Michael Moore has produced one of the greatest movie values ever to grace the silver screen. For the mere price of a theater ticket you discover that it is Capitalism that has caused the ills that have corrupted American society. What philosophers have missed for hundreds of years Moore can indoctrinate teach you in only 127 minutes.
The film begins with an old newsreel clip outlining the events that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Weaving the visual imagery with his consoling vocal tones, he creates a historical context that for the unsophisticated appears credible. As the film picks up speed what you begin to see is that Moore is not just making a political statement, he is espousing a worldview.
In Moore’s world, Christianity plays a very prominent role. His worldview, however, is not distinctly Christian. Moore dilutes, and even bludgeons Christianity with leftist, socio-political ideology. This gets very convoluted especially when he uses Scripture, the Catholic Church, and even Christ to assert that Capitalism is by nature inherently evil. Moore’s assertions couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no scriptural mandate against wealth, private property, or Capitalism. It is disturbing how Moore manages to leave such obvious truths out of his narrative.
For all of the many omissions that Moore makes, the greatest of these is his omission of sin. This is without question the fundamental flaw of the film. Moore lays the blame for the corruption of western society at the feet of Capitalism. This is extremely naive and intellectually dishonest. Capitalism is no more culpable for corruption than chocolate is culpable for obesity. It is ironic that Moore goes to such great detail to portray human beings as victims of corruption while simultaneously eliminating humanity from the cause of the corruption. This sort of philosophical evasion enables Moore to spend the bulk of the film fashioning Capitalism as a straw man.
In addition to the glaring philosophical misrepresentations and omissions there are a myriad of cultural and historical references take out of context. Here are a few examples:
- Moore asserts that after World War 2, the United States enjoyed a unfair auto industry trade advantage because of the intentional destruction of German and Japanese factories.
- Moore paints President Ronald Reagan as a spokes-model for corporate greed completely ignoring his role in bringing an end to the repressive Soviet regime.
- He asserts that by collusive action Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sought to force the elderly from their homes.
- He documents with great detail the sub-prime mortgage meltdown without even one reference to the detrimental effects of the Community Reinvestment Act or the calls by President Bush and others to reign in the egregious lending practices.
- Moore portrays the democrats in the House and Senate as being the primary opposition to the bank bailouts while ignoring the fact that democrats Pelosi and Reid were two of its main proponents.
So if Capitalism is the problem, what does Moore offer as a solution? In Moore’s narrative the only way to end the corruption and misery is to return America to its more democratic roots. Moore’s nostalgia for democracy is both misguided and uninformed. He never once cites the fact that America never was or has been a democracy but a republic. He also attempts to appeal to some sense of worker equality that smacks of communism and is quite frankly untenable. Moore portrays his vision of America by playing a newsreel of President Franklin Roosevelt calling for a second bill of rights that would guarantee a job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education, and recreation. According to philosopher Richard Weaver, Moore’s vision is fundamentally flawed because,
“Nothing but a despotism could enforce anything so unrealistc, and this explains why modern governments dedicated to this program have become, under one guise and another, despotic.”
- from Ideas Have Consequences
This might explain, however, Moore’s fascination with and admiration for Castro’s paradise.
Moore’s film, however, is not devoid of merit. He rightfully demonstrates that there are tragic cases where greed and corruption have ruined peoples lives. He also correctly asserts that bailing out investments banks with taxpayer dollars was a huge mistake for which many republicans and democrats alike must share the blame. Its extremely vexing that in order to get these few nuggets of truth you have to sit through a morass of inaccuracy, distortion and fabrication. The greatest tragedy of Capitalism: A Love Story is that where Moore could have used his talents to further the work of the Church and assist the less fortunate, he uses them promulgate his own warped worldview.