"Dissenters are out of touch"


An interesting section of Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore (Penguin UK edition, 2002) is the new introduction (written for the paperback edition published outside the US). In it Moore describes how his publishers told him, after September 11th, that he'd have to rewrite a large part of the book, "removing the harsh references to Bush and toning down your dissent". And they wanted him to pay the $100,000 cost of reprinting the book (the first 50,000 copies had been printed, coincidentally, on the evening of September 10th, 2001, and had been sitting in a warehouse ever since).

Post 9/11, Moore's publishers thought they knew the mood of the public, and they told Moore that the book was "out of touch with the American people". Finally Moore got his way, the book was distributed without any changes, and it quickly went to number one on most non-fiction bestseller lists – and stayed there for a long time (before going to the top of UK bestseller lists, even though it wasn't published in the UK yet – more UK citizens were ordering the American import of SWM than any other non-fiction book from amazon.co.uk).

So it looks as if publishers don't have quite the expert insight into markets that they boast of. (Moore's original US publishers, ReganBooks, is a division of HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch).

Another enjoyable chapter of SWM was Dow Wow Wow, which exposes the economic con-trick being pulled by rich establishment types. Moore has noticed (like many of us) the contradiction between the "recession"-type propaganda ("there's no money to go around", "you'll have to tighten your belts, work longer, expect less public services, cuts in social security" etc) and the staggeringly vast, huge, colossal, jumbo-sized, massive, awesome amount of wealth that is piling up in the coffers of rich corporations and rich shareholders.

If you read the Dow Wow Wow chapter together with Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed, you may get a far more accurate picture of what is going on economically in America (and, indirectly, in the UK) than from any "analysis" in the mainstream media.