Michael Moore’s Election Year Odyssey

Where to Invade Next riffs off of the idea of critiquing the US war without end. Despite the title, documentarian Michael Moore is not going there in his first film in six years. Rather, Moore adroitly shows positive examples from abroad of what he believes might be done at home if there were the political will this election year.

With Old Glory in tow, Moore’s “one-man army…invades” Western Europe, plus stops in Slovenia and Tunisia, to “steal” good eye-opening ideas to take home:

  • Gourmet public school lunches in France
  • Free higher education for citizens and foreigners alike in Slovenia
  • Decriminalization of drugs and attendant social services in Portugal
  • Schools emphasizing time to socialize over homework and teaching to the test in Finland
  • Two-hour lunch breaks and eight-weeks of vacation plus paid maternity leave in Italy
  • Public education condemning its fascist past in Germany, compared to the amnesia in the US regarding the genocide of our indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans
  • Prisons for humane rehabilitation in Denmark

Spoiler alert, each and every country “surrenders” and even points out that some of their “secrets” originated in the US, such as the May 1st celebration of working people.

CEO & Me

Gone however is Moore’s former confrontational in-your-face antics with people in power. Instead Invade is infested with any number of CEOs plus a scattering of heads of state and even the head of the conservative Islamic party of Tunisia. Former rebel Moore behaves not just cordially but reverentially

Picture this: in the foreground Moore and three bosses – two skirts and one suit, appropriately attired – in comfortable seats on an Italian garment factory floor. In the background stand happy workers singing Whistle While You Work. No, the workers weren’t actually singing the Disney tune. But they were gushing about how great their bosses are while the bosses returned the compliment.

If only those who labor and those who live off of the labor of others could always have such a comfy relationship. The CEOs in Invade are ecstatic about how much they love the opportunity of share the fruits of their workers’ labor with their workers. Moore asks why not be more exploitive (my word, not his), and the CEOs just coo how great it is to have a contented workforce.

The champion of the underdog from Flint seems to have forgotten about the indignados of Spain, the aganaktismeni of Greece, the geração à rasca of Portugal, and other militant mass social movements struggling against neo-liberal austerity in Europe. The growing ranks of youthful NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) in the countries Moore has invaded are ignored.


Invade is interspersed with brief clips of African-Americans being brutalized by police in the US and other videos showing dysfunction at home, which are contrasted to the harmony on the other side of the Atlantic. But are things so rosy the across the pond?

Just as in the US – where the political trajectory has been away from the New Deal and toward the New Order (Neuordnung), whether under Republicans or under Moore’s favored Democrats – social democracy in Europe is showing signs of serious sickness.

The supposed social contract between labor and capital is unraveling in Europe as in the US. Here wages have stagnated since the mid-1970s despite spectacular increases in labor productivity and even more astronomical increases in the wealth of the rich.

Some of Moore’s success stories, such as Icelanders reigning in their banksters or Tunisians overthrowing President Ben Ali to restore democracy, didn’t end up quite so hunky-dory as suggested in Invade.

The current condition on the ground of stagnation and austerity is absent from Invade, let alone an explanation of why. If that story were to be told, it would not be a paean to the social-democratic prophecy of the lamb and lion lying down together, but a saga of on-going class warfare.

Invade, to be fair, does have cameo appearances of a few union leaders talking about the importance of struggle and some nods are made affirming the efficacy of popular protests. But the purpose of these fight-backs is not to take control, but to remind those in charge that they ought to act nice.

Moore’s vision is of a social-democratic version of capitalism with a happy face where all is palsy-walsy between workers and bosses. The basic concept of social democracy is a partnership, where capitalists rule but allow workers concessions above subsistence in return for labor peace.

Socialists, as opposed to social democrats, do not believe that workers should be junior partners with capitalists. They understand that capitalist greed is not a personality disorder to be overcome with proper etiquette training. It’s a structural imperative of the system.

Feminism 9/11

Moore strongly advocates for gender equality. Invade treats us to the contributions of women in leadership, including various female CEOs and the first woman president of Iceland.

Moore’s narrow feminism advances the idea that simply putting more women in positions of power, regardless of their class or political perspective, is somehow the main solution, as if having a female boss empowers women workers.

A broader, more inclusive feminism views women’s oppression as rooted in the class structure of society. More women in authority does not in itself address structural issues, any more than does having an African American president raise the conditions of blacks in the US.

If you have any doubts about this, just think about Margaret “There is no alternative” Thatcher, Madeline “Infanticide is worth it” Albright, and – yes – Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton.

Clintonism: A Love Affair

Invade was made for the 2016 presidential election season. The subliminal message of Invade is elect a woman as the next president of the US.

Who could Moore have had in mind when he was making the documercial? Hint, it was not Donald Trump.

Moore is on record for lauding the former senator from the low-wage sex-discriminatory State of Walmart (employs 1.4 million in the US – larger than ten of the actual states) as “one hot shit-kickin’ feminist babe.”

Moore actually confesses to his “forbidden love” for Hillary, making the Bill and Monica affair look dignified in comparison.

As late as January 19th of this year, Moore spoke on MSNBC about “a historic moment where we could elect the first woman president of the United States.” Moore had not yet made a presidential endorsement.

The Big One

Finally just hours before the beginning of the Iowa caucuses, Michael Moore made his big belated endorsement… unequivocally for Bernie Sanders.

Lambasting Clinton for “red-baiting” Sanders, the love affair is apparently over – for now. Moore rejects Clinton’s record of being “FOR the war in Iraq, AGAINST gay marriage, FOR the Patriot Act, FOR NAFTA, and wants to put Ed Snowden in prison.”

Note to Michael Moore fans: make sure he sticks to his guns if Sanders fails to get the Democratic nomination. As Moore recently exhorted, “Don’t vote by fear. Vote for who u think best represents what u believe in.”

Don’t hold your breath. But this may be an indication that Moore could abandon his sheep dog role of supporting whomever the Democrats dish out for fear of the Republicans. He could make a principled decision to support an independent candidate he believes in.

Captain Mike Across America

Speaking to those who are feeling the Bern, Invade cleverly juxtaposes “what could be” against “what is” in neo-liberal America. In our daily lives under capitalism, it’s hard to imagine what a better world might look like. Invade gives us a peak at a vision of what could be. And there’s some good chuckles to be had. So check out Invade and bring your posse.

Roger D. Harris and Allan Miller are longtime political activists and members of the Peace and Freedom Party, California’s only ballot-qualified socialist party. Read other articles by Roger D. Harris and Allan Miller.