(en) Michael Moore on the Left

ACT for Disarmament (act@web.net)
Wed, 5 Nov 1997 14:46:56 -0500 (EST)


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The following is from the Nation-November 17, 1997.

IS THE LEFT NUTS? (OR IS IT ME?)

by Michael Moore

Is it me, or is the left completely nuts? I won't bore you with the details of October's Media and Democracy Congress, but suffice it to say that the left is still in fine form, completely ignoring anything that really matters to the American public. I'm convinced there's a good number of you who are simply addicted to listening to yourselves talk and talk and talk -- MUMIA! PACIFICA! CUBA! ENOUGH ALREADY!

Speaking of talking to ourselves -- just who the hell is reading this? Who is the Nation readership? Is it my brother-in-law, Tony, back in Flint, who last night was installing furnace ducts until 9 o'clock? Is it the bus driver at the airport who told me he's been cut back to a thirty-hour week so the airport commission won't have to pay the health insurance for his asthmatic daughter? Is it the woman at Sears who sells blouses by day, and then waitresses at Denny's from 8 P.M. to midnight?

No. The person reading this would probably sympathize with the one who wrote the flier I saw at the media congress announcing a "Stop Police Brutality Demonstration." The flier promised a rally "from 4 P.M. UNTIL THE TRUTH COMES OUT!" Until the truth comes out? Let me tell you, friend, the truth ain't ever coming out at your rally, and neither is Tony the furnace installer, 'cause he's got mouths to feed. But you don't really mean by saying that the demonstration is going to last "until the truth comes out" is that it will go deep into the night, until all self-serving, attention-starved "lefties" have had their hour and fifteen minutes at the podium. Get a clue! Go away!

Is it true what they say about "the left" -- that it loves humanity but loathes people? I want to let you in on a little secret I've discovered: "The people" are already way ahead of "the left." After years of being downsized, rightsized, re-engineered and forced to work longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits, they already know from their personal experience that our economic system is unfair, unjust and undemocratic. They know the evil it does and the havoc it wreaks on their lives. They know that corporate America is the enemy, that the media are telling them lies and that the Democrats and the Republicans are actually the same party, and that neither is worth voting for. Look at any Gallup poll and you'll see that the public is very "left" on all the issues -- the majority are pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-labor.

Yet they despise liberals. If they knew where to find the nutty left, they'd despise them, too. They see liberals, progressives and lefties as arrogant, self-righteous and dreadfully predictable. They know you won't ever go have a beer with them, or talk to them about how the Indians did in teh Series. Christ, can you even name a single Cleveland Indian?

And why should you? You've got The Nation and Pacifica, and food co-op and your Working Assets credit card. Don't get me wrong -- I love The Nation and Pacifica and food co-ops and not supporting Citibank. But if you stop there and refuse to participate in the real world, how are you ever going to effect change? Back in the eighties thousands of you went to Nicaragua in Sandinista brigades. Yes, that was important work; our government was killing innocent people. But I never saw a single one of you come to Flint while the world's largest company was destroying the lives of 30,000 families. Where were you when we needed you? The people in Flint were ready -- Jesse Jackson beat Dukakis by a 9-to-1 margin there. In the white suburbs, Jackson beat him by a 4-to-1 margin! You should have come! The right wing did. They organized the Michigan Militia. It's no accident that Terry Nichols is from the Flint area.

Here's the part I don't get. Remember the antiwar movement, when we didn't have the American public on our side and actually had to go out and convince people the war was wrong? That was tough, but we did it. These days, the difficult organizing work has already been done for us by Big Business. It has spent the past decade destroying the middle class and brutalizing the poor. Beating up on the poor, I get -- that's the way it's always been. But the middle class? What a stupid error in judgment -- and now there are millions of Americans waiting to vent their anger and frustration.

And where are we? Inside New York's Cooper Union chanting for Mumia! I want Mumia to live, I've signed the petitions, I've helped pay for the ads -- hell, I'll personally go and kick the butt of the governor of Pennsylvania! But, for chrissakes, the woman working at Sears just wants to be able to spend an hour with her kids before she heads off to Denny's. Can't we help her? Do you want to help her?

It's taken me a while to figure it all out, and after last month's Media and Democracy Congress I think I have the answer: Because "the left" has lost so many battles, it now doesn't know how to live any other way. It's kind of scary, isn't it, to think that we could actually reach a mass audience. Or that after all these years of failure, real change could actually occur in our lifetime. Better to fight among ourselves! It's an uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling, isn't it, to get a whiff of real populist progressive movement taking shape. Better that we keep those furnace installers and bus drivers away from us -- they don't read Chomsky anyway!

The signs are everywhere, but "the left" can't read a road map. There's a whole New Politics taking place, and it's being led by UPS drivers and Borders bookstore workers. I say, with all due affection and appreciation for all of you and your causes, get over yourselves and start talking like a real person, then start talking to real people. You could begin by hitting 0 every time you get a robot when you call 411. Have a chat with the human operator -- the phone company will eventually have to hire more of them. Or sponsor a bowling team and put the name of your local Labor Party or environmental group on their shirts. Or try bowling yourself. It's where you'll meet Americans.

<A HREF="http://www.michaelmoore.com/index.html">Michael Moore http://www.michaelmoore.com/index.html

<A HREF="http://members.aol.com/actmotown/index.html">Action! Motown '97 (Acoss) http://members.aol.com/actmotown/index.html

<A HREF="http://www.rust.net/~workers/strike.html">Detroit Journal http://www.rust.net/~workers/strike.html

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