[Marxism] John Chuckman critique of Fahrenheit 9/11

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Jul 20 09:30:00 MDT 2004

...a shot from the hip here....maybe a few of them...

John Chuckman corrects Michael Moore's alleged assumptions by both
scorning conspiracy and insisting that "Presidents can't act alone."
In essence, he makes unexplored and unexamined assertion after assertion
to support his view that "Michael Moore's role is to make American
liberals feel good about themselves...."  Now, the reality is that
Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't whitewash the insidious role of liberals and
Democrats in creating the Bush administration and in supporting its

...but let's not stoop to realities.

Chuckman's review is not about Moore and his movies.  Indeed, he freely
admits of Moore that he will "use him to represent all of liberal
America".  In short, as many of the critics, this movie provides more of
a Rorschach test for the reviewers than

Such arbitrariness requires a simplistic and puerile treatment of issues
we all understand to be more complex.  Chuckman dismisses the criticism
that "Bush represents a danger to American values, the favorite charge
of many fuzzy-thinking American liberals," while he insists that "in
many ways Bush accurately reflects those values."   It couldn't be more
two-dimensional, could it?

The very idea that there is some distinctive set of "American" values is
be dodgy enough.  Does he mean constitutional, federalist or republican
standards?  Who knows?  

Chuckman closes by asking if Fahrenheit 9/11 "adds anything to resolving
America's great dilemma of insatiable greed and willingness to do
terrible deeds while mouthing high-sounding ideals."  For Marxists, the
obvious answer is that Fahrenheit 9/11 is part of a social and cultural
process by which Americans questions themselves and what our role in the
world...so, yes, it does weigh something in the balance.  And I don't
think there's any serious question but that is weighs to the benefit of
progressive change.  

Most fundamentally, Chuckman treats "American values" and our
"high-sounding ideals" as having some cut-and-dried black-and-white
reality without reference to material context.  The slaveholder, Thomas
Jefferson wrote about the value of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness," but the hypocrisy did not make them of less importance to
Gabriel Prosser and other slave rebels who rose up against Mr. Jefferson
and his neighbors.  The reality requires context.

In opposing the war, many of us have argued for democratic standards,
republican virtue, fair play, respect for human life, etc.  An idealist
might assert that we share the perspective of George W. Bush who uses
the same language.  Such an idealist would be wrong.  For Marxist,
material context defines these things.

And the material context of Fahrenheit 9/11--the attempted further
regimentation of American life, the capitulation of the Democratic
Party, and the corporate domination of media--defines it as a major

Mark L.

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