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Capitalism is evil. That is the conclusion U.S. documentary maker Michael Moore comes to in his latest movie “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which premieres at the Venice film festival.
Blending his trademark humor with tragic individual stories, archive footage and publicity stunts, the 55-year-old launches an all out attack on the capitalist system, arguing that it benefits the rich and condemns millions to poverty.
“Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil,” the two-hour movie concludes.
“You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people and that something is democracy.”
The bad guys in Moore’s mind are big banks and hedge funds which “gambled” investors’ money in complex derivatives that few, if any, really understood and which belonged in the casino.
Meanwhile, large companies have been prepared to lay off thousands of staff despite boasting record profits.
The filmmaker also sees an uncomfortably close relationship between banks, politicians and U.S. Treasury officials, meaning that regulation has been changed to favor the few on Wall Street rather than the many on Main Street.
He says that by encouraging Americans to borrow against the value of their homes, businesses created the conditions that led to the crisis, and with it homelessness and unemployment.
Moore even features priests who say capitalism is anti-Christian by failing to protect the poor.
“Essentially we have a law which says gambling is illegal but we’ve allowed Wall Street to do this and they’ve played with people’s money and taken it into these crazy areas of derivatives,” Moore told an audience in Venice.
“They need more than just regulation. We need to structure ourselves differently in order to create finance and money, support for jobs, businesses, etc.”
Amid the gloom, Moore detects the beginnings of a popular movement against unbridled capitalism, and believes President Barack Obama’s rise to power may bolster it.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event,” he told a news conference. “If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy. So Obama will rise or fall based not so much on what he does but on what we do to support him.”
Moore also warned other countries around the world against following the recent U.S. economic and political model.
The film follows factory workers who stage a sit-in at a Chicago glass factory when they are sacked with little warning and no pay and who eventually prevail over the bank.
And a group of citizens occupies a home that has been repossessed and boarded up by the lending company, forcing the police who come to evict them to back down.
The film re-visits some of Moore’s earlier movies, including a trip to his native Flint where his father was a car assembly line worker and was able to buy a home, a car, educate his children and look forward to a decent pension.
But he brings it up to date with an examination of the financial crisis, demanding to speak to the bosses of companies at the center of the collapse and demanding that banks give back the hundreds of billions of bailout dollars to the country.
And he interviews an employee of a firm which buys up re-possessed, or “distressed” properties at a fraction of their original value and which is called Condo Vultures.