Capitalism: A Love Story reveals the hidden realities of capitalist exploitation. Sam Fairbairn admires Michael Moore’s call for a mass movement against the bankers.
Michael Moore gets a lot of flack. Its not surprising the right dismisses him as a propagandist, but a surprising number of liberals and leftists are fond of taking pot-shots at him, calling him over-simplistic or self-obsessed. What is wrong with these people?
As the global financial crisis deepens and attacks on jobs and public services escalate, Michael Moore’s latest film offers up a series of shocking, humorous and occasionally poignant accounts of capitalist exploitation and ends with a rallying cry for mass action and organisation.
Capitalism: A Love Story reveals the hidden realities of capitalist exploitation, framed around the impact of the current crisis on billions of ordinary people. We are shown how, structured in to the core of capitalism, is a ruthless drive for profit at the expense of an exploited majority.
House repossessions, insurance scams, well known businesses making millions from the deaths of their employees; Moore doesn’t just depict these as isolated anomalies in an otherwise benevolent system, but as endemic.
Footage of a government rally shows the chairman of Meryl Lynch, having been appointed Secretary of the Treasury, instructing President Reagan to “speed it up”, a fitting indicator of the symbiotic relationship between business and the state.
Through examples like these, Moore illustrates how, historically, the senate and its advisors have been dominated by ex-directors of some of the biggest profit making companies in the world.
Moore shows how capitalist ideology also influences the legal system, telling the story of a privatised juvenile prison where kids are falsely imprisoned for throwing food around and other such spurious ‘crimes’.
Through Moore’s film, anti-capitalist ideas spring vividly to life, exposing, in what he describes as an economic coup d'√©tat, the hypocrisy of bank bail-outs and the government’s failure to find out where the money has gone or what it is being used for.
Despite the hope generated by President Obama’s election campaign, illustrated by tear-jerking footage of the relief experienced by thousands after he got in, Moore points out that one of the new presidents top advisors is the director of Goldman Sachs, concluding that, without radical change, it’s business as usual.
Moore gets a bit dewy eyed about Obama and sentimental about Roosevelt, but there‘s no doubt that his main thought is that change must come about through mass political struggle. He shows how ordinary people are resisting the crisis on a local basis through factory occupations, protests against bail outs and campaigns to stop house repossessions.
The film ends with a rallying call to action and one of the finest versions of the Internationale I have ever heard, sung in the style of Frank Sinatra. Local activity is not enough, Moore argues, and he cannot go on being a lone national figurehead against the system. ‘Speed it up’ he whispers to us all.
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