Letter from Martin Thomas, Islington
Pete Radcliff (Solidarity 3/55) is right, I think, that Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 911 is much better cinema than his previous Bowling for Columbine.
I can hardly imagine anyone seeing Fahrenheit 911 and coming out with any respect for or confidence in George W Bush and the rest of his gang at the top of the US government. That debunking of the powers that be is the beginning of all political wisdom.
But only the beginning.
Fahrenheit 911, in the first place, is a "vote Kerry" film. Pete writes that "it is unclear where Moore stands" on the upcoming US presidential election. The film seems pretty clear to me, and, in case of doubt, www.michaelmoore.com has a quote from Kerry on the home page, and an urgent appeal to everyone who has seen the film to go to work in one of the Kerry/ Bush "swing states".
The film includes dark talk about the "real plan" behind the Iraq war. But it has no clear idea of what the "real plan" is. It criticises Bush not only for the Iraq war, but for waging the Afghan war too slackly and slowly and for not giving enough resources to the FBI and the police.
It allows only one Iraqi voice to speak directly about the war: a woman, distraught at a relative's house being bombed to pieces, calls on God to bring vengeance on America. Its American voices are soldiers saying Iraq is harder than they thought and they can't see why they're there, and a mother distraught because her son has died "for nothing".
The message from those partial voices is that Iraq should have been left alone - I think Moore's choice of shots of happy kids in playgrounds and affable adults in cafes, and only those, to represent pre-war Iraq is too simplistic not to deserve criticism - and, much more (this is a deeply patriotic film), that American kids should be kept "out of harm's way".
The partial voices convey some part of the truth, but only a part. A whole lot more - around the importance of the new Iraqi labour movement, and the need for an independent working-class party in the USA - we will need to talk through with those who see the film. As I hope many will.