'Capitalism: A Love Story'

Michael Moore’s latest film

On The Aisle

By Tony Macklin

Michael Moore titled his most recent film “Capitalism: A Love Story,” probably because in capitalism you never have to say you’re sorry.

And Moore never says he’s sorry as he trashes capitalism in America.

An assault on banks probably could unite both the right and the left. Both are outraged about what greed and craven self-absorption have wrought in modern America. But the right still worships capitalism. Moore doesn’t.

Many want revolutionary changes, but they don’t want a revolution. Most people just want to straighten out capitalism; Moore wants to kill it.

Moore — part Howard Beale, part Don Quixote — stands on Wall Street yelling “citizen’s arrest” and unraveling a yellow crime scene tape in front of a bank.

In his ever-present baseball cap — part schlep, part braying jester, part knight errant — Moore is on a quest.

The holy grail has become the holy bailout. There are no stables on Wall Street.

Much of Moore’s mission is a religious quest. Raised a Roman Catholic, at one time Moore thought he might become a priest, because of the clergy who were activists for social justice.

In “Capitalism: A Love Story,” Moore interviews two priests. One married him and his wife; the other married his brother and his wife. Both priests think capitalism is sinful, an “evil.”

Moore shows the Bishop of Chicago coming to a window company where fired workers are staging a sit-in trying to get paid back wages they have earned but which the bank has refused to pay. He gives the Catholics communion. It harkens back to previous religious involvement.

Moore also is on a familial journey. With his aged father he visits the site where a factory in Flint, Mich., once stood. His dad’s best memory is of the “good” people with whom he worked for more than 30 years. The site is now razed and desolate.

Who is to blame for the economic blight America faces? Moore has his usual targets, Reagan and GW. But he also targets Democrats, Clinton, et al. He shows Chris Dodd as a hypocrite who got a sweetheart deal and then railed against such favoritism, and Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Secretary of Usury, whom he portrays as a callow loser.

There is depressing information in “Capitalism: A Love Story.” The material about the plight of pilots with the heroic Sully Sullenberger testifying to the Senate about the lack of pay and security for pilots is shocking. But the Senate seems uninterested. They prefer photo ops.

The revelation of the widespread corporate policy of taking out insurance policies on workers for the company’s benefit, with none going to the families, also is depressing.

“Capitalism: A Love Story” will inform, but I doubt whether it will convince. Capitalism is a well entrenched religion. We live in a society in which hordes of people fervently vote against their own interests.

Moore is not interested in today’s emphasis on “balance.” He is willing to hear from the other side, but unlike most of the media today he does not make their argument for them.

The concept of “balance” has nearly destroyed knowledge in contemporary society. Don’t balance knowledgeable opinion with stupid opinion. They aren’t equal. A person who has read one book probably is not equal with a person who’s read a thousand books.

A thinking man knows that an honest opinion may be stupid. A thinking man knows that there is a very thin line between faith and ignorance.

One of my great frustrations is the realization that people will pass on never knowing how wrong they were. What’s become of the Zeus believers? Did they ever find out?

I’m a lousy capitalist. I’ve never done anything for money. I even do this column gratis. I’m not sure a teacher of humanities can be a committed capitalist. But radio show hosts surely can.

Moore is a man on a mission. It’s not windmills he’s trying to topple. It’s institutions and corporations. It’s venal sensibilities and a way of life.

Like Rush Limbaugh on the other side, Moore is trying to rally the troops. He wants to be Hal, but more often he’s Falstaff. Limbaugh is Caliban.

“Capitalism: A Love Story” is really about the colliding worlds of Moore and Limbaugh. They are like Shakespearean lovers from different worlds. It is a story of unrequited love.

Other potential love stories: Obermann and O’Reilly, Hannity and Rachel, Beck and himself. The unrequited love will never end.

Categories: Entertainment