Two more cheers for Michael Moore

The other day I saw Michael Moore’s Sicko. Much like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 911: very telling, very sympathetic, very funny, very good at generating anger – and then it stops. I enjoyed it while it was on, but it still left me feeling impotent.

I suppose this is the dilemma of the American Left. Even by the wretched standards of the European Left, the complete absence of any serious analysis of the underlying problem undermines any organised action by the very mass of people to whom Moore rightly appeals. So how does he do it? Having kicked off his documentary by pointing the finger at exactly the right people – corporate capitalism, the fundamental contradiction between the interests of a vast, uncontrolled businesses and the health of the very people they allegedly serve, and a government that still believes the fantasy that what is good for business is good for America, he concludes with a sentimental appeal to Americans’ better natures. ‘What sort of people are we? Do we want to be like this?’ and so on and so forth.

Perhaps it is a necessary step, given the poverty of American politics. Or perhaps it shows how the American Left is fundamentally flawed. I wish it were the former, but I suspect it is not.

But in what sense is the European Left any better?

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