and pro-Red Army Faction agitators on the steps of the Munich Art Academy when I — barely 18 — said, “I don’t know what to say about your politics,” and they answered, “well you wouldn’t, would you, you’re a stupid Canadian.” Yeah, stupid Canadian. Actually, I was still pro-forma a German citizen at the time, and I went to Germany by myself, with no direction, for only one reason: university was tuition-free. (I got an Abitur on my own and went to university and art school, without parental support, while these guys mostly came from much more comfortable middle-class homes where there had never been abuse beyond the unfortunate German norm — i.e., something on the order of regular thrashings — and no bankruptcy or grinding poverty, and where parents actually tried to help their children get started in a life beyond waitressing. But to those guys on the steps I was a bourgeois bitch because I didn’t want to submit to their superior male ideas.)

You know what? I hate baptism by fire, and I’m allergic to indoctrination. In fact I hate baptisms of any sort — never underwent a religious one in my life, and never will if I can help it, and spent a good deal of energy escaping the ideological ones I encountered as a child. I understand that sometimes nothing much more differentiates political parties than shirt colours, but sometimes it’s an important colour difference nonetheless, and one that has serious life or death repercussions. The problem with radical politics and its critique of incremental change is that there’s no room for nuance, but most importantly that it always seems to come from a male (sexual) perspective.

From my bitchy female perspective, here are some things I don’t like:

I’d never heard of Douglas Ord, so I googled around and found his page about Eric Harris and Columbine. Here Ord hinges his criticism of Moore’s assessment on a revision of the German “industrial rock” band Rammstein, who came from East Germany, and whom Harris adored. Their name derives from an Air Force base, but can I just add that “rammeln” also means to fuck in an especially ruttish manner? To thrust, literally to ram. So these guys, who are rammers (“ram rockers”), are singing about pain and other heavy stuff, and Harris — as a highly intelligent gifted and poetic youth — responded, according to Ord, to some universal quality in Rammstein‘s music and lyrics. Universal from whose perspective? At one point Ord writes,

“Both these CDs, in various of their tracks (…) suggest a continued struggle with and deliberate rejection of Judaeo-Christianity, as well as a preoccupation with the theatre of sexuality.”

Whose sexuality? Ord links the “continued struggle” (see above) with ancient Celtic (pre-Christian) mythology, to Robert Graves (“White Goddess” or gag-me-with-a-moon), and the universal, pre-Christian, pre-individualistic/ pre-Enlightenment “I.” Mutter, a song written by Rammstein after Columbine, is characterised by Ord thus: it “seems to contain a kind of quantum leap into different levels of intelligence and allegory…” Come again? Quantum leap? Whose levels of intelligence and allegory? Actually, I had to stop reading after this, because Ord goes on to cite Toltec moon mythology and Aztec pyramids, and I half expected Erich Daeniken to erupt from a ram-shaped UFO. On fire.

What I’m getting at is that I can again see Ulrike Meinhof’s and Andreas Baader’s supporters simultaneously lungeing at and rebuffing me: lungeing on the one hand because they want to convert me at my radix — ram their ideology into me — and rebuff me because I’m keeping a mental distance that equates to a crossing of the legs for most men — which they want to undo and penetrate, deeply.

I really would like to see a discussion of radical politics turn to a discussion of sexual politics, because the two seem to me inextricably linked. And somehow men and women will have different attitudes and reactions to ramming and getting rammed. (Here’s another song lyric, courtesy of Maria Muldaur: “It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion, that makes this mama want to rock.” (Or something like that.)) To what extent are our ideas about sexuality radically different, depending on gender? And to what extent do we transfer sexuality to the political arena? Adorno had a few ideas about this, ideas I like a whole lot better than Ord’s. The following is from a webpage about Adorno & narcissism:

Adorno points out in “Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda” that Freud, in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, identified in 1922, well before the rise of fascist movements, the bond which the fascist leader must create between individuals in order to convert them into a mass susceptible to fascist manipulation and capable of acting against its own rational interests. Freud explains the coherence of masses in terms of the libidinal or pleasure principle. Adorno elaborates further: Love relationships are concealed or kept on the unconscious level to aid in the transformation of sexual energy into mass feeling suitable for political purposes. The mechanism which transforms libido into the necessary bond is identification, with the leader as the all-powerful primal figure. Narcissism, through idealization, plays a crucial role in regard to identification. The leader can be loved only if he himself cannot love—hence the absence of any give and programmatic content to the leader’s speeches, as well as the “paradoxical prevalence of threat and denial.” Among followers, belonging to the in-group generates feelings of purity, while any self-criticism is viewed as narcissistic loss.

I would just add that this applies to all radical politics, not just (rightwing) fascism. Mass politics and radicalism tries to touch that libidinal core, tries to go deep down. And we?, on the one hand we want to keep nagging people to stop identifying narcissistically with leaders (i.e., keep at people to resist) and to keep a critical perspective — I wouldn’t dream of expecting a miracle change just because a Democrat again becomes president of the US, for example. But at the same time, it’s no good to insist that everyone is just a shit. Doesn’t that, after all, once again generate “in-group” “feelings of purity,” which are delusional and which end up contributing to this fascistoid narcissism we’re mired in? Somehow we need to move beyond or around or under or over this, and sexuality is not the least of places to start looking for signposts.

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