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(4) "We, the people..."

[Messaggio inviato il 14 novembre 2009 a 2 indirizzi e-mail attribuiti al regista Michael Moore e reperiti su siti pubblici Internet]

[Message sent on November 14th, 2009, to 2 e-mail addresses ascribed to Director Michael Moore and collected in public Internet sites]




“We the people…” – A message in a bottle about the other side of democracy



Dear Mr. Moore,

Last Sunday (November, 8th) I have seen your interview on Italian TV, held by Lucia Annunziata, and two days later, riding the wave of the interest arose by it, I saw your movie picture Capitalism: a love story. This message is a consequence of this experience.

As first I beg your pardon for my English, that I regret isn’t good enough for my purposes; all the same I write to you because I think that what I’m going to say could be of some interest. Then I’m conscious about the uncertainty linked to this message, that looks to me like a message in a bottle: actually I’m not even sure it will reach you. But all the same, I write.

I was highly struck by two moments of your interview:

1)      When you reminded Mrs. Annunziata that G. W. Bush wouldn’t start Second Iraqi war without the consensus and support by several allies of the USA (Italy in pole position).

2)      When you explained that the words that end your movie don’t mean your abandoning the cinema. The question is that a new movie of yours couldn’t have any sense if we shouldn’t find any track of some effects of the formers on the people; if people won’t move, social criticism should be recognized as not effective, and we should be forced to seek new instruments.

People is the knot, people is the root of the problem. I completely agree with your distinction between capitalism and democracy; but we should also consider that the quality of capitalism, and of democracy, depends not only on the formal structures of society, but mainly on the practical ways they are managed and performed. This means ideas, behaviours and actions of the whole people, not only of the rich and the power holders; because people vote, because people choose... And this opens new questions.

For example: the end of the “American dream”, that you so clearly show in your movie, is it due to the deep nature of free market economy, or is it the consequence of a pathological interpretation of it? And why American people too (the Americans, the sons of  Father pilgrims and of the Pioneers!) look like unable, unwilling and passive facing all this?

I’ve seen, on Italian TV, the march against the White House held by the oppositionists of President Obama’s plan for the public healthcare system, and  asked myself: who are they? Are they all rich? Have they all interests in private insurance companies? I don’t think so, and then, what’s pushing ordinary people (or even poor people) to voluntarily hold positions that reduce the security of them and their peers, and that improves the privileges of the few?

Because this happens, in Italy too: after the recent big flood of  Messina, people attacked the public institutions and the politic class. But again I asked myself: who are they? Whom they did vote for? Because there’s a high probability that that politic class has been elected exactly for the reason that it was ready to permit building in dangerous zones… that’s what the majority of people wanted.

No Italian journalist proposed these questions to the survivals of the flood; I don’t know if any American journalist did investigate the characteristics of the marchers toward Capitol Hill. All the same, we are facing the problem that the politic class could be the mirrored imagine of the people; this is quite upsetting. And this is the point: to denunciate the crimes and the misdeeds of a degenerated class of entrepreneurs and public officers, is necessary and quite right; but it isn’t enough.

I think we must deeply understand the people, not only for compassionating and protecting them, but also to shake them and recall them to their simple duty. That is: life in modern societies is going to become more and more complicate, and it will be totally impossible to work it out without knowledge and without consciousness, without culture and without coherent social behaviors. I’ve studied this problem for the Italian situation; you can find my work just clicking here (I'm sorry it's not yet been translated).

A few weeks ago an Italian famous judge (Gian Carlo Caselli, general attorney for the contrast to the Mafia) has published a book titled “The two wars”; through it, he poses the question why, in Italy, the war against the terrorism was won and the war against the Mafia was lost. I agree with judge Caselli when he states that terrorism was defeated why never reached a minimum popularity; I think (in this maybe slightly differing by the author) that this principle can be totally applied to the Mafia phenomenon, and the obliged conclusion is that people’s perceptions and behaviors have something to do with the survival of these gangsters.

Finally: masses aren’t innocent! They could be supposed innocent in the ancient, authoritarian governments, but not in modern democracies. In modern democracies people have chances, even if not so many as the commercial advertising suggests; people can choose to study, and prepare themselves to understand and inhabit a complicate world, instead of following instant fashions.

Dear Mr. Moore, you told us the capitalism of our days; please now tell us the people that inhabits this capitalism, and their culture, behaviors, ideas and vision. Because it is unthinkable to leave all the responsibility to one person, even if it’s President Obama; President Obama will never be able to deal with the huge set of problems that the USA and the world are facing without people support. No politician could make such a thing, not even a resuscitated F. D. Roosevelt.

The question is: what kind of people do democracies need to work efficiently? What kind of culture do people need to proactively inhabit modern democracies? This could be a subject for a new movie of yours; because the battlefield of the struggle for a new world will be CULTURE, and the instruments will be the BEHAVIORS of people; and because an artist can influence culture and help us recovering a sense to the expression: “We, the people…”.


With my thanks, truly yours


Roberto Maffei


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