Capitalism: A Hate Crime

Michael Moore

Despite being released in 2009, we’ve only just got around to watching Moore’s latest polemic (Capitalism, A Love Story), which is perhaps his most overtly political film yet. Moore is routinely criticised for over-simplifying issues, not backing up all his points with rigorous research, narcissism and plain old-fashioned partisan politics. While many of these criticisms are often true of his work, that is not why he is routinely criticised. It is because he is a genuine threat to those in power. He speaks emotionally in plain English about important issues and encourages people to stand up for themselves. This is why he receives so much flack. His latest film is hard to criticise on these grounds as it is much more thoroughly researched than previous outings and goes straight for the jugular. Capitalism itself.

There is often something rather jarring about Moore’s documentaries. Unlike much mass-media produced treatise on the structures we call society, Moore’s offerings are ribboned with emotion and dramatic protest that can sometimes seem circus-like, theatrical. ‘Capitalism, A love story’, is in some ways no exception, with Moore playing at performing a citizen’s arrest and draping police tape around major banks. But there is also a simple and hard-hitting breakdown of the facts around global financial crisis, accompanied by archive footage, and a rather predictable yet occasionally effective soundtrack. The call-to-arms here seems a lot more tangible. The disgust you are lead to feel in the plight of families evicted from their homes, at children jailed by a for-profit prison system, is counteracted by pure elation at the footage of strike action at Republic Windows and Doors, and at a community whose peaceful action supported an evicted family squatting their own home.

While I agree that Moore can be a little crass, the accusations of manipulation by the right are utterly laughable. What Moore does (and what the right fears) is to simplify and explain the means by which the super-rich are managing to routinely rob the 95% of the population with little economic power. A good analogy for the way in which the public are usually systematically obfuscated by the financial elite is the formula shown in the documentary for ‘derivatives’. The muddier the explanation for financial catastrophe, the easier it is for those in power to capitalise and exploit the rest of us for their own profit. Moore clears the waters for us, and what strikes me time and time again is how blatant the robbery of the working class has become. This so-called recession amounts to the biggest heist of public money in recorded history, and so far the thieves have gotten away with it.

One point the film makes very well is that we do not live in a democracy, and cannot while the world is still run from Wall Street. Moore talks with Democrat senators who feel that what took place was a “financial coup d’etat”, where power was irrevocably shifted from elected representatives to the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions, by the back door. This is backed up by good evidence. When our governments’ now talk about budget deficits they neglect to mention how much of OUR money they “gave” to the banks. They suggest that these current times of austerity are somehow OUR responsibility, and we must take these CUTS to our vital front line services on the chin, like good loyal citizens to the church of capitalism, and sit by and watch as our most precious institutions are dismantled in the name of efficiency, while private companies rake in the profits.

Yet again we sit in the aftermath of another depressing expose of the system that robs us of our wealth and opportunity. We write in the wake of yet more cuts to services, including proposed cuts to legal aid, a 30% cut for NHS cancer scans, 25% youth unemployment… the list is endless. It is very difficult not to get despondent in the face of all this, difficult not to either block our disgust with distraction- or even give up completely and attempt to suck at the sour teat of the system as if there is no choice or escape. But not so. A point which drove these almost invariably united authors to heated debate was the idea that there is nothing left to do in the face of all this save violent revolution, a forced seizure of what rightly belongs to the people of this planet for the benefit of all. Yet look again… all of the successful protest portrayed within this documentary was peaceful, and a good reminder of the most powerful weapon we have- the right to withhold labour. Without our continued co-operation, this parasitic system can, and WILL fail. Let us not be complacent. We have a responsibility to each other, and the more of us care to remember that, the less powerful that top 1% can be.

Micolagist & Floatfly

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Why 10 O’Clock Live is Important

10 O'Clock Left

Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live has been the subject of much criticism, some of it justifable, some of it not. I’m not writing this to defend the show because I think it is perfect, I’m defending it because I think it is sorely needed.

Christopher Hooton of the Metro has commented that the show is “as overtly partisan as Fox News.” I wonder which party Hooton believes the show is Partisan to? It is heavily critical of all the major political parties as far as I can see. I suspect he is deriding the show for being overtly left-wing – a horrible sin as that may be, comparing the show in any way to Fox News is obscene bullshit.

It pisses me off when people equate a bias for the left with a bias for the right. These are not equal, comparable opposite ends of a single political continuum as some would like to have us believe. The right serves to protect the status quo, the hidden agenda is exploitation. Extreme right wing views are often moral perversions born of fear. Fear of change, fear of outsiders, fear of losing material possessions or status. They come from self-interest, patriotism and nostalgia. People who harbour right-wing views tend to want to preserve privilege and protect the inequality of capitalism.

People who sympathise with left-wing idealogies are not immune from self-interest, they are not saints and they certainly aren’t always right. But their ideas come from a desire to make the world fairer – their hearts are in a more altruistic place. So when someone says that something has a left-wing bias as some sort of a criticism, I can only assume that they are a cunt. Balance in this case is an illusion – and frankly impossible. The news is biased to the right, most newspapers are biased to the right, most political parties are biased to the right, and are there to preserve the status quo… so when something comes along that isn’t, I say, well, good. About fucking time, in fact.

10 O’Clock live is biased to the left. Great.

The program has also been criticised from the left – for not being left enough, for being too soft on certain issues, and missing opportunities to give people who deserve it, a good grilling. For example, the interview with Alastair Campbell in Episode 2 of the first series was painful to watch, as David Mitchell was obviously in awe of him, and seemed unable to take command of the situation, ask any pertinant questions, or hold him to account in any way. This isn’t that surprising though. David Mitchell is a comedian (albeit a politicially astute one), and Campbell was the UK’s Spin Doctor in Chief – not a fair fight.

To those on the left who criticise this show, I say, give it chance. Hopefully it will get a second series and continue to mature into a quality vehicle for political satire. In Tory Britian (sorry, Coalition Britain… pfft), we need a mainstream left-wing voice that is actually heard by people in their living rooms. People saying these important things in an inclusive, funny way that is accessible and entertaining – and this show does just that. If you want to keep your left wing views undiluted and pure in your little middle class left-wing clique, you may as well surrender this country to the fuckers who want to carve it up, and sell it off in bits, to their friends, for a tidy profit.

Most importantly 10 O’Clock Live is hilarious. David Mitchell is in his element – self-indulgent ranting that is cheered because it is heart-felt – often you can’t even be arsed to listen, the guy is so verbose, but you know it was probably fucking excellent. Charlie Brooker has shit hair, but who cares, the man is a miserablist genius. Jimmy Car is much funnier than I ever thought he could be and even Lauren Lavern is getting better.

So long may it continue. We need it in these dark times.