Sicko, Michael Moore's new film on the failures of private healthcare and the successes of universal socialized healthcare, priemered on Friday, June 22nd, in New York City, on one screen in the Upper West Side and will be released in theaters accross the country on the 29th. The screening was a special pre-release engagement open to the public, and Michael Moore, the director of the film as well as other very interesting and provactive films like Farenheit 9/11, stopped by before the movie and said a few words thanking everyone for packing the rather large theater.
Sicko is basically an exposure of the flaws of capitalist private healthcare and how it represents a horrible system for millions of people even in the wealthiest country in the world, the United States, where nearly 50 million people are left without healthcare and to pray that they don't get sick or injured, otherwise, the system will do what it is made to do, kick them to the curb, and where even those 250 million without healthcare are often treated like they don't even have it. The movie starts out by showing two people without health insurance who have had an accident. One sustained a deep gash next to his knee and rather than going to get stitches for his wound at hospital, he is forced to sew up the wound himself. Right from the bat the movie does something that you rarely see, it shocks people and questions them on what kind of system do you have where people cannot get basic medical treatment? What kind of system kicks people to the curb? What kind of system, as he later reveals, allows 18,000 people to die yearly because they cannot afford to be treated when they are sick or injured? After showing the man stitching himself, he introduces a carpenter who accidently sawed off the top of his ring and index finger. When he arrived at the hospital, rather than being immediatly treated, he was told that he could have the top of his index finger sewed on for 60,000 dollars and the top of his ring finger sewed on for 12,000. He could only afford the latter. Again, it is this type of exposures which questions people, what kind of system puts a price tag on a person's body?
Michael Moore then says that this film is not about the 50 million people in the United States who don't have health insurance because they either can't afford it or because they are excluded from it because of their conditions, and states, the movie is about the 250 million people who do have health insurance and are "living the American dream"
Moore then exposes situations where insurance companies did horrific things like denied a toddler a hearing aid for her right ear, only giving her one for her left, or denied a man dying of cancer medicine which had been scientifically proven to work, both on grounds that they were "experimental" another company refused to treat a young woman who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer even though she was paying client because she "shouldn't have gotten cervical cancer so young." Moore than continues to show how the system rewards doctors who give away the least amount of prescriptions because that way the health companies profit the most and how corporate representitives are given long lists so that anyone who has the slightest medical condition is barred from recieving health insurance.
The main problem with Sicko was that it advocates just socializing healthcare and leaving the system of capitalism intact by attempting to show how well this type of system works in countries like France and England. What Moore leaves out is why people aren't able to afford health insurance in the first place, because they are degraded through tough low paying jobs or left on the curb to die. Also, what Moore seems to imply yet doesn't go fully into is that when you socialize things, they work better. In countries like France and England the masses are still unhappy despite having healthcare because they're often without homes, jobs, and things like that which in a socialist society where the masses have seized power, the lack of housing and the plague of unemployment will be ended. As Revolution in issue 93 pointed out, even things like schools which are socialized in this system, are oppressive institutions because the masses don't have power, the masses have just struggled enough to win the consession of universal public schools.
All in all, Sicko was a very good exposure of the horrors of private healthcare and we need many more movies like this. At the end of the movie, the crowd burst out in applause in overwhelming approval of it.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is the definition of a political prisoner. Someone targetted, persecuted by the system for his beliefs. At age 14, Mumia Abu-Jamal first became active in the struggle to build a better world. He would go on to be a leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party and a firm revolutionary. During his trial he would quote Chairman Mao, and in the 25 years on Death Row since, he has not sold out, he continues to be a voice of resistance through his writings and radio programs. The fact that he hasn't sold out in itself is a statement that no matter how much the system tries to break our leaders and the voices of our movement and no matter what they try to do to kill the revolutionaries, the revolution will live on.
On December 9th, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was driving his cab downtown when he happened to see his brother being viciously beaten by a white cop with a metal flashlight, Mumia jumped out of his cab and rushed to help his brother. The cop fired on him and when the smoke cleared, Mumia was on the floor bleeding and the cop lay dead.
But the facts don't add up. Ballistics were suppressed, the crime scene was tampered with by police, the judge had eleven black jurors removed on peremptory challenges, witnesses changed their testimonies from orignial statements due to police coercion and threats, not to mention the fact that the judge was overheard saying "I'm gonna help them fry that nigger," and that Arnold Beverly has admitted to the crime.
The Truth and the Campaign
the real truth is that Mumia Abu-Jamal was imprisoned for devoting his life to the cause of revolution in every form, from his leadership in the black panthers to his revolutionary journalism, Mumia Abu-Jamal like Fred Hampton and David Gilbert are examples of what happens to people who really bring the system to its knees; the Dictatorship of the Bourgeois takes them out as ruthlessy as it can afford.
On May 17th, Mumia Abu-Jamal, through mass public pressure was able to get a new final hearing and it is important that not just everyone who is disgusted with the savage injustices of this system and see Mumia as just another one of these injustices, or everyone that wants a revolution, but everyone who believes in the concept human rights get involved in freeing Mumia.
In the past couple of years, this has been happening more and more, not just in Philadelphia or the United States, but internationally, Paris, France awarded Mumia Abu-Jamal a honary citizenship and the City of St. Denis, France named the boulevard leading to the national stadium after him. These actions may be small, but they are powerful, they are examples of resistance to the savage injustices of the system and its persecution of Mumia and other political prisoners.
In Harlem, New York, On Friday, the campaign to name a street after Mumia Abu-Jamal kicked off. Through mass pressure, this would be a very realistic goal and would act as a jolt to the movement to liberate Mumia. This system keeps people as ignorant about its crimes as it can, most people don't know about Mumia Abu-Jamal but having a street named after him would force people to research him and the fallacies of his case. brick by brick, wall by wall, we're gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
In the past couple of months I've been pretty busy. I've become increasingly active with the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and found that the past 3 or so months were very crucial on all fronts to step up the pressure against alot of the shit we see the state doing. Because of this, I got distracted and found very little time to sit down and blog. While I was away I read alot, from Lenin to Mao, to Stalin and beyond. I helped get out the message for the March on the Pentagon and nearly got arrested when we attempted to actually march to the pentagon not into the parking lot, I marched on May day for immigrant and workers rights, and I took a bus down to Philly to show solidarity with Mumia Abu Jamal on his last court date. I've been hitting the streets getting out Revolution Newspaper with other RCPers and I've been generally active on all fronts as much as I could really be. The title of this piece is not taken lightly, as everything I have witnessed while active in the past months has really reinforced and even I think to a large extent, made me even more aware of the situation we're currently in: a rise in the fascistic and religious elements of this government and the increasing evidence of this.
The Christian Fascist Attack on Womyn's Rights
The bible taken literally is a piece of literature which is oppressive and degrading to womyn. There are countless undertones of womyn being inferior and weaker than men and thus must stay home. According to the bible in fact, womyn were basically the mutant spawn of a rib of Adam because he couldn't reproduce with other animals! While I have nothing against people of faith, and openly work with progressive religious people, this is among the reasons WHY I am an athiest. The fact that the bible is wrong! One of my favorite resources on judging the bible is the Skeptics Annotated Bible which I encourage people of faith to check out and engage with because it really exposes line by line what is plain wrong with the bible.
Now in relation to the attack on womyns rights, the current issue and issue #86 of revolution newspaper deals with how we are seeing a attack on the womyn's right to choose. Last week the Supreme court voted to uphold the ban "partial-birth abortion". The ban will force womyn, against their will to commit to a life changing decision which they are not ready for based on the idea that the state thinks it is in its interest because it "traumatizes" womyn. Despite the fact that there is no evidence proving it! This is the exact logic behind the fascist ideology which seperates from all others. The idea that the state knows what's best for the masses and that the masses exsist only to serve the state. In fact the only place that this suspicion was voiced, the idea that it traumatizes womyn, was from a far-right militant christian group which convinces people out of the "sin of abortion" through a telephone hotline.
All of this represents a the crackdown on people's rights in fascistic way based on so called "religious morality" a concept that has been bankrupt for centuries. What future does the bible taken literally hold for womyn? For homosexuals? For non-christians? The answer? A nightmare
The Fascist Assault on Human Rights and the move to a Police State
Another Gitmo detainee comitted suicide today for "unknown reasons". Unknown reasons? Perhaps it has something to do with what it's like living in Delta Camp at Guantanamo Bay. Since the camp opened in 2002, it has been a horrific example of fascitic terror. Inmates are tortured, beaten, denied basic human rights like proper places to rest or the right to a lawyer. Very few of the inmates have even been charged with anything at all. What's worse is that its not just Guantanamo, these type of secret camps have been set up throughout Afghanistan and Iraq and represent virtually a leap towards a global police state in direct corralation with America's system of imperialism.
On the homefront the police murder of Sean Bell and 2000+ others have been documented in a project started by the October 22nd Coalition Against Police Brutality and the Criminalization of a Generation called the Stolen Lives Project. Overwhelmingly these murders have been caused by a simple abuse of authority and nearly always the police get off free. What's worse is that these cases are almost always directed at working class people. Why? Because it is the working class which the state is most afraid of. The primary purpose of the Police Department as an institution is to be the frontlines of the system, the protectors of property relations and the oppressive system that it creates. In particular the people who are being killed, brutalized, and attacked by police are Chicano, Hispanic, and African American peoples. This is proven in my very own city, where a recent report by the NYCLU has confirmed what we already know: That minority working class neighborhoods are patrolled by police like an occupying military force would. In NYC alone, about 86% of all people frisked in 2006 were black or hispanic. If anymore evidence of what is fundamentally, a budding police state is necessary, please tell me because I'm at a loss for words.
What do we do?
There are many more examples of my point then I can name here. I really want to go into the Patriot Act as well as the resurgence of the Creationist and Intelligent Design movements which are making a real comeback in many states in regard to education, but the point of this piece is not to be a resource but just a alert of the situation we're in. I often get critiscized for holding this position from both sides. Marxists tell me its just captialism and capitalists tell me don't worry about it, its in freedoms name and against terrorism. But the facts remain and this is not a society which is "free" or "safe" for us. It's not a society I want. Thus It's important that people get active. Join local Anti-Fascist, Anti-Imperialist, and Anti-Racist Groups. Contact others who hold similiar views as you do and start a club or committee in your town, workplace, school, or neighborhood. Recently I did this and while it seemed like an unrealistic task, there are lots of people out there searching for something better and it sometime takes struggle but struggle is necessary when you live in the belly of the beast. Look for a Part II later : )
Until Later, LeftyHenry
March 17 marks two important events in history. The first is tragic; the 4th anniversary start of the Iraq war. The longest war in US history after Vietnam and the Civil War in which over 650,000 Iraqis would lose their lives thus far and 3000 American soldiers would lose theirs. The second event is not tragic. It is an example of what the people can do when they take history into their hands. 40 years ago on March 17th, the largest anti-war protest in US history occured transforming the opposition to a war not unsimiliar to the one the US is currently in, from a large but underground movement to a very large, very influential popular opposition to a system in decay. On March 17th 2007, hundreds of thousands of people will FORCE history to repeat itself. Join a wide range of anti-war coalitions on marching on the pentagon in opposition of the War in Iraq, and the criminal system of imperialism.
This, of course, is (hopefully) well known, just forgotten by people in general. In "celebration" of these "heroes," I was active distributing leaflets and literature on the oppression this system is based on, focusing on the fact that this system runs heavy with the blood of slaves. The truth is that this system still oppresses minorities. In place of Thomas Jefferson's whip, there is a cops riot stick and pistol. In place of slavery on the fields, there are pockets of share cropping, the re-emergence of chain gangs, as well as the disgusting sweatshops all over the underdeveloped world. on this day as well as thursday (George Washington's birthday), people should really recognize the truth about this "holiday," and the oppressive nature of this system and its' "heroes."
Labels: U.S. History