Monday, November 01, 2004

Marxist Premise Behind Moore's F9/11?

So, like many bloggers I'm keeping my eye on the US election, especially as our own national election was so recent.

Somehow, I ended up looking at some very interesting German media commentary, and one thing leads to another, and I end up finding one of the most interesting, and truthful, Michael Moore criticisms around:
Lurking behind the glowing reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11 is an unadmitted Marxist premise -- the root idea of the left and the foundation necessary to justify propaganda. In the ideology of materialist Marxism, ideas are just a "superstructure," a "legitimating ideology" whose sole purpose is to advance the power of one group or class over another. The seizure of political power, in this view, is the only truly important goal -- and the marshalling of ideas and arguments is to be judge only by how it serves raw power politics. More than a decade after the fall of Soviet tyranny, that is the ugly totalitarian outlook that leers out at us from the left-leaning reviewers' reaction to Michael Moore.
I lifted that quote from the Cox & Forkum website. They have a rather fun picture there showing that behind Kerry is Moore, and behind him is Marx. The original source of the quote is a magazine called The Intellectual Activist that Cox & Forkum did the cover art for.

A lot of webspace has been spent showing how Moore lies and twists the truth in his documentaries (or rather docudramas), but the quote above is the first time I have seen a possible reason for this so clearly enunciated. Moore has profited from his movies, but that doesn't explain his continued pressuring of this issue. Gaining power, now that is something that a man like Moore would LOVE to have. I'm not sure how much Kerry supports Moore's ideals, but I am sure that it's a partnership born from a desire to change who is in power, NOT one born of idealism.


  1. Anonymous8:54 am

    It seems rather paradoxical to say that an ideology just uses ideas as superstructure - when by definition every ideology has at its root a system of ideas. I guess it appears a reasonable statement when one refuses to even think these ideas through - for to do so in today's right leaning western world is verging on thought crime.

    Surely, any ideology that is held with sufficient fervour will warp the semantics of otherwise unrelated ideas, and what you get is rhetoric and propaganda. The view of Marxism is so distorted in this way that few people consider it for what it is, without equating it with Stalinism or similar totalitarian idiotry.

    Meanwhile the neocons certainly propagandise or spin everything to stir up fervour among the public. By comparison I see Moore as a more truthful (and centrist) source of counterspin - if you want real everyday docudrama look no further than Fox News.

    Its at least as true to say that behind Bush there stands Hitler, but in contrast to the dictum that we be ever vigilant, its somehow not OK to ever compare anything with Nazism:

  2. Hmmm, well Godwin's Law had to rear it's head sooner or later. :-)

    I'm not sure that Bush is the best man to lead America (not that it's any of my business, I'm Australian), but I personally thought he would be better at it than Kerry.

    But that's not really got anything to do with this post. I personally find Michael Moore to be a clear example of a propagandist. I had difficulty understanding WHY he was interested in doing this, as I don't think he really lives the ideologies he seems to support.

    Putting it in the context of a grab for power makes a lot more sense to me. I can easily see Moore getting a kick out of being the power behind the throne, or a 'king-maker'.

    Now there is a lot of my opinion, as well or badly informed as it is, that goes into that analysis. I guess I was responding to an external confirmation of my gut feel rather than necessarily taking a hit at Marxism (although my uni memories of communist and Marxist ideologies don't give me any reason to respect those ideas).

  3. Talking about the 2004 US election, Whisper have their own interesting opinion as to why Bush won.

  4. Anonymous9:03 pm

    Comparing Michael Moore with Karl Marx (agreeing with it almost like saying it yourself) is no different to comparing Bush with Hitler. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, I say.

    Michael Moore's documentaries are a reaction to a complicit and indifferent media, so you can hardly blame the guy for wanting to get his message across. The alternative would be to censor it, remain completely impartial, and to not draw any of his own conclusions. That last one, drawing a conclusion, is why people read essays, and books, and watch documentaries. If everything had to remain impartial, then nobody would do anything more than watch Friends and scratch themselves.

    Whether you agree with Michael Moore, or not, I for one am thankful that he is allowed to express his opinion, so that we can make of it what we will, and perhaps even debate it among our friends. That's what living in a free society is all about.

    Marc Fearby (Australia)

  5. Marc,

    Please note that I did not compare Moore to Marx, but simply agreed with the article's premise that he adheres to the Marxist premise that the truth of your ideas are not what is important, it is whether they serve to gain you political power that is important.

    That is different to saying that Bush's life compares to that of Hitler.

    To put it another way, a closer parrallel would be to say that Bush believes in some Fascist premise that Hitler followed (not that I can think of one).

    I agree with you, it is a good thing that people are free to express their opinions. Mine happens to be that Moore is less interested in being "right" and more interested in being "popular"/"powerful".

  6. Anonymous12:24 am

    "the Marxist premise that the truth of your ideas are not what is important, it is whether they serve to gain you political power that is important."

    Marx was prolific, you can find something to support almost any conclusion about him, somewhere in his writing. His historical analyses preceeded modern methods of studying history and lack what measure of objectivity these afford us. But that doesn't mean that all his ideas were junk or even most of them. As I said before what people think of at mention of his name, the 20th century communist movement including those is not representative of the man nor his ideals.

    And being so flexible with the truth is precisely why Bush is so reviled by most of the world and most of the US. His administration has abused scientific advice and diplomatic credibility like none before it, stacking advisory panels with industry insiders, insisting that there is no good evidence for global warming, nor for ecosystems verging on collapse, nor for the impotence of the Hussein regime. Hell they just approved a national parks booklet that claims the grand canyon was formed in Noah's flood. I'm sure that was a popular move among his southern baptist constituency.

    "That is different to saying that Bush's life compares to that of Hitler."

    This is the inherent problem with treating WW2 like it was something special, treating Hitler as though other people cannot be compared with such a monster. We are all potential monsters and as I said before, to ignore this is to fail the dictum that we be eternally vigilant to protect our freedoms. Falling back on Godwin's law to dismiss the point is a bit weak.

    "To put it another way, a closer parrallel would be to say that Bush believes in some Fascist premise that Hitler followed (not that I can think of one)."

    To which I quote "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - often inaccurately attributed to Mussolini. Bush is privatising more of the military, the penal system, healthcare etc than any president before him. He and his administration have more ties to corporate interests than any in US history. And many of his policies reflect that perfectly, reducing the scope of the EPA and FDA, tax breaks for the rich, fewer protections for the poor. Where they differ is that in the 1930s Hitler oversaw an economic miracle that made him the darling leader of corporate interests the world over, while Bush is creating instability and debt for the US and weakening their currency.

    I think Moore is right on the money most of the time, sometimes he might go too far with staging etc. Many of the people he documents go much further, such as the Bush administration's claims of irrefutable evidence of Iraq's WMD programs, which turned out to be almost wholly unsubstantiated.

  7. Anonymous12:43 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Marc,

    This discussion is going way off-topic, particularly that last post. Please consider linking to this discussion on your own blog as a way of continuing if you would like to.