(November 2, 2009)
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The Gallic Roster: Graham Lea's Le Patrimoine
To the Editor:
About Graham Lea's article on the French patrimony: Among other symbols of our great country, he evokes the "gallic rooster," but omits to say why this animal is so dear to French people. We use to say he is le seul animal qui puisse chanter avec les pieds dans la merde -- please, translate it yourself. And indeed, it's luck, otherwise very few people would keep singing in France nowadays.
Though, thinking of it, some French people know how to "sing with their feet in shit..." here is visual proof. (YouTube)
Annecy, France - October 20, 2009
Questions Galore: Charles Marowitz's Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story
To the Editor:
Dear Mr. Marowitz: I agree with you that an ultra-wealthy minority increasingly dominates "95% of the American population"; that's been well documented over the last few decades. The shift in wealth you describe in the 1980s started a bit earlier than that, and it's worth fixing that point precisely with respect to Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story.
I think President Jimmy Carter has bragging rights on that "first lurch" to the right when he hired Paul Volcker to head the Federal Reserve, then continued to work closely with the Reagan administration. His claim to fame was raising interest rates so high (20%), and so suddenly, that they caused massive corporate bankruptcies that in turn led to massive declines in industry jobs, mainly in the Midwest. This is called "restructuring," and he is an expert at it.
Significantly, Volcker came out of retirement to join the Obama administration to render services; he's going to tell Obama how to bail out the banks.
As you pointed out, Mr. Obama will "protect the supremacy of corporative domination...as if it were a [fundamental] principle in [his] presidential oath of office." This is quite an admission. Did Michael Moore point this out in his "blunt analysis"? I don't recall him addressing it, do you?
There is a difference between 1979 and 2009. The style in which Barack Obama presents his lies and evasions, so "eloquently expressed" (and no doubt beguiling to certain liberal democrats who appreciate his comparatively dulcet tones) is beside the point. Obama and the corporations and agencies he represents will never fix anything because he's operating within a protracted 30-year decline in US global capitalist economy, the fall of the Soviet Union notwithstanding.
Given that our current president is no less, in your words, a "captive of the nation's corporate interests" than Ronald Reagan, Moore's use of the documentarian's "whiplash" must have been applied unsparingly when he dealt with Mr. Obama (the imagery this may conjure up of corporal punishment in the ante bellum South is unfortunate, and unintended). But where in this "blunt indictment" of capitalism does Moore provide "facts and examples" on how recent presidents, including Obama, are tapped for the presidency and sold to the public? The presidential election of 2008 is a stunning and infamous example.
If one of the "great virtues" of this documentary is its "historical basis," where are Moore's insights into why Obama has capitulated to the CIA and their cover-ups? why, in his engagement with the Pentagon, failed to release Guantánamo inmates? why has he collaborated in the bailouts, providing billions to Wall Street -- and cash-for-clunkers to the lower "95%"?
The answers, had they been provided, would have helped to weaken the "tautology" you refer to, and expose the present leadership as having an unwavering commitment of capitalism. The only practical opposition that can effect a "change" is a social movement based on socialism, and most importantly, led by a socialist political party. To make a capitalist critique without understanding and presenting this option is worse than useless -- it confuses and misleads people.
You use the word "greedy" and "greed" throughout your piece. What does this word really tell us about capitalism? Greed has about as much to do about capitalism as "generosity" to do with socialism. Moore offers "greed" as a central problem, as if suppressing it would make Twenty-First Century capitalism a healthier economic system: this is hardly worth commenting upon.
And as to the "soporific public" you disparage, the myth of collective guilt foisted upon "us poor suckers" is flung about by politicians -- liberal and conservative, alike -- to shift the blame. Cynically impatient with low-income workers and their dependents for failing to "rise up" (and secretly terrified they will) the upper-middle-class bemoans the lack of what they call personal responsibility.
Sadly, "we" lack the "will," the "gumption," to take action against our oppressors (who certain documentarians refuse to identify)' "we," whose "spirit" is "unpredictable" (therefore, unreliable and threatening), won't put a stop to our own "misery." "We," who need our "character altered," so that the "diabolical trend" (whatever that is) may be reversed.
All this, in spite of the fact that our very own "President Obama," so "eloquent" in making his phony and cynical calls for "change" (a notorious shibboleth, if there ever was one), all on our behalf. So you see, "we" -- the people -- just don't get it, due, no doubt, to our faulty "metabolism." Maybe the sleepy-headed masses will find the courage, but only if they view reruns of the "presidential campaign" of 2008.
Do you, as your commentary implies, long sentimentally for "signs" of the old "eloquency" that are sadly "very scarce"? Do you mean to say, Mr. Marowitz, that if only Obama could get back on track again and live up to his campaign promises he could inspire the country to "rise up"? Is this the same President Obama, you acknowledge, has accepted, as a basic principle, to "protect the supremacy of corporative domination" as if it were part of his "oath of office"?
Take a moment and reflect on this.
And the following specious coupling needs to be examined: "Capitalism, and its bitter enemy, the will of the people..."
The "will of the people" is perhaps a Late Romantic Period concept; Daniel Webster's "Liberty and Union" speech in 1830, and Stephen Douglas's "popular sovereignty" are examples, but they have no meaningful applications today. Not even some Nietzschean concept of "will to power" applies. Ask any capitalist to identify the bitter enemy of capitalism and they will undoubtedly reply: "socialism."
Last but not least -- Michael Moore's "dubious taste." Well, you can employ that pejorative, but I cannot. As the poet and literary critic Yvor Winters (1900-1969) observed in his famous essay Emily Dickinson and the Limits of Judgment:
"[Of] all great poets, [Dickinson] is the most lacking in taste...much of her poetry is wasted in the desert of her crudities..."
Can we honestly condemn Mr. Moore where Miss Dickinson has failed?
Ajo, Arizona, USA - October 29, 2009
Charles Marowitz responds:
Accuracy? Michael Barker's Nonviolence International And Imperialism
To the Editor:
Dear Sir: Michael Barker's article on non-violence is fascinating and illuminating. However, please tell him to check out whether Nancy Nye is the wife of Michael Beer or Mubarak Awad. I believe she is the wife of Mubarak Awad and not the former as stated. Although a small point, accuracy is essential in these issues.
Haifa, Israel - October 21, 2009
[ed. Ms. Brayer is absolutely correct and we thank her for alerting us to the error. Nancy Nye is the wife of Mubarak Awad. We regret the error and have inserted a correction at the beginning of the article.]
Opinions on Michael Barker's Who Wants A One World Government? and Femi Akomolafe's Understanding Amerikkka
To the Editor:
Today I was led over to your Web site. The article on One World Government is excellently done.
"Understanding Amerikkka" was nothing but a collection of clichés about the opposition to the Obama administration. If you meant for it to be a humorous article, you should have said so. If it was meant to show how little people outside of the U.S. know about what is occurring in the U.S., you should have said so. If it was meant to reflect reality, you really do not know what is happening in the U.S. and should just stick to international affairs. There is a major attempt at revolution taking place in the U.S., and the opposition is very knowledgeable about what is taking place. They may not have the historical perspective shown in the article on One World Government, but they understand the sophisticated manipulation taking place. They watch the news, both from Fox and the other outlets. They attend meetings. They follow Web sites on the computer. In the 30 years I've been researching what is occurring in the culture, this is the first time such large numbers are taking action against the manipulators.
I will be reading other articles on your Web site, but I couldn't let a response to this one pass.
Monee, Illinois - October 21, 2009
[ed. The article "Understanding Amerikkka" was written by an African from Ghana. He is "our man in Africa." Brother Femi Akomolafe calls himself a "True Born Afrikan," thus making a clear differentiation that should not escape anyone. The article reflects his perceptions of the USA. That some people may judge these perceptions improper or incorrect does not take away the fact that in most of the non-Western world, these perceptions are widely espoused -- with just cause, one might add. Mrs. Margraf ought to read the latest "perceptions" expressed by Femi Akomolafe, Hypocrisy As Way Of Life! As to her "perspective," suffice it to visit the Blog of some Constance Cumbey with whom she appears to be associated. A few browsing minutes will tell it all.]
Our "Quality of Life"? Come again...
To the Editor:
The state of our economy is such that in order to sustain our quality of life, the system is asking our populace to let the garrison state establish itself as the primary form of defending the status quo. Our country is still attached to the life of pursuing a petroleum based existence, without exploring other methods of moving our society. We have the promise of hydrogen, but that concept is one that is dangled before us as the answer to our energy needs.
It will still be there in twenty years, for hydrogen is problematic in both cost and storage. Currently we have the pursuit of petroleum, but what about other forms of fuel for travel?
There is electricity, it is renewable, can be attained from a number of different sources, and is low in cost. The initial cost is not cheap, still has some questions regarding acceptance by the public, but the technology to pursue this alternative exists.
Any way you look at the problem, we have to stop using oil as our crutch. It won't be easy, will take time, and money, but we need to look at this with a future perspective. We want to stop global warming, pollution, aggression, stop letting corporate profit govern our economic existence, stop the dependence on oil, stop pursuing military solutions to achieve this end. It Can be done, we just have to work at it.
Blue Lake, California, USA - October 30, 2009
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