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Movie Review

Capitalism: A Love Story

Review by Doug Michel |
October 12, 2009
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Movie poster for Capitalism: A Love Story
Movie poster for Capitalism: A Love Story (MichaelMoore.com)

Michael Moore has done it again, only this time he's coming out strong against the most pervasive evil in the United States: capitalism. Moore serves to moviegoers a searing critique of capitalism that is well needed during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

On Thursday, Oct. 1, a supportive crowd of 200 progressives and activists came to one of the many locations in Chicago showing Capitalism: A Love Story. The special showings benefited United Electrical Union Local 1110, the same local that carried out the historic Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation this past December.

Capitalism: A Love Story is filled with comedy, satire, and chilling analysis of the economic crisis in the U.S. It highlights the American people's "love affair" with capitalism that ends in heartbreak for believers in the "American Dream".

The film begins with a searing critique of capitalism, highlighting several U.S. propaganda films praising "free enterprise" and the "profit motive." Now with the current economic crisis, we know that Wall Street and financial giants such as Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch are filled with greed, corruption, and deceit. Michael Moore skillfully argues that these characteristics are part and parcel of an economic and social system that is clearly bankrupt.

Next Moore exposes the US Federal government's $700 billion bailout fraud last year, which was forced upon the American people by Congress under fear and bribery from the financial elite. Instead of a government that serves the people, Moore argues Capitol Hill is a corrupt collection of wealthy servants to the top U.S. CEOs. Democratic Party officials in particular are blamed for the passage of the bailout that gave billions to the banks and nothing to the people.

The movie, in all its bleak observations, gives incredible hope to the American people. It features the fight back against housing evictions and foreclosures across the country - events mostly clouded over by the corporate media. The film shows stories of personal resistance, such as one family waiting to be forcibly removed by the sheriff from their home in Lexington, NC.

The main feature though is the union workers' occupation of Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. The occupation is historic in the sense that it is the first factory occupation in the U.S. in decades. Workers are looking back to the tactics used during the Great Depression. The film briefly shows footage of the sit-down strikes at the GM factory in Flint, MI, of the 1930s that gave birth to the United Auto Workers. The recent Republic occupation stands in the same tradition of the working class using militant tactics to struggle for a better livelihood.

At the end, Moore implores the audience to take action, just as the workers at Republic, the families and poor in dozens of homes across the U.S., and protesters outside Wall Street are doing. This call is ringing in the ears of all those attending the special benefit on Oct. 2 in Chicago, as everyone signed up to get involved in union support work.

The big picture in Capitalism: A Love Story is the contradiction between democracy and capitalism. The problem with this view is that there is democracy under capitalism - it is democracy for the capitalists, the bankers, business people, and investors whose money controls the government in a thousand different ways. What we need is democracy for working people and the poor. But this can only come about if the wealth and power of the capitalists is done away with, that is with a socialist economy, which will mean democracy for the people and an end to capitalist economic crisis.

5 comments

 
Anonymous wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

-----COP OUT

---How can Moore even pretend to make a movie
about the economic takedown of the country without once
mentioning, let alone examining, the Globalist RED China
set up, sellout and world TREASON OP? ---and the de-industrialization
targets of the Globalists?

This IS the outrageous REALITY operating beneath the
dismal surface of franchise slum America.

"Understand, Globalism 'Free Trade, USURY, TREASON and
---EUGENICS are always intertwined. ---ALWAYS."

The capstone engineered degradation of culture,
the economic devastation, the destruction of lives
is all ---long term, well-planned, deftly executed
-------------------------EUGENICS---------------------------.

------Moore's either a deluded COP-OUT --or he's
working the 'controlled opppostion' angle ---'Left Field'.

-YOU DECIDE-

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

"Wealth and power of

"Wealth and power of capitalists is done away with..." and that void will be filled by who or what? That's right, government! But, we vote for these people, there is no way they could do anything real bad to people! You people are delusional, thinking that there will be an all-knowing, all-loving "Wizard of Oz" helping everyone! What kind of drugs are you on?

 
brad wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Great movie

I thought the movie was great. It's amazing that a major movie playing in mainstream theaters is making a frontal attack on capitalism. Throughout the movie he interviews "respectable" people who insist, even when prodded, that capitalism must be abolished. He makes it fun to watch and funny too. And he gives prominent coverage to key struggles of workers and oppressed people in the U.S in the past year or so. The Republic Windows & Doors factory occupation footage is great. And the multiple home foreclosures are enraging. The coverage of the family retaking their foreclosed home in Miami that the group Low-Income Families Fighting Together (LIFFT) was involved with is really good in that it shows that collective organization is the best way to resist and bring about change, similar to the footage of the Republic Windows & Doors workers.

It's also good in that the movie reminds us about what it was like when the major financial institutions started collapsing and the $700 billion bailout was rammed through. It's easy to forget the mass outrage that surged among broad sections of people at the time, which succeed in blocking the bailout on congress's first attempted vote, and then forced the ruling class to regroup and figure out how to ram it through over the clear and obvious revulsion of the vast majority of the population. It's just easy to forget how significant that was, and Moore does a service to our collective memory by going back through it in a compelling way.

The major critique I have of the movie is the fact that he sets it up like everything was mostly fine until Reagan became president. He does this by doing things like going to look at the U.S. Constitution and showing (correctly) that it doesn't say anything about capitalism in there. Also by showing footage of Presidents Carter and Franklin Roosevelt saying generally sane things that in today's ultra-right wing media climate would be considered way off the charts of radical leftism. While this sets up a false history where everything was fine until Reagan, at the same time it was actually very illuminating to hear former U.S. presidents saying things that today would be laughed out of mainstream politics. It is quite shocking to hear President Roosevelt read off his proposed new bill of rights (health care, jobs, housing, etc).

Moore also pulls his punches at the end where he says that the alternative to capitalism is...democracy. On the one hand it's absolutely true that capitalism is inherently undemocratic since a few rich people have the vast majority of the power and resources. But capitalism is an economic system, so if you're going to argue that it must be abolished (as Moore does) then the question is what economic system you want to build in its place. I understand why Moore may feel like he shouldn't/can't/doesn't want to advocate socialism directly. But there's no reason we can't. I would encourage everyone to see this movie, and like Josh says, use the opening it creates to talk to people about the analysis behind what's wrong with capitalism (repeated crises of overproduction, how exploitation works, etc.), and then why socialism is better, and why it's important to get involved in the kinds of struggles that are highlighted in the movie!

 
David H wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

capitalism

If the financial breakdown is clearly explained in the movie, I missed it Josh. Tell me if I’m wrong, but all I saw were a couple of bourgeois experts reduced to stuttering when asked to explain financial derivatives. Confronted with a specimen derivative, though, they could probably tell you all about it.

Here’s my shot: a financial derivative is a means to keep money in circulation as capital through speculation on other financial properties.

The “dead peasant” speculation in life insurance policies is an especially repulsive example. Like many derivatives it is a bet: I bet the policy premiums against the dough you will pay if the guy dies. Wealth creation is the last thing it’s about. Grabbing some loot is the issue.

The experts can’t answer the questions because they are Kantians: the phenomena of individual derivatives are apparent to them but the “derivative-in-itself” remains unknowable. Kantian ideas are all over the place, always have been.

Moore is himself a Hegelian, one who thinks in terms of the “absolute idea:” capitalism is bad because the capitalists want it to be like that. The answer to the evils of capitalism, i.e., the contradictions of the economic base of society, is democracy, which is part of the superstructure of ideas, institutions, etc., that necessarily serve the base.

Likewise the destruction wrought by crisis is attributed in Hegelian style to the will of the capitalists to enrich themselves by the unrestricted plunder of everyone else. I consider the notion quite wrong because it obscures the chaotic nature of capitalism, its unavoidable crises. The present crisis is the last thing the capitalists wanted, the capitalists didn’t “do” it, capitalism did it!

Like Kant, Hegel’s thinking is all over the place but only on his negative, idealist, side, not on his positive, dialectical side. That brings us to the guy who succeeded Kant and Hegel in philosophy, Marx.

Marx is a materialist. He says the test of the truth of ideas is their practicality. History teaches us the masses can overthrow the capitalists, which is as practical as you can get, and foremost among their leaders have been Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, and of course Marx himself. Moore seems to find that a bit far.

I don’t mean to be too negative. The film is an excellent exposure of the human cost of the economic crisis, Doug is right about that. Moore has to get funding and distributors from somewhere, eminently materialist considerations. So let’s get on with it and do what Moore can’t.
.

 
joshsykes wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

capitalism

I just got to see this today, and I thought this movie was really great! The picture of how this crisis arose from financial speculation is explained well. It is a difficult subject made easy to understand. Also Moore shows clearly the way the crisis is destroying the lives of poor and working people, and drives home point that we need to fight back!

What I would have liked to have seen was more of an analysis of capitalism as such, of the underlying contradictions of capitalism that are at the root of the current financial crisis, and a clear picture of the crisis as a crisis of overproduction. There also is not a clear class analysis. I didn't think these things were really developed by Moore in his movie, and one was left with the sense that with better managers of capitalism we wouldn't have had this problem. This is despite Moore telling us that capitalism has to be eliminated (which is right on!).

Great movie, all the same. More people need to watch it! Thanks for the great review!!