The paper will start by giving an overall impression of the documentary, followed by an examination of what the documentary meant to me. This will be followed by an analysis of whether I agree with Moore’s message in the movie or not, and why. The conclusion will be a discussion on whether the movie has in any way changed my perception on capitalism. There will be included a bibliography page citing the resources used in the paper.
If you cut out the drama, the people-bashing and the over-simplification of complex economic systems in Michael Moore’s documentary movie ‘Capitalism: a Love Story’, you can still find substance in there. Having had reviews to both extremes; with others claiming that Moore should have stopped making movies at ‘Roger and Me’, and the other half exclaiming that it was an eye-opener, it was with mixed expectations that I watched the documentary.
I admit it was at first difficult to follow the storyline, but by the middle of the movie, I could see clearly the point that Moore was trying to put across. Moore was presenting the social and economic inequalities that have been the result of decades of capitalism. He pointed out at institutions such as Wall Street and Goldman Sachs as being the major culprits (Dargis n.p).
He argued that politics and the corporate world are too closely tied in America, and this undermines democratic practice. Who suffers for this? It is the small people, who, ironically make up 99% of the population and only own 5% of America’s wealth (Dargis n.p).
A broad definition of capitalism is an economic system where business enterprises are privately owned while the rules and policies that run market conditions are determined by a central government (Bowles 5). After watching Moore’s movie, I had to rethink my understanding on the benefits of capitalism.
Capitalism, as it was argued for by its earliest advocates: Max, Smith and others in their league, is that it stimulates economic growth. This is generally accepted as fact to date. A more important but less considered question, is, who does the economic growth benefit. Or rather, what percentage of a population does capitalism benefit?
Moore’s movie provides a clear answer for that; in America, which is considered one of the wealthiest nations in the world, 1% of the population own 95% of country’s resources (Gritten n.p). Is that not shocking? In a country that preaches constantly freedom, equality, democracy and human rights, something close to neo-slavery is being practiced. For in this materialistic age, are you not owned by the person who owns the material resources?
Democracy is hampered, as Moore illustrates, because the process of elections and voting has become compromised; the corporations contribute to the campaigns for those candidates who they feel will best serve their needs, the candidate with the biggest campaign stash wins the election (Dargis n.p). And the 1% remain at the top of the game, getting off lightly for crimes such as the ‘pheasant insurance’ or the 700 billion dollar tax write off awarded to sustain failing financial institutions after the most recent economic downturn (Dargis n.p).
I agree with the movie to a large extent.The facts may be presented with some pomp and circumstance but they are still facts. Just because there are myriad facts involved in the foreclosure does not change the fact that a home in America is foreclosed every seven minutes (Gritten n.p).
There are still thousands of people losing their jobs monthly, there are thousands more who cannot afford insurance cover. Moore is right in his message; there are a select few who have abused the American capitalistic system and made a ‘plutonomy’ out of the system (Dargis n.p).
The movie changes my view of capitalism in the sense of ‘unregulated capitalism’. Every social theory has its time, Karl Max evolved capitalism because the time was right for it, and the people, at that point in time, were ripe for the capitalistic revolution. But for every period in history there are systems that work, as well as others that simply do not.
From Moore’s movie, I see that perhaps it is time that not only the U.S, but also the rest of the world, reviewed how capitalism is put to work. With or without the blaster in Moore’s movie, the cold, hard facts do not change that there is a gross imbalance in the distribution of resources, as was intended in the first place, and that perhaps, it is about time there was a post-capitalism revolution.
Bowles, Paul. Capitalism. London: Pearson & Longman, 2007. Print.
Dargis, Manohla. “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Movies.nytimes.com. 23 Sep 2009. Web. 30 Sep 2010.
Gritten, David. “Capitalism: A Love Story, Review.” Telegraph.co.uk. 25 Feb 2010. Web. 30 Sep 2010.