Write us!

September 2002 • Vol 2, No. 8 •

Book Review

Stupid White Man

Reviewed by Brian Schwartz

Stupid White Men
By Michael Moore
HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
New York, NY 10022

The May 2002 issue of the Labor Party Press published a report entitled, “Michael Moore Honored for His Contributions to the Labor Party.” The author, Dave Campbell, reported that Michael Moore was presented a loaf of bread and a bouquet of roses for his participation in and contributions to the Labor Party. This event occurred March 7th, at Cal State East, Los Angeles, before a packed audience attending Moore’s promotional tour of his latest book Stupid White Men.

Bread and roses are powerful symbols of the early 20th century labor movement. It was during that period that the workers and their leaders of the Socialist Party and America’s first national all-inclusive labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), sacrificed their freedom and lives to do battle with the U.S. capitalist class. Workers not only wanted money for bread, they wanted roses—a desire for a cultural life.

It is my contention that Michael Moore is a questionable recipient—to say the least—of these powerful symbols of struggle, despite his otherwise effective criticism of capitalism. His book, Stupid White Men, urges anybody inspired by his book to pour into the Democratic Party; that graveyard of social struggles. A simple thank-you card to Michael Moore would have sufficed; not the side-show spectacle at Cal State East of presenting labor’s sacred symbols to a supporter of the Democrats, albeit a critical one. Never once did Moore mention the existence of the Labor Party in his book.

After reporting on the bread and roses, Dave Campbell gave a positive review of Moore’s most recent book, noting his victory against the censors at HarperCollins who wanted to pulp the book due to Moore’s merciless exposure of George Bush’s ties to big oil and his dubious electoral victory over Al Gore. Campbell concluded his article praising Moore for taking on the Democrats also, whom Moore referred to as the “Yugo of Politics: They don’t get the job done.”

Campbell is a member of the Labor Party’s Interim Council. The Labor Party publicly advocates a thoroughgoing break with the Democratic Party as the only way to advance working class interests in the United States. But by printing an uncritical book review and bestowing accolades on a writer who contributes to the myth that there is a difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties, however, he contradicts the reason for existence of the Labor Party.

Moore a mass of contradictions

Michael Moore doesn’t want to offend anyone either. On pages 245-246, he tells the Green Party presidential candidate, Ralph Nader’s, staff why he won’t actively campaign for Nader so that he can get the 5 percent of the vote required for receiving federal matching campaign funds.

So I told the Nader staff, “Hey, there’s no reason to purposely piss these people—our friends, or potential friends, off. Our fight is with those who have stolen the name Democrat—the party hacks, lobbyists, the weasels who somehow couldn’t cut it in the Republican Party because they didn’t have what it takes to destroy a national forest, or close a thousand libraries, or take free breakfasts away from the malnourished little ones in the inner city. Our fight wasn’t with the core voters who still feel some desperate connection to what is called the Democratic Party. The fact that millions of Americans still hold out hope that the Democrats are going to represent their interests better than the Republicans is more a comment on our failure to show the country just how similar these two parties are—and how the Democrats will sell them out nearly every time.”

On a speaking tour at Florida State University Tallahassee, Moore surprised reporters when he told Floridians, “‘But if you were voting for Nader, I want you to think long and hard about your vote.’ The stakes, I felt, would be different in Florida. If it’s more important to you to stop Bush, then you might have to vote for Gore. I would understand and respect your decision.”

Michael Moore, who is a mass of contradictions, accuses Green Party activists of failure “for not showing Americans that there is no difference between these parties; yet he tells voters in Florida that there is a difference, and it’s best to pull the lever for Al Gore. Moore, however, contradicts himself saying that he had voted for Green Party presidential Candidate Ralph Nader, but he explained to readers, “Of course, that’s easy for me to say—I live in a state where Gore is already going to win by a landslide.”

The Democratic Party holds the unyielding loyalty of the U.S. labor bureaucracy and many misguided social activists because of the myth that the so-called “New Deal” Democrats of the 1930s gave workers the right to strike and Social Security out of the goodness of their hearts. But the facts prove the contrary: history shows that workers had to fight every inch of their way for every concession torn from corporate America and its wholly owned bipartisan government during the mass labor struggles of the 1930s and ’40s.

During the Civil War, when American capitalism still had a progressive role to play, Abe Lincoln’s Republican Party, representing the historic interests of American capitalism, was determined to abolish chattel slavery. It was an obstruction to the full flowering of capitalism in the United States. President Lincoln, then representing the most radical wing of the Republicans, allowed the slaves to join the U.S. army and thus they were able to play the decisive role in their own struggle for emancipation. The Democrats, however, did their best to defeat the struggle for the abolition of slavery in all the United States—since those of its member in the South supported slavery outright, while in the North they favored an unholy compromise with the slaveocracy.

The role of lesser evilism

But while there was a genuine difference between these two parties then, the Democrats today merely aim to string workers along to keep them tied to the policy of choosing between conservative and liberal capitalist politicians. Today, both parties line up against the U.S. working class when unions attempt to wage effective strikes against corporate interests, and support imperialist attacks against any country that gets in the way the interests of capitalist America.

Democrats are able to inflict much more damage on the workers than can Republicans only because of the indispensable aid and assistance provided them by the misleaders of the AFL-CIO and the African American, women’s and other social movements. For instance, Bill Clinton was able to end “welfare as we know it” because NOW and other feminist organization are supporters of the Democrats and do their dirty work for them. The U.S. Labor Bureaucracy didn’t rebel against the welfare cuts either because they are loyal party members.

Michael Moore has rocked the establishment in the past with his movies Roger And Me, and Adventures in a TV Nation, and his previous book, Downsize This. Moore is able to raise mass consciousness by presenting capitalist hypocrisy and injustice in a humorous way. Stupid White Men, however, undercuts his effective criticisms of the powers that be by contributing to the Democrats-as-lesser-evil myth.





Write us