Capitalism: A Love Story?

Posted by on Oct 14, 2009 in Leadership, Legacy, Life | No Comments

I saw Michael Moore’s latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, on opening day. This was my first viewing of one of his documentaries (I know, I know, the rest are on my list, OK?).

Love him, hate him, or otherwise, I think this is an important film for most everyone to see. The stories are heart-wrenching, in a really good way, and his points are good.

I have two thoughts about it.

First, I’m not sure he’s using the word “capitalism” correctly. Leaving this film I got the impression that Michael equates “capitalism” with “greed, tyranny, and abuse of power.” These can clearly be effects of capitalism (God knows we’ve seen enough of that in the last year), but they are no more defining to the concept than “healthy competition,” or “innovation” — effects of capitalism which allow people to, say, make movies. I don’t have a suggestion for a better title — Ingloriously Greedy Wall Street Basterds has kind of already been taken, and just doesn’t have the same marketable ring — but vilifying the concept of capitalism isn’t exactly fair, either.

In addition, it occurred to me, more than once during the film, that the heinous acts Michael is describing could not have occurred without significant government involvement. To be fair, he actually points this out multiple times… but then stops short of seeing the contradiction in his argument. If government is involved in the ways he says they are, we’re actually not talking about capitalism anymore because the free market has been drastically tampered with.

These two thoughts aside, it is a fantastically enjoyable film.

P.S. The “Cleveland” segment made me laugh so hard I was crying. If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

P.P.S. Here’s a great article by a great author on the subject.

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