Das Kapital: In Colour (A Review of “Capitalism: A Love Story”)

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Northside, Pittsburgh

Hello sweethearts! Urbndervish here.

Last night, eternitysojourner, Uncle Nev and I went to see the latest Michael Moore movie: “Capitalism: A Love Story.” I saw fit to write a review of this movie hoping that our dear readers can gain benefit and insight.

Typical of America’s favourite populist filmmaker, Moore did not pull punches when presenting an expose of the powers-that-be and their cornball antics in pulling the proverbial wool over the American peoples’ eyes. But then again, what else is new?!

I mean do we really expect the participants of a system founded on lies, deceit, murder, and exploitation to be the paragons of virtue?! I think that Mr. Moore’s film served as a much needed reminder to us that The United States of America is better understood if one places an “Inc.” abbreviation after it. From now on, the country formally known as the United States of America should henceforth be labeled: “U.S.A. Inc.”

Moore’s treatment and subsequent challenge of the historical development of capitalism in this country was presented in a way that even a person with a junior high school education could understand. I mean, that has always been the criticism of classical and modern Marxist theory–namely, the complexities of anti-capitalism (albeit socialism, communism, etc.) has always been structured in a language and terminology unbeknownst to the very people that the system claims to speak for: the working-class. Most factory workers and laborers don’t have the time, patience, or prerequisite knowledge to thumb through a Jack Barnes book, for example. However, Michael Moore presents it in a palatable way, complete with a dazzling array of b/w 50’s shorts snippets and bizarre-but-true political footage. He also clarified the meanings of many economic terms that the average person might not know. Nevertheless, he was still unable to get an accurate definition of a “derivative.”

He showed how the executive boards of companies and corporations weaseled their way into the legislative body of this country. Heads of Goldman and Sachs held so much sway in the Congress that they were able to get a Congressional order overturned! Once again, what else is new?!

One criticism of the movie was that one of the biggest illusions that it presented was that the political interests of U.S.A. Inc. only became economically-based after WWII. U.S.A. Inc. was founded on economic principles. The myth of colonists moving here for religious or political freedom has to be put to rest! This contradiction is evident from the meaning of the word “colony” itself! A colony refers to a piece of land in which its natural resources are forcefully extracted and transported to the colonizing country to reap the benefits therefrom. If it is affirmed that U.S.A. Inc. was a colony and that there were colonists, it only logically follows that this country was established based upon a parasitic relationship! Therefore, the image of pious pilgrims sharing a Butterball with the indigenous peoples or the image of political idealists looking to actualize their altruistic ambitions on fresh soil, belongs in the same fantasy closet with the tooth-fairy, Santa Claus, and objectivity. Although, colonization was conducted by a ruling elite and not a corporate class, it nonetheless laid the groundwork for private-owned business to strive off of slave labour and plantation economies.

He also brought to light the sad-but-true travails of every day average Americans who lost their homes, loved ones, and freedoms to a cannibalistic system. He showed one family who lost their home to the sub-prime mortgage scheme. To make matters worse, the bank that evicted them hired them to destroy their own home! The whole family received $1000. Other victims he portrayed were a widow who found out that her husband’s employer claimed themselves as his life insurance beneficiary and received a million dollar checque when he died; and wayward youths who were sent to a private owned juvenile facility, which was owned by a friend of the judge that convicted them. The judge indiscriminately sent youth to this facility for longer than their original sentencing periods–without an appeal–for petty crimes like ridiculing the school’s principal, tossing meat at one’s mom, fighting with one’s best friend, etc. These are all examples of a reality too bitter to be irony!

Yes, you may sense a hint of hostility in my tone. This is because, when I was a Leftist college student, I longed for the day when the 1% corporate elite ruling class would get theirs! At an early stage of my development and identity search, I identified with Marxism and socialism because it presented me with a solution to the dilemma that faced the other 99% of the American population. I remember reading Marx and Gramsci thinking about people like my dad who worked at a factory struggling to make ends meet and maintain his own existence. I didn’t think that it was fair for people like him to struggle while people like the CEO of the factory worked less and made more; tons more! My dad was subjected to harsh chemicals and long hours. Granted, he had a house, a couple of trucks, and his family was fed. But why did he have to struggle so hard for this existence while his boss worked half as long and lived like a fat-cat?! This was too much for me! To me, justice would only be served under a syndicalism that afforded workers the right to not only govern their own affairs but also to govern the affairs of their society.

One thing that Michael Moore emphasized was the difference between capitalism and democracy. This was something that I never thought about previously. Usually, we are taught that the two go hand-in-hand and one cannot have one without the other. However, the contradiction becomes apparent when one looks at the meanings and implications of both terms. Corporate capitalism presupposes the creation of an elite that controls the production of goods and services. It may not have a political system in itself (just as socialism is not a political system, but an economic system), but as the American project shows, it is an economic system that would have political consequences. One modern sage said that if one wants to study politics, one should study economics and if one wants to study economics, one should study politics. This elite then finances the campaigns of those politicians that speaks to their interests. These politicians kowtow to their financiers and before you know it, a democracy becomes a plutocracy. No, this doesn’t refer to the rule of Mickey Mouse’s dog! It refers to the rule of an elite, rich collective. This was evident by one scene in the movie where a corporate head (I forgot his name) stood next to the then President Reagan and told him to speed up his speech! Who tells the “leader of the free world” to “speed it up”?

The power and tentacles of this beast are felt in every place of the globe. One thing that the film didn’t point out was the development of capitalism’s bastard-child, globalism. I guess a man can only do so much in 2 hours!

Consequently, the power of capitalism and globalism has worked to demolish every other system that it encountered! It has even brought the last vestige of Sunni Muslim polity, the Caliphate, to its knees! The monolithic system–the only one that could easily boast that it was the longest lasting system in the world–would eventually succumb to the machinations of international bankers and financiers.

Moore renews the sense of American people-power at the end of his film. He shows the victories of the people over corporations when communities took to the streets and demanded their rights. He also shows that the efforts of workers after a mass-layoff, led to them achieving a victory against their former-employers.

All-in-all, I think that this movie did a good job in presenting the problems of corporate capitalism and the sway that private businesses have over American politics. Moore is optimistic that the American working-class would eventually triumph over their enemies by encouraging unions, collectivism, and civil disobedience. He calls out for help, recognizing the curse of his own celebrite. His call was a desperate plea to infuse hope and action into the American people to return U.S.A. Inc. to U.S.A. B.C.E. (Before Corporate Expansion).

Say what you want about the man; he’s a populist! You can’t fault a man for audacious hope!

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2 thoughts on “Das Kapital: In Colour (A Review of “Capitalism: A Love Story”)

  1. Nice review. I can’t wait to see the film. The solutions that he offered, at least the ones you mentioned, seem to be only minimally effective. What, in your estimation, is a pratical solution. It seems that even our struggle is controlled by the elite.

    P.S.- You need to put this stuff on Facebook!!!

    Dawud

    • salaamz!

      Thanks for your reply!

      As far as a solution to the global domination of capitalism, I can really offer no practical solution other than uprooting the system itself.

      As far as a solution to the social consequences, I think that change should be implemented from the bottom up. I’m not a fan of politics; rather, I have always been an advocate for grassroot efforts. For example, instead of appealing to a pasty-faced, baby-kissing, politician to institute government feeding programmes, citizens should organize food drives and so forth. In other words, don’t depend on the State apparatus to do something that you can do yourself!

      Yeah, in a representative democracy, the presence of an elite is inevitable. We typically elect members of the elite to speak for us. Sometimes they represent our interests; most times, they don’t.

      ~urbndervish

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