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Talking With Michael Moore
Page 1Page 2Page 3    by Gary Johnson -- page 2 of 3

Holding two tickets for Indonesia, Michael Moore meets
Nike CEO Phil Knight and urges him to visit
the Indonesian factories that produce Nike shoes

(©1998 Miramax. All rights reserved.)

W hat are you seeing when you go to university campuses? Are you seeing that there are students actively organizing, thinking that what we do now is going to affect what we're doing in the future when we're in the work place? Or are you encountering a certain amount of passivity?

First of all, students, like the rest of society, by and large, have always been apathetic. The '60s have been romanticized and turned into a myth. You're led to believe that everyone had long hair and protested the war, hanging out with Jefferson Airplane. The truth is that that was a minority of students who protested that war--and who were being degraded by the other students who were there for their business degrees or their ROTC or whatever. All change throughout history has always occurred with a minority of people. Our American revolution was supported by only 25% of the population. I never get caught up in this feeling of "Oh, my God, look how stupid and apathetic people are." The majority are always apathetic--that's just the way it's always been. So I just kind of accept it. Let's just say 75% of the country is completely apathetic. Well, how much is 25% out of 270 million people? What is that? 70 million people? 70 million people give a shit? That's a lot of people. You could create a lot of change if you could mobilize 70 million. So I never get bothered by that. What I see going on campuses is that young people these days, I think, are a lot more aware than when I was that age about what's going on in the world. These anti-Nike movements on the campuses are very strong. Students are very upset about that swoosh being put on football and basketball jerseys and what Nike is doing overseas [where 14 year old Indonesian girls work in the shoe factories].

I heard that Nike tried to get you to change some scenes in The Big One?

Nike [CEO, Phil Knight] sent his vice-president out to meet with me a few weeks ago, trying to get me to take out two of the things he said in the film, because they do not want the public to see him say that about 14 year olds [making Nike shoes in Indonesia].

Give us some ideas, if you were king, what kind of changes would you make to government?

Well, first of all, I would change our system to a proportional representative system, like a parliamentary system, where you could then have 4, 5, 6 major political parties and those parties would represent the broad spectrum of political thought that exists in the country. We don't have that right now. We have one party that has two names--Republicans, Democrats. They virtually believe in the same thing. And they don't represent the will of the people. They're there to represent people with money. Money buys them. We always knew that about the Republicans. Thank God for Clinton. They've shown us the Democrats too want the money. And so, the richest 1% that own 50% of all the wealth in this country now have two political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, and we, the other 99% have none. Now when anthropologists dig us up hundreds of years from now, they're going to laugh their asses off at us calling ourselves a democracy when the richest 1% controls the democracy with 2 political parties and the other 99% had no say and no voice. It's no surprise to me that over 50% of the people did not vote in the last political election. And they didn't stay home because they're apathetic or stupid or don't care. It's because they know those two parties do not represent them. We get these signs all the time. When 20% showed up to vote for Perot in '92, that blew my mind. 20%. He got 20% of the vote. I mean, think about this, 20% of the people actually left the house, got in the car, drove to the polls, stood in line for an hour, and voted for someone they knew was a certified fruitcake--just to send a message. That's like an act of civil disobedience. "I know he's nuts. I'm gonna vote for him anyway." Now this year, Colin Powell in all the public opinion polls would beat everybody. Is that amazing? Do you realize that we still have a problem with race in the country? A huge problem. A huge divisive problem regarding race. And yet Americans are so upset at what is going on in this country right now they're willing to set aside their own personal racism and vote for someone they would not want living next door to them or marrying their daughter. But they would put him in the White House because they are that pissed off. That's an amazing, amazing signal to me. They don't care what his politics are. Nobody knows what he stand for. He's just a giant (gestures)--you know--oh, sorry about that. [Apologizing to the microphone:] There was a slightly obscene gesture.

What can we do to change corporate America?

You need laws that require them to do certain things. Just like we have laws that tell them you can't pollute the air, you can't pollute the river, you have to put air bags in the cars. We have to create more laws that put restrictions on these companies who are not making decisions in our best interest. They're making decisions based on greed--the desire for more and more money.

What do you think the labor unions should do to apply pressure on corporate America?

Labor unions should devote every available dollar they can afford into organizing the unorganized--number one. Organize the unorganized. Labor unions, number two, should be completely democratic. There should be a direct vote of the leadership by the membership. Number three: we need a political party, working people. We need a political party that represents us and I suggest we do two things. We either need to start a third party, which will never ever win, as long as it's a third party because our system is rigged against third parties. But we need to support either the labor party or new party or the greens or some conglomerate of the three of them, so that we start organizing locally because, remember, most of the elections in this country, school boards, city council, etc. are not Democrats, Republicans. They're non-partisan. You know that the majority of elected officials are non-partisan, in most places. So we can organize--without having to have a party on the ballot--around candidates that we want to support, by forming our own third party. But having said that, I also believe because so many people have checked out of the political system and so many people don't give a damn and don't go to political meetings anymore that if you went to the Kansas City Democratic party meeting next month, the monthly meeting, I bet there won't be 10 people there--10 party hacks running everything. You go to the caucus meeting--there is never enough people for the state convention, the county convention, so what happens? The hacks put in their own people. The hacks nominate hacks and they go to big hack conventions and that's that. I've really been encouraging people on this tour to sign up as a delegate, to go to those caucuses, this is an election year, and take over the democratic party. Or show up at the next monthly meeting of the Democrats here, bring 20 of your friends; you'll outnumber the 10 hacks and just start taking over. They won't know what hit them. This is how the fundamentalists took over the Republican party. The Christian Right took over the Republican party over the last decade by doing it this way, locally, grass roots. We've got to start doing that. So I'm encouraging people to do that. And I've actually got some good e-mail from people on the tour who've actually went and done that.

When do you check your e-mail?

I check it every night. I get probably a 100 letters or so a night. I read them all and I respond to maybe 20 of them. It takes a long time. It's a good hour a night that I'm on e-mail. But it's great. It's really a great tool. I said that in St. Louis last night and a couple of them say, "Isn't that a little corporate?" You know, my grandmother never learned to drive a car because she was born before cars, so she was a prisoner then. She couldn't get around. Typical baby boomer--don't be talking anti-computer talk. This is a great invention for us. It's a great tool for us. Because the Internet is still an egalitarian place to be.

For how long?

Well, not long. Not long. They just haven't figured out how to take it over yet. Right now they're trying to figure out how to make money off it--which is good cause they'll never figure that out. That buys us more time.

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