“Where is our money?”

High credits, but nothing in the bank, contradictions left out: Michael Moore’s new film "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Financial Crisis for Twelve-Year-Olds: A Gloomy Doomsday Scenario about the Past and Present of the Financial Industry, especially about the 2008 Banking Crisis, its Background and a "hidden coup d’etat" in the attempts of its solution. The most explosive information is, as always with Michael Moore, well hidden: More than anything else, the reminder that between 1936 and 1981, at the time of the rough prosperity of the U.S. in the 50s, higher incomes were taxed with never less than 70, in some cases with up to 94 percent, baffles!

clip from the trailer

Spoiler: Michael Moore is against capitalism! Wow!! The news of the day!!! The American left-wing populist, who at least looks more like the capitalists in the cinema of the Weimar Republic, has really fooled us. Is his latest film, which has just premiered at the Venice Film Festival, still called: "Capitalism: A Love Story". But it can only be a bitterly exchanged love. For as bright as the flash of lightning at the premiere, as dark the film is.

After an amusing opening credits stringing together short surveillance camera footage taken from bank robberies, Moore begins with images from ancient Rome. Ancient Rome, why did it fall?, is his traditional question. There is talk of a slave state, of Caesarism, of decadence – but Moore still thinks he has to express the parallel to Bush in the form of parallel-cut images so that everyone will understand.

"Capitalism: A Love Story" is basically a gloomy doomsday scenario, in which Moore, in his usual manner, mixes up completely incoherent but interesting facts on his topic, then relates them to partly well-known, partly really quite original theories and ideas on how to change the whole misery. Then declares grassroots and insurgent optimism the solution to all problems. Once Moore succeeds in the paradox of showing a rather depressing picture – but in the good-humored tone of a propaganda film, and connected with the call for revolution.

First act: Phanomenology of capitalism in its consequences

To illustrate his panorama, Moore cites various examples of the decline of the U.S. economy and the creeping dispossession of its citizens: He shows people being evicted from their homes as a result of excessive debt. In Moore’s film, only those who make the loans are responsible for them, never those who take them. Of course, excessive interest rates are immoral, hidden interest rates are a crime, even if they are legally legal in the fine print. But do people who go into debt, who borrow and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars when they can at best pay back a few hundred dollars a month, not in any way share the blame for their situation?? Moore doesn’t seem to think so, but he doesn’t argue against it, he doesn’t raise this question at all. And this is annoying, not least because with such a simplistic approach he weakens much of what is important, good and interesting about his film.

Excerpt from the trailer

Moore shows people complaining: "There is no in between – people who have it all and people who have got nothing." This is true, but it is not deepened by discourses about justice and social balance. It is also manipulative in its cheap sentimentality.

Moore shows a privatized juvenile detention center that is primarily a business for its owners, which is why they bribed the local judge to get as many cell supplies as possible. The event has been cleared up and the judge has been punished for a long time – but this is not an isolated case, Moore suggests plausibly, but completely without evidence.

Moore shows plane crashes and overtaxed pilots. Moore shows how companies take out life insurance on their employees, which then benefits them. With the death of their employees, the companies make more money than they earn with their work. This phanomenology of capitalism in its consequences forms, so to speak, the first act of the film.

Act Two: The Gentle Funnies

The second act is a fairy tale journey back into history. In the fifties, when Moore’s father still worked at General Motors and little Michael wanted to become a priest, everything was already good in America. Beethoven 9th symphony, fourth movement, but not "Joy of the gods", but the passages before, underline the pictures of an all-around happy consumer society in Eisenhower times. People had secure jobs, four weeks of paid vacation a year, and only one money earner per family, but lots of children.

Moore did not need to paint such a cheerful picture, in which neither McCarthy nor the Cold War are mentioned, let alone the war in Korea, in which Vietnam and other unpleasant things are only touched upon in passing. Because this passage contains perhaps the most explosive information of the entire film: between 1936 and 1981, at the time of the rough prosperity of the U.S., the tax on higher incomes (income tax) was never less than 70, in some cases up to 94 percent, extremely high compared to the present day. No wonder that the state had enough money and could promise prosperity for all.

The contradiction that lies in this cheerful picture is unfortunately left out: Does Moore want to go back to the 50s?? There were also conditions for this beautiful serene Flintstone idyll: exploitation, colonialism, imperialism, Cold War. Here, too, the film is sillier than it had to be. And should.

Excerpt from the trailer

Then Beethoven is replaced by Orff’s "Carmina Burana" a music that is preferably used to illustrate hell and the end of the world. Appearance: Ronald Reagan. The villain who lowered taxes. A puppet of the financial industry, a servant in the hands of his finance minister and chief of staff Don Regan. hypnotic images, accompanied by Hitchcock music by Bernard Herman.

In this black and white style it continues. Again and again you see some wicked financial sharks, then people crying. Citigroup publishes its paper railing against democracy and for a "plutonomy" and "new aristocracy" rages. Then it’s the turn of the priests. priests say: "Capitalism is a sin!", "Capitalism is evil!", "Capitalism is against the holy books!" Then it is not bad to divide the world into good and bad.

Of course, Moore could always find five priests preaching for capitalism, branding anti-capitalism as a sin, celebrating the stock market as a gift from God, and even naming the exact biblical passage in which Jesus calls for the introduction of derivatives. That perhaps the departure from religio-structured thinking, that an end to political Manichaism could be a step for the better, on the other hand, never seems to occur to Moore. Instead, Moore exposes himself here more than ever as a religious nutcase, as simply a differently polarized cousin of George W. Bush, who simply packages different content in similar chiliastic structures. A pre-modern sectarian.

He also contradicts himself: a few minutes into his sermon, when he talks about democracy in business, he presents a model company in terms of equal pay, and then concludes: "They end up making more money." Is it therefore about? Is capitalism good, if only it works properly, you just have to make it better? At least the answer to this question should be demanded from Moore.

Act Three: The 2008 Banking Crisis

But the central theme is the banking crisis of 2008. In October 2008, legislation was passed in the U.S. Congress to make the government liable for Wall Street’s debts. The democrats love to get carried away. The result: "a kind of hidden coup d’etat" is Moore’s conclusion, flanked by a few Democratic congressmen.

Excerpt from the trailer

Moore names the culprits, such as Senator Christopher Dodd, recalls the "Saving and Loans scandal" of the eighties, and asks: who got rich? Answer: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Timothy F. Geithner. All close to the Democratic Party and the Clinton administration. All of today’s influential advisors, respectively. in the case of Geithner Treasury Secretary of the Obama administration. All close to Goldman Sachs Bank. In Moore’s case the "Government Goldman" the speech. Robert Rubin was also for years in the service of Citigroup – we remember: the bank of the new aristocrats. As Treasury Secretary, Rubin facilitated the merger of credit and investment banks by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, thus enabling not only the founding of Citigroup, but also the banking crisis. "Government Goldman" – It is also worth mentioning that Goldman Sachs was the main financier of Obama’s campaign. So is there a crude puppet master here as well? Moore does not ask this question.

The Enemies: Manchester Capitalism and Neoliberalism

Instead, he concludes that capitalism is somehow un-Christian and un-American, and walks up and down in front of banks in feel-good passages at the end of the film, asking: "Where’s our money?"

While this is all now focused on America – but to Moore’s credit, it’s fair to ame that this is all meant as an example. Was Moore, with a similar combination of curiosity and sense of mission, allowed to pay off in Germany from Abwrackpramie, Commerzbank entry, and guarantees for insolvent companies, was he allowed to investigate politics and the interconnections of government politicians. In terms of content, however, his film is not an attack on the model of Rhenish capitalism for which the Grand Coalition stands, but on Manchester capitalism and neoliberalism as represented by the FDP.

Moore, who in the good-humored entertainment tone of a propaganda film combines his depressive image with the powerful joyful message that change is possible, was sure to be applauded in Venice – style and film art that is exhausting for the broad public do not bother the American documentary star very much, no one in attendance was really stepped on, and the grassroots and civil uprising optimism that is supposed to be the solution to all problems in the film was in any case likeable.

In an interview Moore later said that he had made some scenes of the film only for one person… Meaningful silence…: for President Obama. Which scenes it would be? The about its finance minister. The one about Goldman-Sachs. Obama will certainly have learned something new? Gee, Michael, if he’d known about this earlier. "Obama and me"- that is the secret title of this and the coming films of Michael Moore. We can still look forward to many things. And there we are – sympathy or arguments – back to ancient Rome, where hubris is not far away from Caesarism.

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