Michael Moore slays capitalism

October 19, 2009

Capitalism: A Love StoryWritten, directed & produced by Michael MooreIn cinemas November 5

Mike Moore started his career with his hilarious film Roger & Me, which revolved around his attempts to interview the CEO of General Motors as the corporation turned his home town of Flint, Michigan, into a rusting shell.

Since then, with Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko among others, his sarcasm and irony has ripped into corporate power and inequality in the US. Capitalism: A Love Story is Moore at his absolute best, his most heartfelt and, unmistakably, his most angry.

In fact, he says he has been making this film for the last 20 years. "Since Roger & Me debuted in 1989, there have been common threads and ideas present in all of my projects", he told Ascot-elite.ch on October 22. "Capitalism: A Love Story is not just a continuation of that, it's the culmination."

Unlike his previous films that have focused on particular injustices or inanities of the American way of life, this time Moore skewers what he refers to as "the big enchilada" — the capitalist system itself.

He exposes the cost to the American people of their love affair with the economic system that has become synonymous with US patriotism, and the cost is extraordinary — the collapse of the sub-prime banking bubble has torn the heart out of working-class US.

I thought I was particularly well-read about the corruption of US politicians until I saw this film. Your jaw will drop when you see what Moore reveals. Judges, politicians, corporations are all opened up on screen with their secrets in plain view and their crimes explained in plain English.

Some of what US corporations have done to workers will sadden, revolt and enrage you.

Speaking plainly and filming ordinary people talking about the indignities they go through as their homes are repossessed or their jobs stolen from them is Moore's gift and he uses it to great effect here.

Avoiding pretentious language, he simply illustrates what predatory capitalism does to the human community — alienation is not an intellectual construct, it is the flow of heart-broken human tears.

Religion has been used to bless US capitalism for years: every slippery politician evokes god as they shove their snout in the trough. Moore finds other religious voices, interviewing Catholic priests who tell him that capitalism is a sin and must be opposed. He even shows a Chicago bishop giving communion to workers occupying a factory and urging them on.

The film documents mass protests against the government bail-out of the corrupt bankers, the strong hopes that masses of people have in US President Barack Obama, and a surge in interest in socialism. It indicates that US culture is fracturing. This film will drive a huge wedge into the cracks.

Moore celebrates the militant traditions of the auto workers and shows what their campaigns won: a decent standard of living with security into old age and education for their kids. He even shows President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s calling for a second Bill of Rights in the USA to protect workers' jobs, health care and education.

By placing himself firmly within such cultural emblems as the family, working-class aspirations to enter the middle class, democracy, religion and even the US Constitution, Moore's investigation of socialism as an alternative for the US is all the more potent.

There are plenty of laughs along the way, great music, a heck of a lot to make you think and you will be moved to tears of sorrow and of rage.

But most importantly, Mike Moore is making a ringing call for action and rebellion against the system. Go to this film and take all of your workmates.

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