Saturday, February 27, 2010

Capitalism: A Dirty Word

Three of us went last night to see Michael Moore's latest film Capitalism: A Love Story at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. It was less than half full with only 30 others there.

The film does contribute to helping make "capitalism" a dirty word, but that's about it. Capitalism is defined, as by its supporters, are "free enterprise", "profit" and "competition" and the worst excesses of the unregulated competitive pursuit of profits by private corporations are exposed. But the analysis is weak : that things weren't going too badly -- workers had steady jobs and were able to adopt a "middle class" lifestyle -- until Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980 and financial deregulation was introduced and started a feeding frenzy by financial institutions that eventually led to the crash of 2008. It's basically an attack on Wall Street and the New York banks on behalf of blue-collar workers. Moore denounces "capitalism" as being against both the "American value" of democracy and the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. As a solution he offers worker-run co-operatives and a Europe-style "Welfare State" (which the film naively claims would have been introduced in America if Roosevelt hadn't died in 1945).

Still we mustn't be too churlish and it can't be a bad thing that capitalism is becoming a dirty word even in America. It deserves to be. Let's hope that the film encourages people to look further into what capitalism is and find out how it can never work, or be made to work, in the interest of the majority class of wage and salary workers. And that socialism, not welfare capitalism, is the way out. Hopefully the leaflet we handed out and left lying around will help towards this.

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