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To read more about Episode 255, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:14] Hello. Welcome to Rumble with Michael Moore. I’m Michael Moore. It’s good to be talking to you all today. I just… Let me just start by saying this: I think we all have our own moral compass that we try to live by. And I think most of us share a number of things on that moral compass. Don’t kill people, don’t lie, don’t steal — you know, some basic things that go back to ancient times. And then we each have our own individual things. Do unto others. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be kind for everyone is carrying a great burden. Clean up your dog poop on the sidewalk, don’t leave it there for someone to step in. You know, things like that. And one of the things on my list of things that I’ve tried to live by is don’t speak ill of the dead. It’s never seemed right. When they’re alive, you can have at it, have the great debate, whatever. But once they’re gone, to be speaking ill of them when they can’t defend themselves, it doesn’t seem fair.
[00:01:36] Now, if you just step back from that a little bit, you realize, well, to let evil deeds and evil people just die and then we don’t say anything about all the havoc and what they, you know, did to the world — that’s wrong, too. So it doesn’t really apply across the board to say, “never speak ill of the dead.” You can think of many, many people historically and maybe people in your life who are no longer with us and were not good people. And so you will say things about them when they’re gone. But whenever that has happened, whenever I’ve done that, I always feel like, “Ooo Mike, that’s some bad karma there. Do you really wanna… Maybe you should walk that back a little bit?” On the other hand, on the third hand here, since the queen died a week ago, you know, I’ve been watching the footage as maybe some of you have on TV of the British people – not all the British people but certain British people are grieving and mourning and in tears. And you watch enough of that and it does start to affect you because, you know, she seemed like a nice lady and she wasn’t the mad king or the mad queen — she wasn’t evil in that sense. She did good things and she seemed to have a sense of humor, and she’s somebody’s mother and grandmother. And who that is listening to me right now has not lost somebody? We’ve all lost people and it hurts. And so we immediately empathize with the grief that is taking place. And it’s hard to avoid it. But on the other hand, I’m watching the news and the news should be the news, and the news should be telling, not part of the story, but the whole story — even the uncomfortable parts of the story. Well, maybe not right away, right? I mean, they’ve just died. I’ve been thinking this week that maybe I need to change my rule of not speaking ill of the dead to don’t speak ill of the dead at least for ten days, or a month — I don’t know. But let the mourning period happen with the people that need to mourn. Don’t rain on their moment.
[00:03:56] And so I’ve been kind of holding back here for the past week because as each day goes by, there are a lot of things that just aren’t being said as they speak of history and the biography and everything that goes on so you don’t get the whole story. And then you start to wonder, “so is this the rewrite that begins immediately after someone passes, especially a world leader?” And again, you want to speak kindly of them and think of the good things of their life, but at the same time, can you just let shit pass? Don’t speak of anything that’s uncomfortable, things that they did that maybe weren’t right or or what they represented? I don’t know. I had a grandmother who often said, there’s something good you can say about just about everybody. I mean, if you worked really hard, you could try to find something in most people, but some people, no, right? Not baby Hitler or adult Hitler or people like that.
[00:05:07] She also said that if you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all. I have tried to live by that, even in some awkward moments. I was at a book launch party a number of years ago. It was in somebody’s home here in New York City. And I looked across the room and I saw the Bush twins, George and Laura’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna. And I thought, “oh, geez,” my first thought was, “oh, those poor kids, if they see me here, this is just going to wreck their night.” Honest to God, that was my first thought. I’m like they don’t need to see one of one of their father’s nemesis, arch nemesis — as you can see, this is the way I like to think of myself. I don’t think I’m listed anywhere as an arch nemesis of George W Bush, but just go with my fantasy here for a moment. So anyway, so I see them and I’m thinking, “you know what? If there’s going to be any tension in the room, I can cut through the tension right now and fix it in advance.” So I walk over to them and they see me coming toward them and they don’t get a scowl on their face, they don’t run away. I think they’re thinking too, themselves, “oh geez. Here’s a moment. How am I going to deal with this moment?” And I just went up to them and introduced myself, and I said, “you know, it’s really nice to meet you. And I know you must be thinking one or two things right now. But let me just say this about your dad, because there are some things about him that I really like and admire. I love how he joined with Bono in really making a real effort to provide aid to the people in Africa who were suffering from HIV and AIDS. And where a past Republican president tried to ignore that AIDS even existed, your father didn’t do that, and provided real help and probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives by what he did.” And they’re looking at me like, “where is this going?” But it wasn’t going anywhere. I just wanted to say something nice about a person who invaded a country illegally, immorally, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Iraqis, probably around, I think, 4000 of our own troops. You know, on and on — we don’t need to go down the list of George Bush’s crimes, because in this moment, I just wanted to say something good about somebody that I really don’t like it all. And I said, “and plus, look, he raised the two of you. I mean, you guys are great. I’ve seen your work, what you’re doing, what you stand for — you’re good people. And you don’t get that way on your own. And you’re lucky to have these two good parents. And I wasn’t around when you were being raised, but I’ve seen the pictures. He looks like a pretty happy father.” And they smiled and said, “oh, no, he’s the greatest.” “Yes, of course. And here’s the proof, you know, standing right here!” And I thought, okay, give them one more — one more good thing about their dad. And now we’re talking a little bit, and they’re saying a few words. And it’s relaxed now and they know I’m not going to yell at them or blame them and they won’t have to pay for the sins of their father — none of that. And I just said, “plus, he loves that dog. You can tell a lot about people in terms of how they treat dogs.” You know, I’m not a dog lover. I’m not a dog owner so I’m saying this now with the pure neutrality that I do think when I see people and how they behave around dogs, not cats, dogs. No offense to the cat people — we’ll save that for another show. “But I think that that speaks volumes about your dad and Barney and his relationship with them.” And I did this with a straight face because I meant it. I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass and they didn’t think I was because I wasn’t. And then we went on and we had a nice conversation about what they’re up to, and what they’re planning to do, and it was nice. And then we ended the conversation. There was peace in the land. The room was watching us like, “Oh God, what’s going to happen here?” But there was nothing that was going to happen because I don’t think that way. I don’t believe that way. I want to live life in a good place. And I want that other thing that some of us were taught by the nuns — that we have to love our enemies. And we have to do good to those who do not do good to us. That we’re not better people when we become them, and when we behave like them. And it’s a tough, tough wheel to turn to try to offer that to one who is your enemy, who is an enemy to the people of this world.
[00:10:31] So these are the thoughts that have been going through my head since the queen died. And on the TV, I just haven’t seen the real… the whole… the whole story being told. And this adulation, this admiration for a monarch — and forget about her as, you know, just as a human being. I’m just talking about her role — how are we a better people? How is this a better planet with kings, queens, dictators, autocrats? It’s not good. We all know that. We just instinctively know, right? And yet, hour after hour after hour for the past week talking about a queen as if this is something that we should hold in some sort of high esteem.
Michael Moore [00:11:35] I’ve been noodling with this for a few days, and I’ve written a few things and tossed them out, and I tried to record a couple of things for you, and, you know, it just wasn’t quite cutting it and somewhere, the Irish and now, as I’ve learned, the Scottish in me is also trying to direct things — in a good way, obviously. And then I ran across here Chris Hedges’s column that he has online. Chris Hedges is one of our greatest thinkers, writers. Chris has been on this podcast, as you know if you’re a long time listener. I’m sure most of you know who he is, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. A decade or so, I think, with The New York Times, where he was a war correspondent. He’s written some incredible books. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. Chris Hedges.
[00:12:32] You know those people that you feel grateful that exist that we have as thinkers and writers? I’m loathe to start going down a list because I’m going to leave out some very important people, but you know the type of people I’m talking about — the Noam Chomskys, the Howard Zinns who sadly is no longer with us, the Alice Walkers. Daniel Ellsberg. Margaret Atwood. Oh, boy. You know, I mean, these are the salt of the earth. And yet how often do you see them on TV? Now maybe they don’t want to go on TV but you know, this has bothered me for many, many years. They don’t want those voices. I don’t understand why it would make for such good TV, wouldn’t it, if you had a real debate and really smart, witty people sharing knowledge, facts, information with all of us? And I’m not saying that doesn’t exist on TV. It does, but it’s rare, and you know it’s rare. When is the last time I saw Noam Chomsky on TV? Doesn’t happen.
[00:13:41] So I think I need to do more to actually share and expose some of the writings and the thinking of some of the great thinkers and writers of our time who are still with us and who rarely get the exposure that they deserve. And I read this piece by Chris Hedges this morning. It’s based on the queen’s passing. It was so brilliant. I started reading it aloud to myself. I wanted to hear the words out loud and his column, it’s called The Chris Hedges Report — go to ChrisHedges.substack.com and you can read it. It’s free, or you can be a paid subscriber and support his work. Chris also provides an audio version of his column every week, and it’s read by the great Eunice Wong, who is an actress and a narrator and a Canadian. And it’s just great to listen to Chris’s words in her voice. So that’s another way you can experience it. But here’s the crazy idea — as I’m reading this, and as I’m listening to myself read it, I’m thinking, “I want to read to you what he wrote and I want to read it in my voice.” I know — is that weird? I don’t know. I just have such a desire to speak these words, saying the things that nobody is saying right now, things that need to be said and remembered and passed along. I hope you pass this along. I hope you sign up to read and listen to Chris Hedges’ Report each week. And I would hope that the mainstream media just occasionally will take the risk and have people like him on to say the uncomfortable things, to say the things that maybe, you know, the news editors or whoever owns the network or whatever are saying, “No, we don’t want to go down that road. We don’t need the grief.” We’re not better off by having these great people, these thinkers, these writers silenced. So I’ll do my bit to give them exposure to say something that hasn’t been said, something I think that needs to be said, and I will say it with Chris’s words. Right now.
Michael Moore [00:16:26] So before I read this, let me first just take a moment right now to thank our underwriter for this episode of Rumble. And of course, it’s another longtime supporter of the podcast and that is Moink. Moink — that’s moo plus oink, Moink. It’s a meat subscription company that delivers grass fed beef and lamb, pastured pork and chicken, and sustainable wild caught Alaskan salmon direct to your door. All of it is sourced from small American family farms. Now, I know a lot of you don’t eat meat, but for those of you who do, with Moink, you have total control over the quality and source of your food — no growth hormones, no antibiotics, no confinement buildings. All the while in doing this, you’re helping American family farms stay financially independent from Big Agriculture. It’s a win win. So keep American farming going by signing up at moinkbox.com/rumble. Do it right now and listeners of this show get a free filet mignon in every order for a year. That’s one year of the best filet mignon you’ll ever taste. But the offer here is only for a limited time. So it’s moinkbox.com/rumble. That’s moinkbox.com/rumble. And thank you again, Moink, for your continued support of my podcast. I truly appreciate it.
Michael Moore [00:17:47] Now here we go. The title of this essay is “Monarchs Belong in the Dustbin of History. No institution helps obscure the crimes of empire and buttress class rule and white supremacy as effectively as the British monarchy.” By Chris Hedges.
[Michael reads Chris’s article]
“The fawning adulation of Queen Elizabeth in the United States, which fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy, and in Great Britain, is in direct proportion to the fear gripping a discredited, incompetent and corrupt global ruling elite.
The global oligarchs are not sure the next generation of royal sock puppets – mediocrities that include a pedophile prince and his brother, a cranky and eccentric king who accepted suitcases and bags stuffed with $3.2 million in cash from the former prime minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and who has millions stashed in offshore accounts – are up to the job. Let’s hope they are right.
“Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories,” Patrick Freyne wrote last year in The Irish Times. “More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”
Monarchy obscures the crimes of empire and wraps them in nostalgia. It exalts white supremacy and racial hierarchy. It justifies class rule. It buttresses an economic and social system that callously discards and often consigns to death those considered the lesser breeds, most of whom are people of color. The queen’s husband Prince Phillip, who died in 2021, was notorious for making racist and sexist remarks, politely explained away in the British press as “gaffes.” He described Beijing, for example, as “ghastly” during a 1986 visit and told British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”
The cries of the millions of victims of empire; the thousands killed, tortured, raped and imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya; the 13 Irish civilians gunned down in “Bloody Sunday;” the more than 4,100 First Nations children who died or went missing in Canada’s residential schools, government-sponsored institutions established to “assimilate” indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture, and the hundreds of thousands killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are drowned out by cheers for royal processions and the sacral aura an obsequious press weaves around the aristocracy. The coverage of the queen’s death is so mind-numbingly vapid — the BBC sent out a news alert on Saturday when Prince Harry and Prince William, accompanied by their wives, surveyed the floral tributes to their grandmother displayed outside Windsor Castle — that the press might as well turn over the coverage to the mythmakers and publicists employed by the royal family.
The royals are oligarchs. They are guardians of their class. The world’s largest landowners include King Mohammed VI of Morocco with 176 million acres, the HolyRoman Catholic Church with 177 million acres, the heirs of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with 531 million acres and now, King Charles III with 6.6 billion acres of land. British monarchs are worth almost $28 billion. The British public will provide a $33 million subsidy to the Royal Family over the next two years, although the average household in the U.K. saw its income fall for the longest period since records began in 1955 and 227,000 households experience homelessness in Britain.
Royals, to the ruling class, are worth the expense. They are effective tools of subjugation. British postal and rail workers canceled planned strikes over pay and working conditions after the queen’s death. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) postponed its congress. Labour Party members poured out heartfelt tributes. Even Extinction Rebellion, which should know better, indefinitely canceled its planned “Festival of Resistance.” The BBC’s Clive Myrie dismissed Britain’s energy crisis — caused by the war in Ukraine — that has thrown millions of people into severe financial distress as “insignificant” compared with concerns over the queen’s health. The climate emergency, pandemic, the deadly folly of the U.S. and NATO’s proxy warin Ukraine, soaring inflation, the rise of neo-fascist movements and deepening social inequality will be ignored as the press spews florid encomiums to class rule. There will be 10 days of official mourning.
In 1953, Her Majesty’s Government sent three warships, along with 700 troops, to its colony British Guiana, suspended the constitution and overthrew the democratically elected government of Cheddi Jagan. Her Majesty’s Government helped to build and long supported the apartheid government in South Africa. Her Majesty’s Government savagely crushed the Mau Mau independence movement in Kenya from 1952 to 1960, herding 1.5 million Kenyans into concentration camps where many were tortured. British soldiers castrated suspected rebels and sympathizers, often with pliers, and raped girls and women. Her Majesty’s Government inherited staggering wealth from the $ 45 trillion Great Britain looted from India, wealth accumulated by violently crushing a series of uprisings, including the First War of Independence in 1857. Her Majesty’s Government carried out a dirty war to break the Greek Cypriot War of Independence from 1955 to 1959 and later in Yemen from 1962 to 1969. Torture, extrajudicial assassinations, public hangings and mass executions by the British were routine. Following a protracted lawsuit, the British government agreed to pay nearly £20 million in damages to over 5,000 victims of British abuse during war in Kenya, andin 2019 another payout was made to survivors of torture from the conflict in Cyprus. The British state attempts to obstruct lawsuits stemming from its colonial history. Its settlements are a tiny fraction of the compensation paid to British slave owners in 1835, once it — at least formally — abolished slavery.
During her 70-year reign, the queen never offered an apology or called for reparations.
The point of social hierarchy and aristocracy is to sustain a class system that makes the rest of us feel inferior. Those at the top of the social hierarchy hand out tokens for loyal service, including the Order of the British Empire (OBE). The monarchy is the bedrock of hereditary rule and inherited wealth. This caste system filters down from the Nazi-loving House of Windsor to the organs of state security and the military. It regiments society and keeps people, especially the poor and the working class, in their “proper” place.
The British ruling class clings to the mystique of royalty and fading cultural icons as James Bond, the Beatles and the BBC, along with television shows such as “Downton Abbey” — where in the 2019 film version the aristocrats and servants are convulsed in fevered anticipation when King George V and Queen Mary schedule a visit — to project a global presence. Winston Churchill’s bust remains on loan to the White House. These myth machines sustain Great Britain’s “special” relationship with the United States. Watch the satirical film In the Loop to get a sense of what this “special” relationship looks like on the inside.
It was not until the 1960s that “coloured immigrants or foreigners” were permitted to work in clerical roles in the royal household, although they had been hired as domestic servants. The royal household and its heads are legally exempt from laws that prevent race and sex discrimination, what Jonathan Cook calls “an apartheid system benefitting the Royal Family alone.” Meghan Markle, who is of mixed race and who contemplated suicide during her time as a working royal, said that an unnamed royal expressed concern about the skin color of her unborn son.
I got a taste of this suffocating snobbery in 2014 when I participated in an Oxford Union debate asking whether Edward Snowden was a hero or a traitor. I went a day early to be prepped for the debate by Julian Assange, then seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy and currently in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh. At a lugubrious black-tie dinner preceding the event, I sat next to a former MP who asked me two questions I had never been asked before in succession. “When did your family come to America?” he said, followed by “What schools did you attend?” My ancestors, on both sides of my family, arrived from England in the 1630s. My graduate degree is from Harvard. If I had failed to meet his litmus test, he would have acted as if I did not exist.
Those who took part in the debate – my side arguing that Snowden was a hero narrowly won – signed a leather-bound guest book. Taking the pen, I scrawled in large letters that filled an entire page: “Never Forget that your greatest political philosopher, Thomas Paine, never went to Oxford or Cambridge.”
Paine, the author of the most widely read political essays of the 18th century, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason and Common Sense, blasted the monarchy as a con. “A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself as King of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original…The plain truth is that the antiquity of the English monarchy will not bear looking into,” he wrote of William the Conqueror. He ridiculed hereditary rule. “Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” He went on: “One of the strangest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings is that nature disproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ass for a lion.” He called the monarch “the royal brute of England.”
When the British ruling class tried to arrest Paine, he fled to France where he was one of two foreigners elected to serve as a delegate in the National Convention set up after the French Revolution. He denounced the calls to execute Louis XVI. “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression,” Paine said. “For if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Unchecked legislatures, he warned, could be as despotic as unchecked monarchs. When he returned to America from France, he condemned slavery and the wealth and privilege accumulated by the new ruling class, including George Washington, who had become the richest man in the country. Even though Paine had done more than any single figure to rouse the country to overthrow the British monarchy, he was turned into a pariah, especially by the press, and forgotten. He had served his usefulness. Six mourners attended his funeral, two of whom were Black.
You can watch my talk with Cornel West and Richard Wolff on Thomas Paine here.
There is a pathetic yearning among many in the U.S. and Britain to be linked in some tangential way to royalty. White British friends often have stories about ancestors that tie them to some obscure aristocrat. Donald Trump, who fashioned his own heraldic coat of arms, was obsessed with obtaining a state visit with the queen. This desire to be part of the club, or validated by the club, is a potent force the ruling class has no intention of giving up, even if hapless King Charles III, who along with his family treated his first wife Diana with contempt, makes a mess of it.”
[End of Chris’s article]
Michael Moore [00:33:56] And that’s the Chris Hedges Report for this week. And I thank Chris in advance for letting me do this reading of his searing words. If you want to subscribe to The Chris Hedges Report, there’ll be a link here on my podcast page, and I’ll also have a couple of other links that are in his essay that you might find worth reading or listening to.
[00:34:23] Watching King Charles III this past week as he fiddled and fumbled with various ink pens, including one incident where he just stormed up out of his chair, frustrated with the ink. I guess it leaked all over him. I can’t figure out what happened, but he threw a temper tantrum, little mini tantrum over an ink pen. An ink pen. That’s what set him off. I don’t know if this bodes well for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but it did give pause to many people wondering — what now is ahead?
[00:35:43] Thanks to all of you who listened today. Thank you for downloading and playing this and sharing it with others. We just surpassed the 35,000,000th download of this Rumble podcast. Thank you, all of you who’ve done that and who’ve passed it along. I greatly appreciate it, and I’d like you to do that for Chris Hedges. Thanks to my producer and editor Angela Vargos. I will talk to you very soon. Be well. This is Rumble with Michael Moore.