A film in which Michael Moore describes the defects of capitalism from A(bsurd) to Z(any): and that’s a serious matter.

 Reviewed by Dada Jyotirupananda

{mosgoogle}  Is the fall of the Roman Empire really ancient history, or are we reliving it today?

 This question starts Michael Moore’s latest documentary, as he skilfully intersperses scenes from an old film of the fall of that great empire with modern day USA.

 Oh, did I say ‘documentary’? Well, he is dealing with facts, but he seems to be validating the old slogan that truth is stranger than fiction.

This film, unlike the clips from the Roman Empire film, is not a somber tome, with a narrator using stiff, serious images to support the lecture.

But wait, capitalism is quite a serious topic isn’t it? I mean isn’t it serious when a very greedy capitalism, by the stroke of a pen by a person very far removed from our lives, can take our homes, our land, our very livelihoods away from us?

Sounds serious to me. But would we expect Michael Moore to get the point across in the traditional documentary style? Mr. Moore has the savvy to know that a quirky, humorous approach can hit home harder than can a serious, factual lecture.

But wait again: do we really want to see a film that is absurd (I mean tying ‘crime scene’ tape around Wall Street or trying to do a citizens’ arrest on CEO’s of some very big companies, that’s absurd isn’t it?) when much of the world is on the verge of a long term, serious financial meltdown?

And what right does he have to mix his comic style into a film where we see that companies take out life insurance policies on their employees, without notifying the employee and without paying any benefit to the bereaved families? Or do we want to see a scene of a (probably real) bank robbery with the background music of a mock version of the 1960s obscene classic rock song “Louie, Louie”, when we could dwell more on the plight of teenagers in Pennsylvania being locked up for many months because of offensive myspace comments about teachers or a teenage girl getting in a fight at a shopping mall with her best friend? Is Moore trivialising the woes of the common man and woman?

I mean, when he does that, isn’t he thumbing his nose at all that hard working honest Americans hold sacred about their great country?

Well, yes, in a way he is. And he also reveals a whole lot about why the American system isn’t working, at least why it’s not working for the working people of America.

Basically it comes down to ‘might makes right’. While watching the film I was reminded of Billie Holiday’s song about a perpetual human truth: ‘those who got shall get, those who don’t shall lose.’

And who’s responsible for all this exploitation, in Mr. Moore’s view?  He points to the very big business people and the politicians and media who support them (and who are part of the same club).

No need in this review to go into the history of an America (and a world) that is dominated and almost completely at the mercy of a big business that many early American patriots and heroes warned us against. Mr. Moore reminds us of such statements by the wisest of the founding fathers, such respected people as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. (“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies,” said Thomas Jefferson.)

Let’s just say that you’re in for a most exciting and educating twohours of serious entertainment.

Mr. Moore wants Democracy, with a big D, to come back to America. He identifies his deep-felt concern with support (direct or indirect) from the Catholic Church, from the hard working man and woman of middle America, of teens who want to get on with their lives, not spend their youth in privately run, for-profit detention  (which make huge bundles while paying off very corrupt, nasty judges). He elicits the support of the police (featuring one police chief who stopped homeowner evictions in his city) and even, indirectly, he identifies gun owners as among those who might support his concerns.

And he shows that there are viable alternatives, such as cooperatively owned businesses.

So it would seem, from this film, that the American peoples’ love story with capitalism is starting to sour in that greatest of modern empires. And not just because the two partners (the common people on the one hand and the business empires on the other) are having a small family spat.

Rather, Mr. Moore is hoping that divorce proceedings are in the offing. His explanation of how the banks walked away with nearly $700,000,000,000 (billion) of American taxpayers’ money after the 2008 banking crisis certainly indicates that big business has no love for the American working person.