Michael Moore’s “Capitalism”: Stirring Outrage from the Left

Capitalism_0903 Just minutes after the Los Angeles premiere screening of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism, A Love Story” ended, the filmmaker posted this message to his Twitter feed: “The packed house gets up to grab their torches and pitchforks…”

He was joking — the audience actually bolted down to the post-screening buffet lines — but it’s not hard to see why he would think that way.

His latest movie tries to tap into populist outrage from the left, at a time when that anger has been channeled much more visibly by the right. The outrage that we have seen, the town halls and the tea parties and the birthers, have been over the fear of big government, not that there won’t be a safety net. “They are very good at it,” he told me, adding that conservatives’ ability to “own the bailout” is for “entirely different reasons from me.” It is also one of the reasons he was so anxious to get his movie out.

“Capitalism” is like a sequel to “Roger & Me” in that Moore’s message is that what happened in Flint, Michigan, twenty years ago is now happening across the country: Companies shutting down plants, scaling back wages and laying off workers, all in the name of higher profits. But this movie has a much larger scope, taking on the notion that capitalism was never enshrined in the Constitution, but was sold to us as the best possible system. In making his point he turns not just to workers who’ve been left behind, but to Catholic priests and bishops, who preach of capitalism as no less than evil.

There’s ample fodder: Wal-Mart collects life insurance policies on their workers, making a nice return when they die young; Continental, United and other airline pilots make so little they are forced to take another job and, in one case, collect food stamps; Citigroup draws up a memo for select investors, proclaiming a world “plutonomy” that can be foiled by that pesky thing called the right to vote.

Republicans, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush all take their lumps, which is to be expected, but so do House and Senate Democrats and even President Obama, as Moore treats his election as a turning point yet notes Goldman Sachs and Wall Street showered him with contributions, resulting in Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner. Special mention is reserved for Chris Dodd, who is hammered for accepting VIP treatment from Countrywide in the form of better terms on home interest rates, reaping $1,175,133. 

On the other hand, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is treated as a hero for speaking out against the bailout bill, and footage is shown of her impassioned plea, before it passed Congress. “This was almost like an intelligence operation,” she says of the timing of the bailout so close to the 2008 election.

The biggest targets are Wall Street firms, as Moore resorts to trying to make a citizen’s arrest of AIG executives and wrapping crime scene tape around the New York Stock Exchange. In remarks to the audience afterward, Moore said that the police were called as he posted the yellow tape around the wrought iron of the exchange, and he feared he’d be run out before they had enough footage. But the first officer told him to take his time. “It’s OK Mike, these guys lost a billion dollars of our pension fund. Take as long as you like,” the officer told him.

Moore drew roaring applause and several standing ovations at the premiere — except for a man who sat behind me. He was not a fan of Moore’s, and even mumbled “commie pig” as the filmmaker took to the stage. He chuckled at scenes of Obama’s election, and clapped at the appearance of Ronald Reagan, depicted as kitschy as ever (with footage supplied, amazingly enough, by the Reagan Library). But the man stayed quiet when the scenes focused on the average Joes, watching the banks take their homes away.

“There’s got to be some kind of rebellion between people who’ve got nothing and people who’ve got it all,” one older man says as he loses his Peoria farm house.

Moore’s most compelling “get” also acts as a rallying point to counter the right’s ability to stir populist emotion. It is footage, long thought lost until Moore’s production staff found it, of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 presenting what he called the “Second Bill of Rights,” guaranteeing economic security via jobs with a living wage, medical care and a home. Roosevelt said: “Unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world.” It’s a well-timed, stirring moment, and as “Capitalism” is released Moore no doubt will be one of the message’s most formidable champions.

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  1. Allym says:

    Lol Kris, guess you’re gonna be waiting forever. Everyone’s in it for themselves. Michael Moore gets his paycheck by taking an extreme stance and stirring up emotion in others.

  2. Nilbud says:

    There seem to be a bunch of posts by right wing simpletons who seem to think that if Michael Moore is fat therefore Capitalism is great. That kind of moronic illogic would only work on the truly inbred and the inbred are already right wing. Your frightened stupidity and crybaby horror that the government could be involved in something shows a lack of understanding and a cowardice which baffle me. Why are all you right wing types so cowardly? Why are you scared of government departments but not department stores? Why do you think the boss of coca cola is a better person than his gardener? You are poor people and you’ll always be poor because unlike Mr. Coca Cola you are stupid and gullible and you didn’t get a real education.

  3. Bobzmcishl says:

    We saw Moore yesterday at Justin Herman Plaza and he gave an excellent extemporaneous speech on the failures of Capitalism and how our American democracy has been despoiled by greed, while our elected representatives left and right stand by and watch the carnage happen. He did make a plea for us citizens to become more involved in shaping our democracy and not just “tweeting” about it. He was as hard on Democrats as Republican’s although he obviously was no big fan of the Bush years. Moore is one of those rare truth tellers who see things as they really are which makes many uncomfortable. He was happy that Obama won the election but not happy with the free pass given Wall Street by the Obama administration and especially not happy with the influence of Goldman Sach’s alumni in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Mr. Moore provided those of us in attendance with a “free lunch” which I appreciated and I viewed it as the symbolic gesture it was meant to represent. SF is a great venue for Michael Moore since it is the current home of Wells Fargo and the former home of BofA while also serving an the epicenter of leftist thought in the United States. It was a great September day in San Francisco and another example of how it really is possible to get free entertainment and a free lunch in one of the greatest cities in the world. I only wish Mr. Moore could have talked longer and I could have nabbed a free ticket to see his movie previewed at the Metreon. Thank you Michael Moore for a great day.

  4. I don’t think the issue is the ability to generate wealth for yourself – the issue is corporations and managers who are so focussed on the bottom line of the P&L statements that they will do anything – including illegal things to make that bottom line look good – fire thousands of people – no problem; outsource entire industries to foreign counties – sure thing – you get slave labour over there; spend millions to convince people here that paying 60,000% markup on a dress is roll-back prices – hey that’s good business; fake the books so that your stock prices go up – hey, who is to know?; create value for things that aren’t even real – how inventive – give that man a million dollar bonus….
    Michael is not the first to look at this problem – and will not be the last. I recommend a quick read of Buckminister Fuller’s small book – “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” – published in 1969.
    He refers to the people described above as “pirates”. He also makes the case that “real wealth” is not created by bankers and capitalists – our economic system is focussed on the wrong things.
    He offers an alternative definition of wealth – “the number of days for a specific number of people we are physically prepared to sustain at a physically stated time and space liberating level of metabolic and metaphysical regeneration.” In other words – a fixation on human things, not fake dollars – giving all the passengers on this spaceship first class accommodations.
    As for “living wage” – why should the wealth of this planet be given only to a few? The pirates would have you believe there is not enough to go around – so there has to be haves and have-nots. Not true.
    I met Bucky once – he spent the entire back end of his life going around the planet telling people this was not so – there was enough wealth on this spaceship to allow everyone to live a higher standard of living than anyone today.
    He even observed that every second of every day there were millions of gas guzzling vehicles stopped at red lights for a few moments. Add up the fuel burnt an ask yourselves the $ required to replace that fuel when all our oil reserves are gone. The number is so astronomical that it would be “cheaper” to hand all those drivers $100,000/yr just to stay home. Sure some of them would vegetate and watch “reality TV” – but some – maybe even the majority would enjoy their lives, contribute to society, learn new things…. being poor doesn’t make you less intelligent or lazy….. working at useless low paying jobs for no particular purpose can kill you.
    Civilizations have failed before us – let’s not let this one fail.

  5. Nik says:

    I love how the most intelligent criticisms use terms like “lard butt”, “retarded”, “mike bloatbag” and quote “morreexposed.com” as an unbiased source. I am prety sure those comments weren’t made by a nonthinking liberal…
    The truth is liberals do think and question, and even stand up for people when they are too ignorant to realze they are being taken advantage of. Thank you Michael for continuing to do this!

  6. James says:

    I wish Americans would actually READ their brilliant constitution (we don’t have one here in New Zealand,and it shows in the advance of depressing socialism)and stand up for the precious freedoms that the Founding fathers fought to leave as your birthright.
    Yours was the first society created on an ideal…that man has a right to exist for his own sake and was not a slave to any one else…be they King or commoner.Sure there were flaws…slavery being the obvious one.but what a shining beacon America became thanks to its ethos of individualism and Capitalism.
    Moore is attacking a strawman “Capitalsim” and in doing so drives another dagger into the heart of what America really is all about…and so many young.naive people will swallow it and never know just what it is they are losing…
    Here is the cure to Moores cancer..
    Quote:…”The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law.
    The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history.
    All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary coexistence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights….”

  7. EvilBankers says:

    Its the USURY stupid. Outlaw “interest payments” (aka usury – evil as old as man) and the problem will go away naturally.

  8. Jesse Perry says:

    To those of you who dislike Moore and or his films – fine to point out where he may be wrong, but are there any valid points that the film makes? (based on what we hear from the reviews anyway)
    Isn’t it a tragedy to allow Billionaires to control the country? Isn’t that also what communist despots do?
    Isn’t it also a tragedy that people who want to provide for their families can’t, simply because working wages are so low?
    Isn’t it despicable hypocrisy that mega-corporations and the Billionaires who own them get a government-funded safety net (bailouts), while opposing such a safety net for individual families?
    I wouldn’t want to be the one defending such immorality. Do you?
    Moore is a sensationalist. Be careful that you don’t confuse the twisted system of modern American style capitalism with your ideals of freedom to pursue your own dreams.

  9. xio says:

    I don’t get the logic here. When you outlaw profit, where will the money come from to pay a “guaranteed livable income”?
    When you destroy the producers, where will the jobs come from that will pay a “guaranteed livable income”?
    Can one of you anti-Capitalists explain this please?

  10. Gary Reasoner says:

    Micahel Moore is a big fat lying capitalist hypocrite!!! Makes money impugning a system that he uses for his own advancement…expecting ignorant rubes to believe what he says, not what he does. Looks like it works…
    When are you idiots going to realize that if the government guarantees everybody an income, then nobody will be well-off except the elite oligarchs that control your wage, and their BFF’s like Moore???? !!!!
    Capitalism, despite it being imperfect, is the ONLY economic engine that actually advances the standard of living of everyone…while ANY form of socialism/communism/Marxism, etc. in all its variations lowers the standard of living of the Proles, while elevating that of the Masters!!!
    Don’t take my word for it, do your own research. I used to be a poor leftist sheep…then I started doing my own research, and now I am a proud, upper-middle-class capitalist!

  11. Kris says:

    I am still waiting for my free ticket to this movie, as I am sure no self respecting hater of capitalism would actually accept money to fatten his pockets at the expense of the working man like my husband, a disabled veteran who works a blue collar, middle class job 13 hours a day. A man who is a child of the very people he claims to fight for, a retired GM union worker.
    So Mike, when can I expect our free tickets? Spread your wealth brother, spread your wealth.

  12. ronfromhollywood says:

    In “Roger & Me”, the premise, was that he never spoke to Roger. He had two interviews! Ask Ralph Nader, the one who supported Michael. Michael is a liar.
    Capitalism works if the government does its job. ENFORCE THE LAWS. Many of these companies, just like govt agencies, are committing crimes. Any crime will make a system not work, even non-judgemental socialist liberalism. The govt is just as corrupt, no initiative and only going after big corporate crimes after the fact.

  13. Pete says:

    Apologies to Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg!! I’m sorry,
    I read the post below yours, that Acoustic Bob wrote!
    Acoustic Bob: What I said before!

  14. Pete says:

    To Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg
    Yes, Michael Moore lives in a multimillion dollar Manhattan home. He also has a multimillion dollar Michigan home. There are likely more.
    Oh yeah, its a fact that he does not allow a union production crew on his films!!!
    He USES the common man! Contrary to Moore’s belief, the common man benefits when a rich capitalist who owns a company can give him a job.
    The alternative to capitalism is bigger government control. Wake up if you think those higher up in government are going to “spread their fat government pension wealth around”, because if you drive out wealth from the private sector, this is your last refuge. None of these big government types like to part with their own money.

  15. Fidel hernandez says:

    I am anxiously waiting for this documentary. I wonder how it will be received here in NYC? There certainly is plenty of poverty to stir-up enough anger!

  16. Laura says:

    From Mooreexposed.com:
    “I’m a millionaire, I’m a multi-millionaire. I’m filthy rich. You know why I’m a multi-millionaire? ‘Cause multi-millions like what I do. That’s pretty good, isn’t it?”
    He lives in a million-dollar apartment, and boasts of that as well. “I walk among them. I live on the island of Manhattan, a three-mile-wide strip of land that is luxury home and corporate suite to America’s elite….. Those who run your life live in my neighborhood. I walk in the streets with them each day” (Michael Moore, Stupid White Men, p. 51). For vacations, he keeps another million-dollar beachfront house in Michigan.
    “You would think that he’s the ultimate common man. But he’s money-obsessed,” said one associate.
    He sends his child to a private school — no sense associating with the working class — and has some trouble associating with them himself. The New York Post reported on a tantrum he threw in London: “Then, on his second-to-last night, [Michael Moore] raged against everyone connected with the Roundhouse and complained that he was being paid a measly $750 a night. ‘He completely lost the plot,’ a member of the stage crew told the London Evening Standard. ‘He stormed around all day screaming at everyone, even the 5 pound-an-hour bar staff, telling them how we were all con men and useless. Then he went on stage and did it in public.’ At his last appearance, staffers refused to work or even open the theater’s doors.” NY Post, Jan. 8, 2003.
    He supplements his meager income with speaking tours. No more $750 gigs; on his 2004 pre-election tour he charged Utah Valley State College $40,000, Xavier $25,000, and University of New Mexico $35,000. Not bad for an hour or two’s work.
    Ah, the joys of capitalism….
    One of his former associates summed him up: ” You would think that he’s the ultimate common man. But he’s money-obsessed.”

  17. Jon says:

    A Gauranteed Income?? Are you kidding me?? That is the dumbest idea EVER. Why even bother trying to excel in anything. America would be like evry other country in the world, dumb and poor and never inventing anything. Liberals are so stupid it is hard ot fathom.
    Micheal Fatass obviously hates this country but he LOVES the millions he makes off the idiots who see his crappy movies. If you want to make money, here is an idea…GET A JOB you lazy liberal puke nazis. And to Moore, I hope a bus hits you.

  18. Brad says:

    Same people wanting a livable wage are the same ones complaining about jobs going overseas. If everyone gets the same wage worldwide, newsflash for you, its going to be less than what you make now. Socialism brings everyone down not everyone up. For every “victim” of capitalism that Michael Moore finds, there are thousands upon thousands that have had their lives much more greatly limited due to socialism. Not to mention the millions and millions killed by the National Socialist Party and Stalin. Let’s do that again…

  19. Brian says:

    Oh god, a “guaranteed income”? You mean, you get paid regardless of whether or not you actually contribute to society??
    Ok great, sure, that means that I can quit my job as a doctor, sit on my ass at home watching tv all day, and the poor schmucks that actually work for a living can take their salaries and pay me to sit around in my underwear.
    Good god liberals don’t think.
    And Fran, please, enough with this “stolen election” crap of 2004. ACORN has proven to the world they stole the 2008 election… what possible evidence do you have that the 2004 election was stolen? Oh thats right, you dont, just another left wing nutter.

  20. Terry says:

    Can everyone in that audience be that blind? Michael Moore is a capitalist. He’s making millions off his movies including this one. What a bunch of morons.

  21. Acoustic Bob says:

    Do you see Michael Moore buying $15 million mansions like the top executives of medical insurance companies, who maximize profits by denying benefits to the “insured?”
    Do you see Michael Moore on anyone’s “Richest People” lists?
    Making movies COST MONEY, lots of it.
    And after “Capitalism,” he will probably lose what little corporate funding he ever had.
    He is entitled to every cent he can get from these films, so he can continue to make more.
    Michael Moore is a hero of the common man.

  22. Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg says:

    “Guaranteed income”? Are you people truly as retarded as you sound?
    Why show up to work? If you do, show up drunk! Screw-off all day & produce NOTHING!
    It’s guaranteed! Wheee!!!!

  23. Peaches says:

    I’ll give up on capitalism when Mikey Bloatbag gives up EVERY LAST DIME of the money he’s earned on his films.

  24. Koblog says:

    Flash! Multimillionaire Michael Moore sells tickets to elitists, rails against making money.

  25. Jay says:

    to nick- have you seen this movie?

  26. Harley2002 says:

    So Lard Butt hates capitalism even though he has made millions from it. By the way how many charities has he set up to help the poor with all his money? What a hypocrite.

  27. Jim says:

    A guaranteed livable income? Why the hell would people bother to go to school and find a job if they knew they were going to get a paycheck from the government for sitting on their ass?
    That idea is trading in the crimes of the few towards the laziness of the masses.
    Freaking hippies.

  28. nick says:

    All I have to say is that if capitalism is so bad, then shouldn’t his movie be free for all to see? Oh thats right, he needs to make money for his work. Isn’t selling something for money called capitalism? Michael Moore is such crock, only he could make a movie that contradicts himself and not even know it- or do you think maybe he does know and makes money off of all the dupes that follow his shit?

  29. fran says:

    Senator Max Baccus has taken big bucks from the health care industry… and why not?.. he has to win his seat. When the digital age came into being? every channel turns into 6.. why can’t the media be required to carry candidates messages free of charge.. to take big money out.. out out out of our election process? Those 5 republicans on the high court? are going to make sure corporations can give millions directly to them bypassing any little non profit or individual trying to know their candidate from their perspective. John Roberts Chief?.. works for corporate interests… from day one. Heaven help us when we have total FASCISM which is capitalism out of control. The poor working man? in our nation? does not stand equal at our ballot box because you see he believes what he sees.. and the big boys know it.

  30. fran says:

    Senator Byron Dorgan wrote a book “reckless” and he states that only 8 Senators voted NO.. to repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act of 1934.. which allowed all the greed on Wall Street. Yes.. even though I voted for President Obama?.. many democrats have a lot to answer for. Go and look up.. those 8 senators who said NO.. to this greed… give them your dollars.. and be grateful for them.

  31. fran says:

    Michael Moore… you are wonderful.. now when are you going to put that film on the screen that you took at the hearing on December 4th, 2004 before the House of Reps. Judiciary Committee hearing held in Columbus, Ohio.. when Clinton Curtis came to testify about the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004?.. You were there.. and your cameras were rolling. Come on Mike. get it in the theaters.. ok?… do us justice. On November 3rd, 2008, another Mike.. Connell gave a deposition to a Judge in Columbus that is sealed up until the trial on the stolen election of 2004. On December 19th? they murdered him. Karl Rove’s computer guru…I have been waiting for a long time.. to see your footage.

  32. Nat says:

    Jennifer, thank you for advocating a guaranteed income. It’s such a powerful idea and we so rarely hear anything about it.

  33. Aletha says:

    “the “Second Bill of Rights,” guaranteeing economic security via jobs with a living wage, medical care and a home.”
    I am Australian and we already have free medical care but I LOVE this second bill of rights, I totally agree with it, everyone on the planet should have a minimum living wage and our contributions to society based on love and passion rather than greed or desperation. I can’t wait to watch this film!

  34. I wish Michael Moore would now make a movie on the simplest solution to social injustice, the one supported by Dr. Martin Luther King: a guaranteed livable income!

  35. I’d say “The Big One” was more of a sequel to “Roger and Me” and that “Capitalism” would be third in the series. But what do I know? I’m unemployed.

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