Marc Cooper finds Michael Moore’s Capitalism muddled

michael moore capitalism a love story

There’s no story line. The citizen’s arrest of a corporation was clever 20 years ago when Moore did Roger and Me but timeworn and predictable now. The economic problems here did not start with Reagan or end with the election of Obama. But most importantly, Moore slams capitalism but offers no solution and doesn’t appear to have even pondered what it could be. That’s what journalist Marc Cooper finds clumsy and muddled about the movie.

If you are going to go to the trouble of making a movie, however clumsily denouncing capitalism per se, it seems to me that you have a responsibility to say what you would like to see in its place. The 800 lb gorilla sitting in every movie theater, naturally, even if unsaid, is the specter of socialism or communism which are assumed by most to be the antithesis of capitalism. Few Americans know the difference between one or another let alone any degrees of shading within the categories. But it’s fair to say that both notion –rightly and wrongly– have a pretty negative connotation amongst most Americans and Moore does himself no good by not addressing that issue head on (I say that as a socialist by the way).

So after getting us all stroked and stoked, what’s Moore’s payoff? How does he answer his own self-posed question as to what capitalism should be replaced by?

“Democracy” is his answer.


It sort of begs the question on behalf of any thinking person if Moore is using that word as a euphemism for some sort of socialism or is he just plain copping out? Hell if I know!

In a word. Muddled. If you’re going to skewer capitalism, then explain what some of the other economic systems are, whether it be the European-style capitalism-socialism mix, actual socialism. or even some of the flavors of anarchism (worker’s council, no State). Also, discuss how what we call capitalism now isn’t anything like what Adam Smith envisioned it as being. Give people an idea what the possibilities are. Don’t just leave them hanging.


  1. Neither you nor Cooper makes movies, and if you did no one would go see them.

    Cooper is a grossly dishonest hack. He writes “My short review is that if Michael Moore could only take himself out of his own films, and maybe even stop directing them, they’d be pretty good”, but then proceeds to criticize Moore for not being a master of economic theory.

    • Cooper’s two points are not mutually exclusive.

      And plenty of other reviewers have said the same about Moore injecting himself into the movie at odd moments hurt rather than helped the point he was making.

  2. From Matt Taibbi

    “But we’re living in a time of extreme crisis almost nothing on TV or in the movies is designed to get us thinking about how to fix our problems. If anything, most of the stuff on TV is designed to jack up our anxiety level without offering any solutions except the short-term fixes of buying and eating — witness the endless reality shows in which ordinary people slave away and scheme against each other for weeks on end for a 1 in 12 shot at a (pick one) modeling job/date with a non-deformed, non serial-killing person/chance to be shouted at by Donald Trump.

    Now that stuff is cynical and monstrous. It is my sincere hope that the people who are producing these programs will someday be tried and executed by war crimes tribunals at the Hague.

    At least Michael Moore is getting us talking about the right topics. And while I get that the right way to start a revolution is not to wildly misinterpret the nature of capitalism in a coffeeshop conversation with Wallace Shawn (whose line about the grabber product was the funniest thing in the movie, by the way), well, it’s not really Michael Moore’s job to start a revolution. He probably thinks it is — and this is that “Atlas” complex fellow True/Slant writer Joseph Childers is talking about — but that’s only because nobody else out there, in the major media at least, is doing a freaking thing.”

  3. Disingenuous Argument. AKA Don’t Shoot the Piano Player. It’s bullshit to suggest a chronicler of the end times engage in snot nosed school yard “if you’re such a smarty pants why don’t you have all the answers” gutter crawling.

    Measure of what we’ve become, “if you’re such a smarty pants why don’t you just hand me the answers?”

  4. What we as a society have lost is our relationships with each other. Corporations do not have the capacity for morality; people do. But morality– a sense that certain behavior is unacceptable– has fallen by the wayside as we know out neighbors less and deal with corporations more.

    Do you know the farmer who grows your food, how many kids he has, what his concerns are? If you’re like 95% of Americans, the answer is no– and moreover the average American doesn’t much care. If you live in the city or the ‘burbs, odds are you don’t know the person who lives two doors down from you– and don’t care to. What’s more, most people like having a Wal-Mart where they can buy goods at prices that don’t include benefit costs for employees. Lots of people liked being able to buy a home with a no-doc mortgage. In that environment, it doesn’t matter what system we adopt– with no sense of responsibility for each other, it’s doomed to fail.

    I haven’t seen the movie (and probably won’t). But I do watch society a lot, and it appears to me that while the corporations were dehumanizing us, we were also dehumanizing each other. And as long as we’ve got a thousand channels to watch, we’re probably not going to do much about it.

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