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Customer Review

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars funny fat man, 9 Dec. 2002
This review is from: Stupid White Men: ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! (Paperback)
This book is far more than the rant-against-bush-with-laughs I was expecting; indeed it contains within it a critique of American society and politics that amounts to an entire worldview-with-laughs. Its fundamental premise is that, instead of being fearful of one another, "the people" should be aware of how those in power (almost exclusively the Stupid White Men of the piece) perpetuate economic inequality, social degeneration and their own global and national power, while masking all this with an omniprescient (sic.) dumb culture. This is rightly seen as an unjust, dividing, oppressive superstructure that looms over and conditions your petty prejudices about how "blacks commit the most crimes" or whatever. By refocusing your attention in such a way - away from the spots news/petty politics complex (listen to Talksport) and towards a critique of society that reads in the factor of "power" (as opposed to liberal conceptions of "consensus") - the social order that appears so good and reasonable (less so under Bush) is cast in a new light. In each case (economics, education, justice) the dominant trends are towards consolidating and expanding the prospects of the top 10% (Tax breaks et al, unthinking corporate prawn production, allowances to evade tax/emissions levels) and constrict those of the poor (fear of unemployment, diminishing opportunities to fight back, being not about rights but keeping the "garbage off the street"). This domestic situation is masked by a national arrogance which declares "we're number one" - and proceeds to throw its weight around in international antagonisms which again only benefit the narrow upper strata. This whole situation, writes Moore in the Epilogue, has hardened into its mould post September 11th (this book was, in the main, written beforehand, and additions to it deal with responses to its contents in the aftermath). The patriotic rhetoric and climate of fear have been used to give extra-sanction to the power of the powerful - while increasing the division of the neighbor-distrusting, (corporate) America aligning, people.
Given this diagnosis of the American malaise, it is no wonder that Moore is frustrated by the legion of politicians who mobilize nice sounding rhetoric about "caring for the environment" or "feeling all that pain" - but whose actions display a crass watering down of these "convictions". His liberal-baiting is a highlight of this book - whether directed at those black leaders who consider their people "integrated" or (brilliantly) at the recycling token-efforters. A good bit, for me, was his disavowal of "student councils" at school - and no doubt the boring bureaucracy of Student-Union-career-chasing - unless as scenes for imaginative subversion. This disfavor extends to the Democratic Party - conceived as the nice-talking-Republicans - and to those who carped on about Raplh Nadar handing the election to Bush (which by many measures he simply did NOT WIN);
"Nadar represents who they [the Baby Boomers] used to be but no longer are...that's why they hate him...he never changed, he never lost the faith, never compromised, never gave up."
There are chapters in the book which deal with the three negative states comprising the title - stupidity (obviously bad, but everywhere) whiteness (on the most immediate level - whites are privileged, most blacks are not, so blacks make more committed workers for Moore's various projects than complacent, irresponsible, college kids) Men (obviously bad, or at least worse, and Moore makes the case for their obsolescence). With these reprobates dominating our key institutions - Moore's prescription of playful, but honest, opposition is inspiring and delivered with passion and very little po-faced posturing.
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