This angry and enthusiastic book is written for an American audience, so you don’t always get the references. Indeed non-Americans have puzzled for years about a people who are so hopelessly confused over football and rugby that they’ve ended up adopting rounders as their national sport!
As Moore admits, Americans can have a limited world view. 92% of them don’t even own a passport. 65% of Americans between 18 and 25 years’ old could not find the UK on a map: "All that kissing our ass Mr Blair and we don’t know where the hell your lips are."
But he doesn’t spare the Brits. To those who’ve pointed out the mass resistance to Blair’s support for Bush’s war on Iraq, he ripostes: "I have to say to you, with all due respect, why the hell is he still taking his dumps at Number Ten?"
He puts his finger on the problem: "Who the hell is going to lead you? Where is the alternative?" That is really the theme of the book - most Americans aren’t right-wing bigots driving about in big trucks with gun racks - they’ve mostly got liberal views on social issues, care about the environment and definitely didn’t vote for George W Bush.
His desperate crusade is to stop George being re-elected in 2004. He comes up with some pretty desperate answers as well.
The first few chapters go over a lot about the Bush family links with Saudi Arabia in general and the bin Laden family in particular - one of its wealthiest families. With extensive holdings in US companies like Boeing, business dealings with Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and General Electric and property in Texas, Florida and Massachusetts: "They have their hands deep in our pants."
Moore goes on with a series of searching questions to George W, giving useful lists of sources - all mainstream news reporting. In a frantic rush through the war in Iraq, taking in much of US foreign policy since the second world war, he exposes lie after lie.
"How have they got away with it? - They just keep telling the lies". He explains the technique by quoting Richard Pryor in a stand-up routine in 1982, describing a man caught by his wife in bed with another woman. "Just deny you’re in the middle of having sex, said Pryor, deny that there’s even a woman in your bed: ’Now are you going to believe me - or your lying eyes’."
Having a laugh
His final chapter "Bush Removal and other Spring Cleaning Chores" underlines his limitations. He says he’s had thousands of emails and letters asking how can we get rid of Bush. "No one trusts the Democrats to get the job done," he says. He’s actually tried to get a Democrat/Green alliance off the ground but he says he’s had few takers.
So he comes up with the idea of standing Oprah Winfrey - "America loves her and she can’t be bought, she’s already a millionaire". If Oprah won’t run, what about Tom Hanks, Martin Sheen or any one of the Dixie Chicks. You have to assume he’s having a laugh with at least some of these suggestions - but Arnie is the new governor of California.
Moore’s enthusiasm is engaging and his theme is simple - all politicians are lying bastards - so don’t just sit about moaning, do something. But he sees things mainly as the American people being taken for a ride by these bastards, rather than the working class being exploited by the system.
He inevitably comes to the conclusion that you just need some good people in charge, rather than changing the system.
It’s an interesting book, as long as you’re not looking for a political analysis. If it comes out in paperback it might make a good Christmas present.
But Socialism in the 21st Century, published by the Socialist Party, would make an even better one - fewer jokes but a real guide to changing the world.
Dude, Where’s My Country?, by Michael Moore, published by Penguin/Allen Lane.
It’s worth looking at his website: www.michaelmoore.com.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales.