Capitalism – A Love Story

18 май, 2012 16:54 | English | Няма коментари

by Gergana Stamenova, UNWE

Michael Moore’s work is one of the most epic love movies ever made, focusing on the sad unrequited love of the poor to an honorable standard of living on one side and the undiminished love of the rich to become richer on the other. The big sarcastic critical story-teller presents to us a kind of modern Cinderella tale, somehow lacking its happy ending and a good fairy, but however expressive enough to show all the dirty work, hopeless dreams and the evil greedy stepmother, who in this version happens to be insanely rich and powerful. And here comes the basic question: what is the moral of the story?
Moore does not present to us a magic cure to the epidemic disease, which he describes, but sure enough, he manages to find the way to shed more light on the symptoms and the urgent need for a change. There always comes a point where unfairness cannot and should not be tolerated any more. The aim of the movie is not to just state how awful system capitalism is and make us all socialists. It is to show that things aren’t supposed to work that way, that there are borders which should not be crossed, no matter how profitable it will be for some to cross them, and that there should not be a price tag on human life and dignity. If justice and understanding do not turn into reality rather than just be some abstract idealistic words, some thrones and pedestals are likely to be shaken.
First of all, as Thomas Malthus states in his essay “On the perfectibility of society” , there is no perfect society, or at the least not in the way we may picture it. It is too idealistic to imagine that someday all will live equally in a utopian midst of plenty, especially today, when we are faced with the unmanageable decrease of the natural resources. The working class is an essential part for the functioning of the society, it has always existed and in the foreseeable future there is no indication for its insufficiency or disappearing, so practically a full equality is not quite achievable. But the strive towards good, honorable standard of living where people get what they deserve for their work and do not have to worry about basic things like food, clothes, healthcare and education is something that should always have to be the primary goal of each society and does not have to be stated in a Bill of Rights for it to become more real. The parallel which Moore draws to ancient Rome with all its disparity, unfairness, cruelty and senselessness is painfully accurate and its future irrelevance is all we can hope for.
Because the problems shown on the movie are real, they are not just empty words, not some annoying whining about how bad things are. Moore speaks in facts even though they are only a tiny little fraction of the ugliness and madness of a system got out of control. It is not my intention to give statistics or present more fact than Moore does to show how big the wound on society is, he does it well enough not only to raise people’s awareness but inspire them to act. Of course, watching a 2-hour movie will not make any viewer a political analyst or economist, there is much more to be understood, examined, learned and respectively fixed. But the very existing of movies like this ( and like for example Zeitgeist, Fahrenheit 9/11, Inside job and so on) is a clear indicator that the vicious ‘theftism’ in which politicians and bankers are getting more and more involved shall not go unnoticed, this existence is the initial whisper, which may someday become the scream of the “peasants” which are not dead but willing to stand for their rights. The ‘’Y’’ should not be crossed out from the statement ‘’the world is Yours”.
As I mentioned, above all, this is a story about love. Rich people fell in love with the idea of becoming richer by abusing the rights of the others, making money out of nothing, gambling and cheating, using complicated derivatives, swaps, transitions and countless other vicious schemes. And the government gently and benevolently supported this pure love by removing all the obstacles (regulations) which were standing in its way. This created a bubble. The bubble exploded. World went in crises. The culprits got bonuses. Simple and beautiful- love of a lifetime. And the best thing is that there is no current indication of its end. Such a respectful persistence!
It is really a scary thought that all the insane practices are still going on, that many of the people responsible for the crisis are still working for the US government and perhaps got even more power. Who’s there to tell them to stop?
In 1992 a 12-year old Canadian girl gave a beautiful speech to the United Nations. Her words there and the position from which she was telling them were inspiring. She talked about the brighter future for the kids, about responsibility, honor, compassion and all other beautiful things; she gave the big guys an important life lesson. Or at least she tried. I am only sure that the CEO-s of America do not watch this speech during their breakfasts in their million-dollar houses and do not print it under the contracts they sign. But, however, let’s get out of their houses for now and go to the poor people for a while.
First of all, they actually do not own theirs. They are more beneficent if they live on rent. As John Adams once said, there are two ways to enslave a country, one is by sword, and the other is by debt. And that’s exactly what is being done, both in the international and the domestic policy. So what if a home is foreclosed in America every seven seconds and a half, this will not be measured in GDP and will not make some rich guy poorer. It will just keep others working even harder in order not to lose their house too. Such a beautiful order! Now here comes the question, why does Cinderella keeps exhausting and humiliating herself to death while her stepmother goes to balls?
The answer can be summed up in one word only – the carrot. People have this peculiar quality to never lose hope, no matter what happens. And no matter how motivating and inspiring hope is sometimes, in some cases it proves to be destructive. Because if one thing is hopeless, it is the expectation that the greedy will magically decide to become generous and stop robbing people. A Margaret Weis’ quote is very likely to be relevant here. “Hope is the denial of reality. It is the carrot dangled before the draft horse to keep him plodding along in a vain attempt to reach it.“ So it high time for people not to stop hoping but to open their eyes and stop following a never-reaching carrot while some 1% of the others are eating all the other carrots and throw the left outs at them.
Unfortunately sometimes it is hard to walk with eyes wide open. There is now no one like Jonas Salk anymore to come and cure our society. Even Moore, with all his comparatively high awareness, a big dose of criticism, innovative ideas and desire to arrest some of the most powerful men in the United States, does not have all the answers. So what is there to be done to lead people out of the vicious cycles and sand foundations of the economy? When there will be what to pledge allegiance to and be proud of, and wrong answers will not be considered right only because they serve someone’s interest? These are only part of the questions which Moore raises. Because no system is intended to be harmful and destructive in its essence, the ideas of capitalism seem pure in their original intention and meaning, but people have this tendency to twist? misinterpret and spoil things and bring the worst out of them until they cross all reasonable borders. Bolshevism was the borderless destructive child of communism and what is to happen with capitalism if its ideas keep on being exploited and destroyed? It’s what happens when a tool is used for a weapon. Some parts of society have always been greedy, abusive and power-seeking, but this should not be legalized and encouraged, frauds should not turn into practices, if not for some virtuous compassionate reasons, for the sake of the prevention of the burst of the another bubble which seem to be growing. The next crisis might be too severe and irreversible to allow bonuses and exceptions for anyone. People have never reached such level of progress and knowledge, but they need to learn how to handle them. It seems that many of the people with power nowadays are like children playing with a new toy; they know it is shiny and nice and want to play with it as much as they can, but toys break. And we cannot place a tag ‘’not suitable for men not responsible and mature enough to know how to handle it” on power, as we use tags on toys. So this results in some other tags, price tags, on our homes, hopes and lives. And no matter what political regime it is or who is in power, these things are neither for sale, nor a subject to an auction. So the next time someone starts wondering who will get the larger piece of the pie, he may rather ask himself, who will choke with it first.
All in all, there are many interpretations of what has happened with American capitalism, which president, which policy contributed most to the absurd situation nowadays, if it wasn’t for the financial system shifting during the 70s-80s would it be different now and so on and so on, countless unanswerable ifs. But at the end of the day all statistics and endless discussions become irrelevant, Cinderella obediently cleans up the mess, secretly hoping for a better life and her stepmother is somewhere lost in her thoughts, lonely frustration and greed. But somewhere in the distance there might be a happy ending, there might be a good fairy, in case Cinderella is ready for it, to fight for it and cleans the dust off herself. Until then, the love story continues ardently. Happily movies like Michael Moor’s will at least to some extent try to lead the way out and show the urgent need of some decent “Happily Ever After”.

The End. (Or to be continued)

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