Thursday, September 17, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story - Remembering September 2008 (Part 1 of 3)

Michael Moore's new movie title (watch the Trailer on Youtube - over 1/2 mil views) is not as innocent as it seems. This is no love story. It is to be expected as he is known for his wacky approach in telling a story on his own terms. His other movies include Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Bowling for Columbine in which he won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for in 2002.

“Capitalism: A Love Story,” just premiered at the Venice film festival on the 6th of September and will be released 2nd October. The movie placed in its context no doubt is a very hard dig at the collapsed of Fannie Mae, Lehman, AIG etc on September 2008. According to Reuters the main thrust of the story is "capitalism is evil".

It detailed Moore's attack on the "capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty. The bad guys in Moore’s mind are big banks and hedge funds which “gambled” investors’ money in complex derivatives that few, if any, really understood and which belonged in the casino. Meanwhile, large companies have been prepared to lay off thousands of staff despite boasting record profits."

What is "capitalism"? A common definition I learned in school declared, "Capitalism is a system, individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control. The function of regulating the economy is then achieved mainly through the operation of market forces where prices and profit dictate where and how resources are used and allocated."
The world has been enamoured by capitalism for more than 200 years since the collapse of feudalism. Some may argue it goes back even further. John Locke first advanced the term "property" (where capitalism may be able to trace its roots) indicating that it is a natural right of the subjects and the government cannot dispose of that property arbitrarily.

Those who watch (many of us) Hollywood movies/TV we will encounter this scene at least once. A snarling man with a shotgun hissing meancingly, "Get off my property!" And mind you "property" is not just physical and material stuff! It also applies to the intangibles! Patents, individuality, thoughts, beliefs, ambitions ....
Needless to say many of us are born, bred and full-blooded capitalist and by extension believe in the reward for our work (physical or knowledge). And by further extension a proponent of free trade and free market. We believe in competition and markets forces of demand and supply.

But then this capitalistic ideology that had served the modern man so well has been de-stablilised. The statistics seem showed the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening. The powerful capitalist seems to be unrestrained. Even former President George W. Bush had asked business leaders to define the government rather than the other way round.

And the Michael Moore's in many of the "victims" demanded action. The balancing act is on. President Bush intervened at the very last quarter of his term letting Lehman died a painful death (many Singapore and Hong Kong investors were stuck with useless investments) while AIG was too big to be allowed to collapse. New slogans were borne in that moment of crisis: "Wall St. needs adult supervision" and the bailout created cries of the ordinary suffering folks that "Its the Main St. that needs help not Wall St." And that's where Michael Moore took umbrage. This will be one explosive expose!

7 comments:

Life for Beginners said...

Michael Moore actually said this might be his last documentary cos no one besides him and a few others are taking action on it. *sighs*

Selba said...

Sounds interesting... though I don't really understand, perhaps I should watch it :)

550ml jar of faith @minchow said...

Capitalism isn't perfect, and it's muddling how there hasn't been a more compelling counter. Socialism, for all its attractive ideals, means we have to contend with govt controlling the market... which usually means we are eventually at the mercies of individuals who may eventually succumb to corruption. Still waiting for a solution that's middle of the road and suspect I won't see it this lifetime.

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Christine said...

I've actually read a whole piece written about how the recent economix collapse is fueled by the capitalistic, hoarding mentality of the super rich, hence decreasing the circulation of money down to the laypeople hence causing a problem to national cash flow.

Pretty thought provoking stuff. Certain para-socialist governments in the Nordic region seems to be doing pretty well though despite certain problems but still a lot better then some of the so-called capitalistic countries.

CUMI & CIKI said...

have to catch this;)

worldwindows said...

LfB... Have not heard that. He will continue me thinks. Nothing breeds big ambition like success.

Selba... Governing and ideologies? I prefer to eat.

Faith... Capitalism may be the best now until something better comes along.

ReenaC... Great to read your posts.

Christine... Obama is called a socialist by bringing in the government. Europe is more socialist than USA, I thought.

CampC... Waiting....