Review: Michael Moore’s “Capitalism, A Love Story”

By Guest Columnist Sep 15, 2009

Written by Alec Dubro Michael Moore’s "Capitalism, A Love Story" had its U.S. premiere last night in Pittsburgh, drawing its audience from the AFL-CIO convention here. It was given at least an unofficial AFL-CIO endorsement and a wild reception by labor and health care advocates. And for good reason: it’s Moore’s best film. A brilliantly plotted and executed indictment of U.S.-style capitalism, the movie pulls riveting interviews, action reportage, history and Moore’s usual brand of stunts. He drives an armored truck around Lower Manhattan demanding taxpayer money back from the various banks and brokerages that looted the country and then profited so handsomely from the $700 billion bailout. But there’s a curious omission from Capitalism’s wide-ranging analysis: race. It’s not that Moore excludes people of color – scenes from eviction fights and industrial strikes are filled with African Americans and immigrants. But nowhere does he even mention that the capitalist edifice rests on a system of white supremacy, here and around the world. He tells both a personal and national story of the growing affluence and equitable income distribution in the 1950s. But except for a tiny clip of a civil rights protest, there’s no indication that African Americans were deliberately left out of prosperity – or even participation. While film is primarily a visual medium, Moore always narrates his points explicitly. He talks in detail about the structure of finance capitalism, but not a word about race. It’s still an exciting and probably energizing movie – and may be a financial success – but someone should ask him about this. It’s no minor matter. Alec Dubro is a veteran Washington DC-based writer specializing in labor and nonprofits.