Michael Moore’s Capitalism: a love story
Michael Moore is not a revolutionary socialist.
But he is a great film maker and story teller, and this exposé of the sins of capitalism – of capitalism as a structure of sin almost literally at one stage in the film – is a clear indictment of the free market system in the US and the profit motive.
I cried when he showed the evictions of ordinary working people.
I laughed when experts tried to explain what derivatives - wagers on wagers or bookies off-laying bets - were. Even worse was that I understood the explanations of these instruments of evil. It’s a long story but working in the Tax Office for 20 years does that to the soul…
I cheered when the occupying workers at Republic Windows and Doors won their entitlements. I dared to hope when they talked about running the factory themselves. They did not.
I felt elated when one family occupied their home and stopped the eviction process.
I sang and clapped when the show finished with a Tony Babino swing version of the International.
What’s not to like?
Well, a few quibbles. The ugly face of US imperialism gets little run in the film – the death of over 1 million Iraqis and countless Afghans, the imprisonment of Palestine… Nothing.
And Moore has (or rather at the time of filming had) illusions in Obama, and before him Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Even then, FDR’s so called second Bill of Rights included economic rights like a job at a living wage, a home, a good education and free health care for all. These aren’t bad starting points for socialists of today to connect with working people.
Moore attempts citizens’ arrests at various banks. Needless to say he doesn’t get into their buildings.
And that’s a metaphor for the US today – the people aren’t allowed into their buildings.
Moore weaves an intricate story about the criminals of Wall Street, the very people who benefit from and create this inequality. These bloodsuckers live off the poverty and exploitation of working Americans.
Moore uses humour like crime scene taping one bank to make the point that the bailout is a massive theft of the money of working people. There has been this massive wealth transfer to the rich and greedy of Wall Street so they can continue what one leaked Citigroup memo describes as the plutonomy, i.e a society where the very very rich rule the rest of us. And we let them.
Only when working people occupy their homes to successfully stop evictions, only when they follow Republic Windows and Doors and occupy their factories to save not just entitlements but jobs and begin producing goods to satisfy human need, can we say, as Moore puts it, that capitalism is an evil that needs to be eliminated.
Occupying the workplaces and producing goods to satisfy human need is the way to eliminate the evil Moore identified that is capitalism.
And it is this democracy, the real and living democracy of the working class running their workplace, which offers the only alternative to capitalism.
See and enjoy Capitalism: a love story.