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If not capitalism, then what? Michael Moore’s not too sure.

September 14, 2009

(writing and reporting by Cameron French)michael-moore

Does Michael Moore really advocate abandoning capitalism? Welllllll, not exactly.

In his new documentary film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday night, the filmmaker behind anti-war documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and anti-gun Oscar winner “Bowling for Columbine” argues that capitalism has ruined the United States and should be eliminated, likening it to a Ponzi scheme that only benefits those at the top.

You can read what Moore said about his movie at last week’s Venice film festival here, or read The Hollywood Reporter’s review here.

But with what would he replace it? At a news conference in Toronto, Moore admitted he was not in favor of embracing communism as an economic system, and hinted he may have overstated his argument to make a point with the audience.

“I think it’s an artistic choice,” he said when asked about his reasons for framing his argument so definitively.

“When I say that capitalism should be eliminated, I’m not talking about eliminating somebody wanting to open up a business and sell shoes or somebody working hard to earn money…to do better for themselves. What would I replace it with? I’m not an economist, so I have no plan to lay out here.”

Moore’s previous films typically have been well received by left-leaning Toronto audiences, and the North American Premiere of “Capitalism” on Sunday night was no exception. But it will be interesting to watch the reception when it hits U.S. theaters next week.


Maybe it would serve to differentiate between “Capitalism” and “capitalism.”
“Capitalism,” as it has come to be practiced in the past 300+ years–and particularly it’s practice here in the US over the last century–has really been a way to aristocracize–to create a new aristocratic class. This form of “capitalism”–the free market–is used by individuals and groups to entrench themselves in the political sphere, where, once situated, they begin to limit the very free market principles that brought them to power in order that they may retain power. Its why we have movie moguls and automobile leaders, and oil tycoons, and business executives who continue to make lousy–even devastating–decisions, but never fail to secure and keep jobs; they’re entrenched. This misuse of “capitalism” hurts the competition that should be the foundation of free market, it hurts consumers, and it hurts workers because it thinks of them only in terms of money, instead of as, themselves, independent “businessmen” who are taking advantage of a situation. Workers and others become sources of exploitation rather than of mutual advantage.
In “Capitalism,”the gov’t seeks too maintain those in power–that’s when we get things like bailouts. In “capitalism,” another invention or method finds its way into the “marketplace,” siphoning workers and customers away from failed and failing enterprises, thus maintaining the economy.
Moore, and his mentors like Marx, conflated the two capitalisms, but if a democratic gov’t is doing its job, then the aristocracy is not allowed to flourish a t the expense of competition.

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

The humanity is headed to a new unknown economic system.
Capitalism was good and succesful so far. If sometimes things went wrong that’s nothing to cry about, it’s human nature. We can’t be perfect.
In the last 5 decades the technology and with it the productivity has made unprecedented progress. The machines are “taking away” our jobs.The only job those machines will never do is consuming.
What we are seeing right now is, abundance of products offered to penniless consumers. Bright ideas are desperately needed to fix the paradox.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Typical leftist; always wanting to tear down what has worked well for generations and has made the United States the envy of the world. Yet somehow, they never seem to have any ideas about how they would better do things.

Whining about how bad something is without ever suggesting a solution seems to be a mental illness peculiar to the extreme Left.

Posted by HospersJohn | Report as abusive

Michael Moore is an ass. Nothing he has ever written is close to the truth. If he said the sun was shining, I’d have to go outside to look.

Posted by Norm | Report as abusive

Moore is a hypocritical moron. He profits from capitalism. If he is so against it then why not let people see his movies for free and give everyone a license to them.

Posted by Gareth | Report as abusive

this is for John Hospers, sounds like your doing a little whinning my friend.
Yes it had worked for generations, But it’s been broke for about 30 years now!
And it is not an easy fix, but it needs to be fix anyways.
And this is for Norm, Michael Moore might be an @ss to you, but his films have been proven more to be closer to the truth then you would like to admit!

Posted by Milton | Report as abusive

Even as a banker, I believe the capitalist system can be improved. Supposedly “free markets” can be manipulated and some degree of government regulation is needed from time to time to restore fairness to the system. I believe in free markets up until the point in which one of the players rigs the game for their own benefit. At this point, the system is no longer truly free.

It´s important for people to understand how our capitalist system works, what are the major forces at play in the financial markets, and who are the most influential players. Perhaps this film will shed some light on that.

That said, I´m afraid this documentary will probably be disregarded by many for good reason. If Mr Moore´s film is as unrepentently anti capitalist as his recent appearances, I doubt he will be taken very seriously. Even China embraces capitalism, something the recent populist surge seems to have ignored. We should aim to improve the capitalist system to make it more efficient, not regulate it out of jealousy and spite for those who have benefited from it.

Posted by alejandro | Report as abusive

Milton: “his films have been proven more to be closer to the truth then you would like to admit!”

“Proven” by whom? I credit Mr. Moore with being very effective at drawing attention to a subject and driving home the point he is trying to make. However, selective facts and clever editing does not make a “truth”. While there is a hint of truth to what he says, he conveniently leaves a lot unsaid. The same can be said of Rush Limbaugh…there is a hint of truth to a lot of what he says, but I suspect you would not shower him with the same compliments that you do Moore. A Michael Moore documentary and a Rush Limbaugh radio show both leave the audience walking away feeling passionate and informed on the given subject, but both audiences are only hearing part of a story told by a very partisan storyteller.

Posted by P | Report as abusive

This from the guy who wanted $35,000 to speak for 30min at George Mason University, a PUBLIC University back in 2005. Glad the university didn’t let it happen. Caplitalism is bad my a$@.


The problem is not capitalism. It is the current political system.
Corporate welfare, lax oversight, entrenched politicians who don’t let the economic system work as it should and skew it in favor of those with pull, these are what I’m talking about.
The economic system must be regulated, through oversight and through legislation such as anti-trust laws to ensure the system works for the people. Beyond that though, the system should not favor the big guys.
Big companies, some “too big to fail” getting special treatment no smaller company will ever get, is not capitalism or free enterprise.
The system is corrupt. The collapse would not have occurred if good legislation that had been in place since the Depression had not been discarded. Even if regulators had done their job with laws that are still in place, instead of just turning up the wick, it would not have happened.
Legislators were only too happy to play games with lending. Barney Frank pushed for unsound loans to get poor people into houses, saying he was willing to “roll the dice”. If they had insisted that only a certain percentage of high-risk loans could have been made compared to the total so to ensure reasonable stability in case of defaults, things never would have gone so bad.
The people in the the “too big to fail” corporations who have done so much damage to the national economy, the national psyche and the Nation’s standing in the world, now know that they will get bailed out no matter how bad they mess up. Those entities should be broken up, so they can longer control both sides of the equation. Banks should be allowed to only do banking. Glass-Steagall should be reinstated. Now.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

He’s confusing capitalism and the ‘invisible hand’ with the nonsense on Wall Street. They’re not the same thing.

Capitalism is the worst possible way to run things….except for every other way that’s ever been tried. The things that Moore’s ranting about would happen in any other system as well, ie, cheating, lying, stealing, corruption. Its not the system that’s bad, its the immoral people trying to game it.

You think there would be no corruption or evildoing under socialism? Communism? Fascism? Monarchy? Theocracy?

Don’t blow up the system because of a few bad apples like Dodd, Franks, Immelt, or Angelo Mozilo. Put them in prison where they belong.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

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