Capitalism: A love story

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I just finished watching Michael Moore's latest documentary and his commentary on the 2008 Financial Crisis. What Moore does best, in my opinion is not in his deep fact research or his witty megaphone antics outside headquarters, but rather, in the way he is able to narrate a story and string together biographies or normal, average, American families just trying to get by. He is able to adapt himself and weave his life story in order to get more "street cred".

In Capitalism: A love story his starting point begins in his hometown (perhaps his greatest muse) of Flint, Michigan, a city greatly affected by foreclosures and decaying industry, as his father, an assembly worker at General Motors for thirty years, has been witness to in his town. Some of the points of the movie are both heartbreaking and inspiring. One of the most difficult moments to watch in the movie, and a phenomenon I had been completely unaware of before, was the practice of companies taking out life insurance policies for their employees, without alerting neither their workers nor their short, profiting from their employees' deaths.

The strength of community "people power", an electric current that seemed to build up in the time period between the Financial Crisis in late 2008 and the swearing into office of Obama in 2009 included some wonderful moments. A more detailed understanding of the Chicago sit-in, as a result of a company laying off workers, with three days notice and without giving them due pay, was just one of the examples gaining wind in the country. People at the bottom of had always been told what to do, taking power in their own hands when they began to get fed up with how much they were being pushed around for the benefit of corporations.

A neighborhood taking back a house on the street to give to a displaced family after it had been claimed by a bank after going into forclosure were also equally inspiring. Suddenly it seemed many people in the country were questioning what was wrong and right and they structure of the system that could create unjust rules. People were choosing civil disobedience and a new wave of activism in communities was being born. It is all very powerful.

Moore also questions the attachments often made between Capitalism as being fundamentally American, therefore wholesome and even holy. His main argument is that capitalism as a system has actually proven to be at odds with our democratic political system.

I could go on forever, but PLEASE watch this video. In I believe his last state of the union, my favorite president, FDR, opted for a radio speech rather than one in person on a podium due to his ailing health (he would die later in the year). Nonetheless, he invited press to his home to make it a point that they filmed a very special announcement that he had to make. Somehow, this monumental footage was lost until Moore began doing research for his film.

Well, here it is, and it is amazing that the conversation and urgency FDR sees for having a second bill of rights to focus on economic rights as a realization of stability, security and happiness has taken so long to come back into dialogue. It saddens me to think that not so much progress has been made since this video was filmed by FDR. This 2nd bill would have made so that many of the problems people in America faced following the crisis, homelessness, joblessness, lack of healthcare, etc, could have been seen as denied rights.

3 Responses on "Capitalism: A love story"

  1. dear Victoria

    in spite of the dramatic tone in his documanteries Moore opinions and ideals sound flawless specially in this issue which i prefer to call "world war 3"

    yah its a war between elties and regular people that is not happening everywhere else not just the US.

    one thing i would like to clear out and you should have noticed it since you are residing in Kuwait currently ,is the issue of economical rights and how can some people turn this noble set of legislations into a selfish abusive tool .

    An ideal economical system should protect people economically and at the same time encourage them to compete not for survival but for creativity, excellence and self accomplishment. In Kuwait people are overprotected thanks to legislations similar to the second bill of rights you mentioned in your topic that's why they became too relaxed to even think of competition .

    when it comes to the system everybody during the last economical crises blamed captilaism including Moore who is unaware that Captilism is the main reason why the US media including his works is spread worldwide.

    what happened was a human error an accident like you see in the road daily. capitalism was not meant to be perfect because the word perfect doesn't exist in our real world .you may think that a hybrid system would be better I'm afraid that's not necessarily true , here in Kuwait the government is abusing its economical control acting similar to a communist authority against people protecting the the interests of the elites granting them the benefits of a capitalist system.

    i remembered you when you commented in my blog a long time ago :)

    Victoria says:

    Hi Blacklight!!

    Hey, its so rare I get such a great and detailed comment, I really welcome it! Finally!

    Well, I don't live in Kuwait anymore actually! I have moved to Spain.

    You raise a bunch of interesting points.

    1) Regarding Michael Moore, I totally agree that it is the capitalist system that makes his movies go round. He was actually called out on it apparently, because his film screening was done in the "Visa Screening Room" of a theatre, a totally corporate-sponsored venue. He acknowledged the irony.

    2) Regarding Kuwait: The United States and Kuwait are incomparable but if we want to talk about the application of Moore's argument in Kuwait...I completely agree with you that unfortunately, government handouts and bailouts in Kuwait have gone too far. They have made people complacent and as you say have stifled creativity, excellence and self-accomplishment. Lets not forget that a democracy is a social contract, citizens are endowed with not only rights, but deep responsibilities to the country as well. Attention on the latter has been overshadowed by short-term capture, and in the long-term its really doing Kuwait an injustice. The lack of ambition and work ethic is extremely harmful to the country's future. On a last point, I sometimes see Kuwait as "financially unsustainable", in the fact that a country with one of the highest GDPs per capita has a minimum wage of under 100 KD a month. The system as it exists now in Kuwait is a result of not only capture, but exploitation of cheap labor. You can't look at the Kuwait economic system without opening one's eyes to the fact that more than 2/3 of the labor market consists of people with absolutely no voice and little economic security. If anything, I would think that economic rights in Kuwait needs to focus on this to bring it up to international standards for high-income countries.

    What comment did I make on your blog?