Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 1, 2006

Loose Change

Filed under: Film,middle east — louisproyect @ 5:50 pm

This month the Village Voice reviewed a number of made-for-the-Internet movies about 9/11 in tandem with the opening of Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center.” One film stands out:

22-year-old director Dylan Avery of Oneonta, New York, has emerged as the hot young star of the skeptic set with his 2005 ‘tude-filled feature Loose Change. Avery claims in a recent Vanity Fair profile that he’s received over 50,000 orders for the Loose Change DVD and over 10 million viewings online, and says he’s in talks with a number of studios to release an updated cut of the film on September 11, 2006. His name frequently pops up in Technorati’s daily list of most searched-for keywords, and his MySpace profile boasts over 3,500 friends. By mainstream media standards, Loose Change remains ultra–low budget, but with Avery’s casual, no-nonsense voiceover, tight editing, and hip-hop DJ’d score, it’s by far the most accomplished and accessible example of 9-11 Truth cinema, though not free of the questionable fact-sourcing practiced by its peers (most egregious: “According to Wikipedia . . . “).

As an amateur film reviewer with a keen interest in “diy” (do it yourself) productions, I made a mental note to myself to watch “Loose Change.” I also wanted see what this “movement” amounts to, even though I have very deep aversions to any sort of conspiracy theory. It has even reached the point where I am ready to argue that Lee Harvey Oswald was really a commie after all. Remember that famous picture of him with a rifle in one hand and the Trotskyist Militant newspaper in the other? Maybe his true intention was to shoot anybody who refused to take out a subscription, an urge I had to suppress when I was assigned the thankless task of heading up sub drives for this sectarian newspaper more than 30 years ago.

After watching “Loose Change,” which is narrated by Dylan Avery, I can safely report that there are bigger wastes of time than this 81½ minute shoestring effort. For example, any chunk of prime time TV on a weekday night will contain far more lies and far less entertainment. The film’s main appeal is its visually dramatic presentation of material that would ordinarily be a crushing bore to read. With its nonstop parade of mysterious inconsistencies, you are reminded of a typical “X Files” episode. All that is missing is some kind of death bed confession of the kind so often delivered to Mulder and Scully: “Yes, agents, I am the very same Count Zdanko who discovered the secret of eternal life 8 centuries ago. I must eat the pulsating heart of a virgin every Halloween.” Too bad you don’t get the same sort of thing in “Loose Change”: “Yes, Dylan Avery, it was I Donald Rumsfeld who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. I only did it because of the need to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004 and to test the efficacy of my new mobile army.”

My enjoyment was only spoiled by the kind of plot inconsistencies that have forced me to walk out of numerous Hollywood movies over the years, like Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter.” I had to hold back an urge to scream at the screen as I was walking out of the theater in 1978, “Asshole, it was the NLF that was forced to play Russian Roulette, not American GI’s.”

This happened first when “Loose Change” was looking at the damage done to the Pentagon, which it concludes could have not been done by a Boeing 757 jet plane. Rather, it argues that it was hit by a Cruise Missile like the one that hit Slobodan Milosevic’s party headquarters in 1999. Well, my initial reaction to this was to nod my head and say, “Good one!”–whoever did it. One would only hope that there are a whole slew of terrorists in the USA similarly armed. I can even give them a list of targets.

After a moment or two, logic returned to me and I began to ponder deeper into this speculation on missing planes, which makes the charge of inconsistencies in the official version pale by comparison. We are sure that a plane left Washington DC on the morning of September 11, 2001 with 64 people on board. We are also sure it has not been heard from ever since. So if Flight 77 was not involved in the Pentagon crash, where did it go? Area 51 in Nevada, next to the UFO’s? One of the people on board was Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator who often appeared on CNN and was the wife of U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson. Okay, maybe he was in on the plot himself. She was a conservative who appeared on CNN and was married to a Bush appointee. But what about Mari-Rae Sopper of Santa Barbara, California, the women’s gymnastics coach at the University of California at Santa Barbara? Is she being kept captive along with the other 63 passengers by operatives sworn to secrecy? This would not even get past a writer’s session on “The X-Files”.

When I consider this kind of thing, the Marxist side of my brain shuts down and the novelist side kicks in. This is a plot that makes “Silence of the Lambs” seem practically fact-based by comparison. How do you keep 64 people clothed and fed for the rest of their lives without a huge commitment in personnel of the sort that would inevitably lead at least one person to spill the beans. After all, if there is one thing we have learned over the past 3 years, it is that the Bush Administration generates “whistle blowers” like no other in the past half-century.

The same thing happens with Flight 93, which according to the official version crashed over Pennsylvania. We are assured by “Loose Change” that the plane landed safely in Cleveland that day, where one supposes the 40 passengers were shepherded away to the safe house that contained the Flight 77 passengers. Right. Sure.

Basically, what keeps this “movement”–such as it is–alive is a rafter of inconsistencies that were never really answered in an authoritative manner by officialdom. Is there a precedent for this? Of course, the same thing happened with the assassination of JFK. The Warren Commission has as many lapses and flaws as the 9/11 commission report. That’s the way it goes. In an age marked by mediocrity at the highest levels, the failure of the government to deliver the goods should surprise nobody. Indeed, the very failure of the government to stop the 9/11 attackers is symptomatic of the same incompetence.

Dylan Avery was an 18 year old high school senior on September 11, 2001. After inadequate grades kept him out of the film school department at Purchase College, he decided to strike out on his own. He started out with the intention of making a fictional film, but decided to make a documentary after being convinced that the conspiracy theorists were correct.

All I can say is that this is a waste of obvious talent. During the Vietnam War, people a bit older and a bit more politically experienced than Dylan Avery made documentaries like “Hearts and Minds.” Such a film put forward the true history leading up to the war and the terrible inhumanity being visited on the Vietnamese people. It was part of a vast antiwar movement that used a variety of means–including art and film–to put an end to the imperialist ambitions of the American government. There is a burning need for such a film today. The American people need to be informed about the history of Anglo-American imperialism in the area, from Lawrence of Arabia to the “Great Race” of the 19th century that pitted one imperial power against another to control Afghanistan. They need to be informed about the power of the oil companies to influence foreign policy and to work with the CIA to subvert governments that are seen as insufficiently pliant. Given the tensions over Venezuela and Iran today, there is no greater calling for a young radical film-maker than this.


Loose Change debates Popular Mechanics

Skeptic reviews 9/11 conspiracy theories

Diana Johnstone article in Counterpunch



  1. There is a good destruction of loose change here . People like dylan avery loading every crackpot idea into one unlovely package give conspiracy theorists a bad name.

    However, as no one has come up with a reasonable explanation for the things that definitely didn’t happen on the eleventh of september (no fighter interception, no planes hitting the third building that collapsed, no motive given for the attack, no strategic targets hit despite all that effort by those infrequent flyers, no outside organisation supporting the operation), people should be free to speculate until these things are cleared up. Keeping an open mind on these things does not preclude more serious activity.

    Incompetence theory is hard to accept, as the mediocrities in charge always seem to get what they want. The eleventh’s events were justifications for many things they have since acheived.

    As for what radical young film makers should be doing. Telling people what kind of art they should make is a bit odd, they’ll make what they want. Should picasso only have painted guernicas rather than explore his strange relationship to women?

    The vast anti war movement probably had less to do with ending the war than the viet cong did. Credit where it’s due surely

    Comment by paul — September 2, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

  2. I am not sure what has been achieved through 9/11. Arguably, the USA would have been better off recultivating Saddam Hussein as an ally, in the same manner as Kadaffi. With Shi’ites in power from Iran to Lebanon, US strategic interests seem more rather than less shaky. There is a tendency to see US machinations as having the same kind of evil omnipotence as a James Bond villain. I see it rather as more like Austin Powers.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 2, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  3. I dunno, the elevation of bush to the status of a ‘wartime’ president, freeing him from the cares of domestic policy and the creation of an elusive, eternal antagonist to justify the incredible global militarisation by the US, to mention a few.

    Here in the UK, we have seen a raft of coercive legislation framed as vital in this war on ‘global terror’.

    With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.” – meaning Saddam Hussein – “at same time. Not only UBL” – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

    Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn’t matter to Rumsfeld.

    “Go massive,” the notes quote him as saying. “Sweep it all up. Things related and not

    And our scumbag prime minister explaining that the fact of terrorist attacks justify pre-emptive invasion:

    I do believe that the threat posed by the current Iraqi regime is real, I believe that it is in the U.K.’s national interest that this is addressed, just as dealing with the terrorists after Sept. 11 was in our national interest even though the actual terrorist act took place thousands of miles away on the streets of New York, not in London,” he said.

    “If Sept. 11 teaches us anything, it teaches us that it is wrong to wait until the threat materializes,” he said. “These issues are being raised rightly by the United States.”

    Not omnipotent, but certainly powerful and certainly villains.

    Comment by paul — September 2, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  4. I see it rather as more like Austin Powers
    I hope allende,Mossadegh and Qassem, wherever they are now, see things in these knockabout terms. I’m sure aristide saw the hilarious side of things while he was deposed at western gunpoint

    Comment by paul — September 3, 2006 @ 12:34 am

  5. Let me know when an ‘behave’ order is issued against the united states of america or israel in this austin power world order

    Comment by paul — September 3, 2006 @ 2:10 am

  6. Not that I believe it for one second, but those people on board the disappeared planes need not be kept alive; they would’ve been killed if there really was a conspiracy.

    Comment by Martin Wisse — September 7, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

  7. The rise and popularity, relatively speaking, of an American pro-conspiracy ‘movement’ has an interesting parallel: that of Islamist terrorism.
    Both are products of the same basic social reality – a failure of the masses, American and Arab, to mobilize into mass movements and overturn present systems and governments.

    In the case of al-Qaeda, they function as instigators, setting off what they hoped would be a spark for Muslims to rise up and overthrow oppressive governments. Al-Qaeda’s leadership is constantly exhorting Muslims to begin a titanic struggle against regime Muslims and non-Muslims, and their attacks are aimed at starting, or in some cases accelerating, the process of revolt in the direction of civilizational war. To this end, terrorism and nihilism are the weapons of choice and always have been by alienated and isolated individuals who are frustrated with the failure of history to move at their pace.

    In the case of the ‘truth movement,’ for all its fantastic scenarios, it is, ironically, a stunning testament to the poverty of the American mind. People are eager to theorize and speculate about the wildest hypotheticals before even considering the most basic, proven, socially-rooted explanations for human conflict. They will become armchair physicists or demolition experts or airplane pilots calculating degrees and trajectories and melting points before the terms class, colonialism, imperialism, history, and geopolitics flicker in their minds.

    And why not? It is easier and more exciting to sit behind the computer and fancy oneself as a conspiracy sleuth, with the underlying premise being one of government infallibility, than it is to engage in the much more tiring and frustrating work of trying to create a social movement that calls into question the government’s incompetence in preserving their well-being – especially when such a movement doesn’t even exist.

    In an interesting bit of cross-pollination, the ‘truth movement’ acolytes and bin Laden acolytes are bound together by a lack of social upheaval in the countries involved. Bin Laden obviously has no faith in the possibility of American citizens mobilizing for change in government policy toward the Middle East, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Conversely the conspiracy types have no faith in the possibility that any Arabs are clever enough or aggrieved enough to want to commit an attack like 9-11 so they search for more exotic explanations.

    Comment by M. Junaid Alam — September 12, 2006 @ 8:20 am

  8. M. Junaid Alam, that’s a great observation. And in light of the Loose Change video, it’s worth noting that one of their major sources is an anti-Semitic newspaper called “The American Free Press”. In fact, one of the paper’s writers, a man named Christopher Bollyn, is thanked in the credits.

    So, it’s no surprise that the paranoid Right in the West feeds off the paranoid Right in the “East”, and vice-versa. Oh, but they find common ground by hating Jews, as if that’s a good thing.

    Comment by Trefayne — September 12, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

  9. A follow-up on Trefayne’s very useful comment. I am subbed to a mailing list called the a-list that my old friend, the late Mark Jones started. Ordinarily I don’t have anything to say there, but a 9/11 conspiracy article by one Douglas Herman that appeared on the a-list yesterday and which originated on http://www.resnse.com led me to post this:

    Other items from http://www.rense.com:

    –What NASA Isn’t Telling You About Mars

    –Cell phones cook an egg

    –Russia Proves ‘Peak Oil’ A Zionist Scam

    –Jewish Dominance of US/World Porn Industry

    –Battle Of LA UFO: Stunning NEW Photo Enhancements

    Comment by louisproyect — September 12, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

  10. Louis you need to do your homework. Your comment lazily lays on both sides of the issue. Incompetence should never be accepted as an excuse for the events that took place on 911. Labeling individuals as conspiracy nuts, because they question the official version, is a convenient way of NOT dealing with what they have to say. Attack the message not the messenger. Questioning the government is our right and indeed our resposibility. As Carl Gustav Jung advises, “you need to develop an imagination for evil”. Research ‘OPERTAION NORTHWOODS’, ‘OPERATION GLADDIO’, ‘OPERATION AJAX’, US CODE TITLE 50, 1520A, open your eyes man and see what your government has been up to. They still cannot find Osama Bin Laden,a 6’5″ terrorist hiding in a cave…but if you owe the IRS money they’ll track you down and bring you to justice, no matter where you are hiding.
    VOTE RON PAUL for President in 2008…..he is the last, best chance for this once great Nation.

    Comment by Mazz — July 8, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  11. […] The Real McCain Filed under: Film, parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 9:31 pm As a member of New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO), I get lots of screeners sent to me even when I don’t request them, including Robert Greenwald’s 60 minute documentary “The Real McCain”. This can be ordered from the ironically named Disinformation Company Ltd. Disinformation also includes 9/11 “truth” movies in its inventory that I have received but not reviewed. That’s because everything I wanted to say on the topic I said after seeing “Loose Change“. […]

    Pingback by The Real McCain « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — August 17, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  12. The # 1 comment by Paul contains several glaring errors & they’re very important ones to clarify for the left in understanding the Vietnam War & the American left’s role in it.

    First, the Viet Cong were sadly but effectively wiped out during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Thus for the next seven years the VC could not play any decisive role.

    The 3 most important factors for the victory of the NVA was it’s consistently competent military leadership, it’s consistent military support from other Workers States, primarily the USSR, and finally, it was NOT the “pressure politics” of the antiwar movement that made a difference contrary to the mythology of, Hayden, Davidson, Dellinger et al but rather the BODIES IN THE STREET of repeated mass actions (the largest credit due to the organizing efforts of the SWP) that very effectively DEMORALIZED THE TROOPS weakening the fighting morale of the conscript soldier on the ground.

    That weakening of Imperialism’s fighting morale was critical but in the final analysis the USSR’s material aid was most decisive & that’s just one of many reasons why the world’s a much shittier place without them.

    In post # 7 Mr. Alam says about right wing conspiracy kooks & Islamic Terrorism: “Both are products of the same basic social reality – a failure of the masses, American and Arab, to mobilize into mass movements and overturn present systems and governments.”

    I would argue it’s not the masses that failed but rather the failure of professional revolutionaries to build a Party that could lead them, the enormous obstacles notwithstanding.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 22, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  13. You sound like Alexander Cockburn. What are you a liberal complainer or a radical analyst? Unrepentant Marxist? That’s doubtful. Conspiracy is an integral part of the capitalist state. No state can run itself by cabals and conspiracies (in secret) alone. That doesn’t mean that Conspiracies are not an integral part of Capitalist State hegemony. It would be hard to believe a State NOT using conspiracy to accomplish it’s goals.

    You are nothing more than an apologist for the official story. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth have scientifically demonstrated that the buildings were brought down by a planned demonlition. Asymmetrical damage does not causes symmetrical collapse. Office fires do not melt steel. Heat does not burn toward itself (second law of Thermodynamics) and can’t explain for the microspheres of molten steel in 3 independently analysed samples. We have top brass military officials, architects, engineers, Demolition experts, fire experts, scholars, chemists, political leaders, pilots, religious and secular leaders all speaking up. Now it’s time for the Marxist Left to speak up. And don’t speak for everyone concerning the Kennedy assasination. Most real Marxists to not opt for the Chomsky version over the Parenti version (as you asserted in your “The Bilious of Fred Haliday” post. . Parenti is the only one with a structural, concise and clear Marxist appraoch on this issue.

    I live in South Western Pennyvania. I know reporters from Pittsburgh News outlets who were in Shanksville the day of the “crash” that have told me that that there was no plane. The coroner of Somerset county said the same “not a drop of blood”. Even the Mayor of Shankesville admits on camera that there was no plane. Many residents had their phonelines cut for up to two weeks. Cell phones don’t operate at 35,000 feet. The only two planes to disappear in to fairy dust in the history of modern aviation happened on the same day, and the only 3 buildings to collapse due to fires on the same day, we are encouraged to believe.

    You would reather attack Avery to devalue his message. How do you know he had bad grades? And so what. This is an indication of your entrenchment in the corporate ivory towers. The fact that you are a “Marxist” does not impress me at all. I as a Marxist have more respect for right wingers who are speaking up about the crime committed by the US National Security State Apparatus than I do for you.

    Where do your loyalties lie dear floating comarade? Your blog sounds like a fragmented post modernist type of Marxist. You are just everywhere. Focus! Start using a structural Marxist approach and stop worrying about impressing people with your Thesaurus and using words like petard and bilious.

    You are a complete academic snob.

    Comment by Marxist Lenenist — August 6, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  14. When a 911 Truther disguises himself with the handle LENENIST is so ignorant of how somebody like LENIN’s name was actually spelled — we stalwarts here know we’re in for a “Doosey” (the nickname during the Depression for a Duesenberg automobile).

    Look, it’s not like the congenital degenerates running this country during 911 weren’t criminally inclined to pull off some false flag operation to further the corporate profits of their buddies — but the fact is they we’re way too incompetent. In 8 years they bungled everything they touched — but yet we’re led by Truthers to believe this event went off with the sublime clockwork of a moonshot.

    Sure it’s even possible that these same criminally inclined degenerates aided & abetted the actual terrorists, that is, they had Pearl Harbor-like foreknowledge of the attacks that would facilitate their fascistic agenda of unbridled corporate greed & messianic racism — but if a plane full of innocent people didn’t nosedive into a PA field then what did?

    The answer of course is that a plane load of people did splatter into that field and their DNA, that which wasn’t vaporized on impact, is still there, but we don’t need to go into all that forenics, rather, lets’s examine the cell phone records of those who first reported the hijacking, that is, somebody whose inexplicably considered a hero, the 6’5 ex-football player who was allegedly cowering in a bathroom making the series of calls call that wound up reporting that while he was hunkered down in the toilet a bunch of old lady’s busted through the cockpit door and grabbed the culprits who ditched the plane in that struggle.

    How that big strapping fuck on the phone reporting a boxcutter hijacking from the bathroom is considered an American hero is the real story, the mystery, the true media conspiracy, because he allegedly reports everybody on the plane but himself rushing the cockpit in an effort to save themselves.

    Come on now. Was a flight manifest invented? Were all the grieving relatives invented? We’re all those people’s traceable names whisked into the Witness Protection Program with the confidence that none will spill the beans, or have all the bean spillers since been whacked by Gusano-CIA mercenaries?

    Sure class agents are conspiratorial, but what Marxist class analysis basing iteslf in the materialist conception of history show beyond debate is that in a class system — class interests will prevail automatically out of necessity, not out of conspiracy.

    The capitalist system of private property in the means of production and the exploitation of wage labor in no way survives, nor maintains itself through successful conspiracy, but rather through the assumptions of business as usual, the staus quo, a system of laws backed by a state always armed to the teeth.

    As the real Lenin, whom Truthers would actually do well to study if they wanted to understand who really smashed those planes into Uncle Sam’s teeth, explained for those youth new to politics, the word “politics” can be honestly defined as – “Who Gets What?”

    60 years of plundering arab oil shows exactly “who got what”?

    The word “state” can be understood as — “armed gangs dending property.”

    The word “army” means: “a state on wheels.”

    Lenin understood what Napoleon meant when he said “an army marches on it’s stomach.”

    Napoleon told reporters that God was on the side of the heaviest artillary.

    Ho Chi Minh proved that either Napoleon or God was wrong.

    The point is that nothing particularly conspiratorial had to take place to make sense of 911.

    How come nobody talks about the speech Bin Laden made that was broadcasted on every channel the first 24 hrs after the incident, you know, the one that said the act was surely payback for everything from Hiroshima & Nagasaki plus 50 other easily verifiable war crimes Uncle Sam was clearly guilty of since…?

    Why hasn’t a living soul analysed or deconstructed that speech?

    The answer is because you cannot even find a living copy to this day, it’s been so surpressed, that’s a real conspiracy that nobody reports?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 6, 2011 @ 2:30 am

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