Fred Hutchison
June 30, 2004
Political mythology -- Michael Moore in wonderland
By Fred Hutchison

The success of Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 had nothing to do with the intrinsic merits of the film. It is a crudely made propaganda film posing as a documentary. Moore gave the political left the myths they wanted to hear, and demonized the parties they wished to see crushed and the partisans in the audience stood up and cheered. Think back on the history of the twentieth century at those moments when the crowds cheered for evil. This, my friend, is such a moment.

Good Myths and Bad

The creation of myths and the delight in myths is a human trait. Myths can be good or bad. They can be good if they embody high ideals, give moral guidance, or tell essential truths about the nature of life. Myths can be evil if they call evil good and call good evil. Myths are evil when they tell lies, or put forward an image of life which is essentially false. Myths, like those told by Karl Marx and Hitler, are destructive because they breed devotion to wrong-headed causes leading to wars and revolutions and promote the rise of dictatorships. But the crowds cheered for the myths put forward by Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

Myths can attach themselves to partisan factions and can be used in slanderous and destructive ways. This is the nature of Moore's evil film. It tells lies and half-truths and has a subversive effect on the democratic process.

The Myth Creating Process of the Left

A while ago I wrote an essay on the genesis of liberal myths and I gave four examples. In each case, the myth generation process began with a flimsy "study" made by a sociologist or cultural anthropologist. Each "scholar" had preconceived ideas about what he or she wanted to find. The result was a widely published piece of pseudo-science. The publications generally met with enthusiastic responses not because the science was good or the scholarship was good but because the myths presented were what an influential segment of readers wanted to hear.

The two more famous studies which I reviewed were Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa, and Theodore Adorno's The Authoritarian Mind. These have been thoroughly debunked as having no factual, scientific, or scholarly validity. Yet the liberal myths which these studies propagated and have lived on and on.

The thesis of The Authoritarian Mind has been scientifically disproved. In a nutshell, one takes a questionnaire and is awarded an "F score." I assume the "F" stands for fascist. The score is purported to measure ones propensity to join right-wing groups of an authoritarian kind. Men who are religious, moral, have a high opinion of their fathers, are patriotic, and trust their government leaders usually get a high "F score." No mathematical correlation has ever been discovered between high "F scores" and membership in far-right authoritarian groups! None! However, the odd-ball myth lives on in the liberal fantasy world spite of the collapse of the scientific support.

Every conservative politician and writer must endure periodic accusations of being a fascist or a Nazi by liberals who are deceived by this crackpot myth. Many a conservative who participates in public debates has had moments when his opponent ignores his argument and begins to ask probing questions about his religion, social class, family culture, etc.. It a search for the roots of the imagined fascist tendencies. I have seen a liberal on a state legislative committee do this to a conservative who came to testify. In such a case, the conservative is confronted an irrational myth and deflected from debating the issue at hand. If he submits to the interrogation he is humiliated. If he tries to debunk the myth, his time is wasted. If he rejects the interrogation as a red herring the crowd will remember that rejection instead of what he says next. Stupid myths can be adroitly used.

Why is the left bound up in myths?

When one has adopted a false world view, he requires the support of myths. Real life is constantly battering against his sand castle walls. Something with psychological power like myths are needed to shore up the jerry-built edifice of his false world view. When a conservative points out that the house has no foundation, the liberal can deny it, rationalize it away, or accuse the conservative of being a fascist. It is far easier to ignore the missing foundation if there is a ready made myth like Adorno's "authoritarian mind" to fall back upon. "The guy who is criticizing me is a fascist type. I can ignore his criticism. Let's attack the fascist."

When a postmodern liberal is served up a myth which supports his shaky world view, he will cling to it, cherish it, and defend it. This is precisely why postmodern liberalism and far left ideologies are so thickly salted with myths. The myths are carefully protected with oppressive systems of political correctness where dissent is stifled. In Communist countries, dissent from Marxist myths earned you a trip to the gulag for labor and "re-education," or to an insane asylum where your "mental illness" can be cured by drugs, torture, and brainwashing techniques.

Marxism was built upon the myth of economic determinism and dialectical materialism that economic forces push history through an inevitable progression of stages leading ultimately to revolution of the working class against the capitalists. The victorious workers will establish a socialist dictatorship which ushers in a workers utopia. Marxist theory began as myth posing as social science for intellectuals. However, when Marxist mythical ideology developed a powerful momentum it could easily switch over to pure propaganda laden with slogans, myths, ideological double talk, and false accusations: 1) to foment hatred between the classes, 2) to foment hatred of America, the archetypal capitalist nation, and 3) to promote revolution..

The Marxists made propaganda films which were more sophisticated than Moore's sophomoric rant. However, both the Marxists and Moore, who is a contemporary film maker, have clearly understood the myth making power of film.

Hollywood and Myth

Some of the great Hollywood movies are based upon myths. Certain myths are elevating and have mystical appeal to secret longings of the human heart. These tales can be dramatically unfolded by a master story teller with mystery, suspense, romance, and adventure.

Beginning in the sixties, openly anti-Christian films began to be made. In many films the preacher was a homicidal maniac. Many of us did not take it seriously. Such portrayals represented rather obvious anomalies and aberrations. Yes, the thought would come to mind that certain film makers were trying to create an anti-Christian myth. But we did not worry too much because a myth can't hurt us if everyone knows it is a myth. These shenanigans were blatantly obvious surely everyone knows that.

However, we should have taken it seriously. Some persons in the audience took the anti-Christian myths seriously. The myths grew, festered, and bore bitter fruit. Now we are facing a bitterly anti-Christian culture war. The anti-Christian factions have united behind the myths. Myths can have evil spiritual power. The dupes of the anti-Christian myths are blinded and cannot recognize the sheer absurdity of the myths they are following.

During the 1970's, a series of openly anti-American films came out. This was during the Michael Moore's formative years. The patriotic '80's of Ronald Reagan and the fall of the Berlin wall came too late to reach him. His course as a subversive film maker was set.

Hitchen's Critique of Fahrenheit 9/11

I recommend Christopher Hitchens' Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Mickael Moore (posted at slate.msm.com) for a thorough debunking of the film. Ex-leftists like Hitchens make the best critics of leftists. If you have been immersed in leftist nonsense you can explain it, dissect it, and laugh at it better than anyone else.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I shall let Hitchens do a major share of the talking in the remainder of this column. First, I shall briefly summarize the conspiracy theory myth which Hitchens exposes and debunks in his lengthy essay. Then I shall quote a few choice stingers which Hitchens directs at Moore. Hitchen is the reigning master of killer stingers.

The Conspiracy Theory as Myth

Conspiracy theories are one form of myth. Moore builds a conspiracy theory by makes a series of allegations in the following order: 1) The Bin laden family had a close business relationship with the Bush family, through the Carlyle group. 2) The Saudis make large foreign investments in the United States. 3) The Unocal company in Texas was willing to discuss with the Taliban the possibility of building a pipeline across Afghanistan. 4) The Bush administration sent too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allowed Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape. 5) The Afghan government, in supporting the coalition in Iraq, was not a valid government because it depended upon the American Army for defense. 6) Lost American lives have been wasted.

Hitchens comments: "It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore's direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these scatter shots do not adhere at any point."

Moore's six points range from lies, half-lies, and misleading data because taken out of context. They are juxtaposed in a way that is self-contradictory or which does not make sense because essential data is left out. What Moore is trying to do is to propose a theory of a massive conspiracy between the Bush administration, the oil companies, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and the Saudis. The theory does not work and Hitchens takes pains to explain why in detail. The theory makes no sense to anyone who has followed the Afghan war. It is a frontal attack on common sense. But liberal myths and drive out common sense. The liberals in the theater stood up and cheered because Moore delivered the hate-Bush mythology that they were looking for. Some aspects of this myth had been turning up in liberal editorial cartoons for a year or two. Moore turned cartoon-inspired images into a goofy conspiracy theory.

The anti-Bush conspiracy theory is bad enough. His trashing of American troops is worse. We are given admiring glimpses of life in Saddam Hussein's regime (I am not making this up). Then we see American planes, bombs falling, and dead children. Then we are treated to uncomplimentary glimpses at American troops. This is vile. This is hate America stuff. Yet the dazed liberal audiences stood up and cheered. But don't you dare question their patriotism. They claim that they have the right to cheer for hate-America stuff and still be regarded as patriots.

Hitchens Stingers

"To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe the film as a piece of (censored) would be to run the risk of never again rising above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery."

It is a common liberal stunt to pose as a bold dissenter against conventional thought while conforming to liberal group-think and winning plaudits from the liberal community. I think this is what Hitchens means by "political cowardice." Later he takes Moore to task for celebrating a presumption of courage while pointedly ignoring real courage. "Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself.'

"...the film is so flat-out phoney that "fact-checking" is beside the point...If you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them...At no point does Michael Moore make the slightest effort to be objective. At no moment does he pass up a cheap sneer or a jeer..."

And still the fools stood up and cheered. That is more scary than the Michael Moor propaganda movie. A blowhard crank is always waiting in the wings for a silly crowd to perform for. But when crowds even partisan crowds so willingly dance to the tune of a blatant propagandist of the crudest and cheapest sort this is a danger sign for our republic. A uniquely silly conspiracy theory put out by a political huckster could not have this effect unless there be heavy deceptions, like a black cloud, blowing across our land.

© Fred Hutchison

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Fred Hutchison

Frederick J. Hutchison attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as an undergraduate, and Cleveland State University to get his Master's degree in business... (more)

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