Associated Press photos
Filmmaker Michael Moore attempts to speak to traders on Wall Street for his film “Capitalism: A Love Story” in March. At the end of “Capitalism,” Moore correctly concludes: “Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people, and that something is democracy.”
So will Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” usher in a socialist revolution within the United States of America?
Um, no, probably not, given the fact that Americans haven’t exactly been the most revolutionary bunch on the planet since about 1776, and since capitalism still has a fairly strong grip on the minds and hearts and gonads of the majority of the American sheeple, but “Capitalism” probably does represent yet another nail in the coffin of capitalism as it has been practiced in the United States of America during my lifetime.
I won’t regurgitate all of the contents of “Capitalism,” as you can get that regurgitation in a multitude of reviews and articles, but I will say that “Capitalism” both is in line with and is a departure from Moore’s previous films. (If you must read a straight film review, you might try Roger Ebert’s. He remains my favorite film critic.)
In “Capitalism” Moore’s eclectic style remains the same, but “Capitalism” differs from Moore’s previous work in that “Capitalism,” as its name suggests, tackles the rather abstract concept of capitalism, and while “Capitalism” is filled with real-life examples of the devastation that capitalism has wreaked upon working-class and poor Americans, “Capitalism” is Moore’s most abstract, least concrete film to date.
And lest you think that “Capitalism” is a huge push for socialism, socialism actually gets fairly little air time in “Capitalism,” which focuses more on the evils of capitalism than it does on the benefits of socialism (see Moore’s “Sicko” for that).
And at the end of “Capitalism,” what does Moore offer as an alternative to capitalism as it is practiced today? Not socialism, but democracy.
I concur that democracy would be a great antidote to the way that capitalism is practiced today — in the United States of America we have not a democracy but a plutocracy and a corporatocracy, because it’s the rich and their corporations that run the nation, not the people, and this plutocratic and corporatocratic mindset trickles down even into non-profit and governmental workplaces (oh, the stories that I could tell you as a California state worker!).
But how about I amend Moore’s recommendation of democracy and recommend some democratic socialism? Because even Moore seems to shy away at least somewhat from the “s” word.
While “Sicko” examines the socialist systems in other nations, unfortunately “Capitalism” offers no such comparisons, and it’s too bad, because it’s probably the socialist revolution in Latin America that offers the millions upon millions of downtrodden in the United States of America the most hope. (Yeah, there’s a reason that the American wingnuts want to keep the Latin American immigrants out: because they tend to collectively organize for their fair share of the pie.)
In “Capitalism” Moore examines to a fairly large degree the nexus between what passes for “Christianity” in the United States and capitalism as it is practiced in the U.S. today. Moore even shows clips of wingnuts declaring that capitalism is Christian.
Moore interviews several Christian leaders who state that capitalism — in which a greedy few profit from the masses — as decidedly not in line with what Jesus taught, and there’s a cute overdubbed clip in which Jesus Christ refuses to heal a sick man (because that would be socialized medicine!).
(However, where the Catholic Church is concerned — and it’s the Catholic Church that gets the most attention in “Capitalism,” because Moore was raised Catholic — I’m not sure how much Catholic leaders oppose capitalism because of capitalism’s inherent evils and how much it might be the case that the Catholic Church just doesn’t want to have to compete against the capitalists for the minds and hearts and gonads — and the pocketbooks — of the masses. An oppressor is still an oppressor, whether it’s the church or the capitalists.)
Moore could have gone a bit further in “Capitalism” in destroying the fallacy that all of those Joe the Plumbers (Joes the Plumber?) out there hold: the fallacy that they must protect capitalism as it is practiced in the U.S. today because one day they might actually make it to the pinnacle of the pyramid of wealth.
Um, no, they will not, but it is this lottery mentality of Glenn-Beck-lovin’ dipshits like Joe the Plumber that keeps the rich safe from mobs carrying pitchforks and torches. (I remember Joe the Plumber claiming that Barack Obama’s policies, as president, would prevent him from ever owning his own plumbing business, and then discovering that Joe the Plumber didn’t even have a plumber’s license. Gee, I suppose that that’s Barack Obama’s fault too!)
Moore could have also gone further in “Capitalism” in exploring the unholy nexus involving not only what passes for “Christianity” in the U.S. and capitalism as it is practiced in the U.S., but involving nationalism and “patriotism” as well.
The plutocrats and corporatocrats have been successful in brainwashing millions of Americans (with the help of the likes of Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Ann Cunter) into believing that capitalism = Christianity = patriotism = militarism, so that to oppose any of these (but especially to oppose capitalism) is to oppose the others.
Finally, you will note that I repeatedly have used the phrase “capitalism as it is practiced in the United States of America.” Like I can support the idealistic tenets of actual Christianity — that is, while I agree with Jesus Christ’s actual teachings and sayings, such as that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven — I can support the idealistic tenets of capitalism, such as that every individual should reap the fruits of his or her own hard work.
However, just as Christianity has been bastardized — with today’s “Christians” being just like the hypocritical Pharisees of his day whom Jesus repeatedly lambasted — capitalism has been bastardized as well. Today, the worker’s hard work does not benefit the worker, who can barely survive, but benefits only the rich and the super-rich plutocrats and corporatocrats, professional thieves who exploit the working classes and the poor more and more each passing day.
Had capitalism not been taken over by crooks and thieves, had these greedy motherfuckers been able to moderate their greed just a little, capitalism might be strong in the United States of America today.
Capitalism — as it is practiced in the United States of America — is consuming itself.
Michael Moore, thankfully, is just helping that process along.
My grade: A-