So I finally got around to watching Michael Moore’s 2016 film “Where to Invade Next”. Its joking premise is that after so many failed US military interventions/invasions since WWII, culminating with war in Iraq, where the US didn’t even get to steal their oil, Moore was going to “invade” various European countries to steal their good ideas regarding democratic socialist policies.
First he invades Italy to “steal” their ideas of laws requiring five weeks paid vacation, 2 weeks off for newlyweds, and yearly bonus income to spend on holidays.
Next, France where he steals their idea of gourmet school lunches versus the processed slop American students are expected to shovel down in under 20 minutes.
Then onto Finland, the best educated nation in the world, Moore speaks with high school teens who know 4-5 languages each, and learns their education rate is so high due to two primary philosophies: no standardized testing and no homework.
“Where to Invade Next” was an improvement over his previous film “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2010) which was comparatively a long Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit film with no solutions. In “Sicko” (2007), Moore showed how at ease European societies are when they don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare out of pocket: in “Where to Invade Next” this vision is now expanded to the other human comforts and dignities Democratic Socialist policies can provide, especially when compared to the American hellscape where these things are dismissed as distant dreams. (“Paid vacation?! Keep rowing, maggot!” [whip crack])
Other highlights include: Iceland where women must make up at least 40% of government…
Portugal, where no one has been arrested for possession of illegal drugs for 15 years…
Norway, where prisoners are treated humanely…
…And Slovenia, where college education is free. Moore talks to Slovenian college students who tell him that recently their government tried to rescind free higher education, so they fought back and took to the streets until that government was ousted: free college was kept.
Moore then utilizes a smash cut montage of what happens in other countries when the government tries to take away their free education, highlighting thousands of militant students in the streets from Canada, Germany, France, Finland and Norway.
[Moore narrating] “And here’s what happens each time there’s a tuition hike in the US…”
[cut to a three second long shot of an American Ivy League school, with a few students in the foreground placidly lounging on the lawn]
Fuck you, Michael Moore. Fuck you for ignoring Occupy Cal and Occupy UC Davis.
Some context here: Michael Moore was once the head liberal cheerleader for the Occupy Movement. Not only was he praising the virtues of the movement in near nightly TV news spots, but he personally visited hundreds of Occupy encampments across the country. I saw him speak at Occupy Oakland just about 5 years ago today; days after the OPD turned downtown Oakland into a tear gas filled warzone, injuring 100s and nearly killing Marine veteran Scott Olsen.
After a long and shitty winter of daily police state terror across the country and thousands of brutal arrests later, Occupy tried to band together what resources and strength we had left, and re-emerge in the spring. This was to culminate on March 17th 2012, the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, when activists would try and retake Zuccotti Park. Moore himself led a march from a leftist forum where he was a keynote speaker to reinforce the Occupiers at the park.
The NYPD did that night what all the police forces across the country were given the green light to do when it came to dealing with peaceful protesters: beat the shit out of them indiscriminately and arrest hundreds of them. (An ironic highlight that evening: After all of the liberal whining and pearl-clutching over the prior months about activists breaking a couple of windows during a march, the NYPD smashed a window that night… with a street medic’s skull, repeatedly.)
After this disaster of totalitarianism was unleashed upon OWS yet again, did Michael Moore rush to his lined up media spots on CNN, MSNBC, etc, to decry the police violence?
No. He went silent. His social media accounts went dark for weeks, months. And then, he never talked about Occupy again.
You see, citizens assembling peacefully to redress grievances to affect political and social change being met coordinated police state terror doesn’t fit Michael Moore’s narratives. Police state terror that was coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security under Democratic President Obama and executed by Democratic mayors across the country doesn’t fit Moore’s narratives of “Vote for Barack Obama, or else we’ll get Mitt Romney and then things will get REALLY bad,” or now his current “Vote for Hillary Clinton or you’re a terrorist!” narratives.
This is because Michael Moore is a fucking fraud who genuflects to the Plutocracy and the police state that upholds them and in return he can make gatekeeping pseudo-“leftist” documentaries criticizing the oligarchs, while conveniently leaving out the police state terror aspect of it so he can keep alive the propagandistic myth of “Vote Democrat, click your heels together three times, and we’ll all go home”. (No shit, the actual conclusion of the film was that scene from The Wizard of Oz)
This is why Michael Moore smugly says there isn’t or wasn’t US student protests in his film “Where to Invade Next” while ignoring the lines of students at Occupy Cal with their arms linked getting beat with batons, or how he “forgot” to include the iconic imagery of Lt. Pike hosing down sitting students with copious amounts of pepper spray at Occupy UC Davis.
In “Where to Invade Next” when Moore was in Portugal, he attended a May Day workers’ demonstration/celebration, and lamented that Labor Unions in the USA didn’t have this holiday for working class solidarity.
After the long winter, and the disaster of March 17th, Occupiers around the country organized for one final push: for mass demonstrations on May Day 2012 in unity and solidarity with dozens of US Labor Unions. Many Unions boisterously supported Occupy in the first couple of months of the movement… but slowly, quietly withdrew their support when they determined that we wouldn’t be useful idiot tools for electing Democrats and supporting Obama.
But the ideal for May Day 2012 was a public reunification of the Labor Unions and the Occupy Movement in a strong showing for workers’ solidarity… but at the 11th hour the Unions cancelled their support, leaving Occupy out in the streets alone for the cops to move in and beat the shit out of us.
Death by betrayal.
While in Italy in the film, Moore spoke to union leaders there and asked how they achieved such rights for workers like a five week vacation. To which the Italians responded: through years of previous workers’ struggles and suffering versus the ruling class; and these benefits are maintained by constant organizing and vigilance.
Michael Moore than gave this look of his oft repeated shtick: “Gee, if only we in America would elect better Democrats and strengthen our unions…” ignoring that US Labor Unions have been constantly and consistently betraying workers and Leftists for 70 years, selling out the working class over and over again to their Corporate Overlords. (A fact that Moore actually brought up in his first film “Roger & Me” regarding the United Auto Workers… for about 90 seconds… and never again.)
What is the state of activism today? Is it just a cardboard cutout of Michael Moore shrugging, as if to lamely ask: “Why can’t we have nice things?”
In the years since Occupy, I’ve seen radical students take over a building on campus, rallying a new wave of students to the cause, only to see a meeting originally about which doorways to barricade devolve into a 3 hour debate on proper pronoun usage.
I’ve seen militant Black Lives Matter marches, numbering in the thousands, climbing onto freeways by default, and veteran street activists say “So hey, if this march is going to turn into an impromptu, ad hoc freeway blockade, this particular section of the freeway isn’t strategically sound,” devolve into an on the spot lecture on “What It Means to be a White Ally: 101 New Ways To Check Your Privilege,” as riot cops surrounded on all sides.
What then, is to be done?
The current #NoDAPL encampments give me hope: that Big Labor is pro-pipeline and is actively trying to ratfuck the Protectors should be more than duly noted.
My apologies that I don’t have any great rallying cries at the moment: just three main points.
- The US Labor Unions are an enemy to the working class in America. There is more than ample evidence. In fact, the film “Where To Invade Next” is a perfect example of this: Northern and Western Europeans have free healthcare, 5 weeks paid vacation, free education etc etc, because their Unions fought for it while American Unions sold out.
- I’m not exactly thrilled to be “that guy”, but since Occupy, with increasing regularity, the state has been using paid undercover saboteurs to infiltrate activist meetings to weaponize Identity Politics, PC Culture and Social Justice Warrior language to create bitter divisions in movements where none had previously existed, with useful idiots parroting buzzwords and phrases that have since lost all meaning.
This has demonstrably crushed budding movements in their infancy, before riot cops ever need to be deployed.
This is mass manipulation. Now you may think that sounds paranoid, but I’ve lived through it. Repeatedly. I’ve seen untold dozens of individuals add up into hundreds, and yes thousands over the years, eagerly walk into activist spaces, see firsthand how much of a toxic shit-mire it is, say “Fuck this” and walk away from activism forever. We must correct this course.
- On September 17th of this year, on the 5 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, I read the latest crop of Occupy retrospectives. And what’s becoming more and more clear with each passing year is that there is a concerted attempt to erase the radical history of the movement. A new minimizing narrative is becoming the dominate account: That Occupy lasted for a couple of months in New York (and not 19,000 encampments across the USA), there were a couple of marches, and then everyone went home.
Gone are the stories of Occupy Oakland coordinating two General Strikes and coordinated port shutdowns: the first of their kind in the USA in 70 years. A tactic that was winning before it was ratfucked and crushed.
Gone are the stories of the constant police brutality against Occupy; the kind of stories where someone would get snatched and grabbed by cops, disappeared in a jail cell for days, and the report for the cause of arrest just says “Umbrella”.
Gone is any sense of perspective of the staggering toll these constant acts of brutality and kidnapping and ransoming (the terms ‘jail’ and ‘bail’ don’t apply when someone is held in prison for having a yoga mat) did to the psyches of us in the movement.
Michael Moore’s film “Where To Invade Next” is the latest in this type of propaganda. It is insidiously Orwellian in nature; its purpose is to make Occupy “un-history” as if it never happened, so new activists won’t learn from the mistakes (and god damn were there so many fucking mistakes) from that movement and apply the lessons we learned from our literal blood, sweat, and tears to future struggles.
We must not let this happen.